Countries at the Crossroads



Countries at the Crossroads 2005

2005 Scores

Accountability and Public Voice
(0 = WORST, 7 = BEST)


Civil Liberties
(0 = WORST, 7 = BEST)


Rule of Law
(0 = WORST, 7 = BEST)


Anti-Corruption and Transparency
(0 = WORST, 7 = BEST)


The end of communism did not lead smoothly to the beginning of democracy in most of the states that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. For most of the 1990s, the regime in Russia appeared trapped somewhere between dictatorship and democracy. On the one hand, the autocratic institutions of the Soviet ancien regime had collapsed and were replaced by the basic elements of an electoral democracy. Throughout the 1990s, major political leaders came to power through the ballot box in semi-competitive elections. The constitution, adopted in 1993, remained the highest law of the land, and by the end of the decade, few political leaders or organizations remained committed to overtly anti-democratic programs or extra-constitutional tactics. On the other hand, this political system lacked most of the elements of a liberal democracy, such as a powerful legislative check on executive power, an independent courts system, or a vibrant party system and civil society.[2] The Russian polity nonetheless seemed stable and typical for the region.

In the last several years, regimes have begun to move out of the post-Soviet gray zone between autocracy and democracy. Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine have experienced a second wave of democratization jump-started by societal mobilization to thwart falsified elections. Under the rule of President Vladimir Putin, Russia has moved in the opposite direction. Putin did not inherit a consolidated democracy when he became president in 2000, and he has not radically violated the 1993 constitution, cancelled elections, or arrested hundreds of political opponents. Russia today remains much freer and more democratic than the Soviet Union. However, although the formal institutions of Russian democracy remain in place, the actual democratic content of these institutions has eroded considerably in the last few years. Putin has systematically weakened or destroyed every check on his power, while at the same time strengthening the state's ability to violate the constitutional rights of individual citizens. He has weakened the power of Russia's regional leaders, the independent media, the business community or oligarchs, both houses of parliament, the Russian prime minister and his government (as opposed to the presidential administration), independent political parties, and genuine civil society. At the same time, he has increased the role of the federal security service (FSB, the successor to the KGB) in governing Russia and arbitrarily wielded the power of state institutions such as the courts, the tax inspectors, and the police for political ends. Furthermore, throughout his time in office, Putin has waged an inhumane war in Chechnya against citizens of his own country.

Today, decision-making authority is more concentrated in the office of the president than at any time in Russia's post-Soviet history. The Russian polity has considerably less pluralism in 2004 than it did in 2000, and the human rights of individual Russian citizens are less secure. Russia's 1993 constitution established a set of formal rules that facilitated Putin's campaign to consolidate power in the presidency.[3] Moreover, the anarchy and uncertainty during the regime of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, created a demand for political order and stability within society. Putin has succeeded in undermining pluralism because he has remained popular, while societal actors and individuals within the state have proven reluctant or incapable of preventing these democratic rollbacks. In public opinion surveys, most Russians continue to express support for democratic practices and values.[4] However, the majority is also reluctant to fight for the defense of these principles. Putin has remained popular even as public support for his policies - including the protracted war in Chechnya, the elimination of direct elections of governors, and structural economic reforms - has waned. The autocratic turn in Russia was not inevitable or determined by the weight of Russian history or culture or demanded by the people; after all, this same history and culture preceded Soviet and then Russian democratization, which began two decades ago. Rather, Putin is the main driver of Russia's recent authoritarian drift.

In the long run, the forces of internal modernization and international integration will push Russia in a democratic direction. In the short run, however, the prospects for renewed democratization in Russia look uncertain. Putin now faces no serious opposition. Those willing to criticize the president - human rights activists, a handful of print journalists, a few former senior government officials, and a smattering of individual politicians in the State Duma (parliament) and regional assemblies - have little or no power. This new balance of power within the Russian polity offers Putin and his allies the possibility to rule Russia for a long, long time. He most certainly can amass the support to amend the constitution and extend his time in office, currently now limited by the constitution to two terms. Under more dire circumstances, he probably has the power to suspend the constitution altogether.

The real question for the short term, therefore, is what kind of political system Putin ultimately does desire. So far, he has demonstrated little tolerance for criticism or checks on his power. At the same time, he has demonstrated no proclivity for resurrecting full-blown dictatorship. He has not taken more extreme steps of canceling elections or arresting hundreds of political opponents. Even in his persecution of dissident forces, he has used the law, not brute force. It is an arbitrary use of the law for political purposes, but it is not open defiance of the law or democratic procedures altogether. Putin most certainly has not articulated an alternative ideology or project in opposition to democracy. In this sense, he must be distinguished from those communists, fascists, and extreme Islamists from the past and present who have openly challenged democracy as a political practice. However, whether Potemkin democracy, or "managed democracy" as Kremlin loyalists euphemistically call it, facilitates the future development of meaningful democratic practices or not is an open question. Today, we know one thing for sure: that for Putin and Putin alone to decide what kind of political regime Russia should have is a bad sign for the future of Russian democracy.

Accountability and Public Voice: 

Competitive elections are the most dramatic institutional change that distinguishes the new Russian political system from the old Soviet dictatorship. During the Soviet period, elections occurred on a regular basis but lacked any real political consequences. In 1993, Boris Yeltsin used force to crush the Russian parliament and thereafter fiat into place a new constitution and electoral system. Though the process of establishing these procedures was not democratic, the new rules did stick. Between 1993 and 2003, national elections occurred on time and under law. Incumbents, especially President Yeltsin when seeking reelection in 1996, enjoyed tremendous advantages over challengers. In parliamentary votes, some parties and individuals were barred from competing in the electoral process, and falsification did occur. However, the basic rules of the game prevailed, campaigns were competitive, and the outcomes of national elections were not predetermined by those sitting in the Kremlin.

Over the last two electoral cycles, the political implications of elections have changed considerably. In particular, under President Putin, the outcomes of elections have become more certain, less competitive, and therefore less meaningful in Russian politics. As Yeltsin's prime minister and chosen successor, Putin became president in March 2000 elections after Yeltsin's resignation the previous December. In combination with the 1999 legislative victory of state-supported Unity, this marked the beginning of the Kremlin's dominance over national electoral politics in Russia.

