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Despite the growing body of research on authoritarian regimes, few studies address the issues of their legitimization through exaggerating external threats and constructing enemy images. Targeting the gap in the literature, this article explores the discursive strategies of ‘evilization’ and demonization of the ‘other’, with a focus on their implications for legitimating and sustaining the authoritarian regimes in post-Soviet space. Examining the cases of Russia and Azerbaijan, the qualitative, comparative analysis presented in this article uncovers a series of essential similarities between the regimes’ legitimization strategies. Findings suggest that there has been a strong tendency in both Russian and Azerbaijani discourses to ‘externalize’ major problems facing the countries and scapegoat ‘evil forces’ as their main causes. Frequent appeals to the external threats have been accompanied by a heightened emphasis on the necessity of strong presidential power, with ‘strongmen’ that are capable of withstanding the enemies’ conspiracies. Remarkably, one of the core similarities between the two regimes is their unstoppable drive towards monarchical presidencies.
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