Staunton, April 5 – Russian legislation is becoming longer, less clear, and harder to understand with a rising percentage of new laws now more difficult for Russians to understand than Kant’s notoriously difficult Critique of Pure Reason, according to experts at the Higher School of Economics Institute of Governmental and Municipal Administration.
Not only are ever more laws being passed but they are increasingly lengthy and poorly written, making them ever more difficult for Russian officials and ordinary Russians to understand them, HSE specialists say in a repetition of research they first carried out a year ago (kommersant.ru/doc/4760378 and kommersant.ru/doc/4291932).
The scholars considered a variety of factors including length of laws and of sentences, the complexity of words used and the potential for confusion. But to make their conclusions easier for people to understand, they compared Russian laws with Immanuel Kant’s text in terms of how easy it would be for a reader to make sense of it and them.
“If this work were a Russian law,” Kommersant journalists sum up the HSE findings, then “its position in the ratings [of understandability] would fall from year to year: At the end of 2019, 77 Russian laws were more complicated than the philosopher’s work; in 2020, there were already 87 such documents.”
According to Aleksandr Knutov, an HSE legal specialist who was involved with the studies, the haste with which some bills are drafted and approved, changes in the constitution, the fact that amendments are often used instead of the adoption of new laws, and the involvement of many parts of the government bureaucracy in preparing laws all contribute to this.
Some in the Duma acknowledge there is a problem and say they are working to correct it. Pavel Krasheninnikov, chairman of the Duma’s committee on state construction and legislation, notes that a new batch of guidelines has been approved to try to simplify the texts (kommersant.ru/doc/4741100).
But given the Duma’s proclivity for passing ever more laws, there are problems, and sometimes things slip through that violate not only good sense but the rules of the Russian language, leaving those who enforce the legislation and those who must figure out how to obey it uncertain of just what they should be doing.