JUSTICE SYSTEM IN RUSSIA

JUSTICE SYSTEM IN RUSSIA

Russia has a weak justice systems. There is an absence of rule of law and civil society. The notion of individual rights is still alien to many Russians. If someone defrauds you or doesn't pay a loan you can't sue them. When the legal system is used it often seems like is used to find ways to harass people than to protect or help them. Criminal Code of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) which was passed in the Soviet era in the 1960s remains the fundamental law of the land,

Steven Lee Myers wrote in the New York Times: “Russia is still a country where suspects can be detained indefinitely, where arbitrary, politically and even economically motivated prosecutions are common, where coercion of suspects is rampant, where the police can stop anyone on the street without any reasonable cause.”

The judiciary, a rubber-stamp branch of government under the Soviet system, has moved only slowly to assert an independent authority. President Vladimir Putin has used this structure to enhance the power of his office and dominate the government. His main tool is his de facto right to appoint judges. All members of Russia's highest courts are nominated by the president and appointed by the Federation Council (the upper house of the legislature). Members of all courts appointed for life. Many members of the Federation Council have been picked by the Kremlin and are loyal to Putin.

Jurisprudence is advancing slowly toward Western standards. Jury trials have been held in a few regions. There are essentially two kinds of courts in Russia. Local courts and federal level courts (the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court). There are no special courts where appeals are made. Appeals are handled by the Constitutional Court.

Legal system: civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts. Constitution: several previous (during Russian Empire and Soviet eras); latest drafted 12 July 1993, adopted by referendum 12 December 1993, effective 25 December 1993; amended 2008 (2013). International law organization participation: has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

Judicial Branch in Russia

The judicial branch has moved very slowly toward an independent role in the post-Soviet era. The federal judicial institutions are the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court. Judges of those courts serve lifetime terms. All federal judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president. The 19- member Constitutional Court passes judgments on compliance with federal law and the constitution and settles jurisdictional disputes between state bodies. The 23-member Supreme Court rules on matters of civil, criminal, and administrative law. It is the final stage of the appeals system, which begins with local courts of general jurisdiction and includes district and regional courts. There was a Superior Court for Arbitration for settling commercial disputes but that was abolished. [Source: Library of Congress, October 2006 **]

Highest court(s): Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (consists of 170 members organized into the Judicial Panel for Civil Affairs, the Judicial Panel for Criminal Affairs, and the Military Panel); Constitutional Court (consists of 19 members). In February 2014, Russia’s Superior Court of Arbitration was abolished and its former authorities transferred to the Supreme Court, which in addition to being the country’s highest judicial authority for appeals, civil, criminal, administrative cases, and military cases, and the disciplinary judicial board, now has jurisdiction over economic disputes. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

Subordinate courts: Higher Arbitration Court; regional (kray) and provincial (oblast) courts; Moscow and St. Petersburg city courts; autonomous province and district courts. Fourteen Russian Republics have court systems specified by their own constitutions. =

Legal System in Russia

Civil and criminal cases are heard by courts of general jurisdiction, which are subordinate to the Supreme Court and function at district, regional, and national levels, with appeals possible to the next higher level. The chief legal representative of the state, the procurator general, is nominated by the president and approved by the Federation Council. The procurator general appoints equivalent officers for the lower jurisdictions. Military courts are included in this system. A second system is the arbitration or commercial courts, which hear business-related cases under the national Supreme Court of Arbitration. In 2006 a public justice system of about 500 courts went into operation to resolve certain commercial disputes otherwise heard by conventional courts. In all but two subnational jurisdictions, justices of the peace handle minor criminal cases and some civil cases, sometimes assuming as much as half the judicial caseload of the jurisdiction. Some of Russia’s subnational jurisdictions have constitutional courts, which form the third court system under the authority of the national Constitutional Court. [Source: Library of Congress, October 2006 **]

Although Russia has committed itself to thorough reform of the rubber-stamp Soviet judicial system, progress in that direction has been slow. Federal judges are nominated by assemblies of judges and approved by the president. The Ministry of Justice administers the judicial system, naming judges and establishing courts below the federal level. However, in the 1990s many judges remained from the Soviet system, and the judiciary became a roadblock for reform programs such as privatization and improved human rights. The independence and professionalism of judges have been damaged by the minimal pay they have received, and funding of the judicial system has been problematic. Although salaries had increased substantially by 2005, bribery of judges remains a frequent practice. **

