Russia, the Council of Europe, and “Ruxit,” or Why Non-Democratic Illiberal Regimes Join International Organizations
Russian membership in the Council of Europe is a function of two threats: isolation internationally and too much democratization/liberalization domestically. These concerns conditioned Russia’s halcyon first decade of membership. Looking forward, however, the obligations of membership challenge Vladimir Putin’s limited interest in further domestic reforms at a time when international isolation bothers him less. The authors argue that understanding these varying domestic and international pressures is a good predictor of Russia’s membership interests. The authors explore general hypotheses from this case study about the conditions under which illiberal regimes willingly cede sovereignty in order to join more liberal and democratic international organizations.