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The aim of this proposal is to give support to the theory that Russia still has an overwhelming political influence on the former republics of the USSR, known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). To illustrate Russia’s one-sided significance in the mundane political affairs of these countries, I will discuss a number of causative factors and recent examples.
Except for the Baltics, even today, Russia maintains military bases or border guard divisions in the former USSR republics (Bugajski and Michalewski 2002). This is because many of its vital interests are at stake in the former CIS territories including oil and coal fields, and the presence of millions of ethnic Russians who call these countries their home.
As a result, Russia takes strong exception to any international (NATO/US/EU) intereference in the affairs of CIS countries. Vladimir Putin held in a 2005 conference that while the objective of the European Union was to push member states towards greater integration, that of the CIS was to manage a “civilised divorce” (Markedonov 2010).
Clearly, the watchword is peaceful separation which indicates that even with the dissolution of the USSR, Russia continues to maintan a strategic interest in the affairs of CIS countries, ensuring they remain under its sphere of influence. Some of the ways Russia maintains its stranglehold are through low-interest stablisation loans and business expansion plans (Kononczuk 2009).
The real influence, however, lies not only in economical assistance, but the sheer amount of political interdependence between the CIS countries and Russia.
Through a process of closer integration and political policies, the Kremlin has an inordinate voice in the foreign affairs of CIS member states, going as far as dictating their relationship with other countries, most notably, the EU nations.
Recently, Russia’s dominating stance has hurt the chances of democracy in Belarus, a country lying on the periphery of Europe. Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has been in news for a very long time because of his active support towards condoning gross violations of human rights in the country (Markedonov 2010).
Being a close confidante of Vladimir Putin, he has not only been able to suppress pro-democracy movements using an iron hand, but also managed to blackmail several EU countries into cutting off their gas supplies from Russia if they interfered in the affairs of his country.
In another example, a landlocked country in Central Asia, Kyrgyztan, closed a US military base in its capital Bishkek, due to direct objection from Moscow (Kononczuk 2009).
Ukraine, whose economy is greatly dependent on largesse of Russian businessmen, recently allowed the permanent stationing of the Russian navy off the Crimean coast (Kononczuk 2009). This can be considered a subtle reminder to NATO countries lying in the neighbourhood, that their military presence within Russia’s sphere of influence is no longer welcome.
In conclusion, even today, the Russian system of single-party democracy is considered the norm in many CIS countries indicating a common pattern of governance by the oligarchy, which corresponds to a general lack of accountability.
Even though several CIS countries have pro-democracy factions who realize that their people can make better economic progress through closer association with the West, Russia’s influence is far too deep for any such transition to occur in the immediate future. In fact, observers believe that the growing economic might of Russia might witness the reemergence of the USSR in some form or the other
This research will establish the significant role of Russia in dictating the internal political affairs of CIS countries. The research is important from the point of view of building theories on the current geopolitical influence of Russia across its extended neighbourhood, and its impact on EU countries which are increasingly being drawn close economically to Russia. The chapter summaries for this proposal will be identifed as below:
The initial chapter will discuss major aims of the thesis while drawing out the proposed research as a blueprint on the questions that will have to be addressed. This would entail giving out a solid background, discussing problem areas and laying out the core hypothesis. The chapter will also discuss significance of the research, postulations, limitations of study and a final chapter summary.
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A major part of the dissertation, this section will establish primary and secondary research on the subject and establish scholarly evidence on the same. Topics to be covered include the association between the EU and CIS, between Russia and CIS and democracy in CIS. The chapter will also have a conceptual framework along with a chapter summary to qualify the accuracy and depth of research.
This section would look into the design of the study along with data collection and sampling. Additionally, it would look into testing of the design with data validity and reliability. The design will be validated using survey methods.
This section would look into validating the theoretical premise of the proposal. This can be done by an investigative study of existing data.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
The objective of the final section is to perform a review of literature, lay down the scope and feasibility of future studies and interpret statistical or survey data. This would include implications of current research along with future study.
Bugajski J, Michalewski M. Towards an Understanding of Russia: New European Perspectives. New York: Council on Foreign Relations: 2002. 103p.
Kononczuk W. 2009. Russia uses the Crisis to Build Influence in CIS Countries.Eastweek 2:11.
Markedonov S. 2010. Post-Soviet Integration: Does the CIS Work? Open Democracy [online]. Available from: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/post-soviet-integration-does-cis-work/.