Kathryn Hendley, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Russia and the Rule of Law: The Putin Legacy

Date: 
Thu, 10/18/2007
Location: 
4:30 - 6:00 PM, Bowl 1, Robertson Hall

What is Putin's legacy in the legal arena? Common wisdom would seem to suggest that, under Putin's leadership, Russia has abandoned the goal of becoming a pravovoe gosudarstvo or a rule-of-law-based state. Certainly the experience of Khodorkovskii, as well as other examples of the Kremlin's crude instrumental use of law would seem to support this thesis. The low levels of trust in legal institutions, as documented by public opinion surveys throughout Putin's tenure, further buttresses this conclusion. But closer examination of the evidence shows a more complicated picture. Putin's tenure has also been marked by creative institutional development, such as the widespread adoption of jury trials and the introduction of mirovye sudy or justice of the peace courts. Russians have been using the courts in ever-increasing numbers, which belies their lack of trust. The presentation will seek to make sense of this conflicting evidence, arguing that Putin's tenure marks a decisive return to the Soviet era of a dualistic legal state.

Kathryn Hendley is Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development at the Wisconsin Law School and William Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Professor Hendley's research focuses on legal and economic reform in the former Soviet Union. She is currently engaged in an inter-disciplinary project aimed at understanding how business is conducted in Russia and the role of law in business transactions and corporate governance. This project has been funded by the World Bank, the National Science Foundation, and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. She teaches Contracts, as well as courses related to her interest in Russia, such as Russian Law, International Business Transactions, Comparative Law, and Transitions to the Market. She has served as a consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Bank in their work on legal reform in Russia. Professor Hendley is currently the Director of the Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia, which receives Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

This public lecture is co-sponsored with the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies, Program in Law and Public Affairs, Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, PIIRS. Event is free and open to the public.

For more on Kathryn Hendley, see her Wisconsin Political Science Department profile.