Coordinated Community Projects and Legal Trainings
Foreign intervention also came from programs explicitly designed to foster state- society collaboration along the model of coordinated community approach. One such program was through Vermont-based Project Harmony, which aims to promote community partnerships and provides hands-on training for law enforcement officials. With funding from the U. S. State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, in 1998, they launched Domestic Violence Community Partnerships in Irkutsk, Petrozavodsk, and Volgograd.64 The program first brought a group of lawyers, police, psychologists, medical professionals, and victim advocates to conduct two-week seminars for the Russian counterparts. Following the seminar, they help to set up a local coalition of state institutions and NGOs to address domestic violence. To follow up, in approximately a year, Russian officials and activists were then brought to the United States to meet and learn from their American counterparts. Through programs like these, police in more than a dozen localities around Russia have participated in various training programs on how to handle domestic violence.
Another type of intervention came from the Russian American Rule of Law Consortium (RAROLC), an American nonprofit that grew from a Vermont judge’s interest in Russia to a seven-state partnership.65 Since 1993, American judges, law professors, prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, and legislators— volunteers—have traveled to Russia, and vice versa, with the goal of improving the capacity of Russian legal institutions. Four of the partnerships took a particular interest in domestic violence, leading RAROLC as a whole to focus on the issue in 2005. For example, the Maine-Arkhangelsk partnership, which began in 1997, has been addressing domestic violence for five years. In 2001, Maine professors, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, with their Russian counterparts, conducted comparative mock trials, including a family law dispute concerning custody, residence, alimony, and child support.66 Revealing the systemic problems facing women hoping to flee violent relationships, the Russian mock court, granting divorce, refused to make any child custody or support decisions and simply left the divorced couple in their shared apartment.67 In 2003, Maine judges and domestic violence attorney-activists conducted a three-day training session for Russian district court judges on legal issues in dealing with domestic violence cases. Because of the great interest among justices of the peace, the Maine representatives returned the next year to discuss the issue more broadly, including coordinated community responses68 In 2005, Russian judges and law school officials traveled to Maine to shadow U. S. counterparts and to visit a domestic violence shelter.
These exchanges, especially the events in Arkhangelsk, enlisted much media attention. They also seem to have had real results. In 2005, staff at the three legal clinics in Arkanagelsk, established with technical support from ABA-CEELI and RAROLC and financial support from USAID, were familiar with the problem of domestic violence and were helping citizens with issues of divorce, custody, and private-prosecution cases, and a leading law school administrator was hoping to open a special domestic violence legal clinic, modeled on a Maine clinic, in the next year.69 The new judicial awareness of domestic violence has meant that the local independent women’s crisis center has been able to persuade judges to authorize women divorced from their batterers to trade their joint apartments for smaller, separate apartments even without their former spouse’s agreement.70
Interventions have fostered other types of coordinated community approaches in other cities. In Saratov, a “system of interaction among various bodies working to prevent family problems including domestic violence” was developed (Luk – shevskii 2003). In Ekaterinburg, the local crisis center was working closely with law enforcement, together inspecting abusers’ homes (Pashina 2004). In Barnaul, a working group, including officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was developed, which led to information sharing and collaborations between the local women’s crisis centers and the police (Johnson 2006). In Tomsk, a coalition of Russian psychologists, physicians, journalists, law faculty, state social services, and gender experts with Amnesty International and Project Harmony developed a program where the local legal clinic, state youth center, and gender center provide comprehensive services for battered women and are attempting to enlist the justices of the peace/1 Although the Russian criminal justice system remains skeptical of domestic violence, the women’s crisis centers and these interventions have initiated what Keck and Sikkink (1998) call “accountability politics.” A 2004 discussion at the Ministry of Health and Social Development, with RACCW, re-raised the possibility of formal, national collaboration between state social protection and law enforcement institutions and independent women’s crisis centers/2