Recently, I watched HBO's mini-series Chernobyl where the accused were brought for justice. But I was wondering why there was no lawyer for them.

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    Welcome to History:SE. What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? What did you find? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. – sempaiscuba Sep 1 '19 at 7:40
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    Private practice of law was abolished in 1930's, but was reinstated some years before the end of USSR. Nevertheless, accused did have a right for defense counsel (advocate) and could pay to state organization of legal representatives to have their services (or if accused didn't have funds, state would assign defense councilor ). There was often corruption involved because everyone wanted best and proven lawyers with connections in the party . Chernobyl TV series is not particularly historically accurate . – rs.29 Sep 1 '19 at 8:33
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    If you want to read about Soviet legal system : digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/cgi/… – rs.29 Sep 1 '19 at 8:33
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    Different country, but same era: several prominent post-1989 East German politicians had been prominent lawyers before 1989, e.g. Gregor Gysi or Lothar de Maizere. – Jan Sep 1 '19 at 8:37

Lawyers always existed in Soviet period and theoretically could be hired. However the Soviet period lasted more then 70 years and the situation changed many times. For example, in 1934 penal code, the "terrorists" were deprived of their right of defense. And in general, the Soviet state was famous for systematically violating its own laws. In many political cases, the accused were sentenced not only without lawyers defending them but also without any court proceedings. But lawyers were used in non-political cases.

You are asking about the last period of existence of Soviet state, when Chernobyl disaster happened. In this period one could hire a lawyer, if you could not do this, a layer would be appointed by the court. The right for legal defense was written in the law in this period. Defending lawyers were certainly present in the process about Chernobyl disaster.

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    If the "Soviet state was famous", was this famous enough to allow for some sources in an answer? For example detailing an old penal code, describing the system as a whoöe or when it allegedly "changed"? – LаngLаngС Sep 1 '19 at 13:56
  • @LangLangC: Most sources I have are in Russian. I usually do not link them. – Alex Sep 1 '19 at 18:11
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    Here is an example: allpravo.ru/library/doc75p0/instrum103/item197.html – Alex Sep 1 '19 at 18:14
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    That's not an improvement to the answer, but a comment! So far. Language of sources is irrelevant, as long as you can quote from and link to them. Even better if a short quote is translated into English, but even worse if you have sources and don't use them – or hide them? – LаngLаngС Sep 2 '19 at 7:49

If you were considered harmful to the Communist Party in any way, the State Security (KGB) could do everything they wanted with you. Actually, one was lucky if they had a trial (with or without a lawyer), because many were arrested and sentenced (also to death) without trials. Of course, many freedoms and rights were guaranteed by the law, but it was all pure theory and had nothing to do with practice (no independent media, no independent schools, no private business and institutions, no objective trials for the accused etc.). The Communist Party controlled virtually everything while nobody controlled the Communist Party. I didn't watch the series itself, but I'm guessing the case you are asking about is the case of finding a scapegoat. Nothing in the Soviet reality could go wrong, because it was supposed to be perfect by design. So, if a catastrophe such as the Chernobyl one occurred, as much as possible was swept under the rug and for the rest a scapegoat was found. It was always human error, never the Soviet system error. I know it's really hard to imagine for someone brought up in a contemporary democratic society, but a single person really meant nothing in Soviet Russia.

Take a look here to imagine the scale of what the system was capable of: Soviet mass killings, Katyn massacre, Soviet war crimes

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    Welcome to History:SE. This doesn't address the the question of whether people charged with a crime could hire their own lawyers. While this is undoubtedly helpful background information, answers posted on History:SE are expected to actually answer the question that was asked. You might find it helpful to review our site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to write a good answer. – sempaiscuba Sep 1 '19 at 12:53
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    Sorry, your answer has lots of "glitter" words, but no relevant and specific facts. – vpekar Sep 1 '19 at 23:34

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