A new Criminal Procedure Code went into effect in 2001. Since that reform, however, prosecutors have retained disproportionate power, and in non-jury trials a very high percentage of criminal cases result in convictions. Although the law entitles defendants to professional representation, defense lawyers are expensive and are lacking in some remote areas. President Vladimir Putin frequently has exempted government officials and wealthy businessmen from prosecution, even for very serious offenses. Under pressure from the European Union, Russia has not applied the death penalty since 1996, although that punishment retains legal standing. Beginning in 2004, jury trials have been held for the most serious offenses in all jurisdictions except the Republic of Chechnya. That year a new law defined for the first time the role and status of jurors. In recent years, clear procedural irregularities have been observed in well- publicized criminal cases such as the tax evasion trial of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovskiy (2004–5). In 2006 the Putin government proposed a US$1.8 billion, five-year program to reform Russia’s judicial system from 2007 to 2011. **

History of Russian Justice

In the old days, national laws in Russia were enforced by officials and local customs and laws were enforced by the community acting through informal groups. In some cases justice was meted out by youth gangs who vandalized the property of people found guilty of violating local prohibitions. Serious offenders were exiled from the community or even executed. National law was enforced by unformed constables and their assistants. They were generally outsiders and could be easily bribed. Much of the customary law, including aspects of women’s rights, has it roots in the Orthodox church.

Russia has never had a strong tradition of rule of law. In tsarist times and the Communist era there were few fair trails; laws were decreed arbitrarily; and people were kept in line with threats of brutality. A concept of fairness and justice was never developed. In its place was a “chasm of suspicion” that separated those with power from those who had none.

The criminal court system is still based on the old Soviet procedural code, which limits the rights of the accused and lacks a trial by jury. The goal of the justice system is protect the interests of the state not the individual.

After the Soviet break-up Russia lacked a civil code like the ones that are the cornerstones of civil law in the United States and Europe. Russia specialist Olga Schwartz described the Russian justice system as “the coexistence and mutual influence of two entirely different systems of justice, old and new.”

Justice System in the Soviet Era

Communist justice was not based on the idea of innocent until proven guilty. People charged with crimes were nearly always convicted and sentences were rarely overturned. The goal of the justice system was to protect the interests of the state not the individual and to keep the masses under control. The judiciary was not independent. The courts were subordinate to the Communist Party and the National People's Congress and generally carried out their wishes. The Soviet Supreme Court, the highest court in the Soviet Union, was comprised of judges that served five year terms.

The legal system was often described as Kafkaesque. Laws are poorly written and in many cases are ambiguous and contradictory. Political concerns and personal whim often played a big part in legal decisions. One human rights activist told the Washington Post, "Rules are words to dance around and laws mean what the authorities say they mean." Police routinely "take advantage of legal loopholes, intentionally misinterpret the law, distort evidence and break the laws they are supposed to enforce."

Cases were decided by a judge and two citizens, usually pensioners, called nodders because their opinions always agreed with that of the judges. In some courts, the judge also acted as the prosecutor. Justice was sometimes very quick. People were executed within days or even hours of their arrest.

The criminal court system limited the rights of the accused. There were no trials by jury. Prosecutors won 99 percent of their cases and verdicts were usually foreordained. Arrests were often announced after the prosecution had enough evidence to convict. Defense lawyers if they existed were not taken seriously. They often had to supply their own paper if they wanted copies of motions or opinions.

There were few protections against arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. "Custody and repatriation" was a practice used by police to put beggars, drunks, physically and mentally people and illegal immigrants behind bars. People were often imprisoned if they failed to produce an identity card.

Stalin-Era Justice

Many of the people who were purged, executed, exiled or sent to labor camps under Joseph Stalin (ruled 1924-1953) were classified as counter-revolutionaries or enemies of the people under Stalin’s criminal code. Many were taken into custody in what were called “prophylactic arrests”—which simply met that anyone could be arrested based on suspicion alone. Questions, if they were asked at all, came later. Many times an individuals’s class, ethnic group or profession was reason enough to arrest them.