After a decade of chaotic revolutionary change, Russian citizens yearned for stability. With the exception of the ongoing war in Chechnya, Putin delivered. The Russian economy grew more in each year of Putin's first term in office than in all of the previous decade. Whether or not this growth was due to Putin's economic reforms, the public gave Putin the credit.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Putin and his allies won again in the 2003 parliamentary elections and the 2004 presidential elections. In December 2003, his party - United Russia (the latest incarnation of Unity) - won a major victory. They captured more than a third of the popular vote on the party list, which determined 50 percent or 225 of the seats in the Duma, and won more than 100 of the 225 single-mandate contests. Two other parties close to the Kremlin also performed well beyond expectations: the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and Rodina (Motherland). After independents lined up behind different factions in the Duma, United Russia and its allies controlled the two-thirds majority needed to pass amendments to the constitution.

While the pro-Kremlin parties surged in 2003, the main opposition parties on both left and right faltered. On the left, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) lost half of its party-list vote from 1999. As a result, the CPRF faction in the Duma fell to 52 seats in 2003. Liberal opponents of the Kremlin fared even worse. Both Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) failed to cross the 5 percent threshold required to hold seats in the parliament, raising real questions about their long-term futures.[5] In the single-mandate contests, Yabloko won only four seats, while candidates affiliated with SPS won three seats. Thus, to varying degrees, all three parliamentary parties that have increased their share of the popular vote since the last election supported Putin and enjoyed state support. Moreover, amendments incorporated into the new law on political parties make it considerably more difficult for new political parties to form.

The overwhelming victory of United Russia in the Duma elections made it clear that Putin would win the March 2004 presidential ballot without any difficulty. Indeed, Putin's reelection was so certain that none of the party leaders who competed in the December parliamentary vote ran as presidential candidates. Putin won on the first ballot, capturing 71.3 percent of the popular vote.

Given the president's popularity, it is hard to imagine how Putin and his surrogates could have lost free and fair elections in 2003 or 2004. Nevertheless, the elections in December 2003 and March 2004 did not take place on a level playing field. First, Putin controlled all significant national media, and he had almost complete support from major regional media outlets. This contrasted with the last national electoral cycle in Russia, when opposing points of view were represented in the national electronic media.

Second, and again in contrast to the previous electoral cycle, Putin and the Kremlin enjoyed nearly universal loyalty among regional leaders in 2003 - 2004. Wielding carrots and sticks, the Kremlin eliminated the serious divisions among regional elites that had created the main drama of the 1999 parliamentary elections. These regional executives deployed their local resources to support United Russia candidates in single-mandate district races.

Third, the Putin regime cracked down on Russia's tycoons (or oligarchs). Very early in his term, Putin made clear that these billionaires could no longer treat the state as simply another tool to be used for their personal enrichment. Instead, Putin implied that the oligarchs had to get out of politics altogether. Eventually, he arrested or chased into exile three major oligarchs - Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, and Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the business conglomerate Yukos. All three had previously played significant roles in funding and supporting political parties and individuals not deemed loyal to the Kremlin. The downfall of these three sent a chilling message to other tycoons. In the 2003 parliamentary campaign, oligarchs continued to contribute significant resources to political campaigns, but only as sanctioned by the Kremlin. Compared to the previous electoral cycle, big business in 2003 was relatively united in backing United Russia and other pro-Kremlin candidates. In 2004, everyone backed Putin.

The absence of independence and division within media, regional elites, and oligarchic ranks reduced the freedom to maneuver for opposition political parties and candidates. Before the legislative balloting, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued its first-ever critical preliminary report on a Russian election, stressing that the run-up to the State Duma elections "failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments for democratic elections." [6] Although none of Russia's previous national elections were wholly free and fair, the most recent round have been the least so.

An equally alarming trend over the past four years has been the arbitrary interference by the central authorities in regional elections. For example, Chechens voted for a president, a parliament, and a referendum on continued membership within the Russian Federation. However, several candidates were forced to withdraw in both parliamentary and presidential races, while massive fraud tainted all electoral outcomes.

In September 2004, in the wake of the horrific slaughter of innocent children by terrorists at a school in Beslan, Putin went one dramatic step further by announcing a proposal to abolish direct elections of all governors of oblasts (provinces) and presidents of republics. Instead, Putin will appoint these regional leaders himself. The appointment of governors directly strengthens the power of the Kremlin and weakens the autonomy of regional governors. Putin also recommended that all, not just half, of Duma members should be chosen through proportional representation. Indirectly, the introduction of proportional representation for all seats in the parliament will make it easier for the Kremlin to control the Duma, as the previous electoral system allowed regional elites to play the central role in determining the winners in single-mandate districts.

Since coming to power, Putin has moved systematically and successfully to weaken political pluralism within the state. His first move was to weaken the power of the regional governors. In a decree on May 13, 2000, Putin overlaid seven super-regions (federal districts), accountable to Moscow, on the 89 units of the federation. Each was to be headed by a plenipotentiary who would be appointed by the president personally and would sit on his Security Council.[7] The envoys have writ over all federal agencies in the regions other than the military and thus have access to officials in the most politically sensitive and influential positions, such as those in the treasury, tax inspectorate, procuracy, FSB, and regular police. Their mission is to oversee the activities of the bureaucracy and to report to the president's office on any regional noncompliance with the constitution or laws of Russia.

Other changes accompanied the advent of the super-regions. A law passed in July 2000 authorized the president to suspend elected governors accused of wrongdoing by the procurator-general's office. Inasmuch as criminal proceedings could drag out indefinitely (especially if it suited the president), the law was tantamount to a presidential right to fire governors, a power that has been used only sparingly but has been an effective threat for either obtaining cooperation of a once-resistant regional executive or for convincing an uncooperative governor to step down "voluntarily." Putin can also dismiss any regional legislature that passes laws contravening federal laws or the constitution. In addition, Moscow has pushed through a more centralized allotment of tax receipts, with more reaching Moscow from the regions. Finally, the Kremlin has played a very aggressive role during regional elections to oust or tame independent governors. The campaign to force former Ingush president Ruslan Aushev not to stand for reelection in 2003 was the most audacious, but by no means the only example of Kremlin manipulation of local elections as means to secure local loyalty.

Putin also emasculated the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, by removing governors and heads of regional legislatures from this chamber and replacing them with appointed representatives from the regional executive and legislative branches of government. This new method for constituting the Federation Council has undermined its legitimacy and essentially turned it into a rubber stamp. Many members, in fact, are Muscovites with patronage ties to Putin who acquired their seats with his administration's backing and have put the Kremlin's interests ahead of those of their constituents.[8] The new setup also makes it more difficult for regional leaders to take collective action vis-a-vis the central government. As the Duma deputy Vladimir Lysenko stated in 2001, "The president had managed to get rid of one of the strongest and most authoritative state bodies in the country. It provided the function of check and balance on the other branches of power, especially the executive."[9] Putin's changes to the Federation Council did not formally transgress the democratic rules of the game outlined in Russia's constitution, which allows such dramatic changes in the way politics are organized to occur without amendments or changes in the formal rules.[10] Nor was the prior method of constituting the upper house perfect, as it blurred the lines of separation between executive and legislative authority. A more democratic reform, however, would have been direct election of senators, as occurred from 1993 to 1995.

After the December 2003 election, the Duma also evolved into a loyal supporter of Kremlin initiatives due to the supermajority of pro-Kremlin parties. The Kremlin initiates almost all new draft laws, which are then quickly passed by the Duma. The non-democratic flavor to executive - legislative relations in Putin's Russia comes not from the president's desire to have a parliamentary majority but from the way the majority has been achieved: through parliamentary elections in which pro-Kremlin candidates were given an unfair advantage.

At the same time, informal networks not accountable to the people have gained influence in ruling Russia. Even though elected officials do still control the highest levels of the Russian state, non-elected officials from the FSB have assumed an increasing role in the federal government since Putin became president.[11]

After reaching a peak of popular mobilization and political influence in 1991, Russian civil society struggled to survive throughout the 1990s. By one estimate, more than 200,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) formed during this decade,[12] yet when Yeltsin left office, Russian civil society was weak, atomized, apolitical, and heavily dependent on Western assistance for support. Nonetheless, Putin believes that NGOs are still a threat to his power. By enforcing new registration procedures and draconian tax laws, Putin's administration has forced thousands of NGOs to close,[13] and NGO leaders considered too political are harassed and jailed.[14] Pro-Kremlin members of parliament have introduced legislation that would tighten state control over the distribution of grants from foreign donors.[15] To force independent NGOs to the margins of society, the Kremlin has devoted massive resources to the creation of state-sponsored and state-controlled NGOs. State transfers to and cooperation with the nongovernmental sector have been targeted only to those NGOs supportive of state policy or not involved in politics at all.

Western civil society groups are not immune from Russian state harassment. Putin's government has tossed out the Peace Corps, closed down the office of the OSCE in Chechnya, declared persona non grata the AFL-CIO's field representative in Moscow, and raided the offices of the Open Society Institute (which eventually exited Russia) and the National Democratic Institute.

In June 2001, Putin met with representatives of more than 30 NGOs. The organizations Putin chose to invite to the meeting, however, were far from the most influential NGOs and included stamp-collecting, gardening, educational, cultural, and sports organizations. Similarly, in November 2001 the Russian Press Institute's Vitaly Ignatenko, the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters' Eduard Sagalayev, and new Media Union head Aleksandr Lyubimov created a new journalists' union, Mediasoyuz, sanctioned by the Kremlin, to counterbalance the "oppositionist" Russian Journalists' Union. This new union consists of journalists working for state-owned or state-loyal mass media.

The weakening of the State Duma as an independent political institution has had negative consequences for civic engagement of the state, as this institution has traditionally been more open to interaction with civic groups than the presidential administration. Civic chambers have been established at the regional level to serve as listening posts for societal complaints and suggestions, but most NGO leaders see this institutional innovation as nothing more than another method of cooptation.

Putin has also tightened the state's grip on the mass media, especially national television.[16] When Putin came to power, only three networks had the national reach to really count in politics - ORT, RTR, and NTV. By running billionaire Boris Berezovsky, the de facto owner of ORT, out of the country, Putin effectively acquired control of the channel with the biggest national audience. RTR was always fully state owned, and so it was even easier to tame. Putin's administration leaned on prosecutors to investigate reputed past misdeeds of NTV owner Vladimir Gusinsky, and state-controlled Gazprom called in a large loan to NTV. In the space of several months in 2001, Gazprom's media holding company took over NTV, Gusinsky fled abroad, the staff of the weekend newsmagazine Itogi was fired, and the daily newspaper owned by Media-Most, Segodnya (Today), was shut down; the latter two were once owned by Gusinsky. Gazprom purged NTV a second time in January 2003, removing Boris Jordan, the Russian-American director it had appointed in 2000. Many of NTV's best journalists and producers migrated to two other stations, TV6 and then TVS, both of which were shut down by June 2003.

Print media have greater autonomy from the state, at both the national and regional levels. The state still controls several print outlets, but independent newspapers publish critical coverage and analysis of Kremlin activities. All of these so-called national publications, however, have limited readership in Moscow and very little reach into the rest of Russia. Moreover, during crises the state has intervened to shape the content of print journalism. For instance, when the newspaper Izvestiya tried to ask questions about the state's failures in response to the inept performance of Russia's security forces in the Beslan standoff in 2004, the newspaper came under heavy pressure. The editor in chief of Izvestiya, Raf Shakirov, eventually was forced to step down.[17] One independent journalist was detained when trying to reach Beslan, while another was allegedly poisoned to deter her from reporting from the scene of the terrorist attack. Dozens of newspapers and Web portals that have remained independent offer a platform for political figures of all persuasions, but none of these enjoys mass audiences.

The independence of electronic media has also eroded at the regional level. Heads of local state-owned television stations continue to follow political signals from regional executives, and most regional heads of administration stood firmly behind Putin in the last electoral cycle. The flow of information is most confined in Chechnya, where governmental agencies have severely restricted access to the territory by Russian and foreign correspondents and have arrested and intimidated several print journalists whose war stories they found inconvenient. Criminal prosecution by the national and regional authorities as well as the strict enforcement of libel laws have also been widely utilized as ways to deter critical reporting.

More generally, Putin has changed the atmosphere for doing journalistic work. His most vocal media critics have lost their jobs, have been harassed by the tax authorities or by sham lawsuits, or have been arrested. Several Russian journalists and one American journalist have been killed during the Putin era, and no one has yet been convicted of these crimes.[18] In its Media Sustainability Index for Europe and Eurasia, International Research and Exchanges (IREX) reported serious backsliding in Russia's freedom of speech, the access of its citizens to a variety of independent news sources, and the quality of news and information its citizens receive.[19]

Civil Liberties: 

Russia's 1993 constitution provides comprehensive guarantees for defending the civil liberties of all Russian citizens. In practice, however, not all rights are guaranteed to the same degree. In particular, residents of the southern republic of Chechnya enjoy few civil liberties. For statists like Putin, the anarchy in Chechnya was and remains the most embarrassing testament to Russia's weakness. At the time of the rebirth of Russia as an independent country in 1991, the leaders of Chechnya also declared Chechnya's independence from the Russian Federation. Throughout most of the 1990s, Kremlin authorities acquiesced to Chechnya's de facto autonomy. The initial use of force against invading Chechen rebels in 1999 was legitimate, as Russia was defending its borders and was obliged to address the lawlessness that enveloped Chechnya. But the way in which Putin's army has fought this war - a full-scale military reoccupation, bombardment of civilian urban centers by heavy weaponry, and indiscriminate arrest and abuse of civilians - has demonstrated Putin's weak commitment to defending the rights of Russian citizens.

Accusations of rights abuses in Chechnya, corroborated by several monitoring groups, include arbitrary detention and arrest, disappearances, torture, killings, and rape.[20] Russian federal authorities have even kidnapped family members of Chechen rebels as a means to fight "terrorism." The most notorious of these actions are state sponsored, carried out either by the so-called Kadyrovtsi, the Putin-backed Chechen "police" force, or the Russian Federal forces.[21] The abuse of human rights is especially acute for internally displaced persons in Ingushetia and within Chechnya. By some estimates more than a quarter of Chechnya's population have perished since this war began, while experts reckon that another 400,000 refugees have been displaced by the fighting.[22] In 2002, a plan was drawn up to force the return of internally displaced people to Chechnya through closure of camps in Ingushetia and elsewhere. This plan of "normalization" is now enforced by the Russian authorities.[23]

In order to force displaced persons in Ingushetia to return to Chechnya, vital utilities have been cut off at camps, making living conditions even more unbearable. Moreover, camps that have not yet been closed were removed from aid lists, cutting off those in need from supplies and medical attention, while creating the impression that the numbers of the displaced Chechens had been reduced. Many Chechens were unable to obtain new documentation after their Soviet documentation, including birth certificates, expired in 2003. Moreover, Chechens are barred from holding international passports, which would allow them to seek refuge outside Federation territory. Thus, those endangered by continuing warfare are forced to remain either in squalid conditions in their former homes or displaced within Russia.[24]

Those who monitor and defend human rights in Chechnya are themselves increasingly subject to attacks.[25] Victims include activists and lawyers from prominent organizations, journalists, community leaders, applicants to the European Court of Human Rights, and their family members.[26] According to the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, federal forces are suspected of involvement in 108 of 141 cases of recorded abuse against human rights defenders and their families in 2004.[27] In an extreme case, the office of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society has been raided several times and its director kidnapped 15 times and subjected to torture more than once. Since February 2004, the ministry of interior and FSB have distributed leaflets fingering as terrorists several doctors working in Ingushetia and openly seeking their arrest.[28]

In addition, the Russian state has not convicted anyone in the murder of Yuri Shchekochikhin, a member of the State Duma and head of the State Security Committee who was critical of the war and was investigating corruption associated with it. Mystery also still surrounds the bombings of apartment buildings in Moscow in the fall of 1999.

In Chechnya, the military is allowed to operate brutally and with impunity. According to Human Rights Watch, Russia has resisted establishing a meaningful accountability process for crimes its forces commit, and in most cases officials have not begun genuine investigations despite hundreds of criminal investigations opened by the procuracy. "As a result, most investigations remained unsolved and almost none were sent to the courts."[29] To date, only one person - Colonel Yuri Budanov - has been held accountable for an extrajudicial killing, and this lone conviction was nearly overturned in late September 2004.[30]

Although not to the same extent, individuals and groups outside Chechnya also have experienced the loss of their civil liberties. Starting in the later 1990s under Yeltsin but then more intensively under Putin, the FSB has dramatically increased the number of arrests of Russians accused of treason and espionage. The All-Russian Public Movement for Human Rights has compiled a list of such politically motivated arrests under the guise of security threats, which includes journalists, professors, scientists, lawyers, businesspeople, and others.[31] Many of these alleged spies have been held for years without being notified of their alleged crimes and without being tried.[32] Many human rights groups and politicians now consider Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his colleagues from the oil company Yukos and its parent company Menatep to be political prisoners.[33]

Drafted soldiers are another group in Russia that continues to endure cruel treatment. Although inhumane initiation practices within the armed forces have received public attention, the Russian government has enacted few reforms to address the problem.[34] As a symptom of the endemic violence within the military, the Mothers of Soldiers social movement has become one of the largest and most vocal in the country.

Prisoners in Russia constitute another constituency whose treatment remains well below international standards.[35] Torture and abuse are common. According to sociologist Yuri Levada, who has conducted public opinion surveys on the subject, "The scale of this phenomenon proves that this is not mere arbitrariness on the part of certain irresponsible individuals, not singular occurrences, but a general rule."[36] In a survey conducted in 2003, a quarter of all respondents believed that their rights had been violated by the police or courts over the past year.[37] Russian law does not list torture as a crime, so police officers accused of torturing prisoners or those held in detention receive only minor sanction.[38] More generally, prisons are overcrowded and unsanitary and therefore filled with life-threatening diseases. With nearly 1 million people behind bars, Russia has one of the highest per capita rates of incarceration in the world, but with little capacity. Cells intended for eight often house nearly two dozen.[39] Overcrowding also breeds violence among inmates. Protests, including self-infliction of wounds and especially hunger strikes, have become common methods used by inmates to demand more attention to their pitiful conditions.[40]

Formally, equal rights for women and men are secured in Russia's constitution and other legislation, although actual equality between men and women is still a distant goal. Despite numerous initiatives for new legislation, domestic violence is still not recognized as a distinct crime.[41] In 2002, Russian state authorities reported to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that 14,000 women die every year at the hands of their husbands or other relatives.[42] Russia is also a major source of human trafficking. Putin has given some attention to this issue, but the state itself has done little to address the problem systematically.[43]

