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Central Asia: A Loophole for Russia’s Sanctions?
August 23 @ 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Russia is facing unprecedented economic and political sanctions from the United States and its allies over its invasion of Ukraine. However, Moscow has found ways to circumvent these by exploiting its ties with the countries of Central Asia. In 2022, the US government issued an alert that listed Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan among a group of 18 countries possibly serving as “transshipment points through which restricted or controlled exports have been known to pass before reaching destinations in Russia or Belarus.” The US Treasury Department has sanctioned individuals and companies in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for facilitating the re-export to Russia of goods subject to sanctions. In this online event, three expert speakers will shed light on the role played by Central Asian governments in facilitating Russian maneuvers to get around Western sanctions.
Leila Nazgul Seiitbek, is an exiled lawyer and anti-corruption and human rights advocate from the Kyrgyz Republic who was granted asylum in Austria in 2021. She is Chairwoman of Freedom for Eurasia, which documents and reports on human rights and corruption abuses in the former Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Thomas Mayne is a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and a former Visiting Fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He is a former Senior Campaigner at the anti-corruption NGO Global Witness, where he was responsible for the group’s reports on Central Asia and Eurasia. He has authored a variety of reports on corruption and kleptocracy, and on the UK’s anti-money-laundering regulations. His most recent work analyzed the UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order legislation and the corrupt property purchases of Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimova.
Nurul Rakhimbek is a political activist and researcher from Kazakhstan living in exile, in Ukraine since 2015 and in the US since 2022. Nurul has worked with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) on programs for promoting democracy in Central Asia and Ukraine, and has done pioneering work in establishing the first election observation institution in his country. Since 2004, he has worked as a freelance author of many publications on democracy in Kazakhstani and Ukrainian media. He currently represents the Kazakh Civil Society Coalition in the United States and his recent work and research is focused on asset recovery and sanctions evasion.
Sebastien Peyrouse, Director of the Central Asia Program and research Professor, IERES, George Washington University. His main areas of expertise are political systems in Central Asia, economic and social issues, Islam and religious minorities, and Central Asia’s geopolitical positioning toward China, India, and South Asia.