European Rus­si­ans and Rus­sian Europeans: Polit­ical At­ti­tudes and Ex­pect­a­tions of the Anti-War Mi­grants

Last Friday Dr. Margarita Zavadskaya gave a talk “European Rus­si­ans and Rus­sian Europeans: Polit­ical At­ti­tudes and Ex­pect­a­tions of the Anti-War Mi­grants” based on her piece for Aleksanteri Insight. In the talk, Margarita talked about the research she is conducting together with the OK Russians project, studying the new Russian migrants and their attitudes. Professor Olga Davydova-Minguet served as the discussant of the paper, and Dr. Teemu Oivo chaired the seminar.

About 200,000 Russians fled soon after Russia started the invasion of Ukraine. This is the biggest brain drain since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Will these migrants form an alternative intellectual hub for a democratising Russia? Would they become co-creators of an alternative imagery of Russia? Here we offer a cursory look at the Russian migrants, drawing on an original survey carried out from 28 March to 4 April 2022. Since the characteristics of the population data of migrants are unknown, we rely on a convenience sample of 1,700 respondents recruited via online relocation groups and Telegram channels as well as networks close to the OK Russians project (okrussians.org). The project focuses on providing assistance with relocation and regularly monitors migrants’ situations.

The full version of Aleksanteri Insight issue can be read online here. The talk on the same topic in Russian that Margarita gave to Riddle can be watched here.

Max Grömping ‘Online Disinformation and (Mis)Perceptions of Electoral Integrity’

In June, we had a most exciting ElMaRB seminar with Max Grömping, Lecturer with the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, Australia. He gave a talk “Online Disinformation and (Mis)Perceptions of Electoral Integrity”. Max Alyukov, Research Fellow at the King’s College, UK, acted as a discussant. We are happy to announce that the talk is now available for watching online:

NPRE seminar with Amelie Tolvin

In two weeks, on the 15th of June, our project trainee Amelie Tolvin will present her MA thesis at the New perspectives on Russia and Eurasia seminar. The title of her talk is Use your weapons:” Protest Repression in Lukashenka’s Belarus, and you can watch it online in Zoom or come to Aleksanteri Institute meeting room (Metsätalo, wing C, 2nd floor) at 14:00 and watch it live. Vladimir Gel’man, Professor of Russian Politics at Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, will act as a discussant.

Here is the abstract of Amelie’s talk:
Belarusians took to the streets following the August 2020 Presidential election in their country, decrying falsified results that gave Alyaksandr Lukashenka his sixth term in power – the authoritarian leader had been ruling Belarus, known as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship,’ for 26 years. The protest movement, arguably the largest and most persistent of its kind in the history of the country, was met with disproportionate levels of coercion and repression at the hands of the regime. Within the first few days of the movement, over thirty thousand were detained.

The objective of this paper is to examine the varying security service responses to the protest movement in Belarus in an effort to ascertain common patterns and developments in the Belarusian protest-repression dynamic. While utilizing theories of threat perception, repression, and contentious politics, this paper attempts to ascertain the security service decision-making processes that have ultimately led to varying levels of repression throughout the country.

Zoom: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/64906887561?pwd=YXFrT2dydWcvK3Bma0JVU1dxU3pGUT09

Meeting ID: 649 0688 7561
Passcode: 556814

ElMaRB seminar next week

On the 8th of June, next week’s Wednesday, we will have our next ElMaRB seminar with Max Grömping, Lecturer with the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, Australia. Dr. Grömping will give a talk “Online Disinformation and (Mis)Perceptions of Electoral Integrity”. Max Alyukov, Research Fellow at the King’s College, UK, will serve as a discussant.

The seminar will start at 10:00 sharp and can be attended via Zoom https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/61887773936?pwd=MDczaFNuWGlWY3lQQVpWMjBPeUFIZz09

 Disinformation campaigns, sowing doubts about the procedural fairness of elections aim at the heart of citizens’ trust in democracy. At the same time, autocrats deploy disinformation to whitewash deeply fraudulent contests. This paper investigates the drivers of public perceptions and misperceptions of electoral integrity by linking public opinion data from 82 national elections with expert survey data on disinformation and de facto electoral integrity. Building on theories of rational belief updating and motivated reasoning, it argues that disinformation campaigns are efficacious in undermining belief accuracy among both winners and losers. The results cast doubt on recent advances in disinformation research that emphasize limited exposure and minimal effects. This contributes a cross-nationally comparative perspective to studies of (dis)information processing and belief updating, as well as attitude formation and trust surrounding highly salient political institutions such as elections.

A Big Exodus seminar

On the 31st of May, Margarita Zavadskaya will organise a seminar where she will present the results of the survey of the new Russian migrants who left the country because of the war. She and other researchers collaborated with the project Ok Russians to find out what are the political attitudes of those who decided not to stay in Russia after it attacked Ukraine on the 24th of February this year.  Join us in Zoom to listen to the first preliminary results of the project:

https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/67983658919?pwd=aTRvRS9SaVFoSjBkbzFmUlFSUi9CQT09

Meeting ID: 679 8365 8919
Passcode: 021541

A Big Exodus: The Anti-War Migrants from Russia, Political Attitudes and Expectations

Authors:

Emil Kamalov, doctoral student, European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy

Nika Kostenko

Ivetta Sergeeva, doctoral student, European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy

Margarita Zavadskaya, researcher, University of Helsinki, Finland

About 200,000 Russians fled soon after Russian government launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February, 24, 2022. This is the biggest exodus from Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among these emigrés, there are leading experts in top-notch industries including IT sector, representatives of non-commercial sector, science and education. The outflow of highly qualified labor force will lead to the loss of human capital and knowledge in Russia and affect societies in the destination countries.

We present the early results of the online panel survey of Russian migrants (N=1.500) carried out from March 27 to April 4, 2022 in collaboration with the project Ok Russians. Our sample includes only those respondents who agreed to participate in the survey. The questionnaire encompasses questions related to demography, socio-economic status, profession, political attitudes, expectations and plans as well as reasons for emigration.

Our preliminary findings suggest that new migrants are mostly educated young Russians between 20 and 40. They are mostly employed in the realms of intellectual and creative professions such as IT, data science, own business, academia, art and culture, ‘white collars’. Most of the respondents used to be politically active citizens and many faced threats due to their political views. Every second respondent admits fear of political prosecution.

ElMaRB seminar ‘Internet voting in Russia: Democratizing Power of Internet Voting Revised?’

Next week’s Wednesday we continue our ElMaRB seminar series and will have a presentation by Iuliia Krivonosova, Doctoral researcher at Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia, and at the Kompetenzzentrum für Public Management, University of Bern, Switzerland. Iuliia will present her research ‘Internet voting in Russia: Democratizing Power of Internet Voting Revised?’. Bogdan Romanov, Junior Research Fellow in E-Governance, University of Tartu, will serve as discussant.

Internet voting has pride of place among democratic innovations. It enfranchises new groups of voters, brings greater voter convenience and decreases costs of voting (Alvarez & Hall, 2003; Goodman & Stokes, 2016; Krimmer, 2012). So far, the studies of Internet voting implementation have been limited to democratic countries, which helps to reinforce the narrative of Internet voting as an innovation with democratic potential. At the same time, authoritarian regimes have a lot of potential to become norm entrepreneurs (Sunstein, 1996) generating new “alternative norms of appropriateness” (Jones, 2015, p. 26) which has already happened in the field of cyberspace (Kneuer & Harnisch, 2016) and e-participation (Åström et al., 2012). Therefore, for Internet voting to be an innovative solution, it deems important to study its development in a non-democratic environment. I consider one of such cases – Internet voting implementation in the 2019 Local elections in Moscow, Russia – in order to answer the research question “How is Internet voting implemented in a non-democratic environment?”
Iuliia’s research interests include digital transformation, e-governance and e-democracy, party and electoral systems, post-communist institution-building, and democratization. Outside academia, Iuliia has served in election observation missions, contributed to the work of NGOs (International IDEA, Varieties of Democracy, Transparency International, British Council), and popularized knowledge on elections via op-eds for various think thanks and magazines.

The event will be organised in Zoom, please join us at https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/68911907349?pwd=aFgvald4aGlDSnYzWVJyZkVEQnczdz09
Meeting ID: 689 1190 7349
Passcode: 521669

Electoral consequences of environmental protest: The case of Shiyes

Today our Doctoral researcher Elena Gorbacheva presented her ongoing research ‘Electoral consequences of environmental protest: The case of Shiyes’ at ElMaRB seminar. Anna Zhelnina, Postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria), acted as a discussant.

The Shiyes protest campaign, which lasted for about 2 years since summer 2018, became one of the most prominent and well-known environmental protests in Russia during the last decade. The protests resulted in success – the landfill project for Moscow waste in Arkhangelsk oblast’ was cancelled and the head of the region, who supported the construction, resigned. But are there any other consequences of the two-year contention?

Elena Gorbacheva examined the political consequences of environmental protests in Russia by studying environmental protests in the Arkhangelsk region against the Shiyes landfill and how they affected the political support of incumbents at the elections of different levels in the region – gubernatorial elections in 2020 and State Duma elections in 2021. Based on the unique protest database for the SHiyes campaign, Elena found that there is a positive correlation between opposition candidates’ results and number of protests and a negative one between United Russia results and number of protests. The effect on turnout is modest, however, the turnout in 2020-2021 in Arkhangelsk was higher than during the previous electoral cycle despite the pandemic. What are the mechanisms behind it? Elena will explore this in her further research.

Spring seminar programme

The spring semester has just started but is already looking promising. Our EMaRB project is going to continue to work on the dataset, but in addition to that we will keep up with our tradition of organising seminars, where researchers present their work on elections, malpractice, and cyber-security in Russia and beyond. In this post, we are introducing our spring programme and we hope to see you at our events very soon!

 

Elena Gorbacheva, Doctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute: ‘Electoral consequences of environmental protest: The case of Shiyes’, 23.02.2022, 14:00-15:30.

The Shiyes protest campaign, which lasted for about 2 years since summer 2018, became one of the most prominent and well-known environmental protests in Russia during the last decade. The protests resulted in success – the landfill project for Moscow waste in Arkhangelsk oblast’ was cancelled and the head of the region, who supported the construction, resigned. But are there any other consequences of the two-year contention?

In this presentation, I am examining the political consequences of environmental protests in Russia by studying environmental protests in the Arkhangelsk region against the Shiyes landfill and how they affected the political support of incumbents at the elections of different levels in the region.

 

Philipp Chapkovski: ‘Unintended consequences of corruption indices: an experimental approach’, 29.03.2022, 14:00-15:30.

Using the results of a large-scale (N=900) online experiment, this paper investigates how the information about regional corruption level may deleteriously affect interregional relations. Corruption indices are widely used as a measure of the quality of governance. But in addition, to be a valuable tool for investors and policymakers for making informed decisions, they may also result in statistical discrimination: people from a more ‘corrupt’ region may be perceived as less trustworthy or more inclined to dishonest behaviour.

In our experiment, we manipulated the number of information people have about three different Russian regions in two simple behavioural games (‘Cheating game’ and Trust game). In a Cheating game after the main stage where they report whether they observed a head or a tail on a flipped coin, they guessed how many participants in each of the three regions reported heads. In the baseline treatment, we provided them with a set of generic information about each region (such as population size and share of females), and in the main treatment, they were additionally informed about the degree of corruption in each region. They also had to make a transfer decision in the standard trust game for three potential recipients in each region. The presence of corruption information made people substantially overestimate the degree of dishonesty in more ‘corrupt’ regions. The behavioural trust towards a person from a region was also significantly lower if the region was marked as ‘corrupt’. The results demonstrate the potentially harmful unintended consequences of corruption indices that have to be taken into account by policymakers.

