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Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy in a Hybrid Regime: The Case of Russia''s Fear of Importing Instability

Ria Laenen
University of Leuven
Ria Laenen
University of Leuven
Open Panel

Abstract

With regard to post-Soviet Russia, the body of literature on hybrid regimes, especially on competitive authoritarianism (Levitsky and Way, 2010) offers an appealing alternative to replace the transition paradigm. In the literature on hybrid regimes, the overall focus is evidently on the domestic level. However, in this paper it is stressed that also in hybrid regimes there is a close interaction between domestic politics and foreign policy. Indeed, the democratization literature has come to pay increasing attention to external factors facilitating democratization (eg the concept of diffusion). But here the question is whether external factors contribute to the resistance against democratization in Russia? In this in-depth case study the process of securitization that took place in Russia''s foreign policy is further examined against the backdrop of the significant political changes that took place in Russia''s immediate neighbourhood referred to by Russia as its ''near abroad'' and claimed as part of its sphere of influence. These changes included the so-called coloured revolutions, later a regime change in Ukraine in favour of Moscow and the 2010 political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. First, Russia’s foreign policy line on these external developments will be outlined. Then, an attempt is undertaken to gauge the impact of these external factors on Russia’s domestic politics. Ultimately, this paper is guided by questions related to the sustainability of Russia''s current hybrid regime such as does the securitization of foreign policy play an important role in the regime''s survival and the further narrowing down of possibilities for domestic political opposition?