Mykola Riabchuk

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline Political Science
Senior Research Fellow Ukrainian Center for Cultural Studies

Research project

Muddling Through in a Grey Zone: Divergent Trajectories of the Hybrid Regimes after Communism


The proposed project aims at a book-length study of two decades of democratic transition in postcommunist countries. The main attention is focused on the middle group that represent neither a success story – as the Baltic and Central East European states do, nor a complete failure – in a mode of the Central Asian republics. All these ‘hybrid regimes’ are neither clearly authoritarian nor unambiguously democratic. They have democratic appearance but all the procedures and institutions are profoundly flawed to the benefit the dominant group. All of them operate in a grey political and economic zone, with vaguely defined and arbitrarily implemented rules, that results from partial and incoherent reforms.
The sheer size and complexity of this group makes it very interesting from the theoretical point of view. Yet, in practical terms, the study of this group is no less interesting and important since the similar ‘hybrid regimes’ tend to be the most widespread political phenomena far beyond the postcommunist world.
So far, there are three major theories of transition that explain fairly well the emergence of three different groups after the fall of Communism. From the point of view of the modernization theory, it was determined by the level of social and economic development of the respective countries. From the culturalist point of view, everything depended on the previous experience and civilizational belonging of each country. And the institutional theory claims that successful transitions were determined by swift and apt institutional changes.
All the three theories fail, however, to explain the internal differences within the middle group that looked rather homogeneous in the early 90s but split dramatically for a number of subgroups since then. Therefore, some additional factors that determined divergent trajectories of their development should be examined. Two of them should be featured as largely underestimated by today’s transitology – identity issues and nation-building problems, conspicuous in all the cases where postcommunist transition is combined with a postcolonial. And informal character of many political processes in hybrid regimes seems to be the most crucial factor. This means that only formal institutionalization of politics and elimination of informal mechanisms of state control and domination can lead to consolidation of democracy in a ‘grey zone’ where politicians are typically playing with rules rather than by the rules.



Mykola Riabchuk is Senior Research Fellow at the Ukrainian Center for Cultural Studies, and a member of the editorial boards of Krytyka, Nowa Europa Wschodnia and the Journal of South Eastern Europe.He holds a Kandidat Nauk in Political Science from the University of Kiev, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Selected publications


Gleichschaltung. Authoritarian Consolidation in Ukraine, 2010-2012, KIS, Kiev, 2012. 


Postcolonial Syndrome: Observations, KIS, Kiev, 2011. [in Ukrainian]


Ukraine on Its Meandering Path between West and East, with A. Lushnycky (eds), Peter Lang, Bern, 2009.


Mrs.Simpson’s Favorite Gun: Chronicles of the Orange Defeat, KIS, Kiev, 2009. [in Ukrainian]


Die reale und die imaginierte Ukraine, Suhrkamp, Berlin, 2006.




senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Philosophy