Skip to main content
Photo by: Ivan Vdovin
Ivan Vdovin

How Non-State Actors Export Kleptocratic Norms to the West

Ilya Zaslavskiy

View Full Report in PDF Format

When the Soviet empire collapsed in 1991, it was widely believed that Western-style democracy and liberal capitalism based on free elections, separation of powers and the rule of law would eventually take root in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other regions emerging from the Cold War. Even when ex-Communist Party leaders and representatives of Soviet security services returned to power throughout the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the late 1990s to mid-2000s, mainstream political thought never once doubted the inevitability of democracy’s march across the globe. Experts debated speed and direction, but rarely questioned the ultimate destination.

Unfortunately, recent global events have shown that the post-Cold War flow of money and values was not a one-way affair. When the floodgates opened after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the post-Soviet swamp was not swept away but instead served to muddy Western waters. In most FSU countries, democratic institutions and national economies have not become as strong and transparent as originally envisaged—in fact, the reverse trend has often been highly and sometimes tragically visible.

The truth is that the West has largely failed to export its democratic norms and is instead witnessing an increasingly coordinated assault on its own value system. This destructive import of corrupt practices and norms comes not only from post-Soviet kleptocratic regimes like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia, but also from China and other countries around the world whose ruling elites now possess far-reaching financial and political interests in the West.

View PDF

Related Articles

Putin's Nuclear Warning

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs

On March 1st, Rebeccah Heinrichs appeared on Fox Business to discuss Russian President Putin's recent announcement regarding Russia's nuclear arsenal....

Watch Now

By Asking Whether Moscow "Tipped Election," NYT Plays into Russia's Hands

Abram N. Shulsky

If the Russians' goal was to destabilize our democracy, questioning the legitimacy of Trump's presidency contributes to that...

Continue Reading

5 Times The Obama Administration Helped Russia At The United States’ Expense

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs

There has been no indication that the Trump administration’s policies are influenced by Russian preferences. There are plenty, however, that President...

Continue Reading