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Nationalism, Ethnic Minorities and Judicial Behavior in the Post-Soviet World

Posted: 29 Mar 2010  

Sophia Wilson

affiliation not provided to SSRN


A diverse Soviet world with seemingly peacefully coexisting ethnic groups was challenged by the ethnic conflicts and turmoil after its collapse. How do people in the former Soviet countries view ethnic diversity and how are these views reflected in institutional behavior? This paper analyses public views on democracy in the area, which exclude the protection of the rights of minorities. Moreover, my research shows that judicial rulings often reflect racism and nationalism of the public in the post-Soviet world. My research shows that courts in the area attempt to support journalistic liberties but heavily discriminate ethnic and religious minorities. Relying on the original fieldwork, which includes public polls, court documents, interviews with lawyers and journalists in Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, I argue that judicial rulings regarding press freedoms and the rights of ethnic minorities in these countries heavily rely on public opinion and norms. Public norms regarding human rights in these countries are a function of (a) socially enforced self-serving beliefs; and (b) post-Soviet national revival, i.e. concepts, which were asserted as a part of nation-building processes after the collapse of the USSR. A comparison of the judiciaries and their role in the development/suppression of human rights across the post-Soviet world has not been previously performed and will expand significantly current understandings of nationalism and institutional behavior in the area.

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Sophia, Nationalism, Ethnic Minorities and Judicial Behavior in the Post-Soviet World. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN:

Sophia Wilson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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