In addition to this national initiative, there have also been some regional reforms, mostly a result of international pressure^2 In contrast to the national level, where there have been no criminal law reforms, at least two of the eighty-nine regions, the Republics of Chuvashiia in 2003 and Mordoviia in 2004, had modified their administrative codes to respond to some of the weakness of Russian criminal law (Duban 2006, 90). Both introduced articles on “domestic rowdyism” (bytovoe deboshirstvo), intended to allow for a fine to penalize unruly behavior, including loud noises, swearing, and “humiliation of a person’s dignity” in a residence.53
In Mordoviia, where there is one women’s crisis center, the change was adopted based on the realization that the police did not see “minor hooliganism” as including family violence.
Other regions have adopted social legislation on domestic violence. For example, the far northern region of Arkhangelsk adopted legislation in 2003 to expand the social services offered to those suffering from violence in the family.54 Similar to the stalled national legislation and the national plan, the Arkhangelsk law called for the establishment of crisis centers for women and for men, a social help center for family, and a temporary shelter, some of which had been implemented by 2005. Not a response to local activism,55 the law seems to have been a response to all the United States and Nordic attention to domestic violence in Arkhangelsk. Regional authorities, especially in poor regions, were more susceptible to the positive incentives offered by foreign interveners than the national government, but as with the national response, the policy seems more a promise than reality.
In other regions, developments resulted from a combination of local activism and international attention. In St. Petersburg, where local activism around the issue had led to the founding of a city shelter in I995,56 a law was passed in 2000 calling for coordination of the RACCW with the Committee on the Family, Childhood, and Youth in the city administration on the social defense of the family and childhood (Balibalova, Glushchenko, and Tikhomirova 2001).57 Their project was both more effective and radical, including projects for institutionalizing a culture of rights among government officials.
In Khimki, a small suburb outside Moscow, a shelter was opened as a result of the foreign-funded Internews public awareness campaign. During one of the talk shows sponsored by this campaign, a city official had denied that domestic violence was a real problem.58 When a woman called in to the show, with her husband pounding on her door and then breaking through the door to beat her up, the official recanted. As the mayor of the region, a survivor of the war in Afghanistan, was sympathetic, a shelter was established in 2000 under the city committee of social protection. Yet, even though foreign assistance helped lead to the shelter’s founding, the director is resistant to foreign intervention, even global models, telling me in 2004, “Our experiences are totally different. It is not possible to adapt your experiences to our reality or our experiences to your reality.” 59
some reforms of practice
More so than on reforming Russia’s laws, domestic activists and foreign interveners were focused on reforming the practice of state actors. They hoped to reform both the practice of law enforcement and the legal system and of social services. More so than in the case of sexual assault, these advocates had resources to back up their strategy of blaming and shaming the Russian government for its failure to adequately address domestic violence.