Putin’s Judicial Vertical: Russian Rule of Law Takes a Step Backward

The end of 2013 witnessed a flurry of legal activity in the Russian Federation. A number of prominent political defendants—including the members of Pussy Riot; some, but not all, of the Bolotnaya Square demonstrators arrested in May 2012; and the Greenpeace activists arrested offshore three months ago—were released as part of a major amnesty passed by the Russian Duma. President Vladimir Putin’s unexpected pardon of Mikhail Khodorkovsky fueled additional speculation as to the future direction of Russian legal reform. Some observers cited Putin’s own initiative in freeing Khodorkovsky as an encouraging sign, while other commentators insisted that far from having […]

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