Research group on the Russian environment at the 18th Annual Aleksanteri Conference

From 24 to 26 of October Aleksanteri Institute organised the 18th Annual Aleksanteri Conference. This year’s theme was “Liberation – Freedom– Democracy? 1918–1968–2018”. Several members of our team participated in the conference.

Sakari Höysniemi chaired the panel “FRRESH (Finnish-Russian Network in Russian and Eurasian Studies) Perspectives to Russia and Beyond” on Thursday, 25th of October and Sohvi Kangasluoma chaired the panel “Peace Movement and the Third World” on Friday, 26th of October.

Dmitry Yagodin was a discussant and a chair at the panel “Russian Media Lab IV: Internet Regulation, Online Censorship and Resistance” on Thursday, 25th of October. He also presented a paper “Climate change coverage in the Russian national and local media” at “Russian Media Lab V: Media framing and Conflict” panel same day.


While other presenters of the panel spoke about issues widely discussed in Russian media like Telegram messenger or the Ukranian conflict, Dmitry was talking, in his own words, about an issue that is unfortunately not on the agenda in Russia – climate change. He presented his ongoing research on the media coverage of the Anthrax outbreak in YNAO in 2016. Climate change as the cause of the accident was not as interesting for the press in the region as one could imagine – a sign of Russian climate skepticism. However, several months after the outbreak there was a scientific conference on climate change organised in Yamal. Yet, the purpose of it, according to Doctor Yagodin, was not to raise the awareness about climate change, but rather to transfer the responsibility for the casualties among the reindeer population and one child’s death to something that was out of control of the officials and scientists – record high hot temperatures and permafrost and peat thawing.

Stephanie Hitztaler, another postdoctoral researcher of our team, presented her work that she does in the frameworks of Arctic PIRE project –  “A fossil fuel empire and the recasting of people and place in the Russian Arctic” at the panel Regional Issues in Russia on Friday, 26th.


Stephanie was talking also about Yamal region, calling it a place of massive industrialization. Doctor Hitztaler presented mega projects of Gazprom and Gazprom Neft companies, that are parastatal. However, their decisions are not solely motivated by politics, they have also strategic agenda. Stephanie showed the “Rodnye goroda” project agenda and pictures of the street art of “Festival Stenograffia», that creates murals in this area – a pretty way to brighten up and change the community. With this kind of projects Gazprom and Gazprom Neft are really trying to make the case of empowering people to make a change in their communities. At the same time, the actual landscape is getting a rapid transformation because of Gazprom Neft (for example, shrub dominated vegetation transformed into grass dominated) but this art as in “Stenograffia” festival gives a sense of stability, it doesn’t change over time.

The presentations of both Dmitry and Stephanie showcased different issues in the same region and inspired the audience to think about the Arctic region and the change it is undergoing now.

More information on the conference can be read on the event’s webpage.

Professor Tynkkynen became a member of the International Panel on Arctic Environmental Responsibility

Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen accepted a nomination as a member of the International Panel on Arctic Environmental Responsibility for the period 2018–2019. The panel is an independent body tasked with assessing the environmental status of oil, gas, and mining companies in the Arctic. It covers companies that are involved in resource extraction above the Arctic Circle in the circumpolar north: Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.

The purpose of panel is to promote higher environmental standards among companies involved in resource extraction in the Arctic. The results of the panel’s work will be published as an open-access ranking of companies.

Professor Tynkkynen has nominated as a Panel Member because of his expert knowledge in this field as a researcher and resident of a region affected by these industries.

More information on the Panel can be found here.

Arctic Circle Assembly

From 19th to 21st of October 2018 Arctic Circle Assembly was taking place in Reykjavík, Iceland. Our research group was well represented there.

All in all, there were 2000 participants, and our doctoral student Sohvi Kangasluoma was one of them.

On 19th of October several researchers were introducing their works at the “Paving the Frozen Silk Road – Eastern Outlooks on Arctic Geopolitics and Socio-economic Development” panel, chaired by Sanna Kopra. Jussi Huotari talked about “Arctic LNG and global production networks (GPN)”. Liisa Kauppila and Sanna Kopra presented their work “China and Arctic Futures” and Hilma Salonen gave a presentation “Energy Deliveries in the Russian Arctic: Established Systems and New Networks”.

On 20th of October Hanna Lempinen was presenting her paper titled “Societal Aspects of Energy Security: Insights from the Euro-Arctic Region” at the panel “Human Security in the Barents Region”.

At the Assembly there were 600 presenters taking part in 120 sessions and we are delighted that our research group made a worthy contribution. More information on the conference can be found here.

