Research staff and experts A-K

The Aleksanteri Institute is an academic community of close to 60 researchers and other experts in Russian and Eastern European Studies. We share a multidisciplinary approach to the social, political and cultural phenomena. Our internationally renowned research covers the study of politics, history, civil society, regimes, culture, environment and the media.  A notable part of the Institute's activities stems from its role as a national centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies: we coordinate nationwide research and study programmes and provide information services for a network of Finnish universities.

For technical reasons our staff have been alphabetically listed on two separate pages. Research staff and experts with surnames beginning with letters from L to Ö are to be found via this link. If you are searching for the right person to contact regarding study programmes, information services etc, you might find the information easier via INSTITUTE > Contact Information.

For emeritus members and associates (title of docent), please click here.

NB! Email addresses follow the pattern unless otherwise indicated.

Research coordinator, Senior researcher

I am a scholar of religion, but my research is characterized by interdisciplinarity approach that combines theoretical insights and methodological tools from both social sciences and humanities. In addition to religiosity, my research interests include such topics as nationalism and migration. My areas of expertise are Islam and contemporary Paganism in Russia. In my current research, I focus on the governance and the representation of Islam in contemporary Russia. In addition, I participate in the project “Migration, Shadow Economy and Parallel Legal Orders in Russia”.

Starting on August 2019, I am working as the acting research coordinator. In this position, I perform administrative and operational duties, but I am also engaged in planning and developing the research at the Aleksanteri Institute.

I am co-editing Aleksanteri Insight with my colleague Dmitry Yagodin and the Religion and Spirituality in Russia & Eastern Europe with Maija Penttilä. In addition, I am a member of the editorial boards of the journal Transcultural Studies.  I hold the title of Docent in Study of Religions at the University of Helsinki.

Tel. +358 44 395 6120

Kaarina Aitamurto: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

University Lecturer, Director of the International MA programme in Russian Studies, Vice-director of the Aleksanteri Institute

I am a historian with a strong focus on economic modernisation in the Soviet Union and Russia, especially the economic history of the Cold War and the transfer of technology between East and West during the Cold War. Currently I’m focusing on economic modernisation, the innovative economy and digitalisation in Russia.

As a director of the international MA programme in Russian Studies, I am in charge of the planning and realisation of the programme. I also teach on the Russian Studies programme and other study programmes at the University of Helsinki. Since 2018, I also hold a Visiting International Professor (VIP) grant at the Ruhr-University in the Bochum Research School PLUS Ph.D. training. 

In 2012-2017 I worked as a research coordinator of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies “Choices of Russian Modernisation”. I am a research member of the Finnish Historical Society (by invitation), a member of the advisory board of the Slavonic Library, a member of the scholarly editorial council of the journal Baltic Worlds and member of the advisory board of the journal Scandia. I am also member of the Finnish-Russian commission for scientific-technical cooperation, social sciences group (by invitation) and hold the title of Docent in General History at the University of Tampere.

Since April 2018 I've taken on the responsibilities ot vice-director at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Tel. +358 50 319 9365

Sari Autio-Sarasmo: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media


Research Assistant

I am currently the research assistant of Marianna Muravyeva. I am working in the Development of Russian Law program, assisting in webinars related to current issues in Russian Law: Russian Law Talks and assisting in research projects related to Russian Law, Domestic Violence Legislation in Post Soviet states. 

I hold a Master's degree from Turku University in Comparative Law. My personal research topic is Traditional Values Impact on Domestic Violence Legislation: A Case Study of Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Ukraine.

Post-doctoral Researcher

I have a PhD in social anthropology from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, with a thesis on practices of hospitality in the Republic of Georgia. My work has also focused on the relation between masculinity, mobility and urban public spaces in Georgia, and the resilience and transformations of narratives and practices of masculinity among young Georgian men.

