Report Illustrates How Moscow Acts As Beacon Of ‘Worst Practices’ by EurasiaNet
Russia is leading the way in developing a regional model of repression, a new report issued by a London think-tank shows.
The report, titled Sharing Worst Practice: How Countries and Institutions in the former Soviet Union Help Create Legal Tools of Repression, highlights how Russia and other authoritarian-minded countries in Eurasia have worked assiduously to roll back civil liberties in the region in recent years.
“First and foremost this is a function of the nature of their domestic political systems, whether they be authoritarian, semi-authoritarian or troubled democracies, they all feature ruling elites keen to maintain their position of political dominance,” states the report, which was published recently by the Foreign Policy Centre.
“Shared concerns, from popular protest and current economic weakness to the age of the regime leaders, are at the heart of encouraging similar legislation and forms of repression across the region,” the report adds.
Russia these days is not exporting a cohesive ideology of repression in the same way that the Kremlin was dedicated to promoting Marxism-Leninism during the Soviet era; Moscow instead is creating a menu of legislative and administrative means to suffocate individual freedoms. Like-minded governments across the Caucasus and Central Asia are then adapting the Russian prototypes, such as the 2012 Foreign Agents law, to suit particular conditions in their respective countries.
“It is authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes informally collaborating and perhaps, more importantly, learning from each other about methods that can help them consolidate their own power, that are primarily driving the spate of similar looking repressive legislation and practice that spreading across the region,” the report says.
In tandem with tightening the screws at home, Russia has sought to expand its sphere of repression via what some regional analysts portray as a “Conservative International.”
In a chapter of the report illustrating how Moscow is building a regional coalition in opposition to Western values, regional expert David Lewis shows how Russia has learned how to manipulate international institutions to advance its agenda.
“A fundamental principle of the Moscow Consensus is an aversion to external – i.e. Western – interference in domestic affairs. Eurasian states increasingly resist any intrusive monitoring mechanisms, whether OSCE election monitoring or UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights,” Lewis writes.
“Yet the same states are willing to use international organizations and the courts and institutions in foreign jurisdictions to bolster their regime at home,” the report continues. “They use offshore zones and foreign jurisdictions to store their funds and invest their profits.”