Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Defeating Democracy: How Russia Promotes Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union


Political Science


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Academic and policy interest in Russia's democratic decline and its corresponding resurgence as a regional power have increased since Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency in 2000. Identified by Freedom House as a leading contributor to the global setback in democracy, the Russian regime under Vladimir Putin and now Dmitrii Medvedev has taken on a more assertive foreign policy of democratic resilience and authoritarian assistance in its immediate neighborhood. Paradoxically, analytically similar mechanisms to those employed by competing democracy promoters are at the disposal of Russian authorities as they interact with their post-Soviet neighbors in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. This paper analyzes how appeals to shared forms of identity, the use of leverage, and the erection of institutional links have contributed to Russia's varying levels of success in supporting authoritarian leaders and frustrating democratic inroads in the region. In the absence of strong ties to the West, authoritarians in the post-Soviet region are bolstered not only by domestic factors of state and party capacity, but also by Russian authorities' efforts to strengthen incumbents and undermine opposition mobilization.

Conference Name

IPSA-ECPR Joint Conference: Whatever Happened to North-South?

Conference Location

Sao Paulo, Brazil

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