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Decriminalization of Domestic Violence in Russia in Respect of International Legal Framework

Student: Ani Gabisonia

Supervisor: Olga Egorshina

Faculty: School of Law

Educational Programme: Jurisprudence (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2020

Legislative changes adopted to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in 2017 have led to decriminalization of domestic violence. A single act of domestic abuse is considered as an administrative offense according to the article 6.1.1 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation. Only a repeated violation of the same legal provision within a year is classified as a crime. This reform elicited negative reactions from international human rights organizations and Russian feminist community because of the strong connection between the problem of domestic abuse and institutionalized discrimination against women. The purpose of the research is to assess the feasibility of using criminal law mechanisms for protection of victims of domestic violence. In the first chapter several international agreements and recommendations are used to determine limits of state’s positive obligations towards victims of domestic abuse. Implication of those international provisions is illustrated by foreign legislation prohibiting acts of domestic violence. Effectiveness of reviewed measures has been estimated on the basis of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The fundamental problem is not the absence of regulation by state, but law-enforcement authorities’ unwillingness to take actions against domestic abusers because of the existing discriminatory treatment of victims. Moreover, specific nature and complexity of domestic violence as a crime makes traditional criminal penalties inapplicable, which is explained in detail in the final section of the chapter. The second chapter contains an analysis of criminal legislation and gives a better understanding of enforcement practices in the Russian Federation in relation to domestic violence based on the recommendations of international bodies and national case law. The paper provides a legal evaluation of the institution of administrative prejudice in criminal law as a tool for the implementation of positive obligations. With the general support for the current use of administrative liability for single acts of domestic violence, the research proposes a few crucial legislative amendments. For example, private prosecution cannot be used for the conduct of criminal proceedings in cases of domestic violence because of the critical situation of the victim and their close relationship with the offender. The practice of the European Court of Human Rights once again proves the existence of discrimination as the main reason behind the failure of authorities to prevent and solve cases of domestic violence. Therefore, indifference of public officials cannot be treated with additional criminal measures for them to ignore, but requires the adoption of specific legislation against domestic violence and discrimination of women in Russia.

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