Visiting Fellows' Seminar Series with Libora Oates-Indruchová: Scholarly Publishing and Censorship in Late State Socialism: Snakes and Ladders 


Visiting Fellows' Seminar Series with Atsushi Ogushi: Opposition Bloc in Ukraine: a Clientelistic Party with Fewer Administrative Resources

Exploration day at Think Corner
Daria Gritsenko tells about her journey through Northwest Passage

Political and Economic Elites in Russia and Ukraine in Comparative Perspective (open workshop)

All events at the Institute >>

Editor of Aleksanteri News
Niina Into
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Quarterly Newsletter Aleksanteri News

In addition to the website and the email lists aleksanteri-lista and aleksanteri-institute, a good way of staying informed about what happens at our institute is to follow the Aleksanteri News. This quarterly newsletter is published in both electronic and printed format. If you wish to subscribe to the print version of the newsletter, please contact the editor. Electronic versions of each issue can be downloaded below.

Aleksanteri News 2/2017

“The New Industrial Revolution” and “Industry 4.0” bring to mind the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, start-ups and, in the Russian context, places like the Skolkovo innovation centre near Moscow. Anna Lowry, postdoctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, however, talks of manufacturing and industrial policy.

Anna Lowry arguments that the development of high technology alone is not enough for creating a large, diversified market: “The discussion of innovation does not make much sense outside the context of production and manufacturing”. Lowry was interviewed for the conference issue of Aleksanteri News by Roosa Rytkönen.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 2/2017 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 1/2017

Information specialist Emilia Pyykönen has observed that the increasing amount of data accessible online has not decreased the need for the librarian’s work – quite the opposite: “The more digital and electronic resources there are, the more people need help and guidance in using them. The threshold for asking help seems to have become higher, though, as such resources can be accessed and used independently. My message, however, is that you should ask without hesitation!”

Emilia Pyykönen worked as a librarian and information specialist at the Aleksanteri Institute for five years before recently taking up a position as Assistant Librarian in the Slavonic Library. In addition to taking care of the institute’s library, a major part of Pyykönen’s work consisted of offering guidance on information retrieval. Her cooperation with the Institute continues.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 1/2017 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 3-4/2016

”Policy-making is well examined in relation to democratic societies. Russia instead is a hybrid state: it has both democratic and authoritarian elements. We still do not know enough about how the policy process functions in this kind of states.”

Marina Khmelnitskaya is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies of the Aleksanteri Institute. Her research focus is on the policy-making process in Russia. In her recent article she considers reasons why this topic makes an important subject of academic enquiry. Her previous research has examined the long-term transformation of policy agenda in Russia in the context of the housing sphere.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 3-4 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 2/2016

Since 2008, Aleksanteri News has been publishing a series of profiles called Face of the Month. To date, over 30 Aleksanterians have been interviewed in the series.

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we decided to re-publish some of those stories on blogs.helsinki.fi/facesofaleksanteri. Take a free ride in our time machine during the next few weeks to see what Russia and Eastern Europe looked like to our researchers in 2008, 2009, 2010… and how those same people see them today!

Read more in Aleksanteri News 2/2016 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 1/2016

The discussions on social insecurity that dominated 1920s Soviet Russia were surprisingly similar to those that prevail in today's Finland, says Ira Jänis-Isokangas.

Then, as now, there was great concern about massive migration, social problems and unemployment. Feelings of insecurity were experienced by many and utilised as an argument to gain more resources for surveillance and organs of control. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Read more in Aleksanteri News 1/2016 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 3-4/2015

The history of philosophy in Russia might not sound like the most contemporary research area, but in fact it lays the foundations for the whole of the ideology in which Russia is immersed today. “Many thought processes that we witness today have their roots in the philosophical discussions of the 18th century onwards, as Russian thinkers have appropriated western ideas to make them more relevant to their own culture.”

Vesa Oittinen, professor of Russian philosophy and history of ideas at the Aleksanteri Institute, discusses the position of Russian philosophy in the globalized world in an interview. Oittinen is also the driving force behind several of the sessions in this year’s Aleksanteri Conference entitled Culture and Russian Society.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 3-4/2015 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 2/2015

"Our journal Idäntutkimus already has a long-standing position in the field of Russian studies, but perhaps we could provide more insights into the current discussion within Russian and Eastern European studies, all the while being more visible on the Internet and social media channels.”

