Last night, Professor Rasma Karklins of the University of Illinois at Chicago joined an impressive panel of speakers at the public library on Koszykowa 26/28 for an “America Presents” event discussing corruption in post-Communist countries.  Along with Grazyna Kopinska from the Batory Foundation, Jacek Zakowski from Polityka, Ryszard Kalisz from the Sejm’s Justice and Human Rights Commission, Dr. Maciej Tyminski from Warsaw University, and social activist Jan Gebert, Professor Karklins discussed a number of the themes from her book, highlighting the role of institutions in combating corruption. 

Karklins noted that when she first started talking about corruption in 1996 with the World Bank, it was considered taboo — the “c word” — and people thought of her as simply moralizing.  Over ten years later, she notes that the discussion has transformed completely, and people now understand that corruption hinders the development of a functioning government, economy, and society. 

All the speakers illuminated on the theme from their personal experiences and took a range of questions from the audience.  Our discussion ran late — up to 9:30 — as audience members and panelists touched on a range of cases from Poland and struggled with issues such as the use of the word “corruption” as a political tool.  Professor Karklins’ book is available in Polish from SIC! publishing house.