November 01, 2009

12 Angry Peasants

Trial by jury: November 1864

unscrupulous judges, arbitrary rulings, bribery—all this was part of daily reality in 19th century Russia, if we believe what we read in our literature, which abounds with images of a corrupt judicial system.

Early in the 19th century, when Ivan Pushchin (friend to Alexander Pushkin, member of the Union of Prosperity, and a future conspirator, Decembrist, and convict) decided to abandon a promising career as a officer in the Imperial Guard to become a judge—an honest and fair judge. His move was seen as an act of madness. Years passed, one tsar died and another took his place. Pushchin and his friends carried out their failed rebellion on Senate Square, placing them on the wrong side of the law, and were sent to Siberia. Those who lived to see their amnesty 30 years later found that the system of justice had not changed in their absence.

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