Righting the wrong? Illustrating and understanding post-authoritarian transitional justice in Georgia and Armenia



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Tartu Ülikool


The thesis explores why post-authoritarian transitional justice (TJ) is implemented and why not and which factors influence governments’ decisions on initiating TJ after transitions. It examines post-2012 Georgia and post-2018 Armenia as small-n case studies and compares the extent of TJ implementation based on a combination of Vello and Eva-Clarita Pettai’s transitional justice matrix and Dustin Sharp’s economic violence approach. This framework enables the illustration of different patterns of TJ implementation in four dimensions – legal-judicial, political-administrative, socio-economic and symbolic-representative – which combine 16 indicators to form the explanandum (dependent variable). Based on the author’s theoretical three-factor model of TJ implementation, the thesis presents evidence that the phenomenon can be understood as the result of governmental responsiveness to civil society activism, the TJ pressure of external elites and the ideological and structural prevalence of an authoritarian legacy (independent variables). Within the time periods under analysis (2012 to 2015 in Georgia and 2018 to 2020 in Armenia), it was found that the Georgian government was comparatively less active in initiating TJ measures than the Armenian government, particularly with regard to the symbolic-representative and socio-economic dimensions. The thesis frames Georgia’s TJ patterns as a consequence of the continuation of an authoritarian legacy, a lack of external TJ pressure and conflicting relationships with civil society. By comparison, Armenia’s broader level of TJ implementation can be understood as a result of resistance to an authoritarian legacy, an initially higher level of external TJ leverage and the government’s cooperation with civil society.