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Article

Beyond formalism: sociological argumentation in the “Pussy Riot” case

In this article the author attempts to throw a light on the famous criminal case of “Pussy Riot” singers, and particularly on the argumentation the judge used in the verdict against these singers. This case shows that the formalist, syllogistic mode of legal thinking can sometimes be overruled by the sociological arguments, even in the criminal cases where the rule nulla crimen, nulla poene sine lege praevia persists. It is not the place here to hint on any possible political put-up job behind this case (the province of the research which should rather be reserved for political science): we would just examine the argumentation of the court decision to demonstrate flexibility of legal argumentation (in this case, in the Russian criminal procedure particularly, and in law generally) to overcome the positivist restraints.