'Form but not the function?' : dilemmas of European human rights and democracy promotion in Russia
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) are all outspoken about their goal to see Russia developing into a democratic state that respects human rights. This thesis explores cooperation on human rights and democratisation between these organisations and Russia: how the organisations promote European norms in Russia, how the cooperation has developed over the years, and what kind of impact the interaction has had - first of all, on Russia but secondarily also on European norms and on European organisations - and why. These questions are examined through three empirical case studies on different sets of norms that the OSCE, CoE and the EU actively promote in Russia: the institution of a human rights ombudsman, the abolition of the death penalty and free and fair elections. European documents clearly define these norms, and Russia has explicitly declared its commitment to implement them. The thesis advances both the theoretical discussion on the interplay between international cooperation and domestic change, and our practical knowledge on how the policies of these organisations have influenced developments in Russia. As regards theory, the thesis argues that the theoretical democratisation and socialisation models reflect the universalistic optimism of the post-Cold War era. Developments in Russia do not support this optimism. Basing analysis on the three empirical cases, it is suggested that instead of viewing socialisation as a one-way transference of norms, greater attention should be accorded to the interaction that takes place between the actors, and that the clear-cut stages of development inherent in the socialisation and democratisation models do not always grasp the essence of the change and may, in fact, restrict our analysis. Policy-wise, it is argued that the European human rights and democratisation strategies towards Russia have by and large failed because they are based on similarly over-optimistic expectations, typical of the Zeitgeist of the post-Cold War years. The thesis warns that if an exception is granted to Russia with regard to once-agreed norms, the normative base for European cooperation will be weakened. In the long run, this could have a negative impact on the legitimacy of the European organisations.