The Case of Anna Ossovskaya

“The scope for any successful work for a defence lawyer under the Soviet criminal law system is necessarily limited. A few instances of economic crimes of which the author was connected during his many years’ practice in the Crimea and in Leningrad may give some idea of Soviet economic criminal law in practice. There was the case of Anna Ossovskaya, tram conductress in Leningrad, accused of an offence under Article 107 of the Code. When, following a denunciation by her own son-in-law, the police searched her one-room flat, they discovered several new shirts, pieces of underwear and a total of eleven sheets; it may be added that Ossovskaya had a husband and two unmarried children living with her. Although there was not the slightest evidence that the accused had brought the linen for resale, the court held that the total exceeded the normal needs of a Soviet family and therefore resale could have been the only plausible intention of holding these large stocks. Ossovskaya was sentenced to 5 years’ loss of freedom, a sentence which was not reduced on appeal although it could be shown that the underwear and shirts were in the sizes suitable for the husband and children of the accused.” (A Russian Lawyer, “Economic Crimes Under Soviet Law,” Res Judicate 45(5), 1951: 48-49)

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About Joseph Burke

Economist
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