Political Exiles (2014-2020)

Welcome to the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database. You can:

Open Society FoundationsFunding

The CAPE project has been supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.


Route of a Kazakhstani exile via Moscow, London and Rome to Nice (FR).

The CAPE project is directed by Dr John Heathershaw and Dr Saipira Furstenberg.  Over the years, we have benefited from the research assistance, skills and hardwork of postgraduate students and visiting fellows at the University of Exeter.  In 2019/20, this includes Samuel Hollins.

About the database

The Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database at the department of Politics, University of Exeter studies the extra-territorial security measures deployed by the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and the human rights threats abuses and concerns faced by individuals in exile and opposition movements abroad. It was initiated in October 2014 by John Heathershaw and Alexander Cooley in partnership with David Lewis and Ed Lemon.

The dataset offers a unique analytical tool to study the dynamics of extraterritorial security measures (sometimes called ‘transnational repression’) in countries of Central Asia to target dissidents abroad, from the period of 1990 to 2018 inclusive. Since the launch of the database, it has been widely both by researchers and policy makers.

The data are collected from published legal and journalistic records, 1990–2018.


Publications which have used the CAPE database include:

  • Edward Lemon, Saipira Furstenberg and John Heathershaw, ‘Tajikistan: Placing Pressure on Political Exiles by Targeting Relatives’, Foreign Policy Centre, September, 2017.
  • Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw, Dictators Without Borders: power and money in Central Asia, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.
  • John Heathershaw, Eve Bishop and Rosa Brown, ‘Practices and patterns of extraterritorial security: introducing the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database’, in Adam Hug (ed), No shelter: The harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union, London: Foreign Policy Centre, November 2016, pp.20–24.
  • Edward Lemon, ‘Tajikistan: The transnationalisation of domestic struggles’, in Adam Hug (ed), No shelter: The harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union, London: Foreign Policy Centre, November 2016, pp.25–8.

Let us know if you have used the database, and if you have any feedback: email us or tweet @CentralAsiaNet.

Criteria and methodology

Separate articles specify the parameters and definitions used, as well as the ethics and methodology that guides the CAPE database.


Learn how it is kept up-to-date, by regular review and revision, and the criteria for adding or removing names.

Partner organisations

We cooperate with the following organizations in data sharing and/or joint advocacy initiatives:

Click to go to CAPE

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