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Book description

Immigration and Refugee Law in Russia confronts the issue of access to justice and the realisation of human rights for migrants and refugees in Russia. It focuses on everyday experiences of immigration and refugee laws and how they work 'in action' in Russia. This investigation presupposes that the reality is much more complex than is generally assumed, as it is mediated by peoples' varied positionalities. Agnieszka Kubal's primary focus is on people, their stories and experiences: migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, immigration lawyers, Russian judges, and the Federal Migration Service officers. These actors speak with different voices, profess different ideologies, and hold opposite worldviews; what they hold in common is their importance to our understanding of migration processes. By this focus on individual views and opinions, Kubal highlights the complexity and nuance of everyday experiences of the law, breaking away from the portrayal of Russia as a legal and ideological monolith.


‘In this engaging, insightful, and well-crafted ethnography, Kubal sheds light on the critical impact that the scarce resource of access to justice and to dedicated lawyers can make in immigrants' lives - in Russia and elsewhere. Highly recommended for academics and practitioners alike.'

Cecilia Menjívar - Dorothy L. Meier Social Equities Chair, University of California, Los Angeles

'This is a really splendid addition to the Law in Context series. Agnieszka Kubal has done us all a great service by showing, with meticulous socio-legal methodology, that Russian legality is much more complex than often supposed. In particular, immigration and refugee law, even in this authoritarian state, is not an empty shell, but can make a real difference through the activity of passionate and courageous advocates and activists - and even, on occasion, judges.'

Bill Bowring - Director LLM/MA Human Rights, Birkbeck, University of London

'We know too little about how law is experienced by the powerless. Kubal's book shines a welcome light on a corner of the Russian legal system that has been neglected for too long. She succeeds in capturing multiple points of view and weaves these empirical narratives together in a way that is reminiscent of Ewick and Silbey's The Common Place of Law. Kubal's book does an admirable job of capturing the day-to-day reality of Russian courts and deserves to be read by anyone interested in comparative legal systems.'

Kathryn Hendley - William Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison

'Migration is one of the most pressing challenges that Europe faces now. Kubal produces a methodologically sound and empirically impressive study of contemporary Russian experience in this area. Looking beyond stereotypes and legislative texts, she tells the stories of people affected - above all, migrants and those who try to defend them from the system.'

Dr Sergey Golubok - Human Rights lawyer, member of the St Petersburg Bar Association and the European Criminal Bar Association

'This book - because Russia is one of the major but still under-researched immigration countries - is hugely important in three ways: it addresses a crucial research gap in migration studies, it is an excellent contribution to the study of policy implementation and it is an important case study on Russian politics in general.'

Franck Düvell - Head of the Migration Department, German Centre for Integration and Migration Research, Berlin

'A fascinating and nuanced ethnographic account of the legal experiences of migrants in Russia, along with the struggles of their lawyers, migration officials and judges hearing their cases. Many migrants suffered from the application of laws aimed at their control, if only because of the fetishization of legal documents or the quasi-criminalization of minor violations. Yet the noble efforts of the (usually female) lawyers helping migrants and the judges’ occasional acceptance of human rights arguments led to happy endings for others. While the regulation of migration in Russia resembled practices found in other countries, its social meaning made the Russian amalgam unique, a conclusion illustrated by vivid personal stories.'

Peter H. Solomon, Jr - Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Law and Criminology, University of Toronto

'There are two ways to look at the operation of the Russian judiciary. One is to focus on miscarriages of justice in salient and often politically motivated cases. The other is to dismiss such cases and to argue that, in day-to-day enforcement, the rule of law is being maintained. This compelling account demonstrates how the Russian administration and judiciary practise arbitrariness against vulnerable migrants on a daily basis. While the study is limited to immigration, the situation in other fields of public law is no different, so this work should generate a broad interest.'

Kirill Koroteev - Legal Director, Human Rights Centre ‘Memorial’, Moscow

'This book constitutes a unique resource of immigration and asylum law and its enforcement in Russia; it is empirically rich and analytically nuanced. Kubal reveals who migrants and asylum seekers in Russia are, why they keep coming to the country and how the authorities deal with them. Sometimes, these are stories of life and survival; sometimes, the stories of broken hopes and disappointments on immigration trails. I highly recommend Kubal’s work as essential to read for academics and migration policy-makers, but also - given its engaging style - the book should be of interest to a general audience.'

Olga Gulina - Ph.D. in Law, Ph.D. in Migration Studies, founder and CEO of the RUSMPI UG - Institute on Migration Policy

‘Altogether, the book represents an important and timely contribution to the existing scholarship on Russian immigration and asylum law, a fascinating yet clearly under-researched area. Written in a lively and engaging style, the present study is highly recommended not only to scholars working in the fields of migration and mobility, but also to general readers broadly interested in the subject.’

Aleksandra Jolkina Source: Europe-Asia Studies

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