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Risk and resilience in the face of Russian interference in Europe & Eurasia

May 22, 2023

Which elements of Putin’s playbook do we see used time and time again in different countries in Europe and Eurasia?

What signs should we have seen in Ukraine from 2015 to 2022?

And which of these can help inform civil society resilience strategies in the future?

Policymakers have long been concerned about eroding civic space, in light of a wave of rising authoritarianism and democratic backsliding. Yet, advocates for strengthening civic space have rarely had reliable and comparable data to quantify and monitor country vulnerabilities, nor were US policymakers able to quantify the best avenues for US assistance.

On May 22nd, from 9:00-10:30am EDT in Washington, DC, AidData (a research lab at William & Mary) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI)  hosted an in-person and live streamed panel discussion on Russian influence and interference in the civic space of 17 countries and 7 occupied or autonomous territories in Europe and Eurasia. AidData presented new research on trends in the region. AidData also shared top-line findings from a 3-year research project, resulting in actionable indicators that help policymakers monitor trends in the health of civic space in the region to inform programming.

The indicators, developed by AidData, assess the domestic environment for citizens to assemble peacefully and to express their views without fear of retribution. They also assess the channels by which the Kremlin may exert external influence to skew or constrain civic space.

The challenge of increased resilience is particularly heightened in post-Soviet countries, due to concerns regarding Kremlin attempts to disrupt societies, stoke discord, and counter democratic norms, in an attempt to maintain Russia's sphere of influence.


  • Dr. Eva Busza, Regional Director for Eurasia, National Democratic Institute (NDI)


  • Otar Kantaria, Executive Director, UN Association of Georgia
  • David Salvo, Managing Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS)
  • Samantha Custer, Director of Policy Analysis, AidData

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