Post-Soviet transitional justice in Russia: Achievements and lost opportunities

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Author: Nikolai Bobrinsky

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-1-142-168

Keywords: criminal prosecution; guarantees of non-recurrence; impunity; reparations; statutory limitations; transitional justice; truth-seeking


This article offers a review of legal measures introduced in Russia to address the consequences of the unpunished crimes of the Communist regime in the context of international standards of transitional justice, including those provided for in the Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity and in the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147 “Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law”, it shows strengths and weaknesses of the Russian model of transitional justice, as well as legal impediments to restoring justice and the means to overcome them. The main achievements are in the field of individual measures of satisfaction and restitution of personal and civil rights, while compensation of harm suffered and restitution of violated property rights have been implemented only in a limited way. Criminal prosecution of those responsible for political repressions, truth-seeking mechanisms, and guarantees of their non-recurrence have not been introduced at all. The article also covers those fields of lawless activities of the Communist regime that do not fall into the scope of political repressions (usurpation of power by the Communist party, crimes committed in the context of armed conflicts involving the USSR, “economic repressions”, and politically motivated surveillance are given as examples of such fields), and the few legal measures that applied to them. As long as the Soviet period recedes into the past, such pillars of transitional justice as criminal prosecution of political repressions and compensation to victims become less relevant for Russia. However, providing access to secret information on crimes of the Communist regime and the official establishment of their true circumstances, along with various measures of collective satisfaction, are still implementable.

About the author: Nikolai Bobrinsky – LL.M., practicing lawyer, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Bobrinsky N. (2018) Postsovetskoe perekhodnoe pravosudie v Rossii: dostizheniya i upushchennye vozmozhnosti [Post-Soviet transitional justice in Russia: Achievements and lost opportunities]. Sravnitel’noe konstitu­tsionnoe obozrenie, no.1, pp.142–168. (In Russian).


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