Democratic and Autocratic Outcomes of the Post-Soviet Political Development (1991–2022)


This lecture examined the post-Soviet period (1991–2022) from the consequentialist perspective. This period started in the revolutionary years of 1989–91 with the hopes for deep and comprehensive democratisation. By the 2000s, these expectations were dampened due to the spread of oligarchy and poverty. And by the 2010s, the third wave of autocratization started engulfing the region, setting the stage for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This aggression dealt a final blow to the post-Soviet order and finished the post-Soviet period. Now that the period has ended, one can look back at the democratic and autocratic achievements of the peoples living in Eastern Europe and northern Eurasia from a comparative perspective.

Mikhail Minakov compared the outcomes of post-Soviet political development across four country cases: Estonia (a stable democracy with strong Western influence), Russia (a short-lived democracy turned aggressive autocracy with competing external influences), Ukraine (an unstable democracy with competing external influences), and Uzbekistan (a stable autocracy with a minimum of external influences). The big story behind this comparative study showed the post-Soviet period was a dramatic time when East European and North Eurasian societies tried to establish democracies and often failed to do so. The contradictions between the aims and the outcomes of the post-Soviet development provoked many internal and international conflicts that finally resulted in Russia’s war against Ukraine and growing chaos in Europe and Eurasia.

Mikhail Minakov is a political philosopher, Senior Advisor, Editor-in-Chief - Focus Ukraine / Blog Wilson Center Kennan Institute / Free University, and a Fellow at the IWM (Institute for Human Sciences).

Misha Glenny,  IWM Rector, moderated the monthly lecture

A recording of the event is here: