Independence, democracy and the Russian taboo

This paper argues that the relationship between Moscow and two former Soviet Republics, namely Georgia and Ukraine, has become a ‘systemic factor’ or a political cleavage in its own right. This perception or ‘framing’ of this relationship, it is observed, rests less on the actual evolution of this nexus of diplomatic relationships and more on informational strategies generated by parties, analysts and the press. This phenomenon we call the ‘Russian Taboo,’ in the sense that this perceptual frame has become a gravitational frame, leading international observers to evaluate progress in ‘transition’ of these polities by focusing on an ‘East versus West’ binary opposition. We thus trace the origins of this taboo, which culminated in the binding experience of the ‘color revolutions.’ It is then suggested that the bundling of foreign policy and democratic transitions is misguided, rendering this guiding perceptual frame redundant for the purposes of evaluating progress in the sense of democratization. Foreign policy orientation, it is suggested, exhibits much more continuity than is usually perceived, whilst democratization as a project in its own right seems to be insufficiently monitored.

Authors: Tedo Japaridze,Ilia Roubanis