Public lecture

Press release — 23 August 2014

Dr Tatiana Borisova, Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics and currently AURORA visiting fellow at the University of Tartu will give a talk about

 “Законность в России в исторической перспективе” (in Russian)

on 26 August at 15:15 at the Tartu University Iuridicum, Näituse 20, room 217

The Russian version of rule of law (law-based state — pravovoe gosudarstvo)  is characterized by an outstanding focus on legal certainty, in other words, it takes a positivist and formalist approach. In current judicial practice a literal interpretation of legislation has dominated, while any systematic interpretation based on definite legal principles seems to have been avoided, especially in relation to politically sensitive issues. To give an example, the European Court of Human Rights’ decisions on Russian election legislation challenged Russian legal doctrine, exactly in relation to the unsystematic ad hoc approach of the Russian legislator.

Contrary to this normative approach of European colleagues, Russian lawyers do not find changes in the law problematic, because formally no violations of law-making procedure had taken place.

Simultaneously, modern Russian jurisprudence does not seem to provide any other substantial characteristics for rule of law except legal certainty. As the current Russian Constitution (Art. 15) stipulates, the basis of the Russian law-bound state in which all subjects observe law is guaranteed by the obligatory publication of all legislation. The RF Constitution does not provide any other substantial or normative criteria for a law-based state or rule of law. Russian legal doctrine does not provide them either: the theoretical basis of the rule of law concept remains as yet underdeveloped. My research provides an explanatory model for Russian tradition of ‘technical legality’.