As thousands of Russians with white ribbons on their jackets repeatedly flooded the streets of major Russian cities last year, many admitted they would have never expected such a rise in mass participation from Russians or indeed, from citizens in any post-Soviet country. Civic apathy, closed personal networks, aversion to activism and to politics had been the terms used to describe those societies for decades.

Building on her recent research into different forms of civic activism in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, Kateryna Pishchikova, Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, analyzed a range of recent civic initiatives in those countries and put them in the broader context of more than two decades of uncertain political transformation. Is there indeed a qualitative change in the nature of postcommunist civil societies and if so, what are the implications for their respective political regimes?