Fri, Apr 17, 2020

Why strongmen love the coronavirus

Borscht Belt by Atlantic Council Eurasia Center

Related Experts: Melinda Haring,

Coronavirus Corruption Human Rights Hungary Politics & Diplomacy Rule of Law Russia The Caucasus

Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing protective gear at a hospital for patients infected with coronavirus on the outskirts of Moscow. March 24, 2020. Sputnik/Alexey Druzhinin/Kremlin

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As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, autocratic governments are finding the crisis to be a useful pretext for strengthening their rule and tightening their grips. In Hungary, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Russia, strongman leaders are taking advantage of a distracted international community in order to advance and reinforce their own authoritarian agendas.

Melinda Haring and Doug Klain call up Ambassador Dan Baer, former US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Elspeth Suthers, Senior Program Officer for the South Caucasus, National Endowment for Democracy; Samuel Tadros, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; Anna Nemtsova, Moscow Correspondent, The Daily Beast; and Jacob Heilbrunn, Editor, The National Interest to discuss this troubling trend.

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Why autocrats love coronavirus

Authoritarian leaders are constantly searching for scapegoats, working to rile up the fears of their populace, and trying to tighten their grips. To them, the coronavirus pandemic is a bonanza—the liberal democracies that would typically call them out for their violence and repression are distracted with the necessities of stopping the virus in their home countries.

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The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.