From police state to police state? Legacies and law enforcement in Russia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

18 Scopus citations


Over the past twenty-five years, the Russian state has apparently come full circle. The Soviet Union was “the world’s largest-ever police state” (Kotkin 2001, 173). Reflecting on Vladimir Putin’s first two terms as president, C. J. Chivers (2008; see also Easter 2008) declared that Putin’s “signature legacy” was the rebuilding “of a more sophisticated and rational police state than the failed USSR.” If Russia has traveled the long road from police state to police state, what happened to the police during that journey? And does the historical legacy of the Soviet past explain the outcome? Legacies abound in the study of postcommunist law enforcement. Louise Shelley contends that communist, Soviet, and (in some cases) colonial legacies of Russian rule “will continue to weigh heavily on law enforcement in these nations for years to come” (1999, 85). Rasma Karklins observes that “a concrete legacy of the Soviet system” is the ability of officials to “use their investigative and judicial powers to intimidate citizens and political rivals” (2002, 30). Similarly, according to Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan (2010), the “enduring legacy of the KGB” lives on in the FSB, the Federal Security Service.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHistorical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781107286191
ISBN (Print)9781107054172
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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