 

Iuliia Krivonosova, Doctoral researcher at Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia, and at the Kompetenzzentrum für Public Management, University of Bern, Switzerland: ‘Internet voting in Russia: Democratizing Power of Internet Voting Revised?’, 11.05.2022, 14:00-15:30.

Internet voting has pride of place among democratic innovations. It enfranchises new groups of voters, brings greater voter convenience and decreases costs of voting (Alvarez & Hall, 2003; Goodman & Stokes, 2016; Krimmer, 2012). So far, the studies of Internet voting implementation have been limited to democratic countries, which helps to reinforce the narrative of Internet voting as an innovation with democratic potential. At the same time, authoritarian regimes have a lot of potential to become norm entrepreneurs (Sunstein, 1996) generating new “alternative norms of appropriateness” (Jones, 2015, p. 26) which has already happened in the field of cyberspace (Kneuer & Harnisch, 2016) and e-participation (Åström et al., 2012). Therefore, for Internet voting to be an innovative solution, it deems important to study its development in a non-democratic environment. I consider one of such cases – Internet voting implementation in the 2019 Local elections in Moscow, Russia – in order to answer the research question “How is Internet voting implemented in a non-democratic environment?”

State Duma Elections 2021: Results and Political Consequences

Today Margarita Zavadskaya took part in the research seminar organised by HSE University in St. Petersburg “State Duma Elections 2021: Results and Political Consequences”. At the seminar, Margarita will present her and Alexandra Rumyantseva’s paper ‘The party of people’s mistrust: foundations of the electoral success of the communists in 2021.

After the 2021 State Duma elections, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) re-emerged as a new political force with new people and creative local electoral campaigns within Russian political landscape. How and why the communists, who have been viewed as a system and rather passive opposition by most of analists and electorate, managed to successfuly accumulate political dissatisfaction of the voters during the September 2021 State Duma elections? We state that mobilisation against the pension reform in 2018 turned out to be the data on protests in 381 towns of Russia with population larger than 20.000 people, which took place during summer-autumn 2018, combined with the electoral data on State Duma elections 2016 and 2021.
The paper continues the presentation Margarita Zavadskaya and Alexandra Rumyantseva gave in October in Helsinki during the ElMaRB seminar. You can watch its recording on our blog.

Governing Authoritarian Elections: The Case of Russia

The new year has started and we continue to publish the recordings of keynote lectures given at our International Workshop. Today we are happy to share the excellent talk that Vladimir Gel’man, Professor of Russian Politics at Aleksanteri Institute and Professor at the European University at St.Petersburg, gave on the 26th of October. In the lecture titled ‘Governing Authoritarian Elections: The Case of Russia’, Professor Gel’man talked about

The mechanisms of electoral governance under authoritarianism aimed at preservation of political monopoly under the guise of multi-party and multi-candidate contest. However, the very framework of legal regulations and their implementation relied upon numerous political and institutional devices, carefully chosen and arranged on the basis of “menu of manipulations”, typical for some electoral authoritarian regimes. Under such conditions, regimes employs the combination of high barriers, vague norms, biased enforcement of rules, and top-down mechanisms of control. Russia demonstrated the evolution of mechanisms of electoral governance towards near-elimination of very possibilities for unwanted electoral results. Still, these mechanisms are imperfect, as they perform at the expense of legitimacy of elections and not always prevents undesired outcomes. This is why authoritarian elections is a risky game, vulnerable to disequilibrium, observed in the wake of post-election protests in 2011-2012. Based on this perspective, I will discuss the experience of elections in Russia since the Soviet collapse until the State Duma elections of 2021.