Academic Expertise and Anti-Extremism Litigation in Russia: Focusing on Minority Religions
This article contributes to the growing body of research on the increasing role of judicial systems in regulating politics and religion (‘judicialization of politics and religion’) across the globe. By examining how academic expertise is deployed in anti-extremist litigation involving Russia’s minority religions, this article reveals important processes involved in this judicial regulation, in particular when legal and academic institutions lack autonomy and consistency of operation. It focuses on the selection of experts and the validation of their opinion within Russia’s academia and the judiciary, and identifies patterns in the experts’ approach to evidence and how they validate their conclusions in the eyes of the judiciary. Academic expertise provides an aura of legitimacy to judicial decisions in which anti-extremist legislation is used as a means to control unpopular minority religions and to regulate Russia’s religious diversity. As one of the few systematic explorations of this subject and the first focused on Russia, this article reveals important processes that produce religious discrimination and the role that anti-extremist legislation plays in these processes.