Esileht - Ühiskonnateaduste instituut - Teadus - Akadeemiliste suundade teadustegevus - Riigiteadused




Transition versus Transformation: comparing paths to democratic change in the former USSR using case study based evidence from civil society, international aid and domestic politics

Grant Agreement Number: PIRSES-GA-2011-295232

For general information about the network and its activities please contact the project leader
Dr Abel Polese, ap(at)
Otherwise you are welcome to contact the institution you are interested in directly.

Upcoming events:

Tbilisi 2015.pdf (13 KiB)Workshop on Research Methodology (working languages English and Russian) 2-3 October 2015 Tbilisi (pdf, 13 KiB)

Previous events:


Project summary

This project wants to fill this gap in the literature and study the interaction between civil society and the political forces operating at different levels of the state. In this respect this research aims at re-charting the relationships between civil society, international donors and the state in order to explore three questions:

  1. What are the limits of international forces in democracy promotion strategies that target civil society as the main actor in the socio-political transition of a country?
  2. What are the factors that allow civil society to play a role in effective pluralisation and democratization of a country?
  3. Is there any mechanism diffusing those factors across regions and continents and what are the reasons for a successful exportation of factors and strategies?

Conversely what factors have revealed been revealed to be most important in limiting this diffusion? The project, in addition to creating experts in this field, will also contribute a significant body of knowledge in its own right. The research will explore the way post-Soviet consolidation has been conceived, implemented and applied to different political, economic and geopolitical realities across the region.

To this end the interactions between researchers from different research centers will be constructed around two main axes. First, the researchers will coordinate on a joint research project. Second, different organizations will form collaborations between themselves that will lead to a constant and systematic transfer of knowledge between partners.

Main activities and goal

This project will create a world class research group that is focused on the relationship between social and political change and democratization in the former Soviet states. In particular, the project will provide an international and intercultural environment for a team of researchers to connect and collaborate in order to help them further their regional specialism and professional development

The main activities around which the scheme is conceived are:

  • secondment of researchers to another partner and participation in the activities of the local host including a practical workshops delivered by each seconded fellow in each host organisation
  • seminars and presentations of the fellows' research and findings in their host organisation conference panels, organised once a year and submitted to major international conferences, where members of the research network can present their research to date and discuss future plans  publications, research findings will be used to produce articles, book chapters, edited volumes, analytical digests and articles for the general the public as well as experts international workshop, organised once a year in a different location, will allow the fellows to come together and also to invite other researchers, met in the course of the year, to create a basis for a collaboration follow-up activities will be discussed in the course of the project and presented in the last year. They will include offspring follow-up projects.


The Institute of Political Science and Governance at Tallinn University is a major political science centre in Estonia, with 40 staff, 35 PhD students and 100 MA students. It specialises in post-socialist transformation and has participated in a number of EU funded projects under the FP5, FP6 and FP7. Visiting students have access to workspace and the library. The institute regularly carries out project commissioned by Estonian ministries and has participated in a number of EU funded projects.

The research group involved is composed of:
Dr Abel Polese
Prof. Raivo Vetik
Dr Jüri Ruus
Dr Jüri Kruusvall

The Centre for International Studies at Dublin City University is the largest centre of excellence in international affairs in Ireland, with 26 staff, 45 PhD students and 180 MA students.  It has a particular expertise in democratization, international development and post conflict reconstruction.


The research group involved is composed of:
Dr Donnacha Ó Beacháin.
Dr John Doyle
Dr Apostolos Agnantopoulos
Dr Alex Baturo
Dr Michael Breen

Marmara University Research Centre for International Relations (MURCIR) was established in 1994 with the aim of providing an academic and intellectual forum and carry out research on recent developments in the field of International Relations. MURCIR as one of the oldest research centres focussing on the international relations and political science fields in Turkish Academia has 27 researchers, 3 research assistants and 4 interns.


The research group involved is composed of:
Dr Erhan Doğan
Dr İdil Tuncer
Dr Emre Erşen

The Faculty of Applied political science of Higher School of Economics is one of the largest political science departments in the Russian Federation. The staff is divided into four departments: General Political Science (4), Applied Political Science (26), Political and Business Communications (19) and Theory and Practice of
Advertising (27). The Faculty has its Laboratory of Political Research (15 researchers) and its members have particular expertise in democratization, regime change, post-communist and post-soviet development and transit theories.


The core research team will be:
Prof. Oxana Kharitonova
Prof Mikhail Moroniuk
Ms Mariya Eremenko

The Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies is Jawaharlal Nehru University’s is a leading Indian centre for the study of the former USSR and Central Asia. It hosts 16 permanent faculty members, one Documentation Officer and one Research Associate in the Centre. It publishes its own journal Contemporary Central Asia and has made pioneering contributions to promote “Area Studies” and to develop expertise on various counties and regions of the world. It is part of the School for International Studies that has nearly 80 regular faculty and that publishes a refereed quarterly journal, International Studies (Sage).


The researchers involved in this project will be:
Prof. Ajay Kumar Patnaik
Dr. Rajan Kumar

GeoWel is a non-profit research organisation operating in the fields of governance, economic development, politics, business development and monitoring and evaluation. It has been working with UNDP and UNICEF, the UK's Department for International Development, GTZ, CARE and IOM.

The research staff involved in this project will be:
Dr George Welton
David Jijelava
Nino Pkhikidze
Dimitri Gugushvili

Expected results

The transfer of knowledge will happen around some main events: secondments, workshops, presentations, international workshops, international conference panels, preparation and publication of two edited volumes Secondments. There will be 24 secondments (EU to non-EU partners and vice versa), each lasting four months. During the secondment researchers will be expected to: deliver a seminar presenting their own research deliver a workshop to share some of their extra-academic skills and experience during every secondment a researcher will also produce an academic article and an article for the general public 4 international workshops. Every year a different institution will host an international 2-day workshop. Local researchers (from the country where the workshop is held) will be welcome to join and we plan to invite also international researchers with whom we have made contact during the year. 4 conference panels. The network will also prepare a conference panel every year. The panel will be submitted to a main interdisciplinary conference in post-Soviet studies.

Publications. Material will primarily come from the seconded fellows, who will be expected to prepare an article during every 4-month secondment. Some of the material will be reworked and used to publish two collective volumes edited by the researchers involved in this IRSES.