Tartu Workshop “Democracy in Reverse: Patterns of Autocratization in Eastern Europe and Eurasia”

On 19th of October UPTAKE research consortium organises a workshop “Democracy in Reverse: Patterns of Autocratization in Eastern Europe and Eurasia” at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies of the University of Tartu, Estonia.

In what ways can we compare and better understand patterns of autocratization in the postcommunist world? Autocratization can be seen as a process, in which democratic institutions, rights and practices are curtailed or undermined – to the point, of course, where an autocratic regime takes hold. However, because this phenomenon is defined as a continuum, it may also involve only incremental steps away from democratic rule, therefore allowing us to view this phenomenon in greater detail.

Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen is presenting a paper “The Conservative turn and nature – Climate denialism and ’hydrocarbon culture’ in Russia” at the “Eurasia” panel of the workshop.

More information on the workshop is available online here.

Hanna Lempinen’s article on the societal dimensions of the Barents energyscape

Postdoctoral researcher Hanna Lempinen wrote an article “At the margins of the Barents energyscape” for the latest issue of Barents Studies. The issue covers topics around marginal phenomena, and Hanna’s article is focusing on societal dimensions of energy.

In political, popular, and scholarly debates, the Arctic – and most importantly within
it the Barents region – is portrayed as being on the brink of becoming the “world’s
new energy province”. Growth in global energy demand, dwindling reserves, political
instabilities at existing production sites, warming climate, as well as advancements
in extraction and transportation technologies are pushing energy activities further
towards the previously inaccessible north. In these framings, energy in the Arctic is
mostly understood as synonymous with oil and gas production for international exports
and as a concern of markets and politics, and of technology, science, and economics.
Exploring media representations of the regional energyscape through the “theory-methods
package” (Clarke 2015, 87) of situational analysis, this article highlights the
diversity of regional energy beyond oil and gas production; the simplistic manners in
which the societal dimensions of energy are understood; the absence of everyday life,
ordinary people, and the female gender from the depictions of the regional energyscape;
and the lack of attention to climate impacts of northern energy production.

This and other articles can be found online here.

Sakari Höysniemi’s new blog post for Winland

Sakari Höysniemi wrote a new blog post “Onko Suomen ja Venäjän välinen energiakauppa uhka vai mahdollisuus?” (Is energy trade between Finland and Russia a threat or an opportunity?) for Winland project.

The report, released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the urgent need to reduce emissions and the need to spread climate policy to all social decision-making. Few countries, however, are doing this now. Sakari Höysniemi from Winland project looks at the recent research article on how the reduction of emissions affects trade and relationships between energy producers and consumers.

Read Sakari’s full post for the Winland blog online here.

Interview with Dmitry Yagodin for Russian Media Lab

Russian Media Lab, Aleksanteri Institute’s multisciplinary research project examining Russian media and freedom of expression, conducted an interview with our new Postdoc Dmitry Yagodin. In the interview “Shouts from shadows: peculiar play in the Russian blogosphere” Dmitry talks about the topic of his still relevant PhD thesis “The Blogization of Journalism (2014)”, that dealt with how blogs politicize media and social space in Russia.

In the early 2000’s the Russian blogosphere appeared as an alternative and less constrained space for people to express themselves. This sparked Yagodin’s interest to study the topic.

Read the full interview on Russian Media Lab’s blog.

Sanna Kopra’s post at E-International Relations

E-International Relations (E-IR) is the world’s leading open access website for students and scholars of international politics, published a blog post written by Sanna Kopra and titled “With Great Power Comes Great Climate Responsibility”.

In this post Sanna reflects upon her latest book China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change, and discusses what is the responsibility of the Great Powers these days, when the need for climate change mitigation is so urgent. Sanna Kopra concludes, that

Without ambitious great power leadership, international climate negotiations remain in gridlock. As an established great power, the United States must renew its great power leadership for climate change at once. If it does not live upon its special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, our chances to prevent dangerous climate change from happening look grim.

The full post is available online.

China and the “Wider” Eastern Europe conference

On 11th-12th of October the conference “China and the “Wider” Eastern Europe” at the Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. Before the conference a Doctoral workshop was organised on 10th of October, and our Doctoral Researcher Karoliina Hurri presented there her research plan “The Construction of China’s Role in Climate Negotiation Forums: A case of BASIC countries, BRICS group and the Arctic Council”.

Apart from Karoliina, Postdoctoral Researcher Sanna Kopra is taking part in the conference, and on Friday, 12th of October she is giving a talk “The Rise of China and Normative Transformation in the Arctic: A Research Plan” at the ““Wider” Eastern Europe and China” panel.

More information on the conference is available online here.