The Kremlin’s Second Preventive Counter-Revolution: A Case of Authoritarian Learning from Success
Hall, Stephen G. F.
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In 2004, the Kremlin began what was termed its first preventive counter-revolution to counter a potential Colour Revolution reaching Russia and leading to the collapse of the Russian regime, like in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004. The first preventive counter-revolution involved restrictions on the media, the opposition, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the repression of other independent areas of society to alleviate a Colour Revolution occurring on the streets of Moscow. The contention made here is that the second preventive counter-revolution, which lasted from 2012 to 2018, incorporated many of the practices of the first preventive counter-revolution and is an example of authoritarian learning from success. Nevertheless, there is also a case to be made that the second preventive counter-revolution took learnt from the success, or rather perceived success, of another source. Believing that the West, especially America, had supported protesters and democratic opposition groups in the Colour Revolutions, as well as helped instigate the revolutions of the Arab Spring and Euromaidan and attempts at revolution in Russia between 2011 and 2012, the Kremlin adapted these successful strategies for its own purposes. It devised methods to take the second preventive counter-revolution abroad in an attempt to counter Western actions and alleviate the possibility that a revolution could occur in Russia. The second preventive counter-revolution of the Kremlin provides further the literature on authoritarian learning. As will be shown the existing literature has largely concentrated on learning from failure. However, the Kremlin’s second preventive counter-revolution provides an example of learning from internal and external success.