The constitution provides for religious freedom, and most religious, ethnic, and cultural groups can express their views openly and organize to promote their interests. However, some religious organizations enjoy wider rights and more autonomy than others. The Russian Orthodox Church succeeded in pressing for a law in 1997 that gave it, along with Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism, official status, while denying this status to all others. In February 2002, the Russian Constitutional Court ruled that religions registered before 1997 should not lose their legal status, a major victory for religious freedom. Nonetheless, some denominations, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, the Mormons, and other Protestant sects, report discrimination and harassment, though chiefly by local officials and not the national government.[44] Visas at times are denied to foreign religious leaders traveling to Russia. Recently, the state also has become more directly involved in selecting leaders within religious groups, especially in Jewish and Orthodox Old Believer communities.[45]

Russians with disabilities are protected by the social security law, which guarantees financial support to those whose disabilities prevent them from working. The 1995 Federal Law on Social Protection of People with Disabilities prohibits discrimination in employment, education, housing and public buildings, and mass transportation are required to be wheelchair accessible.[46] The state also developed special publications and recordings that provide information about government services. In practice, however, state services for the disabled are limited, and many citizens living in rural areas have no access to assistance. Some experts report that employers often discriminate against the disabled, finding it more cost-effective to pay fines than to make accommodations for workers with disabilities.[47]

The Russian constitution guarantees freedom of association, and the government generally respects this right. NGOs do face harassment, however (see "Accountability and Public Voice"). Trade union rights are legally respected, but the power and activity of these groups is limited in practice. Discrimination against union members and the punishment of those who participate in worker strikes is not uncommon. The largest labor federation is closely aligned with the state. When trade unions voiced their dissatisfaction with the new draft labor code in 2002, Putin's government chose to reach out to the larger Soviet-era Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR) rather than to the independent trade unions to work on the draft with state officials.

Rule of Law: 

A disconnect between formal laws and law in practice permeates Russia's legal system. For example, in December 2001, Putin's administration won parliamentary approval for a new criminal code.[48] At the same time, three other laws on the legal system were also passed, ensuring the security of judicial tenure, which lessened the potential for political interference; increasing judicial salaries; and providing for greater judicial input in the administration of courts. On paper, the new code is a revolutionary document. As Russia expert Leon Aron describes it, "A number of articles in the new Criminal-Procedural Code spell a major victory for the rights of the defendants and human rights."[49] Anecdotally, there seem to be some positive trends in the development of an independent judiciary since these reforms were introduced. Russia's experiment with jury trials, for instance, has produced some unexpected outcomes in which the will of ordinary citizens trumped the preferences of the state.[50] Nevertheless, although most judges and juries are trained to administer justice as bound by the new code, evidence shows that the prosecution still receives an unfair advantage in the higher courts. For example, in two Moscow district courts, judges heard more than 4,000 cases between January 2003 and September 2004 without making a single acquittal.[51]

The new criminal code also guarantees the accused the right to legal counsel and that a judge will hear the case within 24 hours of arrest. If a citizen charged with a serious crime cannot afford a private attorney, the state is required to provide independent counsel. However, many lawyers are reluctant to work as public defenders because the government often fails to pay them. Furthermore, public defenders are commonly victims of harassment and intimidation by the police, who frequently act to cover their own unlawful conduct.[52]

Many judges have resigned over the past four years because they refused to carry out illegitimate verdicts ordered by the head of the court, who is closely associated with Putin's chief of staff.[53] When the Kremlin clearly expresses an opinion in a legal matter, Russian courts almost always comply. [Editor's note: In October 2004, the Russian judiciary suffered a major setback when the upper house of parliament, with Putin's support, voted to increase the role of the president in appointing judges.[54]]

All persons in Russia are not treated equally before the law. For example, Russian public officials suspected of crimes are not commonly prosecuted, although exceptions do exist. Instead of being charged following an abuse of power, corrupt bureaucrats are usually required to resign from their old positions and are later appointed to other high-ranking jobs. For example, Vladimir Yakovlev, former governor of St. Petersburg, was forced to resign after he allegedly misspent 1 billion rubles (about $330 million) in federal funds but was later appointed as minister in charge of housing reform.[55] The investigation into his abuse of power ended after he received the new position.

In the summer of 2003, Menatep officials Platon Lebedev and Alexei Pichugin were arrested. On October 25, 2003, Russian authorities arrested Khodorkovsky on charges of fraud and tax evasion. Khodorkovsky's lawyers have issued reports documenting how his and his associates' constitutional rights have been violated.[56] The Russian state has refused to respond. Three members of Khodorkovsky's legal defense team have also been detained. External evaluations of the case have concluded that the arrest of Khodorkovsky and his colleagues was motivated first and foremost by politics, not the enforcement of the rule of law. According to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the arrests "put into question the fairness, impartiality and objectivity of the authorities [in Russia].... [T]he interest of the State's action in these cases goes beyond the mere pursuit of criminal justice, to include such elements as to weaken an outspoken political opponent, to intimidate other wealthy individuals and to regain control of strategic assets."[57]

The arrest, detention, and prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the best-known example of Russia's judiciary enforcing the law arbitrarily for political purposes, but others have faced a similar fate. For instance, Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky was arrested in 2000. However, he succeeded in leaving the country, achieving refugee status in the United States, as did the former head of Gusinsky's NTV television network, Igor Malashenko. Likewise, senior executives at Vimpelcom, a Russian telecommunications firm, have been targeted for investigations for tax fraud that many consider to be politically motivated.

In most of these cases, while the accused may in fact be guilty of committing economic crimes, it is not the enforcement of the law that is troublesome but the arbitrariness and selectivity of its use. Oligarchs considered loyal to the Kremlin have not been investigated. Even the decisions of juries have been overturned arbitrarily when the Kremlin seeks a different outcome.

The military, police, and internal security forces, with the notable exception of the Chechen rebels, are controlled by the president and the executive branch. These security organs remain plagued by deep-rooted corruption and are frequently swayed by the criminal underworld. In the most tragic instance, armed hostage takers allegedly were able to bribe local police officers to get past security checkpoints before seizing the school in Beslan. Eyewitnesses report that driving through a checkpoint in war-torn Chechnya can be negotiated for a mere $2.[58]

Property rights in Russia are protected under Article 23 of the Russian constitution. Millions of Russian citizens became owners of their apartments following the privatization laws adopted in 1991. In 1996 Boris Yeltsin strengthened the right to control and own agricultural land. The Russian government, however, continues to enforce contracts and property rights in commercial settings only weakly, making lack of enforcement one of the top impediments to foreign investment in Russia.

