Lustration and Democracy: The Politics of Transitional Justice in the Post-Communist World
In transitions from authoritarian regimes, justice has normally encompassed a variety of approaches, from amnesty to public trials. The oddity about the post-communist world is that transitional justice has been reduced to, by and large, the mechanism of lustration, which is the process of limiting the political participation of the former authoritarian elites. This widespread political arrangement raises three puzzles of regime transitions. Why do some post-communist countries lustrate, while others do not? Why do countries with similar authoritarian pasts implement different lustration mechanisms? What explains the timing of lustration? This dissertation argues that three factors--democracy, elite politics and the institutional environment--explain levels of lustration as measured by an original Lustration Index, covering thirty-four post-communist countries from 1990 to 2012. Statistical analyses, elite interviews and in-depth case studies of Russia and Georgia illustrate that inherited social capital and institutional constraints affect transitional justice in ways that account for lustration as an integral part of post-communist regime change. The findings of this study demonstrate that lustration is a tool by which the transitional elites rewrite the rules of the political process in order to gain and maintain political power.
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