Katja Lehtisaari, the new editor of Idäntutkimus (the Finnish Review of Russian and East European Studies) has got plenty of food for thought during her visiting fellowship in Oxford.

Read Hanna Ruutu's interview with Katja Lehtisaari in Aleksanteri News 2/2015 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 1/2015

"Are you confused?" asks Mark Teramae during one of his lectures on Ukrainian politics. Many students raise their hands. Teramae answers: "You are supposed to be confused." Ukraine is currently in a complex political conflict with multiple actors.

Mark Teramae works at the Aleksanteri Institute and is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki.

Read Freek Van der Vet's interview with Mark Teramae in Aleksanteri News 1/2015 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 4/2014

One of the driving forces making everything happen in the 2014 Aleksanteri Conference is Meri Kulmala, an ethnographer with first-hand expertise on how the burgeoning – and at times oppressed – civil society in Russia actually works.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 4/2014 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 3/2014

What does Vladimir Putin really want? What are his intentions, and why does he behave the way he does? How come he's so popular among Russians? And are there really no limits to what he will do?

Associate Professor Regina Smyth has analysed the reasons and myths behind Putin's appeal. She reminds that there's more to the popularity of Putin than the carefully constructed image as the savior of Russia. Dr. Smyth's recent research takes a deeper look at modern electoral authoritarian regimes with a focus on mass politics.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 3/2014 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 2/2014

"Lenin lived, lives, and will live!", thus declaimed Vladimir Mayakovsky, a famous russian poet. To preserve that truth, Lenin's body has been subject to a meticulous scientific elaboration of his physical remains, which symbolically materialise that truth.

Professor Alexei Yurchak, a visiting fellow at the Aleksanteri Institute in March-May, 2014 is about to complete his monograph on the experimental science that developed around the project of preserving Lenin's body in Moscow and on the link of this science to political imagination.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 2/2014 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 1/2014

When Sochi won the vote to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, chief Dmitry Chernychenko claimed that "Russia will become even more open, more democratic."

Unfortunately this clearly hasn't been the case. The tightening legistlation, including the notorious Foreign Agent law of 2012, has made it hard for the NGO's such as human rights organisations, to keep working. This issue's Face of the Month, Freek van der Vet is about to finish his doctoral dissertation on human rights in Russia at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 1/2014 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 4/2013

“Russia’s identity or sense of honor is not limited to protection of state international status/prestige in the eyes of other states, but also includes a distinctive idea of national self”, says professor Andrei P. Tsygankov.

Understanding the concept of honour and it's meaning in the history of Russian politics gives a whole new perspective to the research of Russian international relations.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 4/2013 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 3/2013

"Marginalised people such as street gangs are not dropouts in the sense that we tend to see them in the West. They are social agents who actively use their social capital or social networks to improve their situation," argues Dr. Svetlana Stephenson, who has studied the gang culture in Kazan.

Dr. Stephenson, Reader in Sociology at the London Metropolitan University, is a visiting fellow in the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Scholars Programme for August and September 2013.

Read more in Aleksanteri News 3/2013 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 2/2013

Saara Ratilainen

Gloss and glamour have become the keywords in Russian popular culture since the mid 90's. Cosmopolitan alone has a circulation of over 1 million copies in the homeland of Tolstoy and Chekhov.

“Consumer magazines open an interesting window to the post-Soviet commercialisation in Russia”, says Saara Ratilainen, who recently defended her PhD thesis on the subject. “They reflect the rapid change in society and culture, at the same time highlighting the discussions and concern about the fate of unique Russian national character.”

Read more in Aleksanteri News 2/2013 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 1/2013

Iiris Virtasalo

Knowledge and expertise related to Russia is recognized as having great importance for the Finnish society and business, and a lot of top level academic research is being conducted in our universities but there's still work to be done in order to put the academic knowledge to wider use.

"We should stress problem-solving skills, social skills, presentation skills and public speaking. We need tuition that gives not only excellent competence in the substance of the subject, but also general competences for life after graduation," argues Iiris Virtasalo, leader of a nationwide OVET project that developes study councelling and promotes cooperation between employers and institutions of higher education in the field of Russian and eastern European studies.

Read the Aleksanteri News 1/2013 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 4/2012

KAtalin Miklossy

Although the Finns in the 70s and 80s were annually in for a great disappointment at the Eurovision Song Contest we did very well in the socialist equivalent, Intervision. But how come there could exist a competition like Intervision in the socialist world in the first place?

