Dr. Robert Orttung is Assistant Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and an associate research professor of international affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He previously worked at the Jefferson Institute; the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center of American University; the EastWest Institute in New York, and the Open Media Research Institute in Prague. He is the managing editor of Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization and co-editor of the Russian Analytical Digest and the Caucasus Analytical Digest, biweekly electronic newsletters that examine regional political and economic developments. Additionally, for the last several years, he has written reports about Russia and Ukraine for Freedom House. Dr. Orttung received a B.A. in Russian Studies from Stanford University and both a M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Project Summary

This project will examine efforts to combat corruption in Russia and Ukraine, focusing on the interaction between the state, civil society and media. The project will seek to understand how the relationship among these groups influences the success of efforts to reduce graft. The project will advance our understanding of how civil society and media groups can work together to maintain oversight over state activities and hold politicians accountable. In practical terms, it will help identify what works in anti-corruption policy so that policy-makers and concerned citizens are better informed in their efforts to improve governance.


Major Publications

  • (with Phyllis Dininio), “Explaining Patterns of Corruption in the Russian Regions,” World Politics 57:4, July 2005, pp. 500-29.

(with Christina Cottiero, Katherine Kucharsky, and Evgenia Olimpieva), “War of Words: The Impact of Russian State Television on the Russian Internet,” Nationalities Papers, 43:4, 2015: 533-555.,

  • (with Sufian Zhemukhov), “The 2014 Sochi Olympic Mega-Project and Russia’s Political Economy,” East European Politics 30:2, June 2014, 175-191.

Previous Terms

Researcher, EastWest Institute. Title VIII-Supported Short-Term Research Scholar, Kennan Institute. "Democritization in Leningrad." July 1, 1992 - August 1, 1992. Project Description: A study of democratization from Leningrad, with emphasis on the 1990 elections.