This is the first of two Working Papers on the twenty-year history of Russia’s Law 1761- 1, “On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression,” which was passed in the last months of the Soviet regime by the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, and signed on October 18, 1991, by RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin. The law, amended 16 times, continues to be in force today.

This paper focuses on the origins of the law. The law emerged out of the contest between Communist Party (CPSU) leaders and more progressive elements in late Soviet society and politics. I highlight here the law’s embodiment of an historical reckoning with the abuses of the Soviet era and the law’s challenge to the Soviet regime’s control over information. This Working Paper thus stresses the most positive aspects of the law’s history.

The second Working Paper from this project addresses the record of the law’s implementation from the perspective of beneficiaries, their advocates, and the state personnel who administer the law. Because of fundamental changes in the language of the law and in the benefits it offered by legislative amendments in 2005, the second Working Paper records the decline in 2005-2011 of the law’s contribution to transitional justice and the rule of law during the tenure of Vladimir Putin as president of the Russian Federation.



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National Council for Eurasian and East European Research

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