The rights of ownership in Russia can be terminated against the will of the owner in only a few instances: if the owner commits a crime for which the penalty calls for property confiscation, when a transaction is intentionally made contrary to legal order, and when the owner fails to satisfy ownership obligations.[59] The current law forbids any form of nationalization of privately owned property.

Anti-Corruption and Transparency: 

Vladimir Putin has vowed to tackle systemic corruption within Russian politics and in the government, the economy, and the judiciary.[60] In 2003 he called for legislation prohibiting bureaucrats from engaging in entrepreneurial activities and restricting those who leave civil service jobs from working in areas formerly under their supervision. To date, however, these proposals remain little more than affirmations of intent.

Russia continues to rank low in comparison with other countries in surveys on corruption. The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2004 - 2005, which uses corruption as a benchmark in its assessment, ranked Russia at 70 out of 104 nations.[61] Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index 2004 ranked Russia at 90 out of 146 countries, with a score of 2.7 (10 being "highly clean" and 0 being "highly corrupt").[62]

Russia has a uniquely high level of major corruption (as opposed to petty bribes), which is closely associated with the oil and gas industry and other exported natural resources. Putin and his government have moved systematically to place oil and gas companies under greater state control.[63] The state's seizure of Yuganskneftegaz, the most profitable asset of the Yukos oil company, and its subsequent transfer into Kremlin-friendly hands was the most notorious corrupt act sanctioned by the state in 2004. Senior officials in Putin's presidential administration now serve as board members in major oil and gas firms. This fusion of the state and the most profitable industries in Russia is an obvious recipe for corruption and graft, and high oil prices have created incentives for greater state interference in this strategic sector of the economy. Furthermore, Russia does not have adequate regulations requiring officials to disclose their assets and income, making it even easier for the bureaucrats to hide illegal profiteering.

Although Russia has many laws that safeguard against corruption, their application is selective and politically motivated. This is not surprising given that most investigative and auditing bodies are aligned with the government and afflicted by political pressures. In addition to Khodorkovsky, the state has also filed criminal charges against former railroads minister Nikolai Aksenenko and several top police officers involved in corrupt activities. At the time of these arrests, the government benefited from numerous media stories that portrayed the state's determination to root out corruption, even at the highest levels. Yet, independent journalists who investigate cases of corruption, outside of what is being handed to them by officials, often face serious threats. In both 2002 and 2003 a reporter from Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye, a paper specialized in reporting on graft and organized crime, was murdered, most likely because of their investigations of underhanded corporate deals.[64]

General business regulations and procedures in Russia remain complex and unwieldy, creating a breeding ground for corruption. To assist the business sector in adhering to state-imposed regulations, government bureaus are permitted to create their own "consulting agencies," which provide advice for a fee.[65] Companies that opt to pay the government for such services receive preferential treatment, limiting fair market play. In contrast, Russia has eased registration and licensing requirements. The new Law on Registration has had a positive effect by simplifying the procedure for starting a business, although it has made the process more costly.[66]

The Russian constitution gives immunity from prosecution to members of the Council of Federation and deputies of the State Duma while in office. Deputies cannot face any kind of criminal investigation, detainment, questioning, or surveillance without the consent of a majority in parliament. In the 1999 parliamentary elections, 1,000 of the 6,700 candidates vying for 450 Duma seats had criminal records, according to information released by the Russian interior ministry.[67] The list of candidates included a Moscow Mafioso who had spent over two years in Swiss prisons for money laundering, a businessman who allegedly ordered the killing of eight city officials and rival businesspeople, and a person who had spent seven years in prison for the attempted assassination of former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. Moreover, a 2001 law guarantees lifetime immunity for Russian presidents, creating even less incentive for honest dealings at the highest levels of administration.

Corruption has also been a dominant problem in Russian institutions of higher education. In a recent poll, over half of the families surveyed admitted to paying bribes in an effort to guarantee university admissions and "fix" their children's report cards.[68] In 2004, about 900 new court cases were opened concerning alleged corruption in education.[69]

The Russian taxation system is still plagued by a complex tax code and a culture of tax evasion. Since the 1998 financial crisis, the government has introduced several important reforms, including a flax income tax, a lower corporate tax, new rules for tax audits, penalties for tax violations, and well-defined rights for participants in the tax system.[70] These have substantially increased tax collections and compliance while moving the country closer to international standards.[71] At the same time, the state continues to pursue tax evaders selectively for political purposes.

Russia does not allow for thorough public access to government information. Although freedom of information is guaranteed in Article 29 of the Russian constitution, Russians do not have appropriate channels through which they can request such information. The government does not publicize state expenditures, although the federal budget is subject to approval by the Duma.

Russia does not have a competitive national procurement system based on fair, transparent, and open competition. Only about half of public expenditures on the purchasing of goods, public works, and services in 1999 were determined by open tendering; even then, a substantial proportion of procurement bidding was restricted by requirements such as limitations on where a bidder could be located.[72] Yet, the government has made progress with advertising public procurement opportunities in the "Competitive Bidding" bulletin, thus improving the access of bidders to information on tendering opportunities.

Russia has received substantial funds through grants and loans designed to assist the Russian political and economic transition following the end of communism. Corruption in foreign aid assistance became apparent in the late 1990s after it was discovered that more than $6 billion, some of which was part of an IMF assistance package, had been laundered through a Swiss bank account associated with organized crime. High-ranking bureaucrats are suspected to have cooperated with Russian crime groups to channel this money for their private use.[73]

  • Senior government officials should not be allowed to serve in management capacities in companies owned by the state.
  • All government expenditures and revenues, including transfers between regional and federal authorities, must be made public and preferably posted on the Web.
  • Anticorruption NGOs must be granted greater access to government procedures and information. A serious freedom of information law must be passed and enforced.
  • Creating more permissive conditions for the expansion of both a free press and powerful opposition parties are reforms necessary for more effectively fighting corruption in Russia.
  • The arbitrary use of the law for political purposes must end.
  • Courts must become more autonomous from state control, perhaps through direct elections of court judges.
  • Judges should be paid higher salaries to give them a greater capacity to resist corruption.
  • A political process for resolving the conflict in Chechnya must begin with a cease-fire, followed by high-level negotiations and specific confidence-building measures. Talks must include representatives appointed by the survivors from the last freely and fairly elected government in Chechnya, must involve international mediation, and should focus on the withdrawal of Russian Federal and FSB forces and disarmament of Chechen rebel factions. Specific measures should include a declaration by both sides to adhere to the statutes of the Geneva Convention, full media and aid access to Chechnya, and the cessation of harassment of internally displaced persons in Chechnya and the north Caucasus.
  • To provide for stability in the North Caucasus as a whole, the Russian government must provide for more local autonomy of regional governments and greater local representation within these governments.
  • The Russian government should allow greater international and domestic monitoring of human rights abuses in Chechnya.
  • Russia should aim to reduce abuse of soldiers by transforming the military into an all-volunteer force. In the interim, those drafted should be allowed to serve in nonmilitary jobs.
  • Religious organizations should not be subjected to state interference in their internal governance affairs.
  • Direct elections for governors should be reinstated.
  • Direct elections for members of the Federation Council should be reinstated.
  • The mixed electoral system for the State Duma, first adopted in 1993, should be reinstated, including the 5-percent threshold on the PR ballot.
  • Channel 1 (ORT) should be privatized and Channel 2 (RTR) should be transformed into a public television station, complete with an independent board to help safeguard against political interference.

