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Law of Ukraine » 2011 » № 1

Sergey Alekseyev — Modern Classic of the Theory of State and Law

In any country, at some point in history, in any given science, widely renowned leaders often come forward.

Sergey S. Alekseyev, Professor, Sverdlovsk Law Institute (currently, Ural State Academy of Law), has become such a leader in the sphere of general theoretical jurisprudence since Soviet times, specifically since the 1960s. He still remains such a leader in currently independent post-Soviet states, including Ukraine. His leadership manifests itself in the colossal conceptual impact that tens of books and hundreds of articles by S. Alekseyev have made on the development of national (in the broadest meaning of the word) legal science. In this regard, without prejudice to other national legal theorists, it is impossible to put any of them on the same level as S. Alekseyev.

Among major «lines of law» (Alekseyev´s term), which have become the subject of persistent systematic research and publications of the scholar, one distinguishes the following: private (civil) law; general theory of law; philosophy of law; legal studies and upbringing for youth. For 60 years, S. Alekseyev developed the gigantic space of science, ascending both to the initial deep rudiments of law and its pan-civilizational heights, in a sense associated with the creation of the universe.

There is no need and no opportunity to mention even Alekseyev´s major works. I will only mention the ones published recently, after the legal community celebrated S. Alekseyev´s 80th birthday of about five years ago:

  • «Line of Law» (Moscow, 2006);
  • «Property Law. Problems of Theory» (Moscow, 2008);
  • «General Theory of Law» (2nd edition; Moscow, 2008);
  • «Mystery and Power of Law. Science of Law: New Approaches and Ideas. Law in Human Life and Fortune» (2nd edition, revised; Moscow, 2009);
  • «Wreck of Law. Polemic Notes» (Yekaterinburg, 2009);
  • «State and Law» (Moscow, 2009);
  • «General Theory of Law» (3rd edition; Moscow, 2009);
  • «Civil Law» (Moscow, 2009).

A specific feature of Alekseyev´s professional activities is his direct and often leading participation in the development of fundamental, even life-changing legislative acts of Russia (specifically, the Constitution and the Civil Code), as well as participation in the organization and function of a number of academic institutions (the Research Centre of Private Law under the President of the Russian Federation, the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Ural Department of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (currently, the Russian Academy of Sciences)), which is quite uncommon for a theorist.

One of the brightest periods in the biography of S. Alekseyev, illustrating his activity in the implementation of scientific concepts and positions in the government practice of law was his activity in the capacity of Chairman of the Committee for Legislation, Legitimacy and Legal Order of the Supreme Council of the USSR (1989-1990) and Chairman of the Committee of Constitutional Supervision of the USSR (1989-1991), as well as a member of the Presidential Council, and later the Commission for Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation (1993-1995).

On a separate note, one should mention the establishment by S. Alekseyev of the Ural-Siberia school of scholars and teachers, which is still one of the most distinguished and productive in the post-Soviet states.

In relation to his applied practice, one cannot but mention his long-term activities pertaining to the popularization of legal knowledge among youth, as well as legal education and training for schoolchildren. It is particularly worth noting that the «test» manual for ninth-graders entitled «Foundation of Legal Knowledge» developed under his guidance and with his participation in 1989 was published in Kyiv in the Ukrainian language shortly thereafter. (By the way,

I had the honor of being a co-author of this collective work, thanks to which I gained useful experience in the development of this kind of literature.)

I cannot but say a couple of words about the unique personal qualities of S. Alekseyev, a highly intellectual, moral and spiritual man, courageous, just and with many talents.

It is doubtful that the readers know that S. Alekseyev once organized the Aurora Tourism Club at the Sverdlovsk Law Institute and for many years led students on mountain and canoe tours across the Ural, Siberia, the Far East and ... the Carpathians. During such hiking trips, one could hear lyrical songs that he composed, usually accompanied by a guitar. Therefore, I would like to finish this short essay with a fragment of one such song that I happened to hear in those days:

Wherever you are,

Whatever you encounter

No matter the length of your beard, —

Remember the twilight of taiga,

Whereto Aurora herself

Lured you with a remote star.

In the sphere of legal science, that star has always been Sergey S. Alekseyev, a distinguished professor of the Ural State Academy of Law, correspondence member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Distinguished Scholar of the Russian Federation, Recipient of the State Award of the Russian Federation and Honorary Doctor of the Universite Paris-Est Creteil Val de Marne.