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Perestroika and a "Law-Governed" Soviet State: Criminal Law

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As an outgrowth of perestroika and glasnost', an astounding, unprecedented debate has surfaced in the Soviet Union on the faults in the Soviet legal system, especially criminal law. Moreover, a draft of Fundamentals of Criminal Legislation of the USSR has been submitted to the new Supreme Soviet, which includes numerous changes in the criminal law system. This essay analyses the debate, especially the commentary of leading Soviet legal specialists, and the proposed legislative changes in view of the impediments to successful criminal law reform. We conclude that the role of the Party, which Gorbachev insists must be strengthened, is an especially insurmountable obstacle to "democratization" and the transformation of the Soviet Union into a "law-governed" society.

Affiliations: 1: University of Kansas


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