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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Expert Opinions, Episode 4: Examining Trump's Batumi Deal

In 2011, Donald Trump and Georgia’s then president, Mikheil Saakashvili, signed an agreement to build a Trump Tower in the Georgian port city, Batumi. Saakashvili exerted considerable effort to promote the tower, bringing Trump to Georgia in 2012 for a PR tour and lavish ceremony. But when Trump was elected president in 2016, the tower still hadn’t been built. Then, shortly before his inauguration, Trump abruptly pulled out of the deal.

In this episode of our podcast on Eurasianet, Masha Udensiva-Brenner tells the story of two Columbia Journalism grads, Manuela Andreoni and Inti Pacheco, who, after becoming suspicious of the deal, spent months digging into documents, news clips, and public records to figure out what happened. Soon they told journalist Adam Davidson about their findings and convinced him to join the investigation. He went on to write “Trump’s Business of Corruption,” an article about the deal published in The New Yorker in August 2017.

This episode is the second in a three-part series that examines real estate and offshore financial activities connected with the post-Soviet region. In part one of the series Udensiva-Brenner spoke to Alexander Cooley about why luxury real estate deals are so susceptible to money laundering operations. Stay tuned for part three, where she interviews New Yorker staff writer Adam Davidson.

Manuela Andreoni is a reporting fellow at Columbia Journalism Investigations. She completed her master's degree with Columbia's Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. Her work has been published in London's Sunday Times, Brazil's O Globo, investigative journalism nonprofit Agência Pública and Canada’s Globe and Mail, among others. In 2016, a BBC Panorama documentary she worked on won London's Foreign Press Association award for Sports Story of the Year. 
Inti Pacheco has worked for Agencia EFE and La Nación in Costa Rica and in El Periódico in Spain. He graduated from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 2017. From May 2017 to November 2017 he worked as a reporting fellow at Columbia Journalism Investigations. He is currently a Data Fellow at Univision in Miami.

*Illustration by Sofo Kirtadze


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Liza Knapp Receives Honorable Mention from MLA for Her Book "Anna Karenina and Others"

The Modern Language Association has announced the winners of the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures. Liza Knapp (Professor of Slavic Languages) received honorable mention for her book Anna Karenina and Others: Tolstoy's Labyrinth of Plots, published by University of Wisconsin Press. 

The committee's citation reads: 

The closely argued chapters of Anna Karenina and Others: Tolstoy's Labyrinth of Plots can each be read separately, but their cumulative effect is the articulation of a complex argument about Tolstoy’s labyrinth of plots. Starting with seemingly plot-based questions such as “What does Anna's life and death have to do with Dolly's or Levin's,” Liza Knapp moves quickly to larger questions such as “ Who is my neighbor?” Knapp's knowledge of the Bible, of world literature, and of philosophy and the history of science consistently informs her analysis of Gogol, Hawthorne, George Eliot, Pascal, and especially Woolf in addition to her sustained focus on Tolstoy and Anna Karenina.   


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Harriman Magazine: Fall 2017

In the Fall 2017 issue of Harriman Magazine, we travel back to the 1990s, to Russia’s first conflict with Chechnya in an in-depth interview with journalist and Senior Carnegie Fellow Thomas de Waal about his first book, Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, the audio interviews for which have recently been deposited, along with transcripts, in the Rare Books and Manuscript Collections of Columbia University Libraries. Also in this issue, we have a piece from our postdoctoral research scholar in Russian politics, Yana Gorokhovskaia, about the upcoming presidential elections in Russia; profiles of the political scientist Kimberly Marten, our alum Matthew Schaaf, who currently directs Freedom House’s Ukraine office, and the Russian graphic journalist Victoria Lomasko; as well as an essay about Alexander Cooley's latest book, Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia. You can pick up a copy of the new issue in our office or view the PDF here.

Alexander Cooley
Yana Gorokhovskaia
 Ronald Meyer
Masha Udensiva-Brenner 
Ronald Meyer 
Masha Udensiva-Brenner
 Bela Shayevich
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kimberly Marten in the New Republic

Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; Director, Harriman Institute Program on U.S.-Russia Relations, was supposed to work for the U.S. government as a Council on Foreign Relations fellow this year. Though she was offered a position from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, to help advise on negotiations with Russia in the U.N. Security Council, and passed her security clearance in May, the offer was withdrawn in August because the "front office" at the State Department would not sign off on it. Marten offers her policy prescription for digital détente with Russia in the New Republic

Marten also weighed in on BuzzFeed after secret talks with Russia to prevent election meddling collapsed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Robert Legvold's Policy Recommendations for U.S.-Russia Relations on the First Anniversary of Trump's Election

Robert Legvold (Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus)  wrote a piece offering policy recommendations for US-Russia relations on the occasion of the first anniversary of Trump's election: 

"If the most modest measure of success would have been halting the sharp deterioration of relations and taking even minor steps to improve matters, then the Trump administration’s Russia policy is an awkward failure—awkward, because, to take the president and his secretary of state at their word, they believe that turning the relationship around is of vital importance. Yes, steps have been taken that might have yielded—and might yet yield—progress, such as the strategic stability talks underway at the deputy foreign minister level, the agreement on a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria and observation of the Syrian de-confliction agreement, and the successful implementation of New START. But this limited inventory must be set against a Congress enraged and dead set on punishing Russia with new sanctions, congressional efforts to force the administration to abandon the INF Treaty, the deepening fury over Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election, the long-term damage to each side’s diplomatic missions and the paralysis that prevents the president from even thinking of reaching out to Russia in search of common ground."
You can read the policy recommendations here.