The Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative launched its Kleptocracy Archive earlier today. As of 11 am, anyone interested can search for thousands of primary source documents on corruption in authoritarian regimes at kleptocracyarchive.org. The American Interest‘s Publisher, Charles Davidson, is the founder and Executive Director of the Kleptocracy Initiative.
The Kleptocracy Initiative “is not about social justice,” Charles Davidson was quick to point out in his opening remarks at the event celebrating the Archive’s launch. Instead, the KI’s focus is on national security issues that stem from the West’s willingness to do business with corrupt governments around the world. The West needs to “stop providing safe havens for kleptocrats’ assets, stop providing them with financial secrecy, with access to our institutions, and use of our legal systems,” Davidson explained. To encourage better behavior, the Kleptocracy Initiative is looking to pull back the curtain on how money flows out of kleptocratic regimes. Its early focus has been on Ukraine and Russia (though the project will be broadening its scope globally in short order).
The Kleptocracy Archive, which currently houses more than 3,000 documents touching on various schemes, contains some 800 documents alone linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Browsing through Putin’s own page on the site makes for interesting reading. (Here, for example, is a document summarizing German police reports on Putin’s connections to Colombian drug cartels in the 1990s.) Putin’s counterpart in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has his own page as well. And the name of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, who was an adviser to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and various other oligarchs in the region, appears throughout the pages of the Archive.
The Kleptocracy Archive will be constantly updated, adding new material every day, Julie Davidson, the Director of KI said. For now, over 100,000 pages are available on the Archive’s website, and 25,000 additional documents are in the process of being processed and uploaded, including summaries on over 100 legal cases. The main sources for the Archive thus far have come from research done by the Kleptocracy Initiative’s own staff, as well as from investigative journalists. In the future, the founders hope that crowdsourcing is going to be the main source of the Archive’s growth. Submitted documents that are accepted into the Archive will be carefully scrubbed of all metadata to preserve submitters’ anonymity.
In the video above, I talked to Kleptocracy Initiative Director Julie Davidson, journalist and a Hudson Institute Senior fellow David Satter, Professor Karen Dawisha, the author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?, Senior Director for Human Rights & Democracy of the McCain Institute David Kramer, and Assistant Editor of “Democracy Lab” over at Foreign Policy Ilya Lozovsky, to understand how the KI started, and the significance of its existence.
We here at The American Interest will be sure to avail ourselves of this valuable new tool going forward.