Russia and Eurasia | Wilson Center

Russia and Eurasia

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:

Actors and Control: The Struggle for History and Memory in Russia

The past is an important resource that Russian politicians and businesspeople use to replace ideology, frame policies or earn money. The state attempts to control the use of history by outside actors, but similarly instrumentalizes it for its own purposes. However, in the last five years, alternative social actors (the Yeltsin Center, the Immortal Regiment, various Orthodox groups and others) have emerged within Russia to claim their right to control the past and challenge the state monopoly on memory.

Domestic and International Impacts of Kleptocracy


In kleptocracies, corrupt politicians use their leverage to receive financial benefits or special favors. These states also create their own legal mechanisms to target political enemies and challenge the international legal infrastructure. Daniel Morgan Graduate School-Kennan Institute Fellow Edward Lemon, joined by Casey Michel and Jodi Vittori, examined kleptocracy in Central Asia, how it influences a state’s legal and financial mechanisms, and its impact on U.S. national security.

"Stalin and the Black Book of Soviet Jewry" and "The Road to Babi Yar"

Organized by the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center with support from the Embassy of Israel in the United States and Rabin Chair Forum at George Washington University

*Note: Each screening takes place at a different location and requires separate registration. All screenings are free and open to the public. More information and registration information coming soon.

The Road to Babi Yar”: Film Screening and Discussion

January 28, 7:00PM

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!