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Regional Organizations as Facilitators and Legitimizers of the Spread of Authoritarianism: On the Example of Russia’s Practices in Regional Organizations

Comparative Politics
Foreign Policy
Government
International Relations
Anastasiya Bayok
Freie Universität Berlin
Anastasiya Bayok
Freie Universität Berlin

Abstract

The spread of authoritarianism under the background of “waves of democratization” is, among others, very evident in the Eurasian region. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the strive for democratic rule by the former-soviet republics which regained their independence from Moscow, as well as some attempts of democratic developments in Russia, the illusion of the democracy as a ‘winner’ in post-soviet region was created. But this illusion did not last long. The non-democratic ideas, the familiarity with the autocratic and even dictatorship system was too strong in minds and hearts of those who remained in power. It was not in their interests to change anything in this system. The not-likeminded people were prosecuted, any attempts of promoting democratic norms and values were destroyed at very early stages, the new regional organizations which were created with the desire to overcome the failures of the soviet system, very soon after their establishment became the inheritors and promoters of the same soviet rule they were supposed to fight against. This paper will mostly focus on how Russia, as the strongest and most influential state among the former-soviet republics, used and continues using such regional Organizations as CIS, SCTO, and such unions as Eurasian Economic Union, as platforms for not only spreading its own autocratic norms and ideas, gaining support of the alike regimes in its immediate neighbourhood and strengthening the autocratic aspect of these regimes, but even more, these regional organizations serve the role of legitimizing spread of non-democratic practices by Russia, providing Moscow with a ‘legal excuse’ that everything is conducted with accordance to the rules of and within the framework of regional/international organizations. The aim of this research is to see how exactly Russia achieves its goal of spreading authoritarian practices and strengthening the authoritarianism in its neighbouring countries through regional organizations. From the perspective of the weaker states, completely or partially dependent on Russia in terms of natural recourses or support for their regimes, the principle of conditionality and coercion from Russia is present due to their obligations as members of these organisations.