Academics, policy researchers and corruption investigators across disciplines will gather on 19–20 June 2017 in Prague to exchange and expand their knowledge of civil society, media and state authority responses to transborder corruption in the EU-Russia region. This will happen in an international practitioner and research conference held by the Expert group “Fighting Transborder Corruption” of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, and the BlueLink Foundation from Bulgaria. The CEELI Institute will host the conference.
How can civil society push authorities to respond to transborder corruption is the overarching research question to be addressed by the participants. Different papers will focus on developments, trends, and investigate specific cases of transborder corruption in the EU member states, Russia and their immediate neighbourhood, including Ukraine, South Eastern Europe, or European Economic Area states. Contributions from the USA and other countries around the world shall be used to analyse global trends.
The conference will open with a keynote presentation entitled “Corruption as Defining Feature of the Mafia State” by Balint Magyar, a Hungarian academic and politician, author of the “Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary”. Sarah Chayes, a Senior Fellow in the Democracy and Rule of Law Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will discuss kleptocracy across borders. A third keynote speaker, Anastasia Kirilenko, will introduce her analysis of why European law enforcement bodies are not efficient enough to fight transborder corruption. Kirilienko is a Russian independent investigative journalist and a member of the Forum’s Fighting Transborder Corruption Expert Group.
The conference programme will be structured along two streams – the academic and the practitioners’ one. The first panel session will compare responses to corruption across borders.  The session will feature a roadmap on fighting grand political corruption in Russia by Halyna Senyk, the fight of indigenous communities against coal mining companies in Siberia and their transborder coal supply chains by Dmitri Berezhkov, and civil society and political corruption trends in Romania by Claudia M. Postelnicescu. A comparative report on corruption and anticorruption in Southeast Europe will be presented by Daniela Mineva of the Centre for the Study of Democracy / SELDI (Bulgaria).
Further, the conference participants will look into international and national financial institutions and corporations’ involvement with transborder corruption. Presentations will cover hot topics – such as the Russian money laundering in the Czech Republic by Milan Eibl of Transparency International; corrupt connections in the medical field between Russia, Germany and Israel by Konstantin Dzhultaev of URA.RU; and Russia’s Foreign Trade Bank’s scandalous investments in Bulgaria by Ksenia Vakhrusheva of the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.
In response to recent developments, a session will be held to look at the ways in which democratic instruments, such as elections and political representation, are affected by transborder corruption. The discussion will be based on contributions on tackling the enablers of cross-border corruption by Marius Laurinavičius of the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative; Russia’s Role in funding right-wing political parties in the Balkans and the EU by Milorad Ivanovic, editor of Newsweek Serbia; the Kremlin’ use of Energy Policy to influence Eastern European politics by Otilia Nutu of the Expert Forum (Romania), and the case of Romanian authorities tracing Corruption in Bulgaria’s First Investment Bank by Atanas Tchobanov of the investigative portal Bivol.bg.
The last session of the conference will critically look into the Investigating and media reporting on transborder corruption. This will include contributions on the Expert Group’s input to the practice of ethical journalism and transborder corruption investigations by Pavel Antonov, who is Executive Editor at the BlueLink Foundation and scientific coordinator of the conference. “Italianisation” of corruption coverage across Central and Eastern Europe will be analysed by Marco Mazzoni, and how the coverage of corruption affects people’s perceptions of corruption – by Anna Stanziano. Both researchers work at the University of Perugia (Italy). Stevan Dojčinović will present a project on organised crime and corruption in Serbia, and Dr Andrej Školkay of the School of Communication and Media in Bratislava (Slovakia), will demonstrate the case of a “Lone Wolf” – how a quasi-investigative journalist substitutes low functionality of the law enforcing system.