The prospects of establishing democratic regimes in the Soviet Union’s successor states have been the focus of academic discussion and study since these states emerged on the world scene as independent entities in the latter half of 1991.1 Despite the initial euphoria in the West over the disintegration of the Soviet empire and the breakdown of the communist system, it quickly became apparent that while most of the successor states have at least a partial market economy, the dimensions and authenticity of political democracy actually implemented have been debatable. Moreover, as time passes, outside observers have grown more sceptical. True, the various governments and leaders in all fifteen countries have attested that their ultimate aim is the establishment of democracy, and many of their constitutions proclaim that democracy is the quintessence of their body politic. Yet, the gap between theory and practice is considerable, and even where the first version of a constitution was relatively liberal and promising, additions and amendments soon placed limitations on articles that appeared to the powers-that-be to overly constrain their authority. The reasons for this trend are in dispute. Some have attributed it to the legacy of Soviet administrative practice which has retained its grip on the new bureaucracies; others to the leadership, most of whose personnel received their ‘basic training’ within the apparatus of the CPSU; a third school to the traditionally authoritarian or autocratic heritage of most of the societies that comprised the Russian and Soviet empires. Other observers have tried to demonstrate that the trend of democratization is not always or necessarily linear, that the factors at play are variegated and sometimes even contradictory and that the level of democracy can not be judged by the same standards in all societies — that is, different models must be applied to those societies with large ethnic minorities.