Introduction

Naomi Caffee

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Volume Six, 2013-2014

Opposition, Stability and Liberalization in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes

Brittni Graham, Miami University, Ohio

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    Numerous publications in recent years have studied the relationship between elections and liberalization in authoritarian regimes. Fueled by the formation of hybrid regimes more commonly found in post-communist countries, elections have proven to be an opportunity for change. More often than not, these elections are full of fraud and corruption, preventing any chance for opposition parties to succeed. However, certain factors have been found to be major players in oppositional victory. This paper offers an alternative view on the ties between elections and liberalization. I argue that the stability of the opposition party after winning elections is an independent variable when determining when elections lead to liberalization. Through analyzing case studies focusing on both the election process and the term that follows, I demonstrate the direct relationship between the stability of the opposition and liberalization through those elections.

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The Evolution of the Thieves’ Code: An Analysis of Russian Criminal Tattoos

Derek Groom, University of California, Los Angeles

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    While illustrating a convict's criminal record, Russian criminal tattoos play a key role in forming the social hierarchy of the criminal world. The placement and imagery of each tattoo serves a specific purpose, which is seldom understood by those not associated with the criminal world. Russian criminal tattoos, therefore, form a visual language, which criminals both inside and outside of the prison system strictly adhered to throughout the 20th century. The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, radically destabilized the traditional hierarchies of the Russian underworld, and this destabilization has, in turn, affected the "language" of criminal tattoos. In this paper, I plan to analyze the language of tattoos in the context of the Soviet criminal underworld, as well as discuss the transformation of this underworld and its code after 1991, paying particular attention to the effect of this transformation on tattoos.

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Russian Cybercrime: A Profile and Comparison

Sydney Heller, University of California, Los Angeles

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    In the modern world, criminal organizations are beginning to use technical and cyber means more and more often to carry out various operations in every country on the planet. Although the face of criminal enterprises may have changed, many overlying principals governing how and to what ends they operate have not. In this paper, I aim to explore the face of contemporary cybercrime, labeling it the most potent of all modern types of crime. First I provide a general background of common methods and tools cyber criminals use, how such acts are conducted and what the potential consequences are. Following this is a more in-depth portrait of the current Russian cyber criminal world, as well as certain resources the government of the Russian Federation exploits for its own cyber defense. Finally, I discuss the current state of the analogous system in the United States and I suggest further measures our government should take in order to stay protected.

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Representations of the Soviet Reader: A Case Study

William Forrest Holden, Portland State University

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    Feedback from readers in the form of letters was an important element of Soviet newspapers. Here, I examine three articles published in 1969 as an example of what Jeffrey Brooks has called the "interactive sphere" of the Soviet media. This paper first considers an article entitled On i Ona [He and She], published in Literaturnaia gazeta in the autumn of 1969. The article is a parable written by Victoria Tokareva regarding the marital complications that arise as a result of a woman's decision to attend graduate school, published alongside three professional responses of commentary on the parable. Next, this paper examines the two subsequent articles that were published in response, each consisting of letters allegedly written by readers and sent to Literaturnaia gazeta. I discuss the contours of discourse in these responses, ranging from traditionalist to contentious, in order to show the ways in which a particular spectrum of readers' opinion is represented in these articles. Ultimately, this paper demonstrates a narrative of opinion that is formed as a compilation of these publications, culminating in a very acute and traditionalist response from the readers to the problems raised in Tokareva's parable. This informs our understanding of the machinations of the "interactive sphere," and in a more general sense, of the Soviet press.

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Controlled Chaos: Poetic Rhythm in Blok’s "The Twelve"

Todd Long, Portland State University

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    Aleksandr Blok's long poem The Twelve uses a variety of different meters, changing between them often and quickly to create a feeling of chaos that fits the chaotic atmosphere of the Russian Revolution. However, in this chaos (or carnival, as one critic put it) there is a method that has been overlooked by some critics, one of whom described the poem as "amorphous" and "arhythmical." That method is the use of what Marina Tarlinskaja calls "rhythmical figures," which are deviations from a set meter that "serve semantic purposes." For example, the first stanza of The Twelve begins in a trochaic meter, but the fourth line suddenly breaks into anapest. This is not arbitrary; the meter "slips" when the image of a person slipping on ice suddenly appears in the poem. This example is not isolated; another slipping person is mentioned at the end of stanza 2, at which point the meter breaks from dolnik into free verse. This essay explores other such examples of rhythmical figures in the poem and breaks down technically how they can be identified and analyzed by counting syllables and stresses. A conclusion is made about their relevance to symbolism, a literary movement of which Blok was a part and which was characterized by the use of mysterious mystical metaphors. The fact that critics have often overlooked the hidden use of rhythm in this poem and seen only chaos underscores the mystery with which Blok wrote it. This essay's analysis will shed some light on that mystery.

