Russian Compliance with Articles Five and Six of the European Convention of Human Rights as a Barometer of Legal Reform and Human Rights in Russia

This Note examines two of Russia’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): the Article 5 right to liberty and security, and the Article 6 right to a fair trial to gauge Russian compliance with European human rights norms. These articles lie at the heart of systematic legal reform in the Russian Federation. This Note defends the thesis that the agonizingly slow progress of judicial reform and the advancement of human rights in Russia is a function of the inevitable lag of conceptual norms behind institutional reform. Part I explores the weak place of the rule of law as an institutional force in Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history and emphasizes the power of conceptual legacies as well as the path dependency of prior institutional choices. Part II presents the current legal architecture of the Russian Federation as it relates to the ECHR, discussing first the position of international treaties in Russia ‘ hierarchy of laws and, second, domestic Russian criminal law and criminal procedural law. Part III focuses on the conceptual and legal distance that separates Russian domestic law from the human rights obligations that Russia has undertaken in international treaties with the Council of Europe. Part IX analyzes the steadily growing docket of complaints lodged against Russia for alleged violations of the ECHR. Finally, Part V advocates a variety of educational reforms at every level of Russian society by both foreign and domestic actors. The Note concludes on a note of alarm, predicting the weakening of institutional legal structures absent conceptual and attitudinal changes.