Kleptocracy: How Can the West Stem the Globalization of Authoritarian Corruption? | Freedom House

Kleptocracy: How Can the West Stem the Globalization of Authoritarian Corruption?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - 10:30am to 12:00pm

Freedom House
1850 M Street NW,
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036

Democratic movements throughout Eurasia continue to suffer from the persistent legacy of entrenched corruption. Today’s oligarchs and authoritarian leaders are increasingly adopting a kleptocratic business model to consolidate their power and undermine democratic institutions around the world, making the fight against corruption increasingly crucial to the struggle for democracy.

Both oligarchs and authoritarian leaders increasingly take advantage of Western institutions, including the legal, public relations, political consulting and financial services industries, in order to remain in power and consolidate wealth. As the world’s largest economic actors and advocates for economic reform, Western nations have played an important role alerting the world to the rise of global kleptocrats. But when it comes to advancing anti-corruption efforts, Western nations and institutions have proven inconsistent.  In some cases, such as in Ukraine, Western governments and intuitions such as the International Monetary Fund put pressure on Eurasian governments to fight corruption and implement reforms. On the other hand, it is the most democratic, Western countries like the United States that allow companies to aid foreign oligarchs and authoritarian leaders via our legal, public relations, political consulting and financial services industries.

Please join us for a discussion on how global kleptocracy threatens the advancement of freedom and democracy, and what democratic nations can do to rein in the structures and relationships that enable this systemic corruption. Focusing on the Eurasia region, the panel will feature regional experts and top activists from Ukraine and Georgia who will share their perspectives on the fight against corruption in their countries and in the region.  

Alexander Cooley
Professor of Political Science
Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute (2016-2018)
Charles Davidson
Publisher of The American Interest
Former Executive Director of the Kleptocracy Initiative at Hudson Institute
Nino Evgenidze
Executive Director
Economic Policy Research Center (Georgia)
Daria Kaleniuk
Executive Director
Anti-corruption Action Centre (Ukraine)
Nate Schenkkan
Director for Special Research
Freedom House

Speaker Biographies: 

Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University's Harriman Institute (2016-18). He also serves on Columbia University's Tenure Review Advisory Committee (2017-20). Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors have shaped the development and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. He is author and/or editor of six academic books.  His most recent book Dictators without Borders, co-authored with John Heathershaw, explores the rise of "extraterriorial authoritarianism" and how Western professionals support the transnational networks of Central Asian elites. In addition to his academic research, Professor Cooley serves on several international advisory boards and has testified for the U.S. Congress and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Cooley's opinion pieces have appeared in New York TimesForeign Policy and Foreign Affairs and his research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Open Society Foundations, Carnegie Corporation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, among others. Cooley earned both his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia University. 


Charles Davidson is Publisher of The American Interest magazine, co-founder with Raymond Baker of Global Financial Integrity, one of the founders of the FACT Coalition, Executive Producer of Sundance documentary We’re Not Broke, and until recently Executive Director of the Kleptocracy Initiative at Hudson Institute.  The Kleptocracy Initiative has published a quiver of reports focusing on the civilizational threats we face from the marriage of authoritarianism and kleptocracy. The Kleptocracy Initiative engaged in a broad set of activities for a think tank program, from organizing the first “Klepto Tours” of London, to the premiere of “From Russia with Cash” in DC, the dubbing of a Russian documentary explaining Putin’s rise to power, the establishment of an extensive archive of primary source material, hosting many events, and serving as a platform for anti-kleptocracy convening and information sharing.  Regarding the national security threats associated with kleptocracy, Davidson has testified to the Senate Committee of the Judiciary, the Helsinki Commission, and the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. Prior to political media and financial integrity activisms, Davidson spent his career in the information technology industry, in various technical/managerial positions, as CIO of a large pan-European logistics company, and in a venture capital partnership until 2008.  Bowdoin College 1981, B.A.  Duke University 1988, MBA


Nino Evgenidze serves as Executive Director at the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) in Tbilisi, Georgia. She is a co-founder of the Tbilisi International conference with the McCain Institute for International Leadership and the Leadership Academy for Development of Stanford University's Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of law (CDDRL). Nino is also a co-founder of the Democracy Frontline Center. Nino was a visiting scholar at John Hopkins University's the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a Stanford University Fellow in Stanford’s CDDRL Program. She has a Master’s Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a PhD in Literature from Tbilisi State University.  She also holds an MBA from Maastricht University and a Master's Degree in Public Policy Management from Vienna University. Nino worked as an anchor of the daily morning economic show at Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and has extensive experience in governmental and non-governmental organizations - she was an advisor at the Center for Economic Reforms of the State Chancellery of Georgia (Presidential Administration), Head of the Public Outreach Department of the Anti-corruption Policy Coordination Council of Georgia. Nino is a Chairman of the board of first Child Hospice in Georgia.


Daria Kaleniuk is co-founder and Executive director of the Anti-corruption Action Centre, Ukraine. She is experienced in international legal mechanisms for anti-corruption actions, particularly in stolen assets recovery and anti-money laundering initiatives. During the Euromaidan protests, she was running the yanukovich.info campaign aimed at freezing assets of Yanukovych and his associates kept in Western jurisdictions.  Ms.Kaleniuk holds a Master’s degree in Financial Services Law from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She was a Fullbright Program student in 2010-2011

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