Oct 05

Rich Russians, ‘Vory’ and Moneyland: Schimpfössl, Helmer, Galeotti and Bullough speak at Exeter in 2018/19

At two events in the 2018/19 academic year we welcome four leading authors and commentators on transnational business and organised crime from Russian and Eurasia.


Rich Russians in London: shopping and business, politics and crime’

5.30-7.00pm, Thursday 15 November, 2018

Building One, Bateman Lecture Theatre

While London has long played host to the super-rich from across the world, in recent years it is Russian oligarchs who have been identified as potential money launderers and even threats to national security.  But beyond the cliché and the bling we know very little about the society of rich Russians in London and their connections to the UK establishment and the global elite through their residency in the city.  What makes London such an attractive draw?  Who are the Western financial and business services professionals who work with the oligarchs?  Are the oligarchs and their professionals keeping, avoiding or breaking UK law?  Are they contributing to society through their philanthropy?  What are the political and security implications of their presence in London?  In the first of two seminars, we welcome two leading experts on these questions: Elisabeth Schimpfössl, author of “Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie” (Oxford University Press, 2018), and John Helmer, a long-serving foreign correspondent in Moscow, author of The Man Who Knows Too Much About Russia (2018), and blogger of Dances With Bears.   The event will be chaired by David Lewis of the University of Exeter.

Elisabeth Schimpfössl’s research focuses on elites, philanthropy and social inequality as well as questions around post-Socialist media and self-censorship. She has a doctorate from the University of Manchester and taught at Liverpool University, Brunel and UCL before taking up her current post as Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Her latest book, Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie, is published with Oxford University Press.

John Helmer is the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia.  Born and educated in Australia, then at Harvard University, Helmer has also been a professor of political science, of sociology, and of journalism, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. Today Helmer is one of the most widely read Russian specialists in the business world. He is the author of The Man Who Knows Too Much About Russia (2018).


‘Russian organised crime and money laundering: from the Vory to Moneyland

5.30-7.00pm, Wednesday 27 February, 2019

Location: Amory 128

Russian and Eurasian organised crime has a rich history entwined with business and the state.  However, in the last 20 years the ‘vory’ appear to have gone global in their links to the country’s transnational business netowrks.  The links between oligarchs and organised crime, numerous cases of money laundering, and even allegations of their involvement in state-sanctioned assassinations in the UK and elsewhere lead to a series of questions.  What is the relationship between organised crime and the state in Russia?  How are Russian criminal organizations connected to the wider economy of industry and oligarchs?  How are they serviced by white collar professionals both in Russia and overseas?  Has London got a particular problem with Russian organised crime?  What are the economic, political and security implications of Russian organized crime for the West? In the second of two seminars, we welcome two leading experts on these questions: Mark Galeotti, author of The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia (Yale University Press, 2018) and Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back (Profile books, 2018).

Mark Galeotti is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and a 2018-19 Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. A specialist in Russian politics. history and security affairs, his most recent book is ‘The Vory: Russia’s super mafia’ (Yale, 2018) and he is currently working on a book on Moscow’s security and intelligence services. Educated at Cambridge and the LSE, he has been head of history at Keele University, professor of global affairs at New York University, a visiting professor at Rutgers-Newark (USA), MGIMO (Russia) and Charles University (Czech Republic).

Oliver Bullough is an award-winning journalist and author from Wales, who specialises in writing about Russia and financial crime. He has written books about the North Caucasus and Russia’s demographic crisis, and his journalism appears in the Guardian, Prospect, the New York Times and elsewhere. His latest book is Moneyland, why crooks and thieves now rule the world and how to take it back.