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Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe

The impact of the Russian influence has been felt across most of Central and Eastern Europe. After 2008 the Russian leadership has aggressively deployed its resource-based resurgent economic power in combination with old time security networks and skilful use of traditional soft power appeal to exploit and further strategic vulnerabilities in the region with the goal of undermining the EU cohesion and the strength of the Transatlantic relations. These are some of the conclusions reached by our 16-month study of the Kremlin Playbook trying to understand Russian involvement in the politics and economics of Central and Eastern Europe. more »

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Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe
CSD presented the Kremlin Playbook report at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels together with researchers from a number of leading European think-tanks examining the malign Russian influence in Europe. During the seminar titled Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the Director of the Economic Program at CSD, Ruslan Stefanov, and Martin Vladimirov, an energy analyst at the Economic Program discussed the findings of the report on the extent of the Russian economic footprint in CEE and the amplifiers, which increase the impact of this presence. The speakers also debated how Russia has leveraged its economic presence to cultivate an opaque web of economic and political patronage across the region that the Kremlin uses to influence decision-making. more »

The Anti-Corruption Agenda for Southeast Europe after the 2016 Enlargement Package: How to Break the State Capture Deadlock and Make Enlargement Deliver Again?
In its 2015 and 2016 Enlargement Packages, the European Commission has announced that there will not be further enlargement by the end of the current Commission’s term - October 2019. While, the EU and key member-states have expressed their continuing commitment to the enlargement process in the Western Balkans, citizens and stakeholders have seen the enlargement “freeze” as a drag on motivation and drive for further reforms. The Great Recession, the annexation of Crimea and the geopolitical rift between the EU and Russia, the migration crisis, and the attempted military coup in Turkey, and the Brexit vote have all pushed back the prospect of Enlargement. This chain of negative events has exacerbated an already complicated task for local civil society and reformers in cooperation with the EC to enhance anticorruption efforts, confront state capture, and open prosperity prospects for the region. more »

The Russian Economic Footprint in Central and Eastern Europe: Addressing Strategic Vulnerabilities in Hybrid Warfare
In the last decade, Russia has used a range of tools to amplify its economic footprint in Central and Eastern Europe and achieve its political goals. This is one of the key findings in the Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe study, prepared by the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and presented at an international conference in Sofia, co-sponsored by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division. more »

What Comes After the Islamic State: Implications for Europe
The current situation in Syria and Iraq and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have created new security threats globally and in Europe. Since its rise as a new actor on the Islamist extremist scene, IS has become infamous for its exceptionally cruel tactics in territories it controls but also for organising and/or inspiring numerous terrorist acts far from its official borders, including in Europe and the US. Recently, the international military campaign against IS has been intensifying and the latter has suffered territorial loses. more »


Russian Economic Footprint as Share of the Economy

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A study by Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and the Sofia-based Center for the Study for the Democracy, released in October, said that Russia's economic presence is so strong that Bulgaria is "at high risk of Russian-influenced state capture".

The study, entitled "The Kremlin Playbook", said that due to its strong economic footprint, averaging 22 percent of GDP between 2015 and 2014, Russia was able to cultivate relationships with corrupt businessmen and local oligarchs who in turn have influence on politicians.

Der gekaufte Staat, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 21 November 2016

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“Pubic support is the key of success, especially in holding politicians accountable in times of elections. The people should share the responsibility, report cases of corruption, and not only rely on institutions to solve the corruption problem. Legislation should be effectively enforced. To make a difference, we need the right people in the right places.” 

Monica Macovei, Member of the European Parliament at the SELDI round table: The Anti-Corruption Agenda for Southeast Europe after the 2016 Enlargement Package: How to Break the State Capture Deadlock and Make Enlargement Deliver Again?, 30 November 2016, European Parliament, Brussels

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