Russia

Law and the Russian State: Russia’s Legal Evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin

Russia is often portrayed as a regressive, even lawless, country, and yet the Russian state has played a major role in shaping and experimenting with law as an instrument of power. In Law and the Russian State, William Pomeranz examines Russia's legal evolution from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin, addressing the continuities and disruptions of Russian law during the imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods. The book covers key themes, including:

Vladimir Putin’s Stasi ID: A Press Sensation and Its Historical Reality

Recently, a press sensation began in Germany and spread across the globe when an identification card from the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS, or Stasi) was found in the Stasi Records Archive with the name and picture of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(On a personal note, I did not find the ID card, despite some early press reports to the contrary.)

It has been a well-known fact that Putin served from 1985 to 1990 as a KGB officer in Dresden; now, some journalists decided, he had worked for the Stasi as well!

Security for Disarmament: Negotiating Ukraine’s Budapest Memorandum

The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with its recent escalation in the Sea of Azov, continues to draw attention to the substance of security commitments pledged by the nuclear weapons states to Ukraine in exchange for dismantling the nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union.

Why Do Russia and the U.S. Need Each Other?: Foreign Policy and National Identity

Russia and the United States have come into conflict over many international issues. A “war of images” also plays an important role in the current crisis in bilateral relations. Victoria Zhuravleva discussed how anti-Americanism in Russia and anti-Russian sentiments in the U.S. are used in domestic political games, as well as how foreign policy becomes a stage for defining national identity in opposition to images of the “other,” a pattern spanning the U.S.-Russia relationship for over a century.

The Wilson Center Mourns the Loss of Former Director James Billington

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is mourning the loss of friend and former Director Dr. James Billington.
 
Dr. Billington was Center director between 1973 and 1987, after which he served as Librarian of Congress from 1987 until 2015.
 

Dealing with the Soviet Past: Is There a Right Memory Model for Russia?

The Soviet past looms large in present-day Russia. Some view history with a mix of pride and nostalgia, while others focus on the crimes of the communist system, in particular state terror. Several projects exist in Russia to reconcile its past, a few of which are inspired by foreign models. Nikolay Epplée and Mischa Gabowitsch discussed international models of coming to terms with the past that might prove productive for Russia, and the difficulties that can arise when learning commemorative practices from other countries.

25th Anniversary of the Russian Constitution

December 12th marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Russian constitution. Historians still debate the controversial events that accompanied the constitution’s birth, but a generation of Russian lawyers has now grown up knowing only this founding legislation as Russia’s highest law. Thus, what was originally perceived as a transitional document has demonstrated surprising staying power. This panel discussed the controversial origins of the Russian constitution, its guiding principles, and how it has entered into and influenced Russian law for the past 25 years. 

The Role of the Public Intellectual in Today’s Russia

Intellectuals have played a central role in Soviet and Russian societies. Novelists, poets, and artists had a sense of higher social mission and were viewed as “the conscience of the nation.” In today’s Russia, the demand for public intellectuals who can serve as a moral compass seems to be changing. Celebrated Russian writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya discussed the role of the intelligentsia in contemporary Russian society.

Putin’s System: Why It is Stable and Why It Will Fail Anyway

Faced with the apparent paradox of Putin’s high level of support in the face of decreasing quality of life, many experts resort to clichés, citing the Russian citizen’s predilection for authoritarianism or apathy towards freedom. Leonid Gozman argued that this popular support has perfectly rational explanations, and how, nonetheless, the symptoms of the regime’s ultimate collapse are inherent to the system and already visible today.

This event was in Russian with English translation.

 

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