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A Geographic Incremental Theory of Democratization: Territory, Aid, and Democracy in Postcommunist Regions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2011

Tomila V. Lankina
De Montfort University
Lullit Getachew
Pacific Economics Group in Madison
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The article examines the impact of geographical proximity to the West and of Western aid on democracy in Russia's regions and advances a geographic incrementalist theory of democratization. Even when national politicians exhibit authoritarian tendencies, diffusion processes and targeted foreign aid help advance democratization at the subnational level in postcommunist states and other settings. The authors make this case by conducting process-tracing case studies of democratic institution building in two northwestern border regions and statistical analysis of over one thousand projects that the European Union carried out in Russia's localities over fourteen years. They find that the EU shows commitment to democratic reform particularly in, but not limited to, regions located on its eastern frontier. Over time, this, as well as diffusion processes from the West, positively affects the democratic trajectory of the respective regions even if they had been more closed to begin with compared to other regions.

Research Article
Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 2006

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51 Data on international tourism for the regions were not available from Goskomstat.

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55 I.e., allowing a one-year lag. For summary statistics, see Appendix 3. The bivariate correlation matrix with all variables used in the analysis in the paper is in Appendix 5.

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73 Aginsk-Buryatsk, Komy-Permyak, Nenetsk, Taymyr-Dolgano-Nenetsk, Ust-Orda-Buryat, Evenk, Yamalo-Nenetsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Koryak Autonomous Districts.

74 Glenn W. Harrison, “House Money Effects in Public Good Experiments: Comment,” Experimental Economics, forthcoming (April 2006), 6, fn. 7.

75 The two-year lag with moving average aid has the highest coefficient among our aid measures. This bolsters our finding that aid allocated in later years might be a better predictor of democratic outcomes than that allocated in earlier years. Likewise, later openness indicators might be better predictors of democracy than measures going back further in time, though due to data limitations stemming from only two time points for the democracy score, caution should be exercised in making inferences about the respective temporal lags. For illustrative purposes, results from an OLS regression with two-year lags are presented in Appendix 4.

76 Parts of what is now the Republic of Karelia formerly belonging to Finland were incorporated into the USSR during the 1939–44 Soviet-Finnish wars.

77 After St. Petersburg and Sverdlovsk oblasts. Petrov (fn. 40). It was also found to have some of the lowest reported occurrence of corruption among Russian regions. Dminio, Phyllis and Orttung, Robert, “Explaining Patterns of Corruption in the Russian Regions,” World Politics 57 (July 2005)Google Scholar.

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79 Biography available at (accessed February 21, 2005).

80 The ministry was disbanded subsequently and Shlyamin now works in Finland.

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82 Henderson (fn. 40), 152.

83 It also has representative offices of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Swedish-Karelian Business and Information Centre, and TACIS.

84 (accessed May 15, 2005).

85 Author interview with Tat'yana Klekachova, executive director, Swedish-Karelian Business and Information Center, Petrozavodsk, July 9, 2004.

86 Vladimir Gel'man, Sergei Ryzhenkov, Yelena Belokurova, and Nadezhda Borisova, Avtonomiya Hi kontrol'? Reforma mestnoy vlasti v gorodakh Rossii, 1991–2001 [Autonomy or control? Reform of local power in cities of Russia], (St. Petersburg: Letniy sad, 2002), 245, 230, 231. On civil society in Karelia, see Yelena Belokurova and Natalya Yargomskaya, “Do i posle Grazhdanskogo foruma: grazh-danskoye obshchestvo v regionakh Severo-Zapada,” in Nikolay Petrov, ed., Grazhdanskoye obshchestvo i politicheskiyeprotsessy v regionakh, Working Paper 3 (Moscow: Moscow Carnegie Center, 2005).

87 Author interview with Andrey Patsinkovskiy, head of administration, Prionezhskiy rayon, Petro-zavodsk, January 17, 2006.

88 RFE/RL Newsline, November 9,1998.

89 Pskov also differed from its other neighbor Novgorod, since the mid-1990s a magnet for investors and donors.

90 Gulnara Roll, Tatiana Maximova, and Eero Mikenberg, “The External Relations of the Pskov Region of the Russian Federation,” Working Paper 63 (Kiel, Germany: Schleswig-Holstein Institute for Peace Research) (accessed February 15,2006).

91 Author interview with Olga Vassilenko, chairperson, NGO Chudskoe Project, Pskov, August 26, 2004. Another unsuccessful applicant in 1998 was the Fund for Support of Civic Initiative. Author interview with Dmitriy Antoniuk, Pskov, August 26, 2004.

92 Author interview with Andrey Balandin, consultant, Committee for Foreign Affairs, Pskov Region Administration, August 26, 2004.

93 (accessed February 15, 2006).

94 Author interview with Valentina Chaplinskaya, EC delegation in St. Petersburg, July 13, 2004.

95 Belokurova and Yargomskaya (fn. 86) 27.

96 (accessed February 15,2006). See also “Baltiyskoye napravleniye: god spustya posle vstupleniya Estonii i Latvii v YeEs,” April 27, 2005, (accessed September 20, 2006).

97 “Interv'yu s gubernatorom,” official Web site of the Pskov oblast administration, November 1, 2005, (accessed September 20, 2006). These economic processes are linked to broader patterns of economic interaction in the region influenced by EU expansion, such as a surge in Finnish investments into Estonia in the 1990s and competition and labor costs eventually leading Estonian businesses to invest into Pskov.

98 Ibid.

99 Krasnoyarsk also has an eight-point increase in the democracy score, (accessed September 20, 2006).

100 Kopstein and Reilly (fn. 1), 24.

101 Vachudova (fn. 45); Kopstein and Reilly (fn. 1).

102 Schraeder, Hook, and Taylor (fn. 71).

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104 The reference is to a federal law regulating funding to NGOs, adopted in December 2005.

105 This issue has been a subject of conflict between the Karelian government and federal agencies.

106 Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 139Google Scholar.

107 Mouritzen (fn. 66), 306