Fifth Annual Tartu Conference on Russian and East European Studies

CCHP senior researcher Andrei Semenov and Department of Political Science student Elizaveta Popkova presented their report on subnational state coercion during Aleksei Navalny's 2017-18 presidential campaign.The paper is the result of RFFI funded project on state coercion in electoral autocracies.

The paper was presented at two events: PONARS network academic workshop on June 5, and at the panel on June 8. It argued that the subnational context shaped the decisions to use the coercion against the opposition. Specifically, it showed that the local/regional regime agents allocate repressions on the basis of strategic considerations about the environmental opportunities and constraints such as the demographic and economic resources available for the opposition, the past experience of contention and coercion, and the political constraints such as the presence of the opposition in the local councils and independent media.

Using the statistical analysis, Andrei and Liza found that he first-wave cities (most of them - regional capitals) were the most consistently repressed locations: the coercion seems to be concentrated in large urban areas, though the variation in coercion among the millionniki is considerable too. Also, repressions occurred more frequently in more resourceful locations even accounting for the previous level of mobilization. The past contentious interactions are also related to the level of coercion in the present campaign. However, they did not find the support for the constraint hypothesis: the share of opposition council members either on regional or city levels does not affect the level of coercion throughout the campaign.