39 Harv. Int'l. L. J. 545 (1998)
The Demise and Resurrection of the Propiska: Freedom of Movement in the Russian Federation

handle is hein.journals/hilj39 and id is 551 raw text is: VOLUME 39, NUMBER 2, SPRING 1998

Recent Development
THE DEMISE AND RESURRECTION OF THE PROPISKA:
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION*
Noah Rubins**
The weakening and subsequent dissolution of the Communist re-
gime in Russia created widespread hope that the restrictive residence
permit system known as propiska would be abandoned, ensuring free-
dom of movement for Russian citizens.1 Despite significant liberaliza-
tion of the legal regime governing freedom of movement, Russian
citizens still face major restrictions.
The struggle over the resilient propiska reveals deep fissures in Rus-
sia's federal structure and highlights the inability of the Constitutional
Court and federal government to safeguard civil rights. The curtail-
ment of the freedom may be a harbinger of graver problems for the
Russian legal regime. Moreover, without unhindered circulation of its
population, Russia is likely to face difficulties in the course of its
economic development.2 However, neither the existence of pressure
from the international community nor the exigencies of economic
development are likely in the near term      to overcome the internal forces
maintaining the propiska.
* All translations are those of the author, unless otherwise noted.
** Noah Rubins is a J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School and an M.A.L.D. candidate at the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He has worked in the NGO sector in Kyrgyzstan, at the
U.S. Embassy in Russia, and in private legal practice in Turkey.
1. See, eg., Sheila OLeary, Note and Comment, The Constitutional Right to Housing in the Russian
Federation: Rethinking the Guarantee in Light of Economic and Political Reform, 9 AM. U. J. INT'L L.
& Poiy 1015, 1036-37 (1994).
2. For a discussion of the effects of the freedom of movement on economic development in
Russia, see generally LABOUR MAKuE DYNAmics IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION (O.E.C.D. ed.,
1997). The relationship of free movement to economic growth is also well acknowledged in the
United States and European Union. See, eg., Edwards v. California, 314 U.S. 160 (1941), the
most heralded U.S. Supreme Court case to deal with the subject, in which Justice Byrnes relied
almost exclusively on the Commerce Clause to invalidate California's Depression-era restrictions
on in-migration. See also JACOBUS TENBROEK, THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RIGHT OF FREE
MOVEMENT 8 (1955). In Europe, the free circulation of labor is considered one of the pillars
of a unified European economy, along with the circulation of capital and merchandise. See
Jean-Yves Cherot & Andr6 Roux, Libert6 de circulation des personnes et contrOle des changes dans la
C.E.E., in LIBERTP DE CIRCULATION DES PaRSONNES EN DROIT INTERNATIONAL 113 (Maurice
Flory & Rosalyn Higgins eds., 1988).

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