I am a Postdoctoral Associate at NYU Abu Dhabi, having completed my Ph.D. in political science at Columbia University in 2016. I have also been a research associate at the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development at the Higher School of Economics since 2011. My primary research interests include corruption, authoritarian politics, bureaucracy, policing, and political methodology. The geographic focus of my research is on Russia and post-Communist politics, a region where I have spent extensive time in the field for over a decade. My work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, the Journal of Experimental Political Science, Europe-Asia Studies, and Demokratizatsiya.
See my full CV as a PDF here.
In my dissertation, I show that political competition—even in non-democracies like contemporary Russia—decreases corruption levels. In doing so, I combine extensive quantitative evidence with advanced methodological techniques to address a longstanding puzzle: why autocracies vary so much in the prevalence of graft that they exhibit. Far from being merely a ‘symptom’ of authoritarianism or a byproduct of low state capacity, I demonstrate that corruption is an important signal used by autocrats in their efforts to ensure that their agents in the regime perform well and stay loyal. I test my theory using extensive micro-level data on the public’s experiences with bribery in modern Russia. This data represents over 180,000 responses to public opinion surveys from 2001-2016 in Russian subnational units. Identification of the causal effect of political competition on corruption comes from the use of a plausibly exogenous electoral calendar. I show how the scheduled end of a term in office is a positive shock to political competition for authoritarian leaders in Russian regions, a shock that decreases experienced bribery in those years.