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Resources for Russian Law

Russian Law

Law became an academic discipline in Russia under Peter I. Before that legislative activity was not systematised and was expressed in various juridical acts. A collection of early Russian laws, Russkaiа Pravda, reflect the development of law from the 8th to the 12th century. Legal sources of later period are the Sudebnik of 1497 and the Sudebnik of 1550. One of the three departments of the newly founded Moscow University (1755) was a law department. In the beginning of the 19th century the dominant legal theory was the doctrine of natural law that was replaced by the historical school after the suppression of the Decembrist uprising in 1825. Forty-five volumes of the Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire were published in 1830. A series of reforms of the 1860s significantly influenced the development of law thought in Russia. The reforms affected courts, city administration and local governments, and evoked outburst of literature and periodical titles devoted to legal topics. Soviet legal science was based on the Marxist theories adjusted in Lenin’s writings. His thoughts on the state and law were further developed in resolutions of the Communist Party and government’s  legislative acts, such as the Code of the Labor Law of 1918 and the Civil Code of 1922. Civil, family, and criminal laws were codified in the 1920s and the Constitution of the USSR was adopted in 1936.   

Source: Great Soviet Encyclopedia, v.31, pp. 425-428.

Below is an introductory list of resources about Russian legal system available at the Slavic Reference Service Library and online. The list includes materials that cover Imperial, Soviet and post-Soviet periods. The majority of the materials are in Russian, with few exceptions. 


English-language materials


Kavass, Igor I. Soviet Law in English: Research Guide and Bibliography, 1970-1987. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 1988.

Call Number: 016.34947 K174S U of I record

The guide, compiled by Vanderbilt University professor Igor I. Kavass, includes 1600 titles (books and articles) and covers most comprehensively the period between 1970 and mid-1987, while also mentioning some of the most valuable publications from the late 1960s. The book comprises 3 parts: an essay “Researching Soviet Law” with a list of recommended literature, subject bibliography with a checklist of subject headings, and an annotated bibliography arranged alphabetically by author (a list of authors is included). Overall, Soviet Law in English provides general information about the Soviet legal system as well a handy reference to English-language writings on Soviet law.


Butler, William Elliott. Russian And Soviet Law: An Annotated Catalogue of Reference Works, Legislation, Court Reports, Serials, and Monographs on Russian and Soviet Law (including International Law). Zug: Inter Documentation Co., 1976.

Call Number: Q. 016.3400947 B97R U of I record

The bibliography, a result of a microfiche filming project, includes more than 1100 titles found in European and North American collections that chronologically span from Kievan Rus to the time of publication, and geographically from the Russian Empire to the USSR. The book contains descriptions of Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii on microfiche and Sobranie uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Pravitelstva on microfiche, as well as the following parts: Russian Law (bibliographies, catalogues, dictionaries, guides, indexes; legislation, court reports, historical records; periodicals and serial publications; monographs, textbooks, treatises), Soviet Law (bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, glossaries, indexes; official gazettes and general collections of legislation; state arbitrazh; court reports and rulings; periodicals; legislation, monographs, textbooks and treatises), Foreign Law, and International Law (bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes; international treaties and documents; periodicals; private and public international law).


Mostecky, Vaclav, Butler, William Elliott, eds. Soviet Legal Bibliography: A Classified and Annotated Listing of Books and Serials Published in the Soviet Union Since 1917 as Represented in the Collection of the Harvard Law School Library as of January 1, 1965. Cambridge: 1965.

Call Number: 016.3400947 H26S U of I record

As the title implies, the bibliography presents general materials published in the Soviet Union since 1917 as acquired by the Harvard Law School Library through January 1, 1965. It is divided by type of material into the following main parts (with further subject subdivisions): reference works, constitutions and documents, laws and regulations, court reports, arbitral awards, supreme Soviet sessions, Communist Party congresses, census reports, periodicals, treatises, comparative law, private and public international law. Arranged either chronologically or alphabetically within the rubric.  Each entry consists, when available, of author, transliterated title, editor, compiler, edition, place of publication, publisher, date, pagination, English translation of the title, and an annotation that indicates the scope of the book. 


Literatura po sovetskomu pravu: bibliograficheskii ukazatel (= Literature on Soviet law: index of bibliography). Moskva: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1960.

Call Number: 016.34 AK1LFACSIM U of I record

In Russian and English. The index includes materials published in 1917 – 1958 with a supplement which includes works published in 1959 and 1960. It covers materials that deal with general reference, theory and history of law, constitutional, administrative, financial, agrarian, civil, family, labor, criminal, judicial, international and private international law. Each section begins with an introductory article that provides a review of the branch of Soviet law and related literature.


Russian-language materials 


Iuridicheskaia literatura: Annotirovannyi ukazatel otechestvennykh bibliograficheskikh posobi, izdannykh v 1831-1970 gg. (= Law Literature: An Annotated Index to National Bibliographic Guides Published in 1830 – 1970) /  Sostavitel T. E. Ksenzova. Moskva: “Kniga”, 1972.

