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Authored by Dr. Erica Marat.
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This report identifies and explains the determinants of police reform in former Soviet states by examining the cases of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. The two cases were chosen to show two drastically different approaches to reform played out in countries facing arguably similar problems with state-crime links, dysfunctional governments, and corrupt police forces. In Georgia, the government’s reform program has fundamentally transformed the police, but it also reinforced the president Mikhail Saakashvili regime’s reliance on the police. With two political regime changes in one decade, Kyrgyzstan’s failed reform effort led to increasing levels of corruption within law enforcement agencies and the rise of violent nonstate groups. The experiences of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan show that a militarized police force is unlikely to spontaneously reform itself, even if the broader political landscape becomes more democratic. If anything, the Interior Ministry will adapt to new political leadership, both to ensure its own position in society and to continue receiving the state resources needed to sustain itself. Both Georgia and Kyrgyzstan offer important guidelines for conducting successful police reform in a former Soviet state, advice that could be helpful to the Middle Eastern states currently undergoing rapid political transformation.