The authors examine how the Russian judiciary formulates legal policies when adjudicating cases in which religious beliefs are concerned. First, the authors describe the framework within which their research on this matter is conducted, basing it on the theory of legal argumentation. Applying this framework to the investigation of Russian court practice has enabled the authors to discover important features, which they argue are characteristic of legal reasoning of the judiciary in this category of cases. In particular, the authors note that, at least until the present the Russian Constitutional Court has chosen to abstain from crafting principles of legal policy regarding religious issues. Furthermore, in religious cases, the Russian judiciary—by and large—does not follow the jurisprudence of the ECtHR, and the Russian Supreme Court has no clear-cut policy in handling these cases. In such a situation, ordinary judges choose individual strategies. These are indispensable insomuch as fidelity to the letter of the law is inadequate for adjudicating such cases. Russian court practice (from 1997 on) in religious cases can be more easily understood from this perspective than it can in the light of presumed political influence.
The articles provides a discussion about the second-look doctrine in international arbitration and its implications in Russian law and Arbitrazh court decisions. Practice of the courts is analyzed in context of the minimalist and maximalist approaches that are used to construe the inferences of the second-look doctrine.
The authors of this short overview of the winter 2014 St. Petersburg conference on Law and Communication provide an analysis of the main ideas and debates at this conference.