The Soviet Union collapsed more than 20 years ago, yet genuine democracy is still a stranger in most of the 15 former republics. Ukraine, where at least 25 people were killed on Tuesday, is just the latest bloody example.
From President Vladimir Putin's hardline rule in Russia to the 20-year reign of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus to the assorted strongmen of Central Asia, many post-Soviet rulers consistently display a fondness for the old days when opposition was something to be squashed, not tolerated.
There are exceptions, but they're rare. The three tiny Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia stand out as countries that regularly hold fair elections, change leaders at the ballot box and have developed strong democratic institutions. They also belong to NATO.
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