Much of the academic literature, analytical reports and media suggest that the justice system in Russia is rather unreliable, ineffective and corrupt. Scholars and practitioners alike stress numerous dysfunctionalities of the Russian justice system: it does not provide equal access to justice, it does not treat its litigants fairly, the enforcement of rights and obligations is erratic, and what some scholars describe as ‘telephone law’ still prevails in Russian justice system.

Courtesy of Civic Assistance Committee, Moscow.
Some cases – Yukos, Pussy Riot, the Greenpeace 'piracy' in the Arctic – have become so notorious that people tend to regard them as typical of the entire system.  Most recently, Russia's treatment of NGOs, of refugees, and its military advances in the international arena – the annexation of Crimea and involvement in the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine – have led many to seriously question the country’s commitment both to international law and to the principles of human rights.

But perhaps the full picture is not as uniform?

Courtesy of Human Rights Centre Memorial, Moscow.
Marina Kurkchiyan and Agnieszka Kubal bring together a number of excellent empirical researchers of the Russian legal system with the aim of contributing a series of first-hand empirical studies from the different corners and contexts of the justice system in Russia, together painting a comprehensive portrait of how law works in practice  and therefore of how the people in Russia experience justice.

The edited volume resulting from this collaborative project is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2017). Below you may find the table of contents.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1Introduction: The diversity of the experience of law in Russia. Marina Kurkchiyan and Agnieszka Kubal, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford
Chapter 2The legal professionals at work: professional identity and the rules of the game.  Marina Kurkchiyan, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford
Chapter 3To go to court or not? The evolution of disputes in Russia. Kathryn Hendley, Law School, University of Wisconsin
Chapter 4How ordinary Russians experience the law in the courts of Justices of the Peace. Varvara Andrianova, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford
Chapter 5In search of justice:  migrants’ experiences of appeal in the Moscow City Court. Agnieszka Kubal, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford
Chapter 6When business comes to court: Arbitrazh courts in Russia. Kirill Titaev and Timur Bocharov, Institute for the Rule of Law, European University at Saint Petersburg
Chapter 7Civil justice in Russia: defamation complaints against media, 1997-2011. Maria Popova, Department of Political Science, McGill University
Chapter 8Accusatorial bias in Russian criminal justice.  Peter Solomon, University of Toronto
Chapter 9Decision-making in the Russian criminal justice system:  prosecutors, judges and human trafficking cases. Lauren A. McCarthy, Political Science Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Chapter 10The Richelieu Effect: the Khodorkovsky Case and political interference with justice. Jeffrey Kahn, Law School,  Southern Methodist University
Chapter 11Conclusions: the sociology of the Russian way of justice. Marina Kurkchiyan and Agnieszka Kubal, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford



  • M Kurkchiyan and Agnieszka Kubal (eds), Sociology of Justice in Russia (Cambridge University Press 2017)