In this policy brief, we discuss the results from a study of different dimensions of tobacco taxation policy in five former Soviet Union countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia and Ukraine. We find that the increase in budget revenue from raising excises on filter cigarettes is high in all studied countries. Furthermore, due to a low elasticity of the demand for cigarettes, the increase in excise taxes needs to be substantial to lead to a noticeable improvement in public health.
Democratization is rarely a straight and predictable process. Freedom House data from the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) since 1991 reveals two distinct patterns. In one set of countries, democratization took root quite quickly and the transformation of political institutions seems quite deep and sustainable. In the other countries, the road to democratization, if ever started, has been much more partial and full of reversals. Among the CIS countries, none is regarded as free by Freedom House in 2012, four are regarded as partly free (Armenia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova and Ukraine), while the remaining seven countries (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) are regarded as non-free. There has also been volatility over time within countries. Russia and Belarus have seen their score steadily deteriorating, while countries on the Balkan and south-east Europe have seen gradual improvements. With the lack of consolidated democratic institutions has also typically followed much political instability. Frequent changes in power, civil unrest, popular revolutions and military conflicts have pervaded countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and the Kyrgyz Republic. In other nations, repressive leaders have put a lid on visible instability, but at the cost of political rights and a fair judiciary system. In both cases, the economy has suffered as instability has deterred investors looking for a predictable environment guided by transparent rules of the game implemented equally for all. Corruption has flourished and political connections and nepotism has determined the opportunities for economic success.