Category Archives: Yleinen

Russian Media Lab at #AoIR2018 conference

This week, Russian Media Lab will take part in the annual of conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Montreal. RML is organising a panel on ‘Politics, Activism and Trolling on the Russian internet’, with papers by Galina Miazhevich (University of Cardiff), Mariëlle Wijermars (University of Helsinki) and Elena Gapova (Western Michigan University). In addition, RML researcher Mariëlle will present a separate paper on mass media and the legitimation of internet control in Russia.

Panel-02: Politics, Activism and Trolling on the Russian internet

‘Is a woman’s place in the kitchen? Internet memes and Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential campaign’ Galina Miazhevich

YouTube and political activism in Russia                                                                                                  Mariëlle Wijermars

What Nations Do on the Internet: The Case of Two Belarusian Wikipedia Pages                        Elena Gapova

PaperSession-12: Infrastructures: Theory and Comparative Historical Materialities

Mass Media and the Legitimation of Internet Control in Russia: the Case of Telegram             Mariëlle Wijermars

“The situation is very difficult” – Finnish correspondent in Russia, Kerstin Kronvall, on Russia’s press freedom

by Janne Suutarinen
Photo: Grigori Vorobjov

Kerstin Kronvall is a journalist of Yle, Finland’s national public broadcasting company. Kronvall has worked as a foreign correspondent in Kiev, Ukraine and in Moscow, Russia. She has also worked as a Culture Councillor in Finland’s embassy in Moscow.

Currently Kronvall is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she writes news stories for Yle in Finnish and in Swedish. The journalist’s views on Russia’s press freedom and freedom of speech are bleak.

In your work, how do you encounter the problems relating to Russia’s freedom of press and freedom of speech?

A concrete example of this is the politicians’ and officials’ reluctance to give interviews. Getting an interview might also take a very long time, and often there is no possibility for follow-up questions.

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Olga Dovbysh will participate at public event “How is Europe Changing by Informational Technologies?” organized by the German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg

On 29 September, Russian Media Lab researcher Olga Dovbysh will participate as a speaker in open podium discussion “How Is European Media Changing: traditional and social media, post-truth and fake news, virtual public sphere, new transparency and right for information” at the public event The Fall Meetings “How is Europe Changing by Informational Technologies?”

The Fall Meetings – 2018 is the second annual public event of the German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg dedicated to the current European problems, similar to the regular public Fall Conversations in Berlin, organized by the German-Russian Exchange since the recent 20 years (

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Mariëlle Wijermars to give a lecture on memory politics in contemporary Russia at Higher School of Economics in Moscow

Russian Media Lab researcher Mariëlle Wijermars will give a lecture at Higher School of Economics (Moscow), faculty of Communication, Media and Design on 28 September. During her talk she will explore how the Russian central government employs cultural memory to claim political legitimacy and discredit political opposition. Also Wijermars will present her new book “Memory Politics in Contemporary Russia: Television, Cinema and the State”.

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Interview – and Soviet jokes – with Elizaveta Gaufman (University of Bremen)

by Janne Suutarinen

Elizaveta Gaufman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies at the University of Bremen. Her research focuses on the exploration of verbal and visual enemy images through big data analysis. Dr. Gaufman’s research combines International relations theory with media and cultural studies.

Russian Media Lab asked Dr. Gaufman a couple of questions as she was visiting Aleksanteri Institute for the workshop on Digital Humanities.

Could you tell a bit about your latest project relating to Russian media?

Right now I’m working on a project that is tentatively called “Everyday Foreign Policy”. In the project, I am trying to track how foreign policies are refracted by social network users. They are not just repeating blindly what the government says, but modifying and subverting the narratives they hear.

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On Digital Humanities – Interviews with Markku Kangaspuro (Aleksanteri Institute) & Peter Haslinger (Herder Institute)

by Janne Suutarinen

“The question of algorithms concerns much of human action and control of one’s own life. Thus it is in the core of the whole idea of humanity.” – Markku Kangaspuro

This week Aleksanteri Institute hosted a workshop (Politics of) Digital Humanities in Eastern European Studies, which brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to present their research and to discuss about the future of the ever-digitalizing world of humanities. The presentations dealt with for example challenges and possibilities of digital archives, computational linguistics, memory politics in a digital age, as well as Twitter activity of Kremlin trolls.

Peter Haslinger (left) and Markku Kangaspuro hope for the continuation of the workshop series. (Photo: Ilona Repponen)

Markku Kangaspuro, Aleksanteri Institute’s director and the host of the event, believes that the progress in the field of digital humanities opens up new possibilities in the research or Russian media as well. For instance Integrum, the vast archive of Russian, Ukrainian and other former Soviet countries’ media sources, has proven to be essential.

