About Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson is a Reader at University College London. He is the author of The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation (Yale, 2009). His latest book, Belarus – The Last European Dictatorship was published in October

Articles by Andrew Wilson

This week's guest editors

Ukraine’s 2014: a belated 1989 or another failed 2004?

Whatever their outcome, the events in Ukraine seem likely to be of greater long-term import than the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. But a long-term what?

Dirty tricks undermine media freedom in Ukraine

Ukraine’s bright ‘Orange Revolution’ has faded, leeched of its liberal colours by the authoritarian government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Now, media freedom is under assault as well.

Filat’s Gamble

Vlad Filat, until recently the Liberal Democrat Prime Minister of Moldova, is locked in a power battle with Vladimir Plahotniuc, the country’s one and only oligarch. This war of attrition threatens the Eastern Partnership’s ‘success story’ narrative, and with it Moldova’s reform project. 

Ukraine today: a guide for digging deeper


When in 2007 Ukraine was given the privilege of co-hosting the Euro 2012 games, the tournament was seen as a unique opportunity to unite the country, improve infrastructure and set in train European reforms. Everything that has happened since has deviated from that script. Today, the world’s media routinely portray a country in democratic crisis; Andrew Wilson’s take, which delves a bit deeper, concludes that things are, in fact, even worse.

Putin returns, but will Russia revert to ‘virtual democracy’?

As Vladimir Putin embarks on his third presidential term, the inevitable question must be how long he will be able to use old techniques, political technologies, to keep the lid on the pressure cooker of discontent. In the new situation the political and economic cost to Putin of continued repression is considerably higher, but, most importantly, the Grand Illusion, which kept the ratings high, is now over, says Andrew Wilson

Latvia's unnoticed revolution: analysing the elections

Latvia has been plagued by both deep recession and fractious relations with its large Russian-speaking minority. But with the economy now recovering fast, Andrew Wilson believes the country is creeping under the radar and off the well-worn postcommunist map.

"Political technology": why is it alive and flourishing in the former USSR?

Since the 1990s, post-Soviet elites have used manipulation, corruption and the government machine to maintain their grip on power. But with countries' paths diverging over time and with little opposition to speak of in many cases, Andrew Wilson asks: why is there still a need for these dark arts?

Russia's economic crisis – no cue for ‘Perestroika 2.0’

Russia is one of those countries for which the economic crisis ought to be a blessing in disguise. Over the last boom decade, high energy prices have excused a multitude of pathologies: corruption got worse because there was more to steal; Putin brokered the creation of giant inefficient ‘national champions' that are a deadweight on the more productive parts of the economy; even Russia's one copper-bottomed asset, oil and gas, will decline in the future, as its giant energy companies like Gazprom and Rosneft have simply failed to invest enough to meet supply commitments.

Russia's post-election balance

Dmitry Medvedev has won his predictable landslide as the new president of Russia. His victory in the election of 2 March 2008 was never in doubt, given the Kremlin's preference for coronation over competition. The Kremlin even overcame earlier reservations about Medvedev outscoring the 64% won by the pro-Vladimir Putin political formation United Russia in the Duma elections of December 2007 (with Putin himself at the head of its list). The preliminary official result of the presidential poll gives Medvedev 70.2%, and his 52.2 million votes exceeds the 49.6 million Putin won in 2004.

"Virtual politics" in the ex-Soviet bloc

It is now a commonplace to call Russia a "managed democracy", a "directed democracy", or worse. Commentators have also begun to write about the techniques by which post-Soviet democracies are "managed", known locally under the euphemism of "political technology" (see, for example, Ivan Krastev, "'Sovereign democracy', Russian-style", 16 November 2006).

Andrew Wilson is senior lecturer in Ukrainian studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London. Among his books are The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation (Yale University Press, 2nd edition, 2002), Ukraine's Orange Revolution (Yale University Press, 2005), Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World (Yale University Press, 2005)

Also by Andrew Wilson in openDemocracy:

"Ukraine's crisis of governance"
(1 May 2007)
This short article will examine three key changes since my book on the subject, Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World was finished in 2004. First, it looks at the effects of Ukraine's "orange revolution" of 2004-05, which was in origin a revolt against the manipulation of democracy. It has proven fatal to some types of political technology, but not to all. Second, the piece adds a few words about the development of so-called "counter-revolutionary technology", designed to prevent the spread of "coloured revolutions" to other post-Soviet states. Third, it looks at developments in Russia, where problems of over-management and taut control have now come to the fore.

Ukraine's crisis of governance

A fresh compromise may salve the major political faultlines in the troubled Ukrainian polity. But the depth of the country’s institutional, regional, and personal divisions make repair far harder, says Andrew Wilson.
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