In developing countries, the fight against corruption entails purges of political and business elites and the restructuring of electoral, financial, and social provision systems, all of which are costly for the incumbents and, therefore, unlikely without sustained pressure from civil society. In the absence of empirical analyses, scholars and practitioners have, therefore, assumes that civil society plays an unequivocally positive role in anticorruptionism. In this article, we challenge this dominant assumption. Instead, we show that, under certain conditions, an engaged non-governmental community may, in fact, undermine the fight against corruption. Using the data from forty interviews with anticorruption practitioners in Ukraine and Russia, as well as primary documentary sources, we present two models of anti-corruptionism whereby active civil engagement produces suboptimal outcomes. One is faux collaboration, defined as a façade of cooperation between the state and civil society, which hides the reality of one-sided reforms. The other model is that of non-collaborative co-presence, whereby the governance role is shared by the government and non-governmental activists without compromise-based solutions. In both cases, civil engagement helps perpetuate abuses of power and subvert such long-term goals of anti-corruption reforms as democratization and effective governance.

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