At height of Stalin’s purge, in 1938, more than 12 million people were arrested, often on trumped up charges or because they were deemed "Enemy of the people" or "Enemy of the state." Many Russians in the 1990s knew someone or had a relative that was arrested. One high school student told Newsweek, "My grandfather, they came for him at night. My grandmother never found out what happened to him. She didn't like to talk about it."

The daughter of a Baku oil baron, told National Geographic, "My father wasn't very clever. They arrested him for being a former capitalist. They put a stool pigeon in his cell. This provocateur started to curse Stalin. My father said, 'What do you want? He's a dictator. This comment was reported he was sent to Kazakhstan and shot." Alla B. Shister was once an enthusiastic Stalin supporter. But after one husband was killed the Great Terror, another disappeared into a mental institution and she herself was sent to labor camps she changed her tune.

People who spoke up for democracy were jailed under charges of plotting to "topple the Communist system, liquidate the Warsaw Pact, dissolve the Soviet Union and promote the system of the United States." All the guests at parties where a single jokes critical of Stalin was told were arrested and sent to Siberia. One family was thrown out of its house and sent to the Arctic because they were labeled as bourgeoisie for owning two horses.

Description of a Stalin-Era Arrest

Describing the arrest of Osip Mandelstam in May 1934, his wife Nadezhda wrote: "In the evening the translator David Brodski turned up and then just would not leave. There wasn't a bit to eat in the house and M. went around to the neighbors to try and get something for Akhmatova's supper...At about one o'clock in the morning , there was a sharp unbearably explicit knock on the door. 'They've come for Osip,' I said and went to open the door."

"Some men in civilian overcoats were standing outside—there seemed to be a lot of them. For a split second I had a tiny flicker of hope that this still wasn't it...Without a word or a moment's hesitation, but with consummate skill and speed, they came in past me (not pushing, however) and the apartment was suddenly full of people already checking our identity papers, running their hands over our hips with a precise well-practiced movement, and feeling our pockets to make sure we had no concealed weapons.

"M. came out of the large room. 'have you come for me?' he asked. One of the agents a short man, looked at him with what could have been a faint smile and said, 'Your papers.' M. took them out of his pockets, and after checking them, the agent handed him a warrant. M read it and nodded...After checking our papers, presenting their arrest and making sure there would be no resistance, they began to search the apartment.

"Brodski slumped into his chair and sat there motionless...At last permitted to walk freely...Brodski suddenly roused himself, help up his hand like a schoolboy and asked permission to go to the toilet. the agent directing the search looked at him with contempt, 'You can go home,' he said...The secret police despised their civilian helpers. Brodski had no doubt been ordered to sit with us that evening in case we tried to destroy any manuscripts when we heard the knock on the door."

Interrogation After a Stalin-Era Arrest

The poet Mikhail Isayevich, a former Red Army soldier who served in Berlin in World War II, was arrested after saying that the roads in Germany were good (the conversation in which he said that had been recorded by a friend-informant). He told Newsweek, that after his arrest "they put me in a car. There were four of them who came for me. In the car they always offer a cigarette. As soon as the door shut, everything changed. First they took off your hooks and buttons from your pants so you had to hold up your pants."

"After that I went to a cell; it was not a special prison. It was downtown Rostov-on-Don, in a district where there were meat warehouses. They turned the warehouses into prisons. The average-size room was about 20 square meters. I was arrested in May. It was very hot, almost hard to breath. There were 12 people in the room...All different people. I don't know why most of them were there."

"At the beginning of my interrogation I didn't say anything. They didn't torture us—no slivers under the fingernails or that sort of thing. But this is what they did: they prevented us from sleeping. And every night they would ask the same things: tell us about your anti-Soviet activities! I would start to nod off and they would shake me and say, 'Are you here to sleep or what?' Eventually I "confessed" to praising German roads." For the crime of "praising life abroad" he spent six years at a labor camp in Siberia."

After torture and coercion even the most loyal Communists confessed to betraying the state and engaging in terrorist plots. The judicial process was minimal. If there was a trial, the judiciary acted on orders from the Stalin regime and gave the sentences the regime wanted.

