Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

A collage of Russian oligarchs against a red backdrop



Western Sanctions and the Fates of Russian Oligarchs
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This event is online only.

Join us for a meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Series, co-hosted by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western countries imposed major sanctions on key members of the Russian business elite, although some Russian oligarchs have escaped these punishments. Did these sanctions work, and is targeting business elites an effective way of sanctioning a country? Our panel of political scientists, economists, and sociologists will discuss in what ways the sanctions have affected the wealthiest Russians, whether they have divided the Russian elite or brought it closer to Putin, how the oligarchs mitigate and evade the restrictions, and whether more individual sanctions against wealthy Russians could follow.


Brooke Harrington, Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College

Daniel Nielsen, Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin; Co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Evaluasi

David Szakonyi, Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University; Associate Director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia; Co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Data Collective

Moderated by:

Alexander Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science, Barnard College

Joshua Tucker, Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at New York University


Brooke Harrington is Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College. She is an economic and organizational sociologist, with an empirical focus on finance, taxation, and the professionals who specialize in those domains. Her latest book, Capital Without Borders: Wealth Management and the One Percent, concerns an elite occupational group within finance and its impact on international law and stratification. Professor Harrington’s other work examined the effects of diversity and decision-making processes on the performance of investment groups. Previously, she was a Professor of Sociology at Copenhagen Business School, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brown University, and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, Princeton University, the European University Institute, and Santa Fe Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University.

Daniel Nielson is Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a co-founder and Chief Research Officer at Evaluasi, a consulting firm specializing in randomized evaluation. His research focuses on international development, foreign aid, the control of corruption, and international organization. Professor Nielson is a co-author of Global Shell Games: Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime, and Terrorism (Cambridge University Press) and co-editor of Delegation and Agency in International Organizations. He previously worked as a professor of political science at Brigham Young University. He was also a visiting scholar at Princeton University, Duke University, the College of William and Mary, and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economicas (CIDE) in Mexico. Professor Nielson has also served as a consultant for the World Bank and UNICEF. He holds a Ph.D. in international affairs from the University of California – San Diego.

David Szakonyi is Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, an Associate Director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia, and a co-founder of the Anti-Corruption Data Collective. His research focuses on corruption, clientelism, and political economy in Russia, Western Europe, and the United States. His book Politics for Profit: Business, Elections, and Policymaking in Russia, published by Cambridge University Press, examines why business people run for elected political office worldwide, how their firms perform as a result, and whether individuals with private sector experience make different policy decisions. His other research looks at the effectiveness of anti-corruption campaigns, employers mobilizing their employees to vote, and nepotism under authoritarian rule. Szakonyi’s investigative work has been published in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, the Daily Beast, and the Miami Herald, among other outlets. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.

This event is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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