Stifling the Public Sphere: Media and Civil Society in Egypt, Russia, and Vietnam

October 15, 2015
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

About the Event

Civil society and independent media play crucial roles in effective public policy-making and for improving public discourse. In countries such as Egypt, Russia, and Vietnam, it is clear that encouraging the development of civil society and independent media would help improve the quality of decision making on public policy, address rampant corruption, and more generally tackle the serious social and economic problems that each society faces. However, in these three cases, repression of civil society and the media is not just severe, but getting worse. These regimes’ political priorities compel them to systematically crack down on the very institutions that are essential for meaningful reform and economic progress.

To better understand the current environment for media and civil society in three key countries, the International Forum for Democratic Studies has produced “Stifling the Public Sphere: Media and Civil Society in Egypt, Russia, and Vietnam.” This report finds that while state-imposed limits on freedom of expression and association have produced an undeniably grim environment in all three cases, the existence of a powerful underlying desire for better information and more responsive governance remains. Please join us as report authors Zachary Abuza, Sherif Mansour, and Maria Snegovaya discuss how independent voices in these three countries are adapting to resist authoritarian repression.


  • Zachary Abuza, Professor, National War College
  • Sherif MansourMiddle East and North Africa Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Maria SnegovayaPhD Candidate in Political Science, Columbia University, and Columnist, Vedomosti

Moderated by

  • Christopher Walker, Executive Director, International Forum for Democratic Studies

About the Speakers

Zachary Abuza is a professor at the National War College, where he focuses on Southeast Asian politics. He is the author of Muslims, Politics and Violence in Indonesia (Routledge, 2006), Conspiracy of Silence: The Insurgency in Southern Thailand and its Implications for Southeast Asian Security (US Institute of Peace, 2008), Militant Islam in Southeast Asia (Lynne Rienner, 2003) and Renovating Politics in Contemporary Vietnam (Lynne Rienner, 2001), as well as four monographs. His research focuses on the nexus of politics security, governance, and human rights in Southeast Asia.

Sherif Mansour is an Egyptian-American democracy and human rights activist. From 2007 to 2012, he worked at Freedom House, in Washington, D.C., where he managed advocacy trainings for activists from the Middle East and North Africa. Since 2012, he has worked as the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2010, Mansour co-founded the Egyptian Association for Change, and he has monitored the Egyptian elections for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and worked as a freelance journalist for Al-Kahera newspaper. In 2004, he was honored by the Al-Kalema Center for Human Rights for his work in defending freedom of expression in Egypt, and in 2013 he was named one of the top ninety-nine young foreign policy professionals by The Diplomatic Courier.

Maria Snegovaya is a PhD candidate at Columbia University, where her research focuses on the sources of support for populist parties in Eastern Europe. She contributes a biweekly column to Vedomosti, a business daily, and has written for a range of other publications, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The New Republic, and The American Interest. Her articles have been referenced by, among others, David Brooks (New York Times), Andrew Sullivan (The Dish), Bloomberg, The Economist, and the Telegraph. Her main journalistic areas of interest are Russia’s internal and external affairs, the nuances of Russia’s political system, Ukraine’s domestic situation, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.


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Lunch will be served from 12:00-12:15 pm.

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