Color Revolutions in Eurasia by Julia Gerlach

By Julia Gerlach

Why have large-scale protests and mass demonstrations in a few post-socialist Eurasian states resulted in the autumn of autocratic leaders, while related different regimes be successful? This ebook addresses the query by way of offering an outline of 8 instances of so-called colour Revolutions, and explains elements of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ by way of discussing the state of the art within the political technology discourse on colour Revolutions. It concludes by means of summarizing and contextualizing the result of the research and highlighting open learn for political technology at the topic of colour Revolutions.

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Common methods include the systematic use of prosecution and long-term imprisonment of the counter-elite, leading opposition activists, or ordinary participants of protests, often concluded in show trials that involve a seemingly politicized jury and reveal arbitrary application of the law. This approach is exemplified by the cases of Felix Kulov in Kyrgyzstan and Michail Khodorkovskiy in Russia. Low-intensity coercion involves less visible efforts to suppress opposition activity via surveillance or short-term detention, and is based on establishing an effective and efficient system of control by (special) police and security forces (Way and Levitsky 2006: 388).

Protests are seen as ‘contagious’ within a certain region, and they need to be understood in the regional context. Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik identify the process of spreading a model for political change as one of ‘diffusion’ (non-violent mass protests that occur after electoral fraud). However, structural preconditions play a less important role for analysis; the focus is rather on the actors and their aim of achieving change. Overall, Color Revolutions are understood as a democratic- or electoral revolution that can be successful whenever actors manage to unite and mobilize masses.

Just as ‘the West’ has been involved in supporting self-proclaimed democratic movements in Serbia, Georgia, or Ukraine, Russia has tried to stabilize precarious hybrid or authoritarian governments in Ukraine, Belarus, and Armenia, both in order to prevent such events from spreading to Russia, and to at least retain if not enhance its position as a regional hegemon. Apart from democratic diffusion that reaches out for (potential) democrats, and authoritarian diffusion that reaches out for non-democrats, any process of diffusion has an impact on the respective ‘other side’.

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