[1] Many thanks to Erin Mark for her research assistance.

[2] On the weakness of Russian liberal institutions, see Michael McFaul, Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), chapter 9.

[3] M. Steven Fish, "The Dynamics of Democratic Erosion," in Richard Anderson, M. Steven Fish, Stephen Hanson, and Philip Roeder, eds., Postcommunism and the Theory of Democracy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001), 54-95.

[4] Henry Hale, Michael McFaul, and Timothy Colton, "Putin and the 'Delegative Democracy' Trap: Evidence from Russia's 2003-04 Elections," Post-Soviet Affairs 20, 4 (Fall 2004): 285-319.

[5] See

[6] "Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions, Russian Federation State Duma Elections, 7 December 2003" (Vienna: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Parliamentary Assembly [OSCE/PA], International Election Observation Mission, December 2003),

[7] Natal'ya Zubarevich, Nikolai Petrov, and Aleksei Titkov, "Federal'nyye okruga-2000," in Nikolai Petrov, ed., Regiony Rossii v 1999 g. [The regions of Russia in 1999] (Moscow Carnegie Center, 2001), 190.

[8] Aleksei Makarkin, "Sovet Federatsii: novyi sostav, novyye problemy," in Rostislav Turovskii, ed., Politika v regionakh: gubernatory i gruppy vliyaniya [Politics in the regions: governors and interest groups] (Moscow: Tsentr politicheskikh tekhnologii, 2002), 53-75.

[9] Vladimir Lysenko, "The Federation Council Fails to Become a House of Lords," in Yuri Senokosov and John Lloyd, eds., Russia on Russia: Administrative and State Reform in Russia, no. 5 (Moscow School of Political Studies, June 2002), 20.

[10] For a strong statement to this effect, see Vladimir Ryzhkov, Moscow Times, 11 December 2002, 10.

[11] On the rise of the FSB in Russian state structures, see Olga Kryshtanovskaya, "Rezhim Putina: liberalnaya militokratiya?" [Putin's Regime: Liberal Militacracy?] (unpublished manuscript, 2002).

[12] The 1999 NGO Sustainability Index (Washington, DC: U.S. Agency for International Development),

[13] Russian Authorities Force Organizations to Become Underground (Moscow: Glasnost Public Foundation, 2004),

[14] Sarah E. Mendelson, "Russians' Rights Imperiled: Has Anybody Noticed?" International Security 26 (Spring 2002), 39-69.

[15] Anfisa Voronina, "A Filter for Grants: The state will decide which donors are acceptable," Vedemosti, 23 July 2004, translated and redistributed by WPS Monitoring Agency.

[16] For details, see Masha Lipman and Michael McFaul, "Putin and the Media," in Dale Herspring, ed., Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain, 2d ed. (Lanham, Md.: Roman & Littlefield, 2005), pp. 55-74.

[17] "Izvestia's Chief Editor Raf Shakirov Fired over Hostage Drama Coverage," Moscow News, 6 September 2004.

[18] "Annual Report, 2004" (Paris: Reporters Without Borders [RSF]).

[19] Media Sustainability Index 2003 (Washington, DC: International Research and Exchanges Board, 2004).

[20] See for instance, Dr. Charlotte Granville-Chapman, "Rape and Other Torture in the Chechnya Conflict: Documented Evidence from Asylum Seekers Arriving in the United Kingdom" (London: Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, April 2004); "No Happiness Remains: Civilian Killings, Pillage, and Rape in Alkhan-Yurt, Chechnya" (New York: Human Rights Watch [HRW]), Russia/Chechnya 12, 5 (April 2000): 1-33; "February 5: A Day of Slaughter in Novye Aldi" (HRW), Russia/Chechnya 12, 9 (June 2000): 1-43; "The 'Dirty War' in Chechnya: Forced Disappearances, Torture, and Summary Executions" (HRW), Russia/Chechnya 13, 1 (March 2001): 1-42; "Burying the Evidence: The Botched Investigation into a Mass Grave in Chechnya" (HRW), Russia/Chechnya 13, 3 (May 2001): 1-26. Chechnya Weekly (Washington, DC: Jamestown Foundation) also provides full coverage of the war, including human rights violations. There is also extensive discussion of human rights abuses in Chechnya in Anna Politkovskaya, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); and Matthew Evangelista, The Chechen Wars: Will Russia Go the Way of the Soviet Union? (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2002).

[21] Murad Magomadov, "New Methods, Same Old Abuses," The Observer, 6 February 2004; "The Trauma of Ongoing War in Chechnya: Quantitative assessment of living conditions, and psychological and general health status among war displaced in Chechnya and Ingushetia" (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Medecins Sans Frontieres [MSF], Report, August 2004); The Situation of IDPs in Ingushetia after the Armed Incursion of 21/22 June 2004 (Vienna: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights [IHF-HR], 4 August 2004).

[22] See "Statistical Yearbook 2003: Trends in Displacement, Protection, and Solution" (Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees [UNHCR], June 2004); "Russsian Federation: Governmnent Ignores Its Obligations towards IDPs" (Geneva: Norwegian Refugee Council [NRC], Global IDP Project Database, last updated December 2004),; "IDP Estimates"; "Asylum Levels and Trends: Europe and non-European Industrialized Countries, 2003" (UNHCR, 24 February 2004),

[23] See "The Coerced Return of Chechen IDPs from Ingushetia" (IHF-HR, Report, March 2004); "Briefing to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights" (HRW, 29 January 2004),

[24] Ibid.; see also, "The Trauma of Ongoing War in Chechnya" (MSF); "Report from Seminar on IDPs from Chechnya" (NRC, European Council on Refugees and Exiles [ECRE], Moscow, 30-31 August 2004); "Statistical Yearbook 2003" (UNHCR, June 2004).

