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Laws Are Not Enough

Over at the The Power Vertical blog, RFE/RL’s Robert Coalson argues that new laws alone will do little to decrease police corruption in Russia. Here’s an excerpt:

There has been a lot of ink spilled in recent weeks evaluating the proposed new law on the police and, before that, the law on expanding the powers of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Good textual analyses of both bits of legislation can be found on the blog A Good Treaty here and here.

However, to a large extent all the talk about various articles and subclauses strikes me as yet another act in the political theater that dominates Russia today. No one in authority seems to be addressing basic issues, not the least of which is that no one believes the abuses Russian law enforcement agencies have committed over the last decade and longer occurred because of bad laws.

In a commentary for Russian “Forbes” today, businesswoman Yana Yakovleva hit the nail on the head: “What is the rush with passing the new law on the militisiya, or politsiya? Are police officers tormenting citizens because the law is bad? Are they violating their rights and depriving them of liberties because the law allows them to? No. They are doing this because they are allowed to do it.”