New Perspectives on Russia and Eurasia

Highway in Moscow


This series of research seminars and open lectures sheds light on the recent and current phenomena related to Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia. It provides deep scholarly information on social, political and cultural issues of today, but also about their background and the processes leading to them.  The scholars presenting their research are members of the Aleksanteri Institute's staff and researchers from its network from PhD students to renowned international academics. 

NB! The NPR research seminar is, for the time being, collaborating with  the ElMaRB (Electoral Malpractice, Cyber Security and Political Consequences in Russia and Beyond) seminar series. The seminar remains open and free for everyone interested. Please see the ElMaRB blogsite for more upcoming events!



Anna Zhelnina, postdoctoral researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki 


In September 2017, a month after Renovation, the highly contested relocation and demolition proposal in Moscow was officially signed into law, municipal districts of Moscow held their regular elections. The preceding months of protests and organizing made Muscovites pay attention to local and city politics, and in combination with the electoral strategies of the national opposition movement, the anti-Renovation mobilization influenced the municipal elections. The new hyper-local developments in Moscow’s civil society breathed a new life into the downtrodden national political opposition and the municipal politics in Moscow.

The opposition’s strategies in the electoral arenas of the municipal elections benefitted from the gains of the local movements in response to the urban renewal proposal. These gains included: new mobilized activists, new interpretative frames, and new relationships – between neighbors, but also between new activists and the more established activists and political players. The transfer of gains across arenas was not automatic and required the involved players to deal with the tradeoffs and risks associated with the previous mobilization. In addition, this paper seeks to examine the mechanisms disabling the transfer of the accumulated gains across arenas and episodes of mobilization.

Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 698 8831 0085
Passcode: 377744




Anna A. Dekalchuk, Ivan S. Grigoriev, and Andrey Starodubtsev
( St. Petersburg Higher School of Economics).

Discussant: Sirke Mäkinen (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki) will be the discussant.

The paper explains how states and international governmental and non-governmental organizations (IOs) interact in the process of policy making by focusing on how this process unfolds in five countries of the former Soviet Union -- Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. More specifically, based on a series of in-depth interviews with the public servants, civic activists, academic experts and IO representatives conducted in these countries in 2019, we explore different patterns of state-IO interactions and explain what factors determine the formation of these patterns. We demonstrate that specific patterns of state-IOs relations arise from a combination of two country-level factors: institutional environment, which can be successfully characterized through adapting the model of political opportunity structure to describe civil society engagement; and a more rigid indicator of national regulation of international actors’ involvement into the policy process. However, we also show that the patterns of state-IOs relations are strongly mitigated by the intervening variable of the regime's resource endowment, and, as a result, differ not only in cross-nation, but also in cross-temporal perspectives.

Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 689 9447 1210
Passcode: 791790



Among the regions of Russia, many ethnic republics are distinguished by a higher level of electoral mobilization and political loyalty. However, in some of them recently, at the level of official statistics, a decrease in electoral support for incumbents from the titular ethnic groups has been recorded. Why is the stability of the political behavior of voters maintained in a number of ethnic republics, while in others there is volatility of this indicator? Why do a number of ethnic republics consistently reproduce an electoral super-majority for incumbents, while others do not differ in this indicator from most Russian regions?

To answer these questions, the study uses both quantitative data from official statistics and original qualitative data collected by focus groups in five Russian republics: Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Yakutia. The analysis of the collected data made it possible to identify the main factors that determine the variation in the electoral behavior of titular ethnic groups after the 2017 language reform.

In particular, it is shown that the structure of regional elites is a key factor in electoral volatility. Its transformation from monolithic to fragmented leads to an increase in the activity of independent national organizations, which undermine the monopoly of the head of the region on framing national problems and controlling the electorate. The economic factor in the form of the level of industrial development determines the difference between the regions in terms of the reproduction of the electoral super-majority. Republics with a monolithic elite and a developed industrial sector are able to maintain the stability of electoral behavior, providing an electoral supermajority. While in the republics with a monolithic elite structure in the absence of a developed industrial sector, only stability can be maintained without the reproduction of an electoral super-majority for incumbents.

Stanislav Shkel, is an Academy of Finland Visiting Fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute, and Professor of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics – St. Petersburg

The seminar is organized together with the ElMaRB project.

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Meeting ID: 686 8962 7776
Passcode: 951394