Włodzimierz Spasowicz

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An 1891 portrait by Ilya Repin

Włodzimierz Spasowicz or Vladimir Spasovich (1829-1906) was a Polish-Russian lawyer often acclaimed as the most brilliant defense attorney of Imperial Russia.[1]

Spasovich went to school in Minsk and studied law in St. Petersburg University, where he later became a professor. When the government was persecuting some of his students in 1861, Spasovich resigned his professorship in protest.[1] Two years later, his textbook on criminal law was banned.

After the Judicial reform of Alexander II he emerged as a leading trial lawyer. He took part in many of the sensational political trials of the 1860s and 1870s, including the Nechayev process. Fetyukovich, a defense attorney in Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, was apparently based on Spasovich.[2]

Spasovich was one of those who tried to bring Russia and Poland together. He founded in St. Petersburg the Polish-language newspaper Kraj and "advocated the concept of Polish cultural autonomy within Russia"[3] in the Warsaw periodical Atheneum.

As a literary historian, Spasovich authored several articles about the literary ties between Russia and Poland as well as a concise account of Polish literary history.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Russian Humanitarian Dictionary
  2. ^ http://www.rvb.ru/dostoevski/02comm/141.htm
  3. ^ Quoted from: Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0. Page 561.