I have been working as a post-doctoral researcher with the Gulag Echoes project since September 2019. I investigate processes of identity construction in Georgian prisons and among Georgian prisoners from Soviet times up to date, focusing in particular on the intersection of prisoners' ethnic identity with other types of (self-)identification - gender and class identity, national and regional belonging, religion, political affiliation and so on. I am also interested in the spatial dimensions of prisons and imprisonment, their transformations since the Soviet era and the ways in which these are related to identity construction. My research is based on observation and in-depth interviews, as well as on the analysis of media and archival material.    

Tel. +358 505964019

Postdoctoral Researcher

I work at the intersection of media studies, economic sociology and political economy, studying media markets in Russia. Since September 2018, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute (Russian Media Lab: Freedom of Speech and Critical Journalism in Russia) where I am studying hyperlocal media in Russia, their social meanings, technological challenges and economic constraints. My research focuses on how internet and digital technologies affect regional and local media landscape. 

Before coming to Helsinki, I have been lecturing and running seminars in both Russian and English language in Media Studies at Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia, 2013-2018). I have previously conducted research on state support of regional media in contemporary Russia. I defended my dissertation, “Transformation of structural links between media companies and the state on Russian regional media market”, at HSE in 2018.

Olga Dovbysh: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media       

Doctoral student

I joined the research project AUCAM (Opportunities for and challenges to urban development and social cohesion in Russia’s Arctic under climate change impacts) led by professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen,  in November 2018. My dissertation focuses on the role played by institutions and gas–extractive projects in the sustainable development of the urban areas of the Yamalo–Nenets Autonomous District in the Russian Arctic region.

Francesco Durante: Research outputs, projects, activities

Postdoctoral Researcher

I defended my doctoral dissertation “Securitized Migration: Russian Policies in Dealing with Labour Migrants from Central Asia” in the University of Tsukuba, Japan, in 2018. My research interests include migration, religion and migration, religious extremism, and societal change in Uzbekistan.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, I will work as a member of the Migration, Shadow Economy and Parallel Legal Orders in Russia project. I will work on turning my dissertation into a book and publishing our research findings together with colleagues.

Shezod Eraliev: Research outputs, projects

Professor of Russian Politics

My work as professor of Russian Politics focuses on issues such as political regime dynamics, political institutions, governance and policy-making, elections, political parties and political protests, and sub-national politics in Russia. During 2012-2017, I served as the Finland Distinguished Professor at the Aleksanteri Institute and was a cluster leader in the Centre of Excellence “Choices of Russian Modernisation”, funded by the Academy of Finland. I taught at the European University in St. Petersburg as professor of political science and specialized on Russian politics in a theoretical and comparative perspective. I also have expertise in authoritarianism, electoral and party politics, contentious politics, and regional and local government.

I am an author and/or editor of more than twenty books and author of more than 150 research articles, published in English, Russian, Finnish, and other languages. My current research concentrates on political and institutional foundations of quality of governance and policy conduct in Russia and post-Soviet Eurasia.

My teaching duties include classes on the international MA Programme in Russian Studies as well as other special courses and programmes coordinated by the Aleksanteri Institute. I’m also a co-director of FRRESH (Finnish-Russian Network for Russian and Eurasian Studies in Social Science and Humanities) and YRUSH (Young Russian Scholars Helsinki Visiting Fellowship programme), both projects funded by the Kone Foundation.

Tel. +358 50 318 5701

Vladimir Gel'man: Research outputs, projects, activities, prizes, press media

Doctoral Student

I am a Master of Social Sciences working on my PhD on environmental activism in Russia with main case-study of the protests against Shies landfill construction, as a member of the  Research Group on the Russian Environment lead by professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. From 2020, I also work as a Project Planner for Electoral Malpractice, Cyber-security, and Political Consequences in Russia and Beyond (ElMaRB) led by Margarita Zavadskaya and DigiREES projects.

