Civil Society | Wilson Center

Civil Society

Russian Society and Foreign Policy: Mass and Elite Orientations after Crimea

Most Russians agree with the official narrative that Russia has re-emerged as a great power under Vladimir Putin, particularly with the annexation of Crimea. However, many Russians are unwilling to bear the economic burden of escalating tensions with the West, evidenced by the declining “Crimea bump” in Putin’s popularity and growing dissatisfaction with a stagnating or falling standard of living.

Afghanistan’s Silent Tragedy

Last week, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan marked its 18-year anniversary. U.S. forces have now been fighting there for nearly two decades.

Afghans, however, have experienced conflict for twice as long. Before U.S. troops arrived in October 2001, there was a period of Taliban rule, and that was preceded by civil war. And before that, in the 1980s, there was the Soviet occupation.

Russia's Crackdown Only Mobilizes Communities and Professional Groups


Russia’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has been trying to block a popular messaging app, Telegram, for a year and a half now. The agency’s head, Alexander Zharov, recently compared his struggles with Telegram’s engineers to a “fight between a projectile and an armor,” and with good reason: the agency has been unable to come up with a technology strong enough to pierce Telegram’s security “armor.” It is interesting, in this respect, that a state agency sees itself as an attacking force, not as a defense and security body.

POSTPONED - Asset Recovery of Grand Corruption: Lessons from Romania

This event has been postponed, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please check back on the Wilson Center's website for news about a rescheduled date.


This event is co-sponsored by the Wilson Center's Rule of Law Initiative

Pathways Out of the Crisis: Views from Venezuelan Civil Society

As the political, economic, and social crisis in Venezuela deepens, civil society organizations are playing a vital role in resisting authoritarianism and defending fundamental rights. As Venezuela’s opposition engages in negotiations to achieve a transition, Venezuelan civil society is also advancing meaningful proposals for a democratic, peaceful solution that reflect urgent human rights and humanitarian needs on the ground.

Chasing the Wind, or the Bright Side of Lost Causes


In a society like Russia’s, protest movements tend to come in waves. A wave rises, then recedes, leaving a trail of foam on the sand. The comings and goings of those waves tend to produce a sense of futility.

Those who are old enough to remember at least two or three social waves rise and die are often deeply skeptical of political change. “Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind”—I can easily imagine a Russian in their forties and older saying those words with heartfelt sincerity.

Protests in Moscow and Autocracy’s Hidden Price


In Russia, the border between a legal protest and a misdemeanor is very thin. Participation in a rally or a march can unpredictably end with a detention and even charges, thanks to the arbitrary and creative enforcement of Article 20.2 of the Code for Administrative Offenses, which deals with public meetings, rallies, and all other forms of citizen protest.