On April 13 the Institute of Modern Russia and the New York University International Law Society will host a panel discussion entitled “Escalation of Authoritarianism and Legal Environment in Russia” at New York University School of Law. Participants in the discussion include Ekaterina Mishina (University of Michigan), Pavel Ivlev (Committee for Russian Economic Freedom), Boris Palant (Palant & Shapiro, PC) and William E. Pomeranz (Woodrow Wilson Center). IMR director Lidiya Dukhovich will moderate.



“Escalation of Authoritarianism and Legal Environment in Russia”


Ekaterina Mishina
Visiting Professor, University of Michigan Department of Political Science

Pavel Ivlev
Chairman, Committee for Russian Economic Freedom

Boris Palant
Immigration Law Practitioner, Palant & Shapiro, PC


William E. Pomeranz
Deputy Director, Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies
Woodrow Wilson Center

Moderated by Lidiya Dukhovich
Director, Institute of Modern Russia


Monday, April 13, 2015

Vanderbilt Hall
Classroom 220
New York University School of Law
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012


Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the greatest challenge for all former Soviet republics, without exception, was overcoming the aftermath of a totalitarian regime. The direction in which each newly independent government chose to move can serve as an indicator, to a certain extent, of the country’s readiness to depart from totalitarianism at that time. Now, nearly a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, one can see varying degrees of progress or regress in the constitutional, legal, and judicial reforms achieved by Russia, the Baltics, Central Asia, Georgia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet republics.

Against the backdrop of recent events like the investigation of Boris Nemtsov’s murder, the panel will discuss how the escalation of authoritarianism in Russia is reflected in its legislation, such as in criminal law and in the legislation on second citizenship.

The discussions will be based on Ekaterina Mishina’s recently published book, whose Russian title translates to Long Shadows of the Soviet Past, and in which she describes the phenomenon of the “Soviet legacy” and how it has affected the democratic transition of former Soviet republics, specifically in the realm of constitutional transition and judicial reform. The speakers will also speak from their personal and professional experiences, especially regarding various cases of political asylum and Russia’s abuse of Interpol Red Notices in order to persecute political opponents who fled the country.


About the Speakers

Ekaterina Mishina is a Russian lawyer with an M.A. and B.A. from Lomonosov Moscow State University Law School and a Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She is currently a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Department of Political Science, and from 2005–2014, she was an assistant professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Previously, she was an assistant for the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of Russia, then headed Mostelecom’s legal department. In the capacity of either general manager or legal expert, she participated in several projects for the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the European Union, and USAID. In 2012–2013 she was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Pavel Ivlev is a Russian attorney as well as founder and chairman of the Committee for Russian Economic Freedom. A graduate of Moscow State University Law School, Ivlev also studied law at Columbia University and Queen Mary College (UK). Since 1994, he has been a legal counsel to Yukos Oil and its former CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In 1997, Ivlev became a partner at a leading Moscow-based international law firm, ALM Feldmans, which was effectively destroyed by the broader attack on Yukos and its advisors. Ivlev consequently fled to New York from Russia in 2004 under fear of unjust prosecution following Khodorkovsky’s arrest. A district court in Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Ivlev in 2005 on charges of embezzlement and money laundering, identical to those levied against Khodorkovsky.

Boris Palant is a partner with the New York based law firm Palant & Shapiro, PC. He is a graduate of Kharkov University and holds an M.A. in Psycho- and Neuro-Linguistics and Semiotics and a J.D. degree from SUNY Buffalo School of Law. Over the past thirty-one years, he has successfully handled hundreds of immigration cases, particularly asylum cases, including that of Boris Kuznetsov, a famous Russian lawyer and the author of She Sank, a book about the explosion of the submarine Kursk. Palant is also currently representing two prominent lawyers from Moscow who are facing criminal prosecution for their human rights activities, and several businessmen and professionals being prosecuted for their attempts to expose the corruption of Russian government officials. Palant holds the title “Super Lawyer,” awarded by Thomson-Reuters.

William E. Pomeranz is the deputy director of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He also teaches Russian law at the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies (CERES) at Georgetown University. Dr. Pomeranz holds a B.A. from Haverford College, a M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh, a J.D. cum laude from American University, and a Ph.D. in Russian history from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London. He previously practiced international law in the U.S. and Moscow, and later served as program officer for Russia at the National Endowment for Democracy. Dr. Pomeranz’s research interests include Russian legal history as well as current Russian commercial and constitutional law. His articles have been published in the Russian Review, the Slavonic and East European Review, the Review of Central and East European Law, Demokratizatsiya, and Problems of Post-Communism.