[25] "The Silencing of Human Rights Defenders in Chechnya and Ingushetia" (IHF-HR, Norwegian Helsinki Committee [NHC] Report, 15 September 2004).

[26] Archana Pyati, The New Dissident: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Russia (New York: Human Rights First, 2005).

[27] "The Silencing of Human Rights Defenders..." (IHF-HR, NHC), 6, 26; see also From the Conflict Zone (Moscow: Human Rights Center [HRC] "Memorial," Bulletin, December 2004),

[28] "Ingushetia: Doctors Employed by International Medical Corps Wrongly and Repeatedly Exposed as Suspected Terrorists" (IHF-HR, press release, 27 September 2004).

[29] "Briefing to the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights" (HRW, January 2004),

[30] Egor Belous, "Pomiluet li Putin Budanova?" Pravda, 20 September 2004,; "Russian Who Murdered Chechen No Longer Seeks Pardon," Reuters, 21 September 2004,

[31] Black Book of Russian Justice: Political Repressions and Politically Motivated Persecutions in Today's Russia (Moscow: All-Russia Public Movement "For Human Rights" [ARPM], 2004).

[32] "Russia's 'Spy Mania': A Study of the Case of Igor Sutyagin" (HRW, briefing paper, October 2003).

[33] Author's interviews with several senior Russian politicians, none of whom agreed to be identified, February 2004; "Chronicle of Political Persecution in Present Day Russia," (Moscow: Za Prava, January 2005), 11.

[34] The Wrongs of Passage: Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of New Recruits in the Russian Armed Forces (HRW, October 2004).

[35] Jonathan Weiler, Human Rights in Russia: A Darker Side of Reform (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2004).

[36] "Rights Groups Concerned over Police Torture,", 29 June 2004,

[37] Nick Patton, "Torture now routine for Putin's police: Corrupt force extracts confessions with 'elephant mask' and beatings," The Observer, 19 October 2003,,6903,1066223,00.html.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Maria Danilova, "Rights groups report human rights violations in Russian prisons and call for international community to step in," Associated Press, 28 April 2004.

[40] Ibid.; Aleksandr Kolesnichenko, "Rebellion - A Wave of Actions of Insubordination Sweeps Through Russia's Penal Institutions," Noviye Izvestia, 28 April 2004, 2.

[41] "Violence against Women in the Russian Federation" (London and New York: Amnesty International [AI], n.d.,

[42] "Action Appeal" (AI, 4 June 2003),

[43] "Trafficking in Persons Report, Country Narrative: Europe and Eurasia" (Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of State, 14 June 2004).

[44] "Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom" (Washington, DC: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, May 2004), 56 - 60,

[45] Lawrence A. Uzzell, "Russia: Religion on a leash," International Religious Freedom Watch, issue 2004-05-04.

[46] "2003 Compendium Report: Russia," International Disability Rights Monitor (Chicago: Center for International Rehabilitation, 2004),

[47] Denise Roza and Kotov Vyacheslav, "Innovative Employment Initiatives in Russia," Disability World, December 2004-February 2005,

[48] Leon Aron, "Russia Reinvents the Rule of Law," AEI Russian Outlook, 20 March 2002.

[49] Ibid., 9.

[50] Seth Mydans, "Rare Russian Jury Acquits Scientist in Spy Case," the New York Times, 30 December 2003, A7.

[51] Peter Finn, "Fear Rules in Russian Courtrooms," Washington Post, 27 February 2005,

[52] Mark Kramer, "Rights and Restraints in Russia's Criminal System" (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS], Program on New Approaches to Russian Security [PONARS], Policy Memo 289, 2003).

[53] "Dismissed Judge Tells Putin His Staff Are Pressurizing Judiciary" Moscow News, 11 March 2005,

[54] Daniel Treisman, "Is Russia's Experiment with Democracy Over?" (Los Angeles: UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, paper, 21 October 2004).

[55] "Audit Chamber Makes Good on Promise to Seek Criminal Prosecution of St. Petersburg Officials," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty [RFE/RL] Newsline, 10 June 2003.

[56] Platon Lebedev and Alexei Pichugin, "Constitutional and Due Process Violations in the Khodorkovsky/Yukos Case," White Paper prepared by the defense lawyers on behalf of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, (Washington, DC: APCO Worldwide, November 2003).

[57] "The circumstances surrounding the arrest and prosecution of leading Yukos executives" (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Do. 100368, 29 November 2004).

[58] Kim Murphy, "Russia May Pay for Bribes in Lives," Los Angeles Times, 11 August 2004,

[59] Evgueny Sukhanov, "The Right of Ownership in the Contemporary Civil Law of Russia," McGill Law Journal 44 (1990): 301.

[60] Vladimir Putin, Speech for the Fight against Corruption (First Session of the Council under the President, 12 January 2004),

[61] Global Competitiveness Report 2004-2005 (Geneva: World Economic Forum, October 2004), xiii.

[62] Corruption Perceptions Index - 2004 (Berlin: Transparency International [TI]),

[63] Peter Baker, "Putin's Kremlin Asserting More Control of Economy," Washington Post, 9 July 2004, A14.

[64] "Cases 2003" (New York: Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ], 13 October 2004),

[65] Administrative Barriers to Investment within Subjects of the Russian Federation (Washington, DC: Foreign Investment Advisory Service, September 2001).

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ian Traynor, "Welcome to the safest club in town," The Guardian, 16 December 1999,,2763,194985,00.html.

[68] Bryon McWilliams, "Russia's Big Test," the Chronicle of Higher Education, 1 October 2004.

[69] "Nine Hundred Cases Opened Over Bribery in Education," ITAR-TASS, 26 October 2004,

[70] "The Russian Tax System: Surprises and Prospects" (Moscow: Institute of Economics and Canada: University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics, Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations, joint research project, January 2002).

[71] Ibid.

[72] "Russian Federation: Final Country Procurement Assessment Report" (Washington, DC: The World Bank, February 2001).

[73] Preston Mendenhall, "Russian crime creeps into Kremlin," MSNBC,