Research & Studies

Taghiyev, Ravid (2022) Civil Society and Authoritarian State: Rethinking the Concept of ‘Resistance’ and ‘Opposition’ in Belarus and Azerbaijan

                                                                   About the Author

Ravid Taghiyev is a Research Fellow at Polanyi Center of Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg (iASK). He holds an MA degree in International Studies from University of Pannonia Kőszeg Campus and BA degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Qafqaz University (Azerbaijan). Currently, his academic interest is mainly related to social movements, civil society, and democratization in the Eastern European and post-Soviet countries. He is also interested in national identity and memory studies in the context of contentious politics and authoritarianism.


The so-called ‘color revolutions’ have clearly produced an academic trend of portraying opposition and civil society, in the post-Soviet sphere, as ‘successful’ or ‘failed’ depending on the outcome of popular protests against authoritarian regimes. In the countries where popular upheavals are considered as ‘failed’, the academic interest has shifted more into elaboration of ‘authoritarian stability’, rather than focusing on the resistance itself. But how pro-democratic civil society continues to survive under adverse conditions, after ‘failed’ attempts to prevent authoritarian consolidation? With a major focus on the very existence of the resistance, rather than outcome, this research investigates the unique structure and strategies implemented by civil society, to stay in the severely restricted public space and produce an alternative public discourse in Belarus and Azerbaijan.

Key Words: civil society, resistance, opposition, authoritarianism, contentious politics, democratization