Russian Justice System in the Post- Soviet Era

Russia experimented cautiously with Western-style jurisprudence and penal reform after the break up of Soviet Union. In the mid-1990s, jury trials were introduced in some regions, and the rights of accused persons and prison inmates were stipulated more concretely. Nevertheless, major elements of the Soviet system remain in the jurisprudence of the Russian Federation. For example, procurators (public prosecutors) still have both investigative and prosecutorial functions, and expansion of the jury system has met substantial resistance among entrenched Soviet-era judges and procurators. In addition, prison conditions have deteriorated substantially because Russia's crime wave has increased the prison population but funding is not available for new facilities. In early 1997, more than one-quarter of the prison population was awaiting trial, and pretrial detention lasted as long as three years for some individuals. Russia's procurator general, Yuriy Skuratov, reported that his office had been overwhelmed in 1996 with 1.2 million court cases, for which it had only about 7,000 investigators. He noted that the same trend was continuing in 1997. [Source: Glenn E. Curtis, Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

After many delays and amendments, a new Criminal Code went into effect on January 1, 1997. An estimated 150,000 criminal cases were expected to require review based on the new code, and many prisoners will be released because the laws under which they were convicted no longer exist. A separate criminal correction code defining conditions in the prison system was scheduled to go into effect in July 1997.*

The Ministry of Justice administers Russia's judicial system. The ministry's responsibilities include the establishment of courts and the appointment of judges at levels below the federal district courts. The ministry also gathers forensic statistics and conducts sociological research and educational programs applicable to crime prevention. For court infrastructure and financial support, judges must depend on the Ministry of Justice, and for housing they must depend on local authorities in the jurisdiction where they sit. In 1995 the average salary for a judge was US$160 per month, substantially less than the earnings associated with more menial positions in Russian society. These circumstances, combined with irregularities in the appointment process and the continued strong position of the procurators, deprived judges in the lower jurisdictions of independent authority.*

Many Western observers consider the judicial and legal systems weak links in Russia's reform efforts, stymieing privatization, the fight against crime and corruption, the protection of civil and human rights, and the general ascendancy of the rule of law. Many judges appointed by the regimes of Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82) and Yuriy V. Andropov (in office 1982-84) remained in place in the mid-1990s. Such arbiters were trained in "socialist law" and had become accustomed to basing their verdicts on telephone calls from local CPSU bosses rather than on the legal merits of cases. *

Justice System Reform in Russia

After the collapse of the Soviet Union there were a series of efforts to reform the justice system in Russia to make it more independent and fair. The constitution was rewritten in 1993 with new laws but, initially anyway, no one knew the laws or followed them. At best the laws were regarded as ideals that one should aspire to.

Drafts to overhaul the criminal code were first passed in the Duma in 1997 but were not made into law until the were pushed through by Putin—a trained lawyer—in 2001. Over 3,500 amendments were added to the old code, including 100 proposed by Putin himself. Judicial systems in Western Europe and the United States were used as models.

Among the reforms were the introduction of jury trials and habeas corpus,, the elimination of trials in absentia, guarantees of legal representation for suspects from the moment of arrest and age limits for judges (65, except for Constitutional Court judge who could serve until they were 70). At the heart of the reforms were efforts to make the process more adversarial by giving defense lawyers more power to challenge evidence, witnesses and procedures and puts more pressure on prosecutors to argue their cases based on facts and evidence. Judges were supposed to be detached arbiters.

Judicial reform has moved slowly. In the mid 1960s the judiciary remained subject to the influence of security agencies and politicians. A large case backlog, trial delays, and lengthy pretrial detention also remain problems,

Implementing Justice System Reforms in Russia

Jury trials for all serious crimes were supposed to start in January 2003. Court requirements for searches, confiscation of documents, the seizure of property and approval for detention and reducing the power of prosecutors went into effect in January 2004.

Before the reforms went in effect, judges were given a crash course on them. Describing the judges at a one four-hour session at a Moscow courthouse, Sophia Kishkovsky wrote in the New York Times: “A few looked bored and swatted flies with copies of the code but most scribbled furiously and many asked questions as the code’s articles were dissected....Some judges grumbled that with the defendants’ new rights and the end of indefinite detentions before a trial, criminals will ‘simply run away.’”

As of the mid 2000s, is was still not clear how the reforms would be implemented, especially for things like promised legal counsel when there was already a shortage of lawyers. The system strained and besieged form all sides: by Putin’s authoritarians, oligarch takeovers, gangster corruption and everyday bribery. The World Bank gave loans to Russia to help it improve its legal system. Even so the old way of doing things remained firmly entrenched. Some judges who did what was asked of them under the new system were fired for making politically unpopular decisions.