What are the potentials of digital humanities in the research of Russian media?

“The potential is great. Besides Integrum, where we have almost the whole Russian media starting from about mid-90’s digitalized in one data base, the media in general is moving to the internet as we speak. This opens up a huge bulk of sources, and in the case we can get these sources for the use of research, we really need new research methods and tools also.

The current situation is not even comparable to the old style media studies, in which one used papery newspapers, listened to radio and maybe read microfilms.”

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Interview with Olga Dovbysh, new postdoctoral researcher of Russian Media Lab

From 1 September Olga Dovbysh has joined the Russian Media Lab team as a postdoctoral researcher. She will join the current project on Russian media and freedom of expression. 

Can you tell a bit about yourself and your research?

I am from Russia, where I have been working since 2013 at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Earlier, I graduated from the master’s program “Media management” from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. In Moscow I’ve been lecturing and running seminars in both English and Russian languages in media studies.

In 2018 I defended my dissertation in sociology. It was an interdisciplinary research lying at the intersection of economic sociology and media studies. I studied how the structure of Russian regional media market changed after the transformation of links between state authorities and media outlets. Firstly, I explored the processes that led to this transformation. Among them are (1) changes in national media policy aimed at further commercialization of media outlets (it was implemented by the repeal of three laws that regulated  economic support of regional mass media); (2) poor development and high disproportion of regional advertising market; (3) desire of regional authorities to control regional media landscape without participation in media capital.
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Latest publications

Russian Media Lab proudly announces the publication this week of two articles by its researchers. Interested? Follow the links to read the publications in open access!

Mariëlle Wijermars’ article “Project ‘1917 –Free History’: Reliving the Russian Revolution in the Digital Age“, published in Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media, examines Project ‘1917 – Free History,’ an innovative and ambitious online initiative that enables its followers to relive the Russian Revolution in real time. Presenting archival materials in the format of a Facebook feed, the project allows one to experience what “really” happened. Whereas in the state-controlled mass media discourse, the representation of the revolutionary year and the lessons it harbours for today’s Russia tend towards unambiguity, emphasising the destructive nature of radical political change, Project 1917 presents a wide array of voices without imposing a single interpretation. The article analyses how the project mediates the public remembrance of the Revolution, and what role the social media feed format and the interactivity it promotes can play in societal processes of coming to terms with the revolution’s traumatic legacy. It demonstrates how, over the course of one year, Project 1917 became increasingly entangled in current political debates as 2017 turned out to be a year of mass protests.

Wijermars, Mariëlle. 2018. Project ‘1917 – Free History’: Reliving the Russian Revolution in the Digital Age. Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media No. 18: 45-65.

Saara Ratilainen’s article ‘Digital media and cultural institutions in Russia: online magazines as aggregates of cultural services‘ article, published in Cultural Studies, sheds light on Russian cultural institutions from the perspective of digital media, focusing on online magazines. The analysis concentrates on urban lifestyle magazines, a sub-category of consumer magazines and a media genre, which emerged in Russia in the glossy magazine format and is now experiencing a powerful ‘second rising’ on the internet. The article asks how the adaptation to the digital communication environment by lifestyle publications re-defines the very concept of a magazine and reorganizes the institutional ties between media and cultural industries. This focus enables me to analyse lifestyle magazines as a dynamic field of interaction in which cultural meanings are produced and negotiated. Based on new media studies, the article sees the cultural transcoding (Manovich 2002) of the networked and automatized information transmission into the magazines’ content as being a significant factor in the development of contemporary culture and media. Ultimately, the article introduces an attempt to analyse new media titles combining qualitative media analysis with the developing theory of ‘algorithmic culture’ (Striphas 2015). The argumentation is based on two case publications: Afisha, established in 1999 as a weekly glossy magazine introducing all cultural events in Moscow, and Inde, a digital-born regional lifestyle magazine focusing on urban culture in the Republic of Tatarstan. Urban lifestyle magazines are important for the institutional organization of Russian culture, as they direct their readers’ attention to a broad selection of arts, products and events; strengthen the link between consumers and cultural entrepreneurs and build on a long tradition of print journalism, thereby transmitting the values of reading and literacy to a popular public. Moreover, the analysis shows that, through their multi-platform publication strategy, online magazines (re)organize as aggregates of digital resources helping to manage cultural decision-making in a consumerist setting.

Ratilainen, Saara 2018. Digital media and cultural institutions in Russia: online magazines as aggregates of cultural services. Cultural Studies 32:5, 800-824, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2018.1429003.

