Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Growing pains or inherent flaws?

The judicial system in the USSR was political. In the early post-Soviet period it was economic. Is it going back to being political again? Do high profile examples describe reality?

You should recognize the writer's criticism of the non-adversarial (inquisitorial) system of the USSR.  

Justice in the former Soviet Union has failed
In the Soviet Union, “justice” meant show trials. In the post-Soviet successor states of the 1990s, the judicial system was for sale. But today, justice in most of the former Soviet region is defined by politicized prosecution where who is prosecuted and who is not all depends on power…

Faulty justice in the former Soviet Union, however, is not limited to Russia… Post-Soviet legal systems are used not to address injustice, but as a political weapon wielded by prosecutors to benefit those in power.

The current dysfunction has deep roots. In the Soviet period, judges and prosecutors were considered to be on the same team and functioned as extensions of government policy. “Justice” in its legal form flowed from the state to the citizen, enforcing the state’s will… After the collapse of the Soviet Union, money transformed the system. Suddenly the law, which had always represented power, was the guardian of trillions of dollars worth of business assets…

Chaika
In Russia, justice is not so much about enforcing the law as determining who can break it. In their most recent video, the activist punk rock group Pussy Riot targets Chaika [Russian general prosecutor], rapping: “I run the war on corruption here, or to be precise, I run the corruption here.”

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