For those of you who might be anticipating some scandalous allegations about the Royal Institute of International Affairs, then prepare to be disappointed as I have nothing but good words to say about this institution, the biggest name in UK foreign policy think tanks. This post is, rather, an explanation for my recent absence from the blog and also a pointer towards a few recent appearances.
In June, I was delighted to take part in a panel discussion with the splendid title Russia’s Rotten Core: money, politics, and the rule of law, alongside Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev and Vladimir Ashurkov, executive director of the Russian Foundation for Fighting Corruption. I’m sure it will surprise no one who has seen Lebedev senior in action to hear that he very much used it as a platform for his own personal anti-corruption campaign, but overall this led to an interesting discussion chaired by John Lloyd, contributing editor of the Financial Times, which considered the scale and implications of the problem and steps which could be taken to address it on a national and international level. A transcript and recordings of the initial presentations and the subsequent discussion are available on the Chatham House website here.
Then in July, I was back there for a solo gig, an experts’ roundtable on Transnational Aspects of Russian Organized Crime. I can’t speak for the audience, but I found this a wonderfully stimulating event. The great virtue of a place like Chatham House is that by virtue of its pivotal status (and, let’s be honest, the less eclectic and extensive range of thinktanks compared with Washington), it attracts people with the most impressive and interesting expertise and experience and this was certainly the case here. I discussed the rise of organized crime and corruption within Russia and its spread abroad, the various forms it takes and possible measures to combat the problem. A summary of the event is also available here.