How do authoritarian leaders insulate their regimes from the contagion effects generated by cross-national waves of popular protest? This article compares the strategies of leaders in four authoritarian regimes—Azerbaijan, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—and their responses to the color revolutions and the Arab uprisings. This comparison reveals that these countries have developed an elaborate and similar toolkit to defend the authoritarian status quo and that vigilant autocrats take preemptive measures even when popular uprisings erupt in geographically distant regions or within very different political systems.


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