Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State

By Eugene Huskey | Go to book overview

10
THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE: COURTS, PROCURACY, AND MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

Eugene Huskey

Disputes arise in all societies. The question for students of politics is how they are resolved. In modern Western history competing claims have been reconciled through three public mechanisms: the market, representative institutions, and the courts. Elaborate arrangements emerged to parcel out conflicts among these three arenas and to decide disputes within each. Not so in the Soviet Union. The Russian Revolution of October 1917 rejected the Western model of a plurality of remedies in favor of an administered society where the power to resolve disputes was concentrated in the hands of party and Government functionaries. In such a system, courts developed as little more than appendages of executive power. 1

That legal institutions developed at all in the Soviet Union testifies to the compromises that political life frequently requires of political ideas. The Bolsheviks came to power intent on eliminating law and courts altogether. A socialist revolution, they reckoned, would remove the need for a legal system, which had served only to protect the property of the capitalists and to mystify the workers. Acting on these ideas in the weeks after the revolution, the Bolsheviks issued a decree designed to abolish the institutional pillars of the old legal order--the courts, the Procuracy, and the Bar. Revolutionary expediency (tselesoobraznost') was to replace the "bourgeois" concepts of constitutionality and legality as the new standard of justice.

The nihilist, or eliminationist, approach to law apparent in these measures was soon tempered, however, by the recognition that a state without law denies itself legitimacy as well as an efficient means of imposing discipline on the bureaucracy and society. In a series of experiments that stretched over the first

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Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xiii
  • The State in Imperial Russia and the Ussr 1
  • 1: The Government in the Soviet Political System 3
  • 2: Party-State Relations 49
  • 3: Executive-Legislative Relations 83
  • Notes 98
  • 4: The Rise of Presidential Power Under Gorbachev 106
  • The State and the Economy 127
  • 5: The Ministry of Finance 129
  • 6: The Industrial Ministries 143
  • 7: The Agricultural Ministries 161
  • The State and Security 179
  • 8: The Ministry of Defense 181
  • 9: The Ministry of Internal Affairs 202
  • 10: The Administration of Justice: Courts, Procuracy, and Ministry of Justice 221
  • The State and the Future 247
  • 11: The Rebirth of the Russian State 249
  • Index 271
  • Contributors 281
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