Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia

March 28, 2017
04:00 pm - 05:30 pm


Weak, corrupt, and politically unstable, the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are frequently dismissed as isolated and irrelevant to the outside world. Dictators Without Borders argues that Central Asia is in reality a globalization leader with extensive involvement in economics, politics and security dynamics beyond its borders. Yet Central Asia’s international activities are mostly hidden from view, allowing sophisticated, transnational corruption to largely go unnoticed. During the presentation, Alexander Cooley examined how business networks, elite bank accounts, overseas courts, third-party brokers, and Western lawyers connect Central Asia’s supposedly isolated leaders with global power centers. George Washington University Professor Marlene Laruelle and NED Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia Programs Miriam Lanskoy provided comments.


Alexander Cooley
Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College
Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute

Marlene Laruelle
Director, Central Asia Program, and Associate Director and Research Professor,
Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University

Miriam Lanskoy
Senior Director, Russia and Eurasia Programs, National Endowment for Democracy

moderated by

Christopher Walker
Vice President, Studies and Analysis, National Endowment for Democracy

About the speakers

Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and the current Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute. Cooley’s research examines how external actors– including international organizations, multinational companies, NGOs, and foreign military bases – have influenced the development and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. In addition to Dictators Without Borders, he is the author of Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest for Central Asia (2012) and Contracting States: Sovereign Transfers in International Relations (2009).

Marlene Laruelle is director of the Central Asia program, and associate director and research professor at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at The George Washington University. Her work focuses on Russia and Central Asia, as well as nationhood and nationalism in the region. She has published Russian Eurasianism: An Ideology of Empire(2008) and Globalizing Central Asia. Geopolitics And The Challenges Of Economic Development (2012). Laruelle is editor-in-chief of Central Asian Affairs and a member of the executive editorial board of Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization.

Miriam Lanskoy is senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2003 she was awarded a PhD in international affairs from Boston University for her dissertation on the Russian presidency, the Chechen wars, and social and political problems of the North Caucasus. She has 14 years of experience in political analysis and democracy promotion in post-Soviet Eurasia and in 2005 became a term member in the Council on Foreign Relations. She has published articles in the Journal of Democracy, SAIS Review, and The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs and has appeared on numerous panels and conferences to discuss political developments in Russia and Eurasia, testified in Congress, and appeared on the PBS Newshour.

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