Tel. +358 50 376 4267
Elena Gorbacheva: Research outputs, projects, activities

Assistant Professor

Starting from 2018 I am working as an assistant professor of Russian Big Data Methodology investigating how digitalisation, ‘datification’ and algorithms are transforming Russian state administration, economic and political governance.

Having defended my doctoral thesis in the field of public policy in 2014, during 2015 – 2017 I worked as a post-doctoral researcher focusing on the policy-making activities of private actors, environmental sustainability and large infrastructure governance in the Russian Arctic. My on-going research project applies big data methodologies to explore the future of renewable energy in Russia.

My teaching includes courses on digital methods in human sciences and mixed methods research design. I am affiliated with the Helsinki Center for Digital Humanities (HELDIG) and hold a membership at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). I am also the founder and coordinator of the Digital Russia Studies network.

Room: Unioninkatu 40 (Metsätalo) A133

Daria Gritsenko: Research outputs, projects, activities, prizes, press media

University Lecturer, Discipline coordinator in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Educated as a political scientist, I am a research and teacher in Russian and Eurasian studies whose work focuses on the connections between public administration, security and societal change. I participate in the research group for Global Processes and Flows in the Eurasian Space where I lead the Kone Foundation project Migration, Shadow Economy and Parallel Legal Orders in Russia and two sub-projects in international consortiums funded by the H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. In addition to academic research, I have carried out several commissioned projects for offices of the Finnish Government, including the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs and Defence. I am a Vice-director in the Master's Programme in Russian Studies, and hold the Title of Docent in the University of Helsinki and in the Finnish National Defence University.

Tel. +358 50 448 6459

Anna-Liisa Heusala: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Visiting Researcher

I received my PhD from the University of Helsinki (political history) in 2014. Excluding a one-year post-doc in the Faculty of English – where I taught biographical studies – I have been in the Aleksanteri Institute for over 10 years. I am also affiliated with Urbaria, the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies.

My teaching duties include courses in East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB), lectures in the Jean Monnet module, The East within Europe, and being a visiting lecturer at the University of Sarajevo.

My research interests include the Balkans, Soviet Studies, the Cold War, the sociology of conflict, nationalism and exceptionalism, with a growing interest in religion. I have also lectured and published on corruption, visual culture, and the politics of sports.

I am contributing co-editor of Russian Modernization, a New Paradigm (Routledge 2020), the concluding volume of the institute’s Centre of Excellence in Russian studies.

My ongoing book projects are:

· Really Existing Nationalism, state, people, and nation in Cold War Socialist Europe, (De Gruyter’s Rethinking the Cold War series, Spring 2021)

· Rugby in Communist Romania, an unknown and tragic story (Tauris/Bloomsbury, 2021)

· Urbanicide, Towards a Cultural History, Reflections on Urban/Rural Dynamics in Warfare, (Helsinki University Press, 2022)

Social outreach has included work with Historians Without Borders, multiple interviews, and advice to official bodies and NGOs.

Brendan Humphreys: Research outputs, activities

Doctoral Student

I am a doctoral candidate at the Political, Societal and Regional Change Programme (PSRC) and part of the Research Group on the Russian Environment, lead by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. I am also affiliated with the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. In my dissertation, I research the construction of China’s role in the international climate politics. I focus on climate leadership, outside expectations for the leader role and China’s position between developed and developing countries.

Tel. +358408489441
Karoliina Hurri: Research outputs, projects, activities

Doctoral Student

I am a doctoral candidate specialising in climate and energy issues on the Doctoral programme for Social Sciences. Furthermore, I am also affiliated with the recently started Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. My research is mostly built around the From Failand to Winland research consortium funded by the Strategic Council of the Academy of Finland. In a multidisciplinary project led by the Water and Development research group and consisting of seven sub-projects, we are assessing Finland’s future water, food and energy security. In the research consortium and in my doctoral research I am studying Finland’s future low-carbon energy security in terms of both local and global developments. I am also collaborating with other researchers in the consortium, and in addition to public policy and human geography, my research also includes elements from futures studies and energy engineering. In addition to collaborating within the research project, my work also includes co-creation with key stakeholders.

