"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
~Opening of Law & Order
Today celebrates the men and women who protect and defend the laws of Russia from those who might seek to break, or indeed bend them: the employees of Russia’s General Prosecutor, led by Yuri Chaika (like the Chekhov play and the car) in over 2,800 regional offices all over Russia.
On January 12, 1722, Peter The Great established the post of General Prosecutor of the Russia Senate. Before Peter, as with so many things, justice was rather more loosely organized...a bit rougher if you will. I won’t bore you with the lengthy and somewhat plodding history of the Russian Prosecutors – if you are fascinated with it that much, you can read the entire thing on their helpful website. I would just highlight two interesting moments – one is that in 1917, the Bolsheviks abolished all court systems and handed the administration of justice over to The People, which was obviously far more efficient as the next two decades would prove.
This kind of populist utopia can’t last forever, of course, and in 1992, soon after the Fall of the Wall and all that unpleasantness, the system was revamped once again. In the words of the General Prosecutor themselves:
As early as the first Russian Law on Public Prosecution Service (1992) abolished the total supervision over implementation of laws by citizens; the Prosecution Service was prohibited from interference in economic activities. The essence of prosecutorial supervision, which is nowadays carried out over execution of essentially new legislation regulating drastically changed social relations, became absolutely different.
There are those – and HRH is in the vanguard -- who scoff at my notion that Russian history is cyclical rather than linear, but I think the history of the General Prosecutor’s Office is a great example of why I’m right. What goes around comes around.
One thing that has remained constant, however, is that the Prosecutors in Russia are all uniformed – a tradition dating back from Peter I and carried on to this day. Today, the uniforms are a cheerful sort of Prussian blue, which if you ask me (and no one ever ever does), are ever so slightly effeminate. But there you are: they Army has manly olive green, the Navy took black and the Air Force got the funky blue/green and the Police the blue/grey. So the legal beagles are stuck with the girly blue which may account for their zeal in coming down hard on the crowd that wants to hang out by the statue of Mayakovsky or buy Parliaments (Lite or otherwise): a need to show their manliness. I base this on the following scholarly observation: when the Prosecutors do deign to make public statements, they tend to put forward some young woman in a shortened skirt as spokesperson. While the peroxide blond reads out a statement at lightening speed in “officialspeak,” the beefier senior men stand around silently and clutch their crotches and sway, as Russian officials are wont to do. As recent events have shown, no one can get through a statement faster than the General Prosecutors, because what's important is the letter - not the rule - of the law.
It’s all a far far cry from Sam Waterston and Alana de la Garza (who would look great in epaulettes and Prosecutor blue). There was a knock off “Law & Order” series on Russian TV for a while called “Zakon & Poryadok” (Russian for "LAW and ORDER") which lasted one season. I don’t know…it lacked a certain ya ni znaio shto (Russian for "je ne sais quoi") which I put down as Chris Noth, though it could have been that the misalignment of the fact that the Prosecutors aren’t “separate but equally important” from the police who investigate the crime. Certainly they don't stride down a hall carrying coffee cups together. Maybe it’s that they don’t represent the people. Or that it's not NYC.
In any case, if you want to check them out – they are on Bolshaya Dmitrovka – right near US Dental Care. You can’t miss it.
This post is part of The Stunt.
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