Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, December 2, 2013

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, December 2, 2013

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In the latest of our Lab Reports on Ukraine, Anders Åslund explains how the country’s leaders have brought its economy to the brink of collapse, while Nadia Diuk supplies much-needed context for the latest protests by investigating Ukraine’s uniquely vibrant civil society. (In the photo above, a Molotov cocktail explodes in front of riot police during this weekend’s demonstrations in Kyiv.)

Brian Klaas shares important lessons from Madagascar’s flawed presidential elections.

Francis Wade analyzes the history that makes Burma’s ethnic groups suspicious of peace talks.

Juan Nagel explores the grim challenges facing Venezuela’s opposition.

Mohamed Eljarh reports on the Libyan army’s latest confrontation with Ansar al-Sharia, while also covering the government’s latest confrontation with increased demands for autonomy in the country’s restive east.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

Writing in the National Interest, Nikolas K. Gvosdev examines Ukraine’s decision to abandon the EU and its implications for Putin’s "Eurasian Dream."

Filmmaker Jessie Deeter checks in on Tunisia’s stalling transition. The International Crisis Group considers Tunisia’s worsening security situation and recommends that authorities focus on tightening control over the country’s porous borders.

At the Brookings Institute’s 2013 Islamic World Forum, experts grapple with the challenge of protecting women’s rights in states that seek to promote Islamic values.

Writing for the Carnegie Moscow Center, Pawel Dariusz Wisniewski argues that the European Union must take responsibility for its failings in its pursuit of an Eastern Partnership.

In a Syria backgrounder for the Institute for the Study of War, Isabel Nassief analyzes the competing interests involved in the high-stakes battle for the key region of Qalamoun.

Reporting for World Affairs, Michael J. Totten offers a fascinating report on the state of journalism in Cuba.

In an analysis for the Legatum Institute, Clifford G. Gaddy and Barry W. Ickes ask whether Russia will ever be able to escape the "bear trap" of its economic strife.

On a Council on Foreign Relations blog, Julie Fisher champions the key role NGOs play in building democracy, which is precisely why, lately, they’ve come under fire.

In the Mail & Guardian, David Smith describes the spiraling violence in the Central African Republic, the "worst crisis most people have never heard of."