A quarter century after the USSR’s breakup, the region it occupied has become more rather than less authoritarian on average. The rise has been neither steep nor steady, however, and the dominant regional pattern has been regime cycling, with movement both toward and away from authoritarianism at different points in time. Key causes are the tenacious pre-Soviet legacy of patronalism, the prevalence of presidentialist constitutions, and strong leadership popularity without the strong Western linkage and leverage that has often mitigated similar authoritarian tendencies in places like Africa and Latin America.