Police reform and state-building in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Russia
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This dissertation provides an in-depth study of police transformation in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It draws upon interviews with police, NGO workers, politicians and international practitioners, and employs a comparative-historical approach. Contra to democratic policing approaches, advocating the diffusion of police power and implementation of police reform concurrently with wider democratisation, reform was relatively successful in Georgia after the 2003 Rose Revolution because of state-building. The new government monopolised executive power, fired many police, recruited new personnel, raised police salaries and clamped down on organised crime and corruption. Success also depended on the elite’s political will and their appeal to Georgian nationalism. Prioritisation of state-building over democratisation limited the reform’s success, however. The new police are politicised and have served elites’ private interests. Reform has failed in Kyrgyzstan because of a lack of state-building. Regional, clan and other identities are stronger than Kyrgyz nationalism. This has hindered the formation of an elite with capacity to implement reform. The state has limited control over the police, who remain corrupt and involved in organised crime. State-building has not precipitated police reform in Russia because of the absence of political will. The ruling cohort lacks a vision of reform and relies on corruption to balance the interests of political factions. The contrasting patterns of police reform have a number of implications for democratic police reform in transitioning countries: First, reform depends on political will. Second, institutionalising the police before democratising them may be a more effective means of acquiring the capacity to implement reform. Third, such an approach is likely to require some sort of common bond such as nationalism to legitimate it. Fourth, ignoring democratisation after institutionalisation is risky as reformers can misuse their power for private interests.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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