The literature dealing with the international dimensions of authoritarianism suggests that regional hegemons may exploit linkage and leverage to counter democracy and diffuse authoritarian ideas and practices. However, there is a need for more research on whether authoritarian diffusion is actually happening, including the circumstances under which linkage and leverage are translated (or not) into policy convergence. This article addresses these shortcomings by examining the high-value case of Armenia – a country with growing levels of dependence on Russia following its rejection of the EU’s Association Agreement in 2013 and accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union in 2015. Drawing on a combination of original elite and expert interviews this article argues that although there is evidence of Russian authoritarian diffusion, there is limited evidence of policy convergence. Instead, material incentives and concerns over legitimacy continue to privilege democratic norms and make the costs of Russian-style restrictive legislation prohibitive for incumbents.