Russia and the Right to Self-Determination in the Post-Soviet Space

ISBN : 9780192897176

Johannes Socher
304 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
May 2021
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The right to self-determination is renowned for its lack of clear interpretation. Broadly speaking, one can differentiate between a liberal and a nationalist tradition. In modern international law, the balance between these two opposing traditions is sought in an attempt to contain or 'domesticate' the nationalist version by limiting it to 'abnormal' situations, such as colonialism in the sense of 'alien subjugation, domination and exploitation'. This book situates Russia's engagement with the right to self-determination in this debate. It shows that Russia has a distinct approach to self-determination that sets it apart both from Western States and from state practice during Soviet times. Against the background of the Soviet Union's role in the evolution of the right to self-determination, the bulk of the study analyses Russia's relevant state practice in the post-Soviet space through the prisms of sovereignty, secession, and annexation. Drawing on analysis of seven secessionist conflicts and a detailed study of Russian sources and scholarship, it traces how Russian engagement with self-determination has changed over the past three decades. Ultimately, the book argues that Russia's approach to the right of peoples to self-determination may be best understood in terms of Russian power politics disguised as legal rhetoric, as well as being evidence of a regional (re-)fragmentation of international law.


Part I: The Soviet Doctrine on Self-Determination Revisited
1 Political and Ideological Foundations of the Soviet Approach to Self-Determination
2 The Soviet Union's Contribution to the Evolution of Self-Determination as a Right
3 The Modifications of the Right to Self-Determination in the Soviet Sphere of Influence
4 The Right to Self-Determination in Soviet Scholarship of International Law
5 Conclusions of Part 1
Part II: Russia, The Right to Self-Determination & Sovereignty
6 Self-Determination and Sovereignty in the Russian Constitution
7 Case Study 1: Tatarstan
8 Case Study 2: Chechnya
9 Conclusions of Part 2
Part III: Russia, The Right to Self-Determination & Secession
10 Russia's Position on Self-Determination and Secession in the Kosovo Case
11 Case Study 3: Nagorno-Karabakh
12 Case Study 4: Transnistria
13 Case Study 5: South Ossetia
14 Case Study 6: Abkhazia
15 Conclusions of Part 3
Part IV: Russia, The Right to Self-Determination & Annexation
16 Russia's Retrospect Evaluation of the Baltic States' Annexation in 1940
17 Case Study 7: Crimea
18 Conclusions of Part 4
Part V: Post-Soviet Russian Scholarship on Self-Determination
19 Post-Soviet Scholarship of International Law in Russia: An Overview
20 The Right to Self-Determination in Post-Soviet Russian Scholarship
21 Positions on 'Crimea' in Russian International Law Scholarship
22 Conclusions of Part 5
Final Conclusions of the Study

About the author: 

Johannes Socher is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Free University of Berlin and previously has been a research fellow at the German Research Institute for Public Administration. He has two state examinations in German law, an M.Sc. in Law, Anthropology and Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a PhD in law as well as an LL.M. in State and Administration in Europe from the German University of Administrative Sciences.

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