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Humbert Humbert’s Hyperreality: Conceptions of Authenticity in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Mika Kennedy, University of California, San Diego

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    Since its publication in 1955, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita has been variously labeled: it is "the most American of Nabokov's works." It is also "the supreme novel of love in the twentieth century." Others contend it is not a romance, but a parodic tragedy of imitations and inauthenticity, wherein protagonist Humbert Humbert "succeeds in creating only a renewed sense of loss wherever he turns." Is their relationship, then, monstrously romantic, or the imagined romance of a monster? The unanswerability of this question suggests that inauthenticity need not be the harbinger of tragedy, in the same way that a kiss does not necessarily prove supreme love. Humbert pursues Lolita the original, "the real," but only because he has lost the hyperreal. His romance is with fiction. But Humbert Humbert continues to conceptualize his potential relationship with Lolita in terms of a hyperreal fiction, a fiction critic Umberto Eco recognizes as quintessentially American. Lolita's inherent "Americanness" provides the key to reconciling both its romantic and parodic designations, and reformulating our prevailing interpretations of authenticity in the American novel.

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Issues Facing Legal Education in Russia: Some Problems and Solutions

Polina Mareninova, University of California, Los Angeles

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    Although legal reforms have taken place in sectors such as law enforcement and the court system, not enough of the government’s attention is being directed toward legal education. The dearth of career opportunities for recent law school graduates and the need for quality rankings of law schools are just some of the issues concerning legal education in Russia. The legal profession must meet Russia’s current legal needs and graduating law students should be able to confidently face new societal realities and challenges. It is necessary to increase government funding to the state and private legal institutions and to redesign their curricula. The new educational standards of legal education should emphasize a practice-oriented approach, the Socratic Method, and comparative law. In addition, a serious discussion about how well legal education prepares its students to respond to legal challenges needs to take place.

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Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law: Lustration and Criminal Prosecutions in Post-Communist States

Sara Olson, Wake Forest University

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    In Eastern and Central Europe, where the shadow of a communist past still lingers, each country has approached the question of transitional justice from a different perspective, supporting or refuting various practices as legitimate applications of the rule of law. Of paramount importance in the debate is the appropriate use of criminal trials and lustration laws. Opponents of these transitional justice mechanisms contend that, due to the inescapable application of retroactive justice, use of questionable evidence, and inevitably political nature of the proceedings, they violate the rule of law. On the other hand, those in favor of transitional justice maintain that the transition period is a time in which the rule of law can be established using criminal trials and lustration laws — that these mechanisms in fact strengthen the rule of law rather than weaken it. Trials, when executed using proper rule of law considerations, can lay a good democratic foundation by creating a tradition of the rule of law while at the same time creating an environment safe for democracy. Using the arguments presented by both sides and examples of the various types of transitional patterns followed by the different countries, this paper examines to what extent trails, prosecutions, and lustration contradict or reinforce the rule of law, as well as the way in which each post-communist state has addressed the issue in order to foster democracy.

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The Grotesque Fetishism of the Overcoat

Alan Sachnowski, New College of Florida

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    This paper examines the processes of structural formations in Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat, employing Karl Marx's theory of "commodity fetishism" and Boris Eichenbaum's formalist interpretation of the "grotesque" in the story. The physical transformation of the overcoat within the story can be structurally segmented to reflect its significance. While the grotesque functions to transform the insignificant into the significant aesthetically, fetishizing the insignificant can imbue an object with a social significance. This paper traces the forms of the overcoat as an object in production, mobilizing Eichenbaum's formalist analysis to describe "The Grotesque Fetishism of the Overcoat."

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