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dal 11/05/2023 al 12/05/2023

In the shadow of collapse

Imperial legacies, failed democratization, civil society and nationalism in the post-Soviet space.

In the shadow of collapse
Imperial legacies, failed democratization, civil society and nationalism in the post-Soviet space

The collapse of the Soviet Union fueled hopes for democratization in the former republics and for the emergence of a peaceful post-Cold War international order. The war in Ukraine of 2022 has definitely shown how fragile both expectations were. National and international factors have played a role in such outcomes.

The domestic dynamics have often led to a regime change that was the result of a combination of pressures from below and elite pacts, seemingly following the patterns of state-building and democratic change in Central Eastern Europe since 1989. However, only the Baltic republics succeeded in achieving at the same time independence and democratization, with the eventual integration in the EU. A more turbulent dynamic of ‘failed revolutions’ characterized the other former Soviet republics, moving towards hybrid regimes characterized by oligarchic power, political instability, weak rule of law, widespread corruption and nationalism as an instrument of legitimacy.

The expectations that “coloured” revolutions could bring about democratic developments as well as peaceful mobilization for fair elections were not really met.

Putin’s ascendancy in Russia created the model of a “sovereign democracy” with authoritarian rule, repression of any independent actor and a return to imperial forms of influence in the post-Soviet space. Russian nationalism grew in parallel to the enlargement of NATO and the Eastern expansion of the EU. Tensions between Russia and the West concentrated over Ukraine, since the pressure from below towards the Europeanization of the country was seen as a geopolitical threat in Moscow. The conflict of 2014 created a fracture between Russia and Ukraine that was not really sealed by the Minsk agreements.

The conference aims at investigating the international and domestic developments in the post-Soviet space, in light of the war launched by Russia in Ukraine in February 2022. Presentations and papers at the conference will address the broad historical paths of these areas, the emergence of nationalisms and ethnic politics, the mobilisation for democracy and the activism of civil societies, the relevance of economic structures, the evolution of political and military power, the international and domestic conflicts, and the possible ways of peaceful resolution in a stable international order.

Luigi Ambrosio

Rethinking democratization
Mark Beissinger

Civil society and social movements in the post-soviet space

  • Donatella della Porta
  • Volodymyr Ishchenko
  • Oleg Zhuravlev
  • Samuel Greene
  • Phil Ayoub
  • Kristina Stoeckl
  • Maria Chiara Franceschelli
  • Andriy Maliuk

Russia and the post-soviet space

  • Silvio Pons
  • Alberto Masoero
  • Riccardo Cucciolla
  • Carolina De Stefano
  • Adriano Roccucci
  • Vanessa Voisin


  • Mark Beissinger
  • Andrea Graziosi
  • Guglielmo Meardi
  • Mario Pianta
  • Angela Romano
  • Francesco Strazzari


  • Donatella della Porta
  • Silvio Pons


May 11, 2023


Welcome addresses
Luigi Ambrosio, Mario Pianta, Donatella della Porta, Silvio Pons, Scuola Normale Superiore


Keynote lecture
Rethinking Regime Trajectories in Light of the War in Ukraine
Mark Beissinger, Princeton University


Civil society and social movements in the post-Soviet space 

Where did the Revolution go? Some notes on (the failure of) ‘electoral democratization’ 
Donatella della Porta, Scuola Normale Superiore,

Resolving or reproducing the post-Soviet hegemony crisis? Case of the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine
Volodymyr Ishchenko, Freie Universitaet, Berlin,

The protests and movements in Russia 2011-2022: democratization and political crisis
Oleg Zhuravlev, Scuola Normale Superiore,

Vernaculars of Power and Powerlessness in Wartime Russia
Samuel Greene, King’s College London

The Double-Helix Entanglements of Transnational Advocacy: Moral Conservative Resistance to LGBT Rights
Phil Ayoub, University College London, and Kristina Stoeckl, LUISS

Maria Chiara Franceschelli, Andriy Maliuk, Scuola Normale Superiore

May 12, 2022


Russia and the post-Soviet space 

Putin’s visions of world order
Silvio Pons, Scuola Normale Superiore

‘Territorial Integrity’: Post–Soviet Unification as a Geographic Ideology
Alberto Masoero, University of Turin

The failure of liberal democracy in Russia
Riccardo Cucciolla, University of Naples L’Orientale

The policies of the Russian Federation towards Russian-speaking communities in the post-Soviet space
Carolina De Stefano, LUISS

Adriano Roccucci, Università Roma Tre, Vanessa Voisin, Università di Bologna



  • Mark Beissinger, Princeton University,
  • Andrea Graziosi, Università di Napoli Federico II,
  • Guglielmo Meardi, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Mario Pianta, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Angela Romano, Università di Bologna
  • Francesco Strazzari, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa


Donatella della Porta, Silvio Pons, Scuola Normale Superiore

Entrance will be allowed up to the maximum capacity of the room


  • Donatella Della Porta – Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Silvio Pons – Scuola Normale Superiore

Date e orari



Scuola Normale Superiore, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze