Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, October 5, 2015

Democracy Lab Weekly Brief, October 5, 2015

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Christian Caryl warns realists who are eager to find a rational explanation for Russia’s behavior that Vladimir Putin is not really one of them.

Meanwhile, Anna Nemtsova reports on the darkening mood among Moscow’s liberals in the wake of the Russian president’s triumphant turn on the world stage in New York.

Nate Schenkkan explains why Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming elections give little grounds for optimism about Central Asia’s little island of democracy.

Ilya Lozovsky reports on a satirical card game that’s asking hard questions about the international development industry.

Jan Culik and Amy Mackinnon connect Central Europe’s appalling treatment of desperate migrants with the region’s refusal to confront its own dark past.

James Pagano explains why Venezuela’s upcoming elections are so important — and why the world must insist they take place on an even playing field.

And now for this week’s recommended reads:

For Reuters, Paul Taylor chronicles the failure of the EU’s efforts to get its eastern and southern neighbors to adopt European norms.

In the New York Times, Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk argue that the growing disillusionment with liberal democracy in the West is serious and worrying. Also in the New York Times, Steven Lee Myers explains Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria in terms of his ever-present fear of chaos and instability.

In the Independent, Paul Gallagher reports on a legal battle over the jailing of the Maldives’ former president that’s pitting two high-profile human rights lawyers — Amal Clooney and Cherie Blair — against each other.

The International Crisis Group has released a briefing detailing the formidable political and security challenges facing Kyrgyzstan on the eve of the country’s parliamentary elections.

And if you’re interested in democracy in Central Asia, be sure to check out the Central Asianist podcast by Democracy Lab contributor Nate Schenkkan. The latest episode is about urban design in the region, with a focus on Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty.

The World Bank projects that the number of people living in extreme poverty will fall below 10 percent for the first time this year.

And finally, two upcoming Washington D.C. events worthy of note: This Wednesday, October 7, Democracy International is holding a discussion about what Burma’s upcoming elections reveal about political transitions. One week later, on October 14, Freedom House is holding a half-day conference about U.S. democracy promotion.

In the photo, a man votes at his home during the early parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan.

Photo credit: VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images