Civic Space in Eastern Europe & Eurasia

Measuring risk and resilience of civil society to Kremlin influence

Barometers of Civic Space

In recent years, a growing number of governments have sought to co-opt, control, and curtail civic space in an effort to discourage political challenges, even in relatively democratic countries. But this is not strictly a function of domestic dynamics alone. External actors can exert sharp power in an effort to weaken civic space in other countries, either through direct interactions with specific civil society organizations or indirectly influencing government regulators or the public.

By civic space, we're referring to the formal laws, informal norms, and societal attitudes which enable individuals and organizations to assemble peacefully, express their views, and take collective action without fear of retribution or restriction. While the possibility of eroding democratic norms and malign influence on civic space is an ongoing concern, policymakers, advocates, and scholars often lack reliable data to monitor and respond to trends over time.

To fill this critical data gap, over the last three years AidData has collected and analyzed vast amounts of historical data on civic space and Russian influence across 17 countries in Eastern Europe and Eurasia (E&E) between 2010 and 2021. Each civic space report quantifies four barometers of civic space in each country in ways that are comparable across the region and can be scaled to future years and regions.

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Alex Wooley

Director of Partnerships and Communications

Regional Focus:  Russia's periphery

How strong or weak is the enabling environment for civic space in Europe and Eurasia? To what extent do we see Russia attempting to shape civic space attitudes and constraints? Over the past three years, AidData has generated and analyzed novel data on four barometers of civic space from 2010 to 2021. These data points, while not exhaustive, help us systematically assess the trajectory of civic space attitudes and constraints throughout the region during the period, including: (i) restrictions of civic space actors (restrictions); (ii) citizen attitudes toward civic space (perceptions); (iii) Russian support relevant to civic space (Kremlin support); and (iv) Russian state-backed media mentions of civic space actors (Kremlin media).

Civic Space is one of three of AidData's research focus in the Europe & Eurasia region. Learn more about our research on energy security and media resilience in the region.

All Research in Europe & Eurasia

Regional Synthesis

This regional synthesis report monitors trends in the health of civic space across Europe and Eurasia (E&E) over time (2015 to 2021) in the lead up to Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. In conjunction with historical data, we draw upon the results of a 2022 AidData survey to capture contemporary insights on perceptions of civil society organizations across the E&E region and identify the best avenues to further strengthen the capacity of these domestic actors without undercutting their credibility.

This regional synthesis report monitors trends in the health of civic space across Europe and Eurasia (E&E) over time (2015 to 2021) in the lead up to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

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Program Team

Policy Analysis

Samantha Custer

Director of Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis

Brook Lautenslager

Deputy Director for Data Analytics and Technology Solutions

Policy Analysis

Bryan Burgess

Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Divya Mathew

Senior Policy Specialist

Policy Analysis

Emily Dumont

Senior Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Kelsey Marshall

Program Manager

Policy Analysis

Sariah Harmer

Junior Program Manager