The Soviet Union had two separate legal systems. The first maintained law and order on a daily basis, enforced the law, and adjudicated disputes that arose among the citizenry. This system was administered by the organs of justice: the MVD, the Procuracy, the Ministry of Justice, and the courts. The other legal system, administered by the MVD on behalf of the party leadership, was arbitrary and repressive and was used to suppress and punish critics of the Soviet regime. Some cases did not fall neatly into one category or another. There was a gray area in which a seemingly ordinary case took on a political character. As Western expert Gordon B. Smith pointed out, "Soviet legal policy must bridge these two systems, providing a framework for the functioning of each."
Data as of May 1989