‘Sovereign Democracy’: Russian Response to Western Democracy Promotion in the Post-Soviet Space

Published date01 December 2023
AuthorAnirban Chatterjee
Date01 December 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
27(2) 143 –168, 2023
© 2023 Jadavpur University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/09735984231179257
Democracy’: Russian
Response to
Western Democracy
Promotion in the
Post-Soviet Space
Anirban Chatterjee1
Russia became apprehensive after the outbreak of Colour Revolutions
in three former Soviet republics. Post-revolution, Russia’s foreign policy
in general and its outlook toward the West in particular transformed
significantly. Russian response to Western democracy promotion
became more pronounced. Against this backdrop, the concept of
Sovereign Democracy has to be understood. It aims to not only defend
the Russian regime from Western meddling but also undertake a
vigorous international campaign to assert its great power status. This
article deals with the meaning and rationale of Sovereign Democracy
as a response to Western democracy promotion in a nuanced way.
The study attempts to deal with the following research questions:
How does Russia perceive and react to Colour Revolutions? How
Sovereign Democracy enables Russia to restructure its foreign policy
to challenge the Western democracy-promotion agenda in the post-
Soviet space? How do the political institutions and historical narratives
of anti-Westernism allow Russia to respond to Colour Revolutions?
Corresponding author:
Anirban Chatterjee, Department of Political Science, Plassey College, Q7JH+VQV,
Plassey College Rd, Plassey, West Bengal 741156, India.
E-mail: chatterjee.anirban148@gmail.com
1Department of Political Science, Plassey College, Plassey, West Bengal, India
144 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 27(2)
Lastly, whether Putin is able to reshape public opinion in Russia not
only in favor of having an alternative model of democracy against the
dominant Western one but also a favorable public opinion to justify
Russian actions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria.
Colour Revolutions, Western democracy promotion, Sovereign
Democracy, political stability, public opinion, post-Soviet
Russia needs a strong state power and must have it. I am not calling for
totalitarianism. History proves all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of
governments are transient. Only democratic states are intransient.
Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior. A
strong power in Russia is a democratic, law-based, workable federative
—Putin (1999)
After the negative fallout of the economic reforms in the aftermath of
Soviet disintegration, the Russian perception of the democratic–capitalist
system fizzled out. The above statement by Putin vividly illustrates the
ascendancy of the Russian state under his presidency in the early twenty-
first century, which led to the shaping of post-reform era politics. In the
wake of the changing vicissitudes of Russian domestic politics and the
concomitant transformations in international politics, a renewed
importance for national sovereignty and territorial integrity gained
traction in Russian policy circles. Russia asserts that Western liberal
democracy does not correspond to Russian requirements to manage its
hugely, diverse society characterized by unique civilizational
underpinnings. Russia contends that liberal democracy is a smokescreen
for Western meddling in its internal affairs. The revival of the Russian
economy after Putin took over, which was in turmoil in the 1990s, and
the Colour Revolutions in three former Soviet republics substantially
contributed to the growing sense of Russian exceptionalism.
Russian Interpretations of Colour Revolutions
The outbreak of the Colour Revolutions in three former Soviet
republics—the Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange
Revolution in Ukraine (2004), and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT