This chapter presents the research design of the thesis. First, it outlines the methodological approach and explains the case selection, which is based on X -centered comparative design. Then I introduce the analytical framework of the thesis. I first propose a conceptualization and measurement for the dependent variable – quality of democracy and regime outcomes. I propose an innovative model of measuring the quality of democracy in hybrid regimes by modifying the concept of embedded democracy and the measurement model employed by the “Democracy Barometer.” By contrast, regime outcomes are analyzed in terms of electoral behavior of incumbent regimes and opposition forces. Finally, the chapter describes the conceptualization and measurement of the main explanatory factors: the influence of Russia and the EU. First, I define three criteria to measure the leverage of the EU and Russia toward the states under study: normative affiliation, and economic and political ties. Then I introduce the qualitative and quantitative measurement of strategies of the EU (political conditionality) and Russia (subverting and bolstering) and their impact on the quality of democracy and regime outcomes.
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