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The rise of illiberal civil society in the former Soviet Union

This seminar launched and discussed a new Foreign Policy Centre publication looking the growing influence of illiberal, anti-Western and socially conservative civil society groups, popular movements and political forces in five post-Soviet states (Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova), looking at who these groups are, what they are doing and why.

The event looked at the local social, cultural, historic and economic roots of such groups, some of whom have ties to powerful institutions such as the Orthodox Church or political figures. It tried to explore the types of people who are supporting such groups, as well examining as how social attitudes link to differing visions of their countries geopolitical future.

The seminar discussed the extent to which these groups and local debates are being influenced by Russia, either directly or indirectly, and the methods used to do so from direct funding and organisational support to the dissemination of political and media narratives that are echoed and adapted by local groups to fit their domestic narratives. It looked at the extent to which this approach mirrors and is in competition with the approach being supported by Western governments, the EU and international NGOs.

The event will explore how the situation in these countries relates to the wider global trends that have seen a rise of nativist, socially conservative and insular social and political forces across the world in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and in response to rapid economic, social and technological change.

When July 17, 2018 6pm-7.30pm

Committee Room 12, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA


Mihaela Ajder, Moldovan human rights activist and journalist

Adam Hug, Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Mariam Uberi, Research Fellow ( covering Georgia), Foreign Policy Centre

Chair: Stephen Gethins MP, Foreign Affairs Select Committee and Scottish National Party International Affairs and Europe Spokesperson

Listen to audio recording here

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