Tel. +358 50 314 8944

Sakari Höysniemi: Research outputs, projects, activities

Doctoral Researcher

I am a doctoral student in general history, with background also in Russian language and literature. I am working in the Aleksanteri Institute to finish my PhD thesis, tentatively titled: “Challenging the Legacies of Stalinism: Vladimir Dudintsev, socialist realism, and Soviet politics of culture, 1946-1991”.

My overall research interests include various topics within Soviet history, such as high Stalinism, de-Stalinization, Soviet socialist realism, representation of reality in Soviet art, politics of literature, Soviet press and censorship, post-Soviet historiography and history politics, and cold war studies.

I have conducted extensive archival work in Moscow (RGANI, RGALI, RGAE, GARF, TsAOPIM) and spent the 2015 spring semester at the NRU HSE in Moscow. I have participated in approximately 30 international conferences, workshops, and summer schools, most important of them dedicated to Soviet history and the period of Late Socialism.

My published research articles are in English, Russian and Finnish. I have also written in Finnish about the Soviet period of Belarus (in the book “Tuntematon Valko-Venäjä”, Edita, 2009) and of Georgia (in the book “Löytöretkiä Georgiaan”, University Press of Eastern Finland, 2014, being one of its co-editors). I have lectured on Stalinism, de-Stalinization and Soviet history and culture, including my own course “Stalinism in Russian literature” (UH, autumn 2018). I am a member of the Council of the Finland-Russia Society and a board member in the Helsinki University branch of the Finland-Russia Society (Helsingin yliopiston Venäjä-seura ry.).

Head of communications (on leave, please contact Olga Kaijalainen)

I’m in charge of the Aleksanteri Institute website and social media channels and the editor of the monthly  Aleksanteri News. My aim is to promote Finnish research on Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia by making the voice of research and researchers more prominent in both media and in public discussions. I also help research projects in drafting and implementing their communication plans and provide students and scholars with library and information services.




Head of Research Training (On leave until 2023. Please contact Kaarina Aitamurto.)

I am responsible for developing national and international research training networks for Russian and East European studies. I participate in developing doctoral education at the University of Helsinki as a board member in Doctoral Programme for Political, Societal and Regional Change and organise bi-monthly PhD seminar for the Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. I’m the coordinator of the International research training and mobility network (INREES), funded by the Kone foundation.

As a researcher of Russian and Soviet history, I am interested in questions of social order and state security. My research interests also include history of ideas and conceptual history, especially questions related to nationalism and power. I have studied these questions in the context of Imperial Era, Revolutionary Russia and Soviet Union. I am also interested in the development of Russian political system and administration. 

In addition to my research and administrative work, I teach Russian and Soviet history at the University of Helsinki as well as for wider audience. I am one of the coordinators of Imperial Era Network, which is a community of Finnish historians studying this era. I am also a board member for the Finnish Association for Russian and East European Studies (FAREES) and a member in editorial board of Scandinavian journal for Russian and East European Studies Nordisk Østforum.

Ira Jänis-Isokangas: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Director of Educational Programmes

I am responsible for East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB) and Ukrainian Studies. ECEBB is also part of Bachelor in Cultural Studies, Master in Area and Cultural Studies as well as international Master in European and Nordic Studies and Master in Intercultural Encounters.  Ukrainian Studies is a joint program with the Bachelor of Modern Languages.

My research interests include civil society, dissidents; politics and contemporary history of East Central and South East Europe. My teaching is linked with these themes. I also supervise bachelor’s and master’s and doctoral theses.  In addition, I am interested in the development of the university – work-life interaction.

I am also actively engaged in societal interaction.

