By the mid-1980s, a group of like-minded criminologists had formed in the USSR, for whom the narrow framework of official Soviet criminology was clearly narrow (crime is a phenomenon “alien to the Soviet people”; its reasons are “capitalist encirclement” and “remnants of capitalism” in consciousness of people; it is necessary to “intensify the struggle” so that “the earth burns under the feet of hooligans” and then crime will be eliminated, and the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU will shake hands with the last criminal[1]).

And now, at the suggestion of Y. Gilinsky (Leningrad) by a group of colleagues from Latvia (D. Seps), Lithuania (Yu. Bluvshtein, S. Boskholov, A. Dobrynin, V. Yustitsky), Estonia (A. Leps, E. Raska) and Moscow (V. Kogan), it was decided to hold annual Baltic criminological seminars in turn in each of the Baltic republics and in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

The first Baltic Criminological Seminar (BCS) was held in Estonia, on a farm near Tartu in 1987. It was a free exchange of opinions of like-minded criminologists, whose views went beyond the Soviet officialdom. Some reports were published in the Academic Notes of Tartu State University (Theoretical Problems of Territorial Differences in Crime. Proceedings on Criminology. Issue 817. Tartu, 1988). The annotation to this collection emphasized: “It should be especially noted that the proposed collection was written by a team of like-minded people. Diverging in particulars, the authors nevertheless agree on the main thing – in the approach to crime as a social phenomenon, as a manifestation of destructive processes in the social organism”. In the work of the first Baltic Seminar, in addition to the named “founding fathers”, Professor A.M. Yakovlev (Moscow) and a number of Estonian colleagues.

One of the merits of the Seminar is the preservation of professional and interpersonal relations between criminologists from the countries of the Baltic region.

Since then, the annual workshops have taken place alternately in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Leningrad/St. Petersburg. Over time, the composition of the permanent participants of the seminar changed and supplemented. In Estonia, this is A. Markina, who still leads the Estonian team, in Latvia – A. Vilks, in Lithuania – A. Tsepas, G. Sakalauskas and others.

The collapse of the USSR, the liberation of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia from the Soviet occupation and their gaining independence are gradually changing the format of the seminar. It is transformed into an international seminar, and later – an international conference. Colleagues from the countries of the Baltic region (Poland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), as well as other countries – from Hungary and the Czech Republic to the USA and Hong Kong, begin to take part in it. Participants of the International Baltic Criminological Seminars/Conferences were Niels Christie (Norway), Monika Platek, Jerzy Jasiński and K. Laskowska (Poland), Ferenc Irk (Hungary), Kauka Aromaa (Finland), Miroslav Szejnost and Piotr Pojman (Czech Republic), Klaus Sessar, M. Brusten, F. Zach and Helmut Kuri (Germany), John Spencer (Great Britain), Ulla Bondeson (Denmark), Louise Shelley and M. Nalla (USA), G. Mesko (Slovenia) and others. English becomes the working language (in St. Petersburg, as an exception, two working languages – English and Russian).

For the entire period of the Baltic Criminological Seminar / Conference from 1987 to 2022 (the 33rd and 34th in 2021 and 2022 were held both in person and online in Estonia and Lithuania), only 1995 was missed (difficult situation in the Baltic countries due to the collapse of the USSR) and 2020 (coronavirus epidemic).

It is impossible to recall and tell in more or less detail about all thirty-four past seminars / conferences. Let us dwell only on some memorable circumstances.

The organizers of the seminars tried to give them an original character to some extent. Thus, the First Seminar was held at one of the hospitable Estonian farms, where its participants could communicate 24 hours a day, not excluding the time of joint meals and, of course, a sauna.

Latvians held seminars several times in beautiful Jurmala, where all conditions for work and leisure were created. And the Lithuanians organized one of the seminars in Palanga, a beautiful resort on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. It is not surprising that, in addition to the “regulars” participants, almost the entire professorship of the Academy of Management of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs arrived at this seminar.

Not wanting to lag behind their Baltic colleagues, Leningraders held the IV Baltic Criminological Seminar on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, in the city of Zelenogorsk. And the “cultural program” included an excursion to the estate of I.E. Repin (settlement Repino) and at the cemetery in the village. Komarovo, where both the poet A. Akhmatova and the head of the Leningrad criminal law school, Professor M. Shargorodsky, whose students were some of the seminar participants, are buried.

With Gorbachev’s “Perestroika” and the independence of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the motivation of the first seminars – a free exchange of opinions of like-minded participants – has become a thing of the past. The joy of communication between friends-colleagues from now independent states separated by state borders has been added.

Proceedings of many Baltic seminars/conferences have been published as separate issues (for example, Proceedings of the VII Baltic Criminological Seminar 1993 “Crime Prevention and Criminal Policy on the Way to Market Economy”, Vilnius, 1995; Proceedings of the XIII Baltic Criminological Seminar 2000 “Crime Control: Current Problems and Developments in Prospect”, Tallinn, 2001; Proceedings of the XXIV International Baltic Criminological Conference “Crime and Punishment in the Modern World”, St. Petersburg, 2011) or in the journals of the relevant states (for example, materials were published in the Lithuanian journal “Jurisprudencija” XI Baltic Criminological Seminar, 1997).

As evidenced by the conferences held in recent years, the exchange of opinions of criminologists in the new era of postmodernity continues. So, for participation in the XXVIII, XXXII conferences (St. Petersburg), about a hundred reports were announced in each of them. All of them are published in the Conference Proceedings. Over 30 people actually spoke in two days. No less active was the XXXI conference in Lithuania and the XXIX in Estonia.

In recent years, the problems of crime and criminology in the modern postmodern era, social control of crime, cybercrime, comparative geography of crime, international human trafficking, juvenile crime, etc. have been discussed at the Baltic Conferences in recent years.

Unfortunately, the tragic events of 2022-2023 Russia has sharply reduced the possibility of holding joint international Baltic criminological conferences. But any science is international if it is Science. And Russian criminologists decided to restore friendly scientific international relations, first of all, the Baltic countries, by creating a scientific project (website) baltcriminology.com The initiative belongs to K. Kharabet (Moscow-Riga), who joined the seminar in 2014, and Y. Gilinsky (St. Petersburg). We hope that the Baltic Criminological Seminar will continue to be an important means of scientific and friendly communication between professional criminologists from different countries, both well-known scientists and novice researchers, expanding its audience!

[1] Promise N.S. Khrushchev, in which, it seems, he himself believed.

Y. Gilinsky, K. Kharabet