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Rule of Law in Autocracy: The Legal Dimension of Russian Politics Speaker Series
March 18, 2021

In authoritarian political systems, institutions such as parliament, judiciary, and law enforcement are typically viewed as mere instruments of autocratic rule, or at best, a democratic facade. In this conventional image, authoritarian institutions exist only for formal reasons and do not exert meaningful impact independently of the executive branch of government.

Recent scholarship has uncovered unexpected dynamics of the impact of law on Russian politics. Authoritarian influence over diverse legal institutions is not as overwhelming as conventional wisdom has presumed. Scholars are revealing how authoritarian legal and judicial institutions resemble their democratic counterparts. Not only are they responsive to bureaucratic incentives and public opinion, but also to the metrics of performance evaluation as opposed to central directives.

The Rule of Law in Autocracy: The Legal Dimension of Russian Politics Speaker Series, organized by Postdoctoral Research Scholar Seonhee Kim, addresses the following questions in lawmaking, judiciary system and law enforcement in Russia and other post-Communist states:

— To what extent do the bodies of lawmaking, law enforcement and judiciary possess autonomy from the central politicians?

— How do these legal institutions routinely function in relation to central states? How can we make sense of the autonomous operation of some of these institutions?

— What are their roles in prolonging authoritarian rule? Do these institutions limit or shape the way politics work in authoritarian states?

Series Events:

All events at 12:00pm ET.

Monday, April 5, 2021
Watching the Detectives—Strategies and Tactics of Police Oversight in Russia

Lauren A. McCarthy, Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science and Director of Legal Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Manipulated Justice in Russia: Influence in Prosecutions and Conflict Resolution

Peter H. Solomon, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Law and Criminology at the University of Toronto and Member of its Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Bulldogs in the Duma: Executive Factionalism and Lawmaking in Russia

Ben Noble, Lecturer in Russian Politics at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Judicial Independence in Russia: What Do Russians Think?

Kathryn Hendley, Roman Z. Livshits & William Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, June 10, 2021
Adaptation and Pragmatism: Explaining the Survival of the Russian Constitutional Court

Alexei Trochev, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Political Science and International Relations at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

All events will be held via Zoom and YouTube Live.