Tel. +358 50 338 2807

Jouni Järvinen: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Principal Investigator, Docent of Russian Cultural History, Liaison Officer

I am a philologist and Slavist, focusing on cultural production, as well as cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and State. I act as the Liaison Officer of the Aleksanteri Institute (eg. the Advisory Board). I am a member of the Docent committee.

Tel. +358 50 563 6308

Elina Kahla: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Communication officer

I’m in charge of the Aleksanteri Institute website and social media channels. I help researchers and research projects in drafting and implementing their communication plans and assist media in finding the right experts for their news stories. 

Room C254
+35829 414 0586 | olga.kaijalainen[at]

PhD student 

I work in a project AUCAM (Opportunities for and challenges to urban development and social cohesion in Russia’s Arctic under climate change impacts, 2018-2021), coordinated by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. In my dissertation I examine Norwegian and Russian Arctic municipalities from a human security perspective. I study the impacts of oil and gas industry on the everyday life of the people living in the Arctic municipalities, from a gender perspective.

Tel: +358 408667914 

Sohvi Kangasluoma: Research outputs, projects, activities

Research Coordinator

My academic background is History and Law. I have been researching and writing on the penitentiary system in the post-emancipation Russian Empire. My research interests include public perceptions of the penal system of modern Russia and the Nordic countries in historical perspective.

From November 2018 I have worked as an research coordinator of European research Council (ERC) project GULAGECHOES which is lead by professor Judith Pallot. In the project my research focuses on prison ethnopolitics and practices from the Russian Empire time to the early Soviet time. In addition, I am analysing law-making in relation to ethnic minorities covering all periods of Russian Law and recent EU legislation.

I am also the leader of the pilot project Nordic Russian Cooperation for social integration, prevention of marginalization and human rights protection for female prisoners, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers for the period 1.8.2018-31.07.2019.

Tel. +358 50 471 6821

Larisa Kangaspuro: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Director of the Aleksanteri Institute

I started as Director of the Aleksanteri Institute in April 2018 having previously worked as Deputy Director (since 2010) and Research Director (since 2009).  My research interests and projects have ranged from the history of the early decades of the Soviet Union and Soviet Karelia, nationalism and patriotism there, identity politics, history politics and during the last years Russian domestic and foreign politics. At the moment I share my time between:

  • Leading the academic and administrative duties of Aleksanteri Institute
  • Research on Russian history politics and identity
  • Leading the Russian Media Lab project on freedom of speech in Russia
  • Public lectures and teaching on the university courses

Tel. +358 50 522 3393

Markku Kangaspuro: Research outputs, projects, activities, prizes, press media

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Helsinki. I hold BA and MA degrees in European studies. In May 2020, I graduated with a PhD degree in world politics from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. My PhD dissertation dealt with the politics of the European Union’s police cooperation in the Western Balkans.  

I am part of Professor Judith Pallot’s four-years’ research project “The Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism and the Politics of Punishment in the Contemporary Western Balkans: Testing the Limits of the European Human Rights Regime in the EU's Southeastern Neighbourhood”. I have engaged with this research not only due to my interest in the still under-explored Southeastern part of the EU's periphery, but primarily because of my long-standing passion for complex historical projects. Through this project I intend to contribute to a better understanding of the complex socio-political fabric of the Western Balkans and hopefully help to construct ways for the EU to deal with this region. 

PhD candidate

I’m a Doctoral candidate in the Political, Societal and Regional Change Programme (PYAM) at the University of Helsinki and a member of the  Finnish-Russian Network in Russian and Eurasian Studies (FRRESH). My thesis focuses on a changing nature of the relationship between the citizen and the state in Uzbekistan on a local level using an ethnographic study of everyday lived experiences and is supervised by Dr. Anna-Liisa Heusala and Dr. Rustamjon Urinboyev.

My research interests include governance and public administration, institutional development, authoritarianism, sub-national politics, social and political anthropology, legal sociology, digitalization of state-citizen interactions and informality with a special focus on Central Asian societies.

