Judith Pallot and Olga Zeveleva have been commenting on Russian prison conditions in international media after news broke that American basketball player Brittney Griner has been sent to a facility in Mordovia.
- Judith Pallot was interviewed by VICE News about prison conditions in the facility where Brittney Griner was sent. Link.
- Judith Pallot and Olga Zeveleva commented on prison conditions in Russia’s women’s colonies for The Guardian. Link.
- Olga Zeveleva was featured on CNN‘s show The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Link.
For more links to news stories featuring our work, see https://blogs.helsinki.fi/gulagechoes/gulag-echoes-in-the-media/
At the closing ceremony of the Aleksanteri conference, we were able to announce that GULAGECHOES and YUGOSLAVIAN PENAL NATIONALISM have been chosen to be the co-organisers of the Aleksanteri conference together with the law Faculty’s Development in post-Soviet law group. The conference’s theme will be: “Decolonising space in the global east: Legal choices, Political Transformation, Carceral practices”. The members of the organising committee explained the theme of the conference and expressed the hope that they wold see everyone back at the Aleknsateri at the same time next year.
The annual Aleksanteri Conference gave members of the GULAGECHOES and YUGOSLAVIAN PENAL NATIONALISM teams the opportunity to present their findings to the broad section of the academic, civil society and foreign affairs community that attended this year’s conference. The theme of the conference arising out of the war in Ukraine was entitled “The New Age of Insecurity”.
The projects organised two panels: “War and Repression. Russia´s War Against Ukraine in Discursive, Comparative and Legal Perspective” and “The Role of Penalty in Post-Community State Formation in Former Soviet and Yugoslavian space”.
The following papers were given by the members of the gulagehcoes team: Mikhail Nakonenchny The rise of Neo-Stalinism, Weaponization of Conspiratorial “folk-history”, and Denial of Atrocities in Ukraine; Olga Zeveleva Ethnicity, Class, and Security in Estonia: Perspectives from the Prison; Lili Di Puppo “Muslims do not submit to anyone except the Almighty”: Islam beyond prison categories in Russia and Costanza Curro The End of the Soviet Union in the Labour Colony of Khoni, Georgia.
For the Academy of Finland project, “The Yugoslavian penal nationalism”, Brendan Humphreys gave the paper Incarceration and Population Expulsion: Patterns from the Balkan and Ukraine Wars and Olga Kantokoski, The Western Balkan Model of Carceral Punishment in the Context of the Penal Programme of Modernity. The PI Judith Pallot’s presentation was Violence and Repression: the Carceral Fate of the Opponents of the War in Ukraine. We were joined on the panels by the project’s guest, international law expert Gleb Bogush and the founder of carceral geography Professor Dominique Moran.
Judith Pallot appeared on the Finnish broadcaster MTV’s programme Viiden Jälkeen in a feature on the forced relocations of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation since the invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022. She was asked to comment on what is known about what happens in the filtration camps in occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine and on the fate of people relocated to refuges centres in Russia.
After five: The filtering camp separates who will be transferred to Russia – the professor explains how the segregation takes place – watch free of charge on MTV Grandstand
The third meeting of the GULAGECHOES Ethics Advisory Board took place on the 27th of October. Unlike in 2020, the members of the board were able to assemble in person this year. We welcomed previous members, Gleb Bogush, Dominque Moran, Marianna Murayeva and Svetlana Stephenson, and new member Matthias Neumann. The Board received the report of the ethnical performance of the project since the last meeting and discussed the implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the future research for the project.
Judith Pallot was invited to take part in a roundtable discussion called “Post-Soviet Studies: Crisis of Conventions and Compromises“, organized by Professor Elena Bogdanova, a visiting fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute and the editor-in-chief of the international peer-reviewed journal Laboratorium
The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the direction of post-Soviet Area Studies in the light of the Ukrainian War. It was a hybrid event with Dace Dzenovka and Jeremy Morris from Oxford and Copenhagen respectively joining Marianna Murayeva and Judith Pallot from the Aleksanteri Institute.
Laboratorium, which was founded in Russia in 2009, became one of the main publishing outlets for sociologists working in and on Russia. The journal has now unfortunately been forced into emigration and has an uncertain future.
Gulagechoes was invited to organise a session this autumn in Professor Marianna Muraveyeva’s on-going Post-Soviet legal talks webinar which are informal discussions with leading legal and socio-legal scholars on a variety of subjects. The gulagechoes session, “Penal Policies in Post-Soviet Spaces: Contemporary GULAG with a Human Face”, focused on the different paths taken in the states in Central Asia and Europe away from the Soviet model of penality.
The line up of participants was impressive; Alexei Trochev talked about the legacies of the Soviet system in the criminal justice system of Kazakhstan and Central Asia throwing light on the differences between the different countries; Gavin Slade took the opportunity to revisit his earlier work on Georgia discussing the changing patterns of prison-led governance in the light of the failure of Saakashvili’s attempted 2012 reforms; Mykhailo Romanov, the members of the gulagechoes team, gave and account of the mixed results of prison reform in Ukraine, drawing attention to the role of civil society in improving conditions or detention and the affects of the Russian invasion on the penal estate; finally Anna Markina described the radical restructuring of the prison estate in Estonia that followed the country’s accession to the Council of Europe and drawing attention to some of the negative consequences that had arisen since. Judith Pallot acted as discussant.
We welcome the return of Dr Lili di Puppo, a former visiting fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute in 2022. She has come back to the Institute to collaborate with gulagechoes bringing to the project her knowledge of Russian Muslim communities.
She will be exploring the relationship between Muslim identity and prison identity on the basis of interviews collected with (former) Muslim prisoners in Russia. Lili was was previously assistant professor of sociology at HSE University, Moscow.
Her research focuses on religion and ethnicity, the interconnection between memory, place and identity and environmental movements and spirituality in the Eurasian region. She has done fieldwork in Russia’s Volga-Ural region and Georgia. Her work has been published in Ethnicities, Globalizations, East European Politics, Contemporary Islam, the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and Global Crime. She is co-editor of the book “Peripheral Methodologies: Unlearning, Not-Knowing and Ethnographic Limits” (Routledge, 2021).
Dr Larisa Kangaspuro, a researcher whose historical study in the project focuses on Ethnicity in the Imperial Russian prison system after the Great Reforms, visited the National Archives of Georgia in July-August 2022. Georgia was part of the Russian Empire from 1801 to 1917. Then it was Tiflis and Kutaisi provinces. Many different nationalities and different faiths inhabited the territory of the modern Georgia. Within two weeks, documents generated by both state prison authorities and civil society organizations were discovered, for example, official correspondence from the Imperial Main Prison Administration (the GTU) in St. Petersburg with the Tiflis Governor or reports and personal correspondence from the head of the Ladies’ Committee of the Society for Prisons. These previously unpublished documents allow clarifying the issues of ethnicity and interethnic relations in prisons on the outskirts of the Russian Empire from the second half of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries.
12 August 2022: Dr Olga Zeveleva published a guest essay on the English-language news site Meduza, reviewing how prison food is part of discriminatory practices in Russian prisons.