Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Roundtable: Law and Order: Theories, Ideologies, Culture and Practice of Justice in Russia

Chair: Tatiana Borisova (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Ira Jänis-Isokangas
(Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland)
Jane Burbank (New York University, USA)
Corinna Kuhr-Korolev (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany)

This roundtable discusses how theories, ideologies and practices of justice coexist in Russian state and society. If justice, law and order are not the same, then what is the difference between them, and how they have been developed? What meanings contemporaries have given to these concepts, and what is the legacy of Tsarist and Soviet Russia in Russian Federation's political, administrative and legal culture? Justice in Russia seems to be a matter of sovereignty. Created by rulers in particular historical context justice has become in Russia institutionally top-down business, in which the subjects wait for the tsar’s milost’ (mercy). Professor Jane Burbank’s paper will look at the Sudebnaia Palata, a judicial instance charged with this task in the late imperial period. She will focus in Kazan Province between 1905 and 1917, and on cases concerning crimes against the state, press violations, and criminal acts by officials and against them. Dr Tatiana Borisova will focus on legal techniques as means of establishing order in Russian empire prior the 1917 revolutions. She analyses reliance of the legislator on existing legal and administrative practices. Contrary to dominating perspective on legal reforms and change, she discusses issue of 'customs,' and 'habits' of the people, which the legislator considered as an important pillar of social and political order in late imperial Russia. After the October Revolution ideas of justice and legal practices changed in many ways. Dr Ira Jänis-Isokangas will examine these changes and continuities in practices of the NKVD during the 1920s. She analyses meaning of ideology in these practices by juxtaposing activities of the Bolshevik regime with practices of the new Finnish state in their campaign against alcoholism and social problems in the period of prohibition. What was the role of ideology and social justice in forming new society and state? Dr Corinna Kuhr-Korolev will focus on ideas of justice from perestroika to today’s Russia from three starting points: 1. The Gorbachev reforms, which ultimately led to collapse of the Soviet order, were triggered, among other things, by complex justice crisis. This can be understood as accumulation of problems in different areas of justice. 2. Ideas of social justice were more important in Soviet society than ideas of political justice. This attitude to justice also characterizes today's Russian society and has an impact on the way, how politics work. 3. Under Putin’s rule justice was interpreted as the guarantee of security. This is the basis of stability of today's political order, which is, however, fragile, because the rules of social and political justice are permanently disregarded.