A very busy year is behind us. We have disseminated our first results via teaching in the University of Helsinki where a new Master´s Programme in Russian Studies (https://www.helsinki.fi/en/programmes/master/russian-studies) started in the fall. The team members have been responsible for two courses, namely “Global Indicators of Good Governance and Law in Russia” and “Global Processes and Flows in Russia”. These courses covered such themes as hybrid regimes, the rule-of-law, global migration trends, Central Asian labour migration to Russia, impact of migration to societal transformation and globalization of religion.
In September, the journal Russian Politics (BRILL) published Anna-Liisa´s article on “The Soviet Legacy of ‘national security’ in Russian Migration Policy”, which analyzes the evolution of Russian migration policy vis-à-vis national security thinking in a historical perspective. The article puts forward the idea that Russian migration policy is built on the early Soviet experiences of population control, in which ‘national security’ was an essential component of policy developments. In today’s conditions, the interconnectedness of transnational security challenges, such as large-scale migration, is an important factor that officially motivates Russia to emphasize pragmatic institutional choices. Russia has followed the global trend of securitization of legislation and administrative policies underlying the re-emergence of national security as an important policy framework. The article claims that this ambitious framework is constrained by unfinished institutional changes and legacies rooted in the Soviet past. Migration continues to be an arena of policy-making where different interests override each other. As a result, Russian migration policy can best be described as an attempt to find a balance between economic incentives and security concerns, or between institutional pathologies and recycled dysfunctions and the need for modernization. (https://brill.com/view/journals/rupo/3/3/rupo.3.issue-3.xml)
In December, our team was strengthened with a new member, Sherzod Eraliev, who finished his PhD in the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and will work on turning his manuscript on Russian migration policy into a book to be published by an international publisher. Among other things, Sherzod has previously written about the connection between migration and religiosity (Journal of International and Advanced Japanese Studies). He argues that the living conditions of a labour migrant, the environment in which he lives, and circumstances he faces every day in Russia incline and push him to seek solace and comfort in religion. It is suggested that the feelings of insecurity—not only economic (mostly in terms of finding a job), but also psychological and existential—are critical factors in such circumstances. Previous research on immigrant religiosity in the West has mostly focused on economic and, to a lesser degree, existential aspects of insecurity while explaining the religious behaviour of immigrants. However, while not ignoring the importance of feelings of economic security, in the Russian case, psychological and existential (physical) insecurities play a more apparent role in affecting the religious behaviour of many Central Asian labour migrants. In this regard, by examining more deeply the migrants’ feelings of insecurity, specific aspects peculiar to the growing religiosity among Central Asian migrants in Russia can be explored.
Finally, our year ended with Rustam receiving a 3-year funding from the University of Helsinki to carry out a comparative study on Russian and Turkish immigration policies. This project will further strengthen our joint efforts by bringing in a PhD candidate this year, and by adding value to the our project´s scientific goals.