Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 61: Russian law

William E. Butler


The term ‘Russian’ in the field of comparative law has referred at various times narrowly to the law of Kievan Rus (9th–11th centuries), the whole of the territory that came to be known as Muscovy (11th–16th centuries), the Russian Empire in its greatest territorial expanse (16th century to 1917), the former Soviet Union (1917–91) and, officially, the Russian Federation from 1991 to the present. Insofar as ‘Russian law’ refers generally to the law in force on these territories, it encompasses a vast number of subsystems, including the customary law of hundreds of ethnic minorities, the influence of neighbouring peoples and kingdoms (Byzantium, Central Europe, Tatar-Mongol, Islamic, Scandinavia and Eastern, Central and western Europe), the legislation (broadly understood) of principalities, khanates and other entities on Russian territory, and the full range of sources of law from top to bottom of the Russian Federation.

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