Tel. +358 50 567 5457

Mirzokhid Karshiev: Research outputs, projects, activities

Research Fellow

I am currently a research fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. Between September 2015 and December 2019, I was a post-doctoral researcher at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies “Choices of Russian Modernisation” hosted by the Aleksanteri Institute. My research interests are Russian, Eurasian and East European politics, public policy and administration. I am interested in the process of social policy-making and governance, the influence of expert opinion, policy ideas and discourses, historical institutionalism and the processes of institutional change. My research is based on qualitative methodology, comparative case study analysis and process-tracing. I am the author of The Policy-Making Process and Social Learning in Russia: the Case of Housing Policy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). My articles appeared in Post-Communist Economies, Russian Politics, Russian Analytical Digest and Europe-Asia Studies among other journals.

Tel. +358 50 448 9154

Marina Khmelnitskaya: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media

Visiting Researcher

I am a visiting scholar in the Research Group on the Russian Environment, led by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. Since September 2018, I have carried out my postdoctoral project the Rise of China and Normative Transformation in the Arctic Region funded by the Academy of Finland (2018-2021, the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland). Previously, I worked for the Assessing Intermediary Expertise in Cross-Border Arctic Energy Development project, led by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. My research focuses on China's climate policy, international norms, and Arctic governance. I obtained my doctoral degree in International Relations from the University of Tampere in 2016. Currently, I am a board member of the Finnish Peace Research Association.

Tel. +358 50 378 8997

Sanna Kopra: Research outputs, projects, activities

Head of International Affairs

I am responsible for providing operational and strategic support for advancing our international academic initiatives. I am Director of our Visiting Fellows Programme with overall responsibility for the programme, and am also involved in its day-to-day management and interaction with visitors. I give grant-writing support to selected international scholars wishing to establish projects with the Aleksanteri Institute, and help with the Institute’s own international funding proposals. I oversee our other incoming research visit plans and provide support for training programmes with student and teacher exchanges. You can contact me for further information about the Visiting Fellows Programme or about our other opportunities for scholars from abroad.

I have been facilitating the development of study and scholarship on Russia and Eastern Europe in Finland for over 20 years. I have designed and initiated many of our key lines of activity, with a view to advancing our academic capacity also within the international context. I joined the Aleksanteri Institute at the start of its operations when we were a team of four. I was first tasked by the Ministry of Education to create a Finnish university network in Russian and Eastern European studies, and designed the concept for a nation-wide Master’s school, now ExpREES, and then for the Finnish doctoral programme in our field. I have also served as acting Head of Development and vice-director, and as acting Director of the Master’s school. My academic interests are in the study of post-socialist nation-building, nationalism, and the minority policies of international organisations.

Tel. +358 50 563 6307

Anna Korhonen: Research outputs, projects, activities

Planning officer in international affairs

I work as a coordinator of three programmes at the Aleksanteri Institute aiming to promote international and nationwide research and educational cooperation. These programmes include the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Programme, a nationwide Russian language training programme for Finnish students and the annual, international Aleksanteri Conference. Within these programmes my tasks include coordinating researcher and student mobility and organising events.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions related to these programmes – I am happy to help you and hope to meet you in Helsinki.

Tel. +358 50 415 0571

Eeva Korteniemi: Research outputs, projects, activities

Carlsberg Internationalization Postdoctoral Fellow

I hold a PhD in Law from the University of Copenhagen and a PhD in Political Science from St. Petersburg State University. For the next two years, I will be working on the project ‘Evaluating the Efficiency of Electoral Rights under the European Convention: A Cross-Regime Perspective’. Specifically, I will study how the election jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights impacts the development of law, resolution of electoral disputes and election administration in Finland, Denmark, and several Post-Soviet countries,

Prior to becoming a researcher, I have for several years been a Deputy Spokesperson of the Russian Constitutional Court.