Public lecture Hanna Stähle: ‘Mediated Orthodoxy’

Mediated Orthodoxy: The Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill Facing Criticism in Digital Media

Public lecture by Russian MediaLab visiting researcher Hanna Stähle (University of Passau)

When: Monday 18 June, 14:15 – 15:45

Where: Aleksanteri Institute, 2nd floor meeting room

There is an increasing discrepancy between the image of the Russian Orthodox Church in state-controlled broadcast media, on the one hand, and in non-mainstream online media, on the other. The idealized, nation-centered, and triumphalist image of the Church in traditional Russian media is contrasted with an outlandish, ridiculous, and grotesque image of Russian Orthodoxy in digitally mediated settings. Following the notorious Pussy Riot punk prayer service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012, as well as a number of media scandals involving Orthodox hierarchs and personally Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church found itself at conflict with parts of Russian society.

Digital media provide evidence of rising disdain and contempt toward Orthodox authorities and the institutional Church. These phenomena are often related to anticlericalism, atheism, or anti-Church ressentiments. This talk complicates this perception and demonstrates that Church criticism is voiced not only by “militant atheists” and “aggressive secularists” but also by practicing Orthodox believers and clergy. It demonstrates how media, both mainstream and alternative ones, significantly shape and influence contemporary Russian Orthodoxy and the way it is imagined and perceived in public. Alongside political, traditional, and vernacular Orthodoxy, there emerges yet another distinct form of Orthodox religion: mediated Orthodoxy that cannot be reduced to the official Orthodox Church or to popular religious observance and deserves a serious level of understanding.

Hanna Stähle is a PhD Candidate in Slavic Cultural Studies at the University of Passau, who has recently submitted her dissertation, and former Research Fellow at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Her research examines the digitally mediated image of the Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet Russia from the perspective of Church critics, and has been published in Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media and by the Carnegie Moscow Center. She previously worked at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. She obtained her Master’s degree in Russian and East Central European Studies from the University of Passau in 2011. In 2008, she graduated from Minsk State Linguistic University with a degree in German language and literature. Her Ph.D. thesis, which she recently submitted, examines digitally mediated discourse dynamics and user interactions related to religious issues in post-Soviet Russia.

We are hiring! Vacancy for postdoctoral researcher

Russian Media Lab is hiring! Deadline for applications: 18.06.2018

The Aleksanteri Institute invites applications for an enthusiastic and creative

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER (click here to apply)

for a fixed term from 3rd of September 2018 to 30th of June 2019, to work within the project Russia MediaLab: Freedom of speech and critical journalism in Russia. The employment contract will include a trial period of six months.

If measured according to conventional parameters, freedom of speech and expression in Russia has deteriorated. However, such development is not uncontested and without contradictions. Instead, actions and measures taken can prove inefficient or have unintended outcomes, which can be either negative or positive in terms of freedom of speech. Likewise, freedom of speech can also unintentionally shrink due to reasons such as the strained economic situation or increasing commercialization. To formulate a fuller picture of freedom of speech in Russia today, it is therefore not enough to study measures of control and questions of implementation, but also to adopt the opposite perspective – that is, to study freedom of speech and expression from the perspective of the areas of relative freedom. See:

Potential candidates can approach the subject matter from several different perspectives:

– Media regulation and self-regulation
– Legislation and media
– Media culture and -politics
– Russia’s political culture and media
– Media economy
– Cultural institutions

The subject matter can be approached from the angle of different humanities or social scientific disciplines. A strive for multidisciplinarity and willingness to partake in interdisciplinary discussions are appreciated.

According to the Regulations of the University of Helsinki, the appointee to the position of postdoctoral researcher must hold a doctoral degree in a relevant field, have the ability to conduct independent scientific research and possess the teaching skills required for the position. The candidate should have a proven capability to publish in scientific journals, have excellent analytical and methodological skills, and be able to work both independently and as a part of a multidisciplinary scientific community. The successful candidate is expected to have excellent skills in written and oral English, as well as have a good command of Russian.

The salary for the position will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, a salary component based on personal performance will be paid. The starting gross salary of a post-doctoral researcher is around 3180 € per month, depending on the qualifications and experience of the applicant.

Applications must be accompanied by the following English-language documents submitted as a single pdf file:

– CV (max. 3 pages)
– list of publications (max. 3 pages)
– 1–2 page summary of the applicant’s motivation to join the Russia MediaLab -project and the scientific community of the Aleksanteri Institute
– innovative research plan concerning freedom of speech and expression in Russia (max. 5 pages)
– sample of academic writing (max. 10 000 words)
– contact information of 2– 3 referees

Please submit your application through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply for job (here). Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to submit their application via the SAP HR portal. The deadline for applications is June 18th 2018.

Applications will be evaluated by a preparatory commission, consisting of representatives of different disciplines. The applicants will be informed about the choices by e-mail within two months from the application deadline.

Further information about the position may be obtained from Director of the Project, Professor Markku Kangaspuro, tel. +358 50 5223393,

Apply at latest 18.06.2018