Standing at the center of Gorbachev’s efforts to reshape the Soviet Union is his endeavor to create a state based on the rule of law, or a pravovoe gosudarstvo. 1 Much of the discussion of this in Soviet legal journals and even in mass media publications has focused on concepts such as the rule of law, constitutionalism, supremacy of law, and separation of powers. 2 Just what these traditionally Western institutions might mean in the Soviet context has been the subject of considerable debate among specialists. Behind these definitional issues, however, lies an important theoretical question, namely, to what extent and under what conditions can a pravovoe gosudarstvo develop and become institutionalized under a Leninist regime.