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Date of Award

1999

Author's School

School of Law

Degree Name

Master of Laws (LLM)

Degree Type

Thesis

Abstract

This study seeks to examine public access to meetings of local legislative bodies in the United States, as well as the applicability of the idea of open meetings to local legislatures in Russia.Open meetings are not as controversial in Russia as they are in the United States, and the topic has never been explored in a comparative perspective. I focus on one particular category of government meetings -- meetings of local legislative bodies. I prove that general contradictions in the sunshine concept in particular Russian contexts would further limit the scope of popular participation. My thesis is that while Russian legislation needs a series of reforms, a focus on legal structuring of a right of public access to government meetings should not be a part of them. Popular participation may be enhanced by a mixed regime of regulation, self-regulation, and extralegal mechanisms that provide protection of individual rights and freedoms. The empirical evidence proves that a legal promise of open meetings in the Russian context would in effect impede mass inclusion in the decision-making process. However, I argue that a reasoned effort to enhance popular participation in the decision-making might be successful at the lowest levels of Russia's governing process. Russia needs policies that would ensure accessibility of local governments, supported by institutional changes and radical economic improvements...

Chair and Committee

Frances H. Foster, Committee Member

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