Legal Systems of the Post-Soviet Non-Recognized States: Structural Problems

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Vladislav Tolstykh, Mariam Grigoryan, Tatiana Kovalenko


There are currently six non-recognized states (NRSs) in the post-Soviet space: the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic (PMR, 1990), the Republic of South Ossetia (RSO, 1990), the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR, 1991), the Republic of Abkhazia (RA, 1994), the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR, 2014) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR, 2014). All of them have been formed as a result of armed conflicts between a state vigorously pursuing the policy of national unification and a minority residing compactly. On the one hand, the legal systems of these states ensure that both the state and the civil society function effectively. In particular, each legal system forms a basis for the state’s political system, sets out human rights and their guarantees and provides necessary regulation of commercial activities. On the other hand, these legal systems reflect certain “statehood deficiency” and are subject to a number of serious problems, including being dependent on political agenda as well as on certain foreign legal systems, providing no personal jurisdiction or property guarantees and having significantly underdeveloped commercial law and judicial system. This “statehood deficiency” has two main causes: the community being not ready for state building (weak statehood traditions; lack of qualified personnel, economic resources and industrial base; high level of corruption, etc.) and the state being non-recognized (including the consequences of this status such as inability to participate in international cooperation, dependence on major geopolitical players, existence of an external threat, etc.).

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