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Human Rights in Russia: A Darker Side of Reform

Jonathan Weiler
Human Rights in Russia: A Darker Side of Reform
ISBN: 978-1-58826-279-0
2004/165 pages/LC: 2003025710

"This is a revisionist book.... [It] has great value in highlighting the magnitude of [the] side effects of 'democracy and reform'" —Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr, Perspectives on Politics

"Weiler had made a bold start at tackling tough and important questions about the relation between democratization , marketization, and physical security."—Kathleen E. Smith, Political Science Quarterly

"Interesting and original." —Choice

"This keenly focused book [is] worth readingscholars and advanced students take note." —Peter Juviler, Slavic Review

"An important book on an understudied topic.... valuable for all scholars of contemporary Russian politics."—Michael McFaul, Stanford University


The connection between Soviet authoritarianism and human rights violations once seemed unassailable, as did the belief that a transition away from communist rule would lead to better protection of human rights. Challenging these assumptions, Jonathan Weiler argues that the tumultuous processes associated with political and economic reform have, in important instances, eroded human rights in post-Soviet Russia.

Weiler argues that, while Russia has moved rapidly toward a market-based economy, the social and legal elements of democratization have lagged behind. Examining the country's human rights record since 1991, he finds that the victims have changed—to the socially disadvantaged rather than the politically suspect—but the realities of life for the most vulnerable have in fact become worse. His work draws much-needed attention to this darker side of the post-Soviet transition.


Jonathan Weiler teaches Russian politics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  • Introduction: Framing the Study.
  • Prisons: Resource Deprivation and Tortuous Conditions.
  • Violence Against Women and State Indifference.
  • The Victimization of Other Socially Vulnerable Groups.
  • Institutional Degradation and the Two Wars in Chechnya.
  • Conclusion: Russia in Comparative Perspective.