Call Number: 016.3400947 K94I U of I record

Two main sections, State and Law of Socialist Countries and State and Law of Capitalist Countries, are further subdivided by specific law branches (administrative law, financial law, civil law, etc.). The sections are preceded by general section which includes entries on history of state and law, general law indexes, law journals and institutions indexes. Material annotations cover its content, volume, structure, languages, chronological dates, and available reviews.


Povorinskiĭ, A. Sistematicheski ukazatel russkoi literatury po sudoustroistvu i sudoproizvodstvu, grazhdanskomu i ugolovnomu (= Systematic index to Russian literature on judicial system and legal proceedings in civil and criminal law). S.-Peterburg: Tip. Pravitelstvuiushchago Senata, 1896.

Call Number: 016.3447 P869S1981 U of I record (also available online through HathiTrust Digital Library) 

The three-volume set indexes books and booklets, reviews, journal and newspaper articles since the beginning of the 18th century until October 1, 1895. Book One (v. 1:1) lists materials on judicial system, its history, branches and institutions, Book Two  (v. 1:1) covers materials on civil law, legal proceedings and special cases, and Book Three ( v.1: 2) contains materials on criminal law proceedings, as well as supplement with information on law schools and societies and subject and name indexes. Volume 2, published in 1905, is similar in its structure and covers materials from 1896 until September 1904.


Bibliograficheskii ukazatel knig i statei po chasti pravovedeniia, vyshedshikh v Rossii v 1866 godu (= Bibliographic index of books and acrticles related to law science published in Russia in 1866) / sost. Mezhov. S.-Peterburg : Pechatano v tipografii Pravitelstvuiushchago senata, 1867.

Call Number: 016.3400947 M579B U of I record

The publishing of the work, a supplement to the Journal of Ministry of Justice,  was stimulated by the judicial reform of Alexander II and the outburst of printed materials related to the 1864 reform. The book covers materials on the history and theory of law, civil and criminal law, miscellaneous articles as well as peasant and zemstvo questions published in 1866.


Specific law materials 


Bibliografiia po konstitutsionnomu pravosudiiu (= Bibliography of Constitutional Justice) / avtor-sostavitel M.A. Mitiukov. Moskva: Volters Kluver, 2008.

Call Number: 016.34247 M697b U of I record

The bibliography, interdisciplinary in nature, includes works from different humanities’ disciplines; the law materials included  cover not only constitutional law but also theory and history of state, international law and some specific law branches. The volume is divided into the following parts: Part 1. Constitutional Justice in the Russian Federation (with a wealth of materials related to the Constitutional Court), Part 2. Constitutional Justice in the Subjects of the Russian Federation, Part 3. Constitutional Justice in Foreign Countries, Part 4. Comparative Studies of Constitutional Justice, concluding with a name index. 


Avakian, S. A. Bibliografiia po konstitutsionnomu i munitsipalnomu pravu Rossii (= Bibliography of Russian Constitutional and Municipal Law). Moskva: Izd-vo Moskovskogo universiteta, 2007.

Call Number: 016.34247 Av12b2007 U of I record

The second supplemented edition (first edition published in 2002) includes scholarly and popular materials on constitutional (part 1) and municipal law (part 2, smaller in volume due to the novelty of the branch of law) of the Russian Empire, USSR and Russian Federation. The volume is organized by topic/subject according to the system used in Russian law schools and law curricular, and is supplied with a name index.


Zakonodatelnaia politika i pravovoe regulirovanie v sfere kultury: annotirovannyi bibliograficheskii ukazatel: 1994-1998 gg. (= Legislative Policy and Regulations in the Field of Culture: An Annotated Bibliographical Index: 1994-1998). Moskva: Ministerstvo kultury Rossiiskoi Federatsii, Rossiiskii institut kulturologii, 1999. 

Call Number: 016.34447097 F319z U of I record

Based primarily on the Russian State Library collections, the annotated index includes federal legislative normative acts issued in 1994-1998, as well as literature on legislative regulations in the social, cultural, information areas, intellectual property, arts, education, science, fashion and entertainment. The index includes bibliographic descriptions of the main official sources of publication of normative acts and provides subject index as well as index of authors, compilers and editors. 


The History of International Law in Russia, 1647-1917: A Bio-biographical Study / by V.E. Grabar; translated and edited, with an introduction and bibliographies by W.E. Butler. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.

Call Number: 016.341 G75M:E U of I record

This is an edited translation of V. E. Gabar’s Materialy k istorii literatury mezhdunarodnogo prava v Rossii (1647-1917), originally published in 1958 by the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The present volume contains an essay on the life and work of V. E. Grabar, a bibliography of his own writings, Gabar’s multi-part work (Part 1. The Muscovite State: The Seventeenth Century; Part 2. The First Half of the Eighteen Century; Part 3. The Second Half of the Eighteen Century; Part 4. The First Half of the Nineteenth Century; Part 5. The Second Half of the Nineteenth Century and the Beginning of the Twentieth Century; with further divisions within the parts), followed by an edited bibliography with added entries (more than one thousand items) as well as verified and corrected citations. Entires are arranged alphabetically by author or title and provide a number referenced in Gabar’s textual work when the item is cited as well as information on available reviews. The volume concludes with an Index of Names.