Justice System Under Putin

Putin has used the structure of the Russian legal system to enhance the power of his office and dominate the government. His main tool has been his de facto right to appoint judges. All members of Russia's highest courts are nominated by the president and appointed by the Federation Council (the upper house of the legislature). Members of all courts appointed for life. Many members of the Federation Council have been picked by the Kremlin and are loyal to Putin.

In 2002, the Putin government promised to sped $1.5 billion over four years to hire more judges, raise the salaries of judges and provide new equipment and personnel for prosecutors. The legal moves made against Yukos oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky—a vocal critic of Putin—were regarded as a great miscarriage of justice. See Yukos, Economic History

In 2004, after the Beslan school attack, which left several hundred people dead, most f them children, Putin made plans to curb the judiciary. According to the plan the President would chose the majority of the members if the Supreme Qualification Collegium. Under the proposal the organization would be reduced to 21 members with 10 members selected by the President, 10 members of the general public and one appointed by the President.

Structure of the Russian Judiciary

The Supreme Court is Russia's highest court of origination and of appeals for consideration of criminal, civil, and administrative cases. The Constitutional Court decides whether federal laws, presidential and federal decrees and directives, and local constitutions, charters, and laws comply with the federal constitution. Treaties between the national government and a regional jurisdiction and between regional jurisdictions are subject to the same oversight. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

The Constitutional Court also resolves jurisdictional disputes between federal or local organs of power, and it also may be asked to interpret the federal constitution. The Constitutional Court temporarily ceased to exist after Yeltsin dissolved the parliament in October 1993. Although prescribed in the new constitution, the court remained moribund in 1994 because no new law was passed governing its procedures and composition. In 1995 the Federation Council finally approved appointments to the Constitutional Court, and it resumed operation that year. *

Under the constitution, judges of the three highest courts serve for life and are appointed by the Federation Council after nomination by the president. The president appoints judges at the next level, the federal district courts. The minister of justice is responsible for appointing judges to regional and city courts. However, in practice many appointments below the national level still are made by the chief executives of subnational jurisdictions, a practice that has perpetuated local political influence on judges' decisions. *

Criminal Justice Protections in Russia

According to Russia's 1993 constitution, the death penalty is applicable to some crimes "until its abolition" by federal law. Although the annual number of executions reportedly had decreased by mid-1996, the public outcry at Russia's growing crime wave made the death penalty a politically sensitive issue. In cases where the death penalty may be applied, the accused is guaranteed the right to trial by jury, although this provision was only partly in force in the mid-1990s. A condition of Russia's admittance to the Council of Europe, which it achieved in January 1996, was abolition of the death penalty within three years. Much international pressure was applied toward that end both before and after Russia was approved for council membership. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

For all types of crime, punishment without trial and prosecution ex post facto are forbidden. The constitution also bars torture and other "brutal or humiliating" treatment and punishment. Citizens have nominal protection against arbitrary arrest without a judicial decision, and they may not be held for more than forty-eight hours without being charged, except in a state of emergency. However, this constitutional provision has been directly contravened by Yeltsin's 1994 decree on combating organized crime, which allows police to detain persons suspected of involvement with organized crime for as much as thirty days without a criminal charge and without access to a lawyer. This decree was used widely in 1995 to detain persons without judicial permission beyond the mandated maximum period. Russian human rights monitors reported in 1995 that the few detainees who were aware of their rights and complained of violations were subject to beatings. Nonetheless, about one in six cases of arrest was appealed to the courts in 1995, and judges released one in six of those on grounds of insufficient evidence or breach of procedure. *

According to the constitution, judicial sentences may be appealed to higher courts, as may decisions of government organs at all levels. Those organs may be sued for damages caused by action or inaction. Nominally, all citizens are guaranteed their "day in court," have the right to choose their own defense counsel, or may be provided with free legal counsel if required. Legal aid may be requested from the earliest moment a person is detained, placed in custody, or indicted, a change from previous practice whereby the individual could receive counsel only upon being formally charged and after being interrogated. Few citizens are aware of these rights, however. A person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but where jury trials do not occur, the accused generally are expected to prove their innocence rather than defend themselves against prosecutors' efforts to prove their guilt. In cases where a judge imposes sentence, the average rate of conviction is more than 99 percent, as opposed to an 84 percent conviction rate in jury trials. *

Problems with the Russian Justice System

In Russian, defendant rights are often ignored. Judges are easily influenced by their bosses and local officials. Corruption is widespread and resistance to change is deeply entrenched. The fact that so few defendants are acquitted is disturbing when one considers that the quality of the police work and investigations is often very shoddy.

