Post-Soviet Eurasia

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The upward trend is over: In 2022, all three BTI indices have also taken a turn for the worse in Eurasia. This has consolidated the political split in the region. While the democracies have proven relatively resilient despite systemic defects and pandemic-related pressures, the autocrats have reacted with repression – fiercely so in some cases, such as in Belarus. Economically, the resource-rich autocracies have better prospects of enjoying a rapid recovery.

In terms of political transformation, the democracies present an ambivalent picture: While Moldova is the only country to increase its score, thanks to the ousting of oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, five countries saw declines, especially Kyrgyzstan. In contrast, the autocracies – except Belarus – record only marginal changes. The pronounced reliance on leadership figures and the personality-centered networks associated with them remain a defining feature in Eurasia.

In economic terms, as well, the changes in the democracies, especially in Mongolia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia, are both more apparent and more negative than in the autocratic rentier economies. In addition, the multiplier effects are particularly evident in countries whose economies depend on labor migration to Russia (and Kazakhstan).

The region’s heterogeneity is also very closely reflected in its management of the coronavirus pandemic. Eurasia has seen the full gamut of responses, ranging from complete denial in Turkmenistan to concealment tactics to efficient pandemic management in Mongolia – which is also the only country in the region with good governance. Governance in Belarus has deteriorated particularly, and Lukashenko’s actions triggered Western sanctions.

In summary, recent years have sharpened the contours of Eurasia’s political divisions, with the democracies proving to be relatively resilient while autocratic regimes have increasingly used repressive means to hold on to power. However, in economic terms, the autocracies – or at least those with resources in energy and raw materials – have an advantage for the time being.

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Hans-Joachim Spanger
Regional Coordinator Post-Soviet Eurasia

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