Mezhdunarodnoe pravo: bibliografiia, 1973-1985 gg. (=International Law: Bibliography, 1973-1985) / Otvetstvennyi redaktor D.I. Feldman. Moskva: “Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia”, 1987.

Call Number: 016.341 M569 U of I record

The library also has a volume published in 1976 (covers materials from 1917-1972) and 1992 publication (covers materials from 1986-1990).

The bibliography, arranged chronologically from 1973 until 1985, includes reference sources, materials on history, theory, norms, principles of international law, international law organizations as well as diplomatic, economic, maritime (excluding materials on maritime law from 1973 until 1978), airborne, aerospace, environmental protection, and international private law researched and interpreted by Soviet authors. 


Sovetskoe ugolovnoe pravo: bibliograficheskii spravochnik, 1961-1980 gg. (= Soviet Criminal Law: A Bibliographic Guide, 1961-1980) / [sostavitel A.S. Gorelik]. Moskva : “Iuridicheskaia literatura”, 1983.

Call Number: 016.34547 G664S U of I record

The guide contains materials on criminal law and sociological problems of criminal law published in Russian language in 1961-1980, and includes monographs, journal articles, thesis abstracts and reviews. Works on criminology and correctional labor are generally not included. Every chapter starts with General Questions section which contains main general works on the subject. The volume provides lists of main periodicals in the field as well as official criminal legislation publications in the Soviet Union and Soviet Republics.


Sovetskoe gosudarstvennoe pravo: bibliograficheskii ukazatel za 1975-1980 gody (= Soviet State Law: A Bibliographic Index for 1975-1980) / [sostaviteli: A.K. Karazanu, V.N. Mozolevskaia]. Kishinev: Kishinevskii Gosudarstvennyi universitet im. V.I. Lenina, 1981.

Call Number: 016.34247 So89 U of I record

The index includes monographs, booklets, articles, textbooks, conference abstracts, reviews and thesis abstracts on all aspects of the Soviet state law published in 1975-1980. It is supplied with a name index.


Online resources


Federal Law Portal Iuridicheskaia Rossiia http://www.law.edu.ru/

Launched in 2002, on the order of the Ministry of Science and Education, the website is a reliable source of law information. It contains more than 60,000 materials including documents, biographies, information about conferences, grants, institutions, periodicals, normative documents, law practice and normative acts. Furthermore, it provides access to an online catalog of law materials at the St. Petersburg State University Scientific Library and a list of other Internet resources.


Scientific Law Library of the Publishing House “Spark” http://lawlibrary.ru/

The Publishing House “Spark”, founded in 1992, is a private publisher of law materials, including the following periodicals: Vestnik Konstitutsionnogo Suda Rossiiskoi Federatsii (The Bulletin of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation), Biulleten Ministerstva iustitsii Rosssiiskoi Federatsii (The Bulletin of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation), Biulleten Federalnoi sluzhby sudebnykh pristavov Rossiiskoi Federatsii ( Bulletin of the Federal Bailiff Service). The library was formed in 1997 with collections of prominent law scholars. Its catalog contains 640 thousand of bibliographic entries of law materials in Russian language. The catalog can be searched by title, author, place and year of publication, book content. The catalog also includes article indexes to periodicals and collections of scientific works*.

* Another invaluable source of indexed Russian periodicals is this title:

Russkaia periodicheskaia pechat: ukazateli soderzhaniia, 1728-1995 (= Russian Periodicals: Index of Contents, 1728-1995). Sankt-Peterburg : Izd-vo Rossiĭskoĭ nat︠s︡ionalʹnoĭ biblioteki, 1998.

Call Number: 016.057 N584r U of I record 


The Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire http://nlr.ru/e-res/law_r/content.html

The Russian National Library provides full-text access to three collections of Russian laws: 1649-1825, 1825-1881, 1881-1913 as well as chronological, subject, and name indexes. The collections include all types of legislative enactments authorized in pre-Revolutionary Russia. The first collection was published in 1830 and included more than 30 thousand of enactments from the times of 1649 Sobornoe ulozhenie until  December 12, 1825. The second collection included more than 60 thousand of enactments and covered the period from December 12, 1825 until February 28, 1881. The third collection included more than 40 thousand enactments, was published annually until 1916, and covered the period from March 1, 1881 to the end of 1913. 


Bibliographic Index of the Publishing Group “Iurist” http://lawinfo.ru/book/11340/ 

The index contains information about articles published in journals of the publishing group “Iurist” since 2013 until the first half of 2018. Founded in 1993, today the publisher has more than 60 journal titles covering all branches of Russian law. The current issue continues the three-volume  index published in 2013 that covered the period from 1993 to 2013. Articles are indexed by journals they were published in, and within the journals are listed in alphabetical order by author’s name.