I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, having recently completed my Ph.D in political science at Columbia University. In September 2017, I am excited to move to NYU Abu Dhabi, where I will work as a postdoctoral researcher. My research interests include corruption, authoritarian politics, bureaucracy, policing, and political methodology. The geographic focus of my research is on Russia and post-Communist politics. My work has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, the Journal of Experimental Political Science, Europe-Asia Studies, and Demokratizatsiya.
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.