Post-Soviet de facto states are presented in the social science literature, first of all, as a by-product of research on secession, nationalism, and conflict resolution. The paper focuses instead on issues of institution-building and governance in de facto states. It examines the construction of a hybrid political regime in the most populous of post-Soviet de facto states, Transnistra. The paper analyzes secessionist elites’ strategies of maintaining power and sources of domestic pressures to democratize political institutions of the de facto state. The evolution of the Transnistrian regime, it is argued, provides interesting ground for exploring the mechanisms of democratization under an unfavorable choice of institutions and problematic external environment.

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