Honor and Dignity, Legal Protection of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Honor and Dignity, Legal Protection of


a personal, nonproperty, inalienable right safeguarding the recognition by a person of his social significance and the recognition by society of the individual’s significance.

The right of the citizens of the USSR to protection by the courts against encroachments on their honor and dignity is guaranteed by Article 57 of the 1977 Constitution of the USSR. Honor and dignity are also protected by civil and criminal legislation (seeDEFAMATION and INSULT). Citizens or organizations have the right to demand in court the retraction of statements damaging to their honor or dignity unless the person who has spread the statements shows that they are truthful. Article 7 of the Basic Principles of Civil Legislation of 1961 and the corresponding articles of the civil codes of the Union republics protect the honor and dignity of a person in cases where defamatory statements are spread innocently—that is, where the person responsible for the statements believes them to be true. The essential distinction between protection of honor and dignity under criminal and under civil legislation rests on the difference between slander and the innocent spreading of defamatory statements.

Defamatory statements may be spread in oral or written form: they may be spoken to one or more individuals or to a group of people, or they may be printed in published or other written works. If the statements appear in the press and are not truthful, they must be retracted in the press. In other cases, the procedure for retracting the statements is established by the court; for example, oral statements may be retracted at a trade union meeting, and written ones, in a wall newspaper. If the retraction is not made in accordance with the judicial decision, the court has the right to impose a fine on the violator; payment of the fine does not release the violator from the obligation to fulfill the decision of the court (Code of Civil Procedure of the RSFSR, art. 406). The money from the fine is added to the state’s income. Soviet legislation does not provide for any compensation of a monetary character for personal injury (seePERSONAL INJURY).

Cases dealing with the protection of honor and dignity may be heard by people’s courts and comrades’ courts. The statute of limitations for claims does not apply to demands for the retraction of defamatory statements.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.