Court dockets are full and there is pressure to convict suspects quickly to get through the case load. One study found that this means legal procedures are “often treated as obstacles to be surmounted rather than applied.” Corruption is common place. Judges, investigators and prosecutors are all underpaid. They often take bribes. Criminal investigations can be stopped with payoffs.

Laws are applied by bureaucrats arbitrary and rules can change quickly. Many business laws are contradictory. When an injustice or dispute occurs gangsters are often hired instead lawyers. Business deals are often made under the threat of gangland violence. In some remote areas police sometimes have to hitchhike with their prisoners to the court house because funding is so scarce.

Yulia Latyina an analyst at the Economy of Transition reformist policy think tank in Russia told the Washington Post, "Russia lives not by law but by understandings. When I say not by the law I mean not by those formal rules and regulations written into our Constitution and civil code, but by some informal rules which are somewhere between a bandit's code and feudal code." One Russian lawyer told the Washington Post, Russians "do not know that it is possible to resolve anything by means of law; they are simply unaware of it. If you look at the appeals of citizens...you will find a blind belief that only authority can resolve problems involving the law.”

One businessman told the Los Angeles Times he has no choice but to be sneaky. “The more open you are the more questions you get from the tax police, the economic crimes department and even the fire safety inspector who comes and checks your office or shop and always gets away with a bribe.”

Unfairness of the Russian Justice System

One of the biggest problems with the Russian justice system is the difference between the system experienced by the small privileged elite and that experienced by ordinary Russians. Stephen Holmes, a specialist on East Europe at New York University, wrote: “the main obstacle to liberal transformation...remains Russia’s socially disconnected and politically unaccountable elite.” It is a system “where a privileged few can obtain a degree of legal certainty and predictability, while the vast majority continue to suffer erratic encounters with the law.”

The justice system is so weak that victims of crimes often have little recourse even when they known who the criminals, especially if the criminals are connected with gangster or the the elite. The New York Times described one man who was the victim of highway a highway robbery. Even though the people involved in the crime were apprehended after the robbery took place, they were not arrested because one of them was the son of a big time gangster.

Since the break up of the Soviet Union one Russian lawyer told he Washington Post, "the central element of rule of law...that the rulers subordinate themselves to those laws...is what's been lacking." In one high-profile case the oligarch Boris Berezovsky was issued an arrest warrant for corruption but the interior minister at the time failed to honor it.

Even though the constitution clearly states that people can live wherever they want, Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, has required people living in Moscow to have Soviet-style residence permits in order to live there. To get a permits if you don’t have one either requires the purchase of expensive property of the payment of certain "fees."

Thug Justice and Abuses of the Law in Russia

A profitable Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership operated for 13 years on Tverskaa Street in Moscow and as far as anybody knew operated fairly and honorably and had all of its paperwork, permits and tax payments in order. On day about 30 men, some dressed as security guards, others in jeans, stormed into the building and informed the car dealership owners their lease had run out and a new owner was going to take over the property, effective immediately. The thugs said they were acting on orders from the President’s office.

A similar incident happened to operators of the four-star Aerostar Hotel. Their landlord said they were welcome back if they paid a $30 million rent increase. The operators had just finished paying $30 million to upgrade the hotel. Rental disputes are supposed to worked out in courts and only a bailiff is supposed to have the authority to kick someone out. But as often is the case landlords take the law into their own hands and hire thugs to carry out “self-help” operations. Sometimes victims fight back by hiring their own thugs to retake the property.

Corporate offices are routinely raided and searched by thugs armed with guns and electric prods. It is a common practice for Russian directors to issue new stock for themselves, which dilutes and lowers the value of the stock held by other investors. Under Putin, rip offs, shady deals and tricks are less widespread as companies have been encouraged to adopt to international auditing standards but they still occur.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2016

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