Dr. Katalin Miklóssy is completing a large research project entitled Competition in the Socialist Society. Together with her team she has focused on various aspects of competition, including the seemingly innocent TV contests.

Read the Aleksanteri News 4/2012 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 3/2012


A well-known Soviet joke distinguished between optimists, pessimists and realists. Optimists were learning English since they expected a war with the United States. Pessimists were learning Chinese. And realists? Well, they were learning how to use a Kalashnikov gun.

Read how Finland Distinguished Professor Vladimir Gel'man sees the optimists, pessimists and realists of scholars on Russian politics, and how his project is trying to solve the questions of democracy, good
governance and rule of law in Russia, in Face of the Month column, page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri News 3/2012 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 2/2012


"The real problem in Russia is not the laws but their implementation and the legal practices. It is relatively easy to write new laws, but to fundamentally change the system is far more difficult and time-consuming", says Jarmo Koistinen.

Jarmo Koistinen recently defended his PhD dissertation on Economic Criminal Offences in Russia. Read the interview on page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri News 2/2012 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 1/2012

Tuomas Forsberg

Most political scientists believe that emotions have little to do with political decision-making. Nevertheless, we have seen a furious Nikita Khrushchev banging a shoe in the UN General Assembly meeting, an emotional Boris Eltsin dancing and conducting orchestras, and a fist-fighting Vladimir Zhirinovsky threatening to smash his opponents' heads. And now we have "the angry man", Vladimir Putin, with his hard-line policies, threats and tantrums.

Professor Tuomas Forsberg from the University of Tampere, who is also the deputy director of the CoE, argues that emotions are an important part of political decision-making. Read Tuomas Forsberg's interview at page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri News 1/2012 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 4/2011

"Russia is often analysed through its leaders. President Boris Yeltsin's Russia was impulsive and moody. President Vladimir Putin's Russia was aggressive and autocratic. President Dmitry Medvedev's Russia is seen as temporary", says Hanna Smith, researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute and a specialist on Russian politics and international relations.

Together with journalist Susanna Niinivaara, Smith has recently published a book devoted to analysing Medvedev's Russia (in Finnish, Medvedevin Venäjä: Siltala 2011). Why so much attention to a temporary figure?

Read Hanna Smith's interview at page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri News 4/2011 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 3/2011


The operation of the health care system is crucial for the well-being of any society. In Russia, the last 20 years have seen dramatic changes in this area. Professor Linda Cook, the Aleksanteri Institutes visiting fellow from Brown University, is an authority on Russian politics and welfare. She has followed the changes in the Russian health care system since the early 1980s when she visited the Soviet Union through the IREX exchange programme.

"One of the most surprising things is to see how much the state has given up control", says Professor Cook. "Politically speaking, the state is more authoritarian than before, but the health care system is characterised by a private ethos."

Read Linda Cook's interview at page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri News 3/2011 (pdf) here>>

Aleksanteri News 2/2011


Nashi – Russia's infamous youth movement – is usually depicted as a puppet of the Kremlin. If this is the case, however, then why does the organisation so often fail in its campaigns, to the degree that it is even criticised by the Kremlin?

This was the starting point of Jussi Lassila's interest in pro-Kremlin youth movements, which culminated in the successful defence of his PhD dissertation at the University of Jyväskylä in March of 2011. Read more about Jussi Lassila at page 2.

Read the Aleksanteri news 2/2011 (pdf) here >>

Aleksanteri News 1/2011


"Russian environmental policy does exist, but only on paper. In reality, it has no actual impact on the deterioration of the environment or the excess use of resources", claims the newly appointed professor in Russian energy policy, Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen.

"According to estimates made by the UN, the poor level of the environment in Russia has reduced the country's GNP by 12 percent. This is one of the challenges that Russia faces in its efforts to modernise its economy." The new professor is also exploring the issues of climate change and international trajectories in the energy markets and participating in developing the Porvoo region's strategy on Russia.

Read more in the Aleksanteri news 1/2011 (pdf)

Aleksanteri News 4/2010


According to Markku Kivinen, Director of Aleksanteri Institute, ”There are basically three different paths of modernisation that Russia needs to choose from”.

“The first is the Western democratic model, be it Europe or the United States or something else. The other is modernisation along the Eastern model, be it Russia’s own way, Chinese or something else, or authoritarian modernization. Then there is always the third option: the refusal to modernize and sticking to old traditions”.

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 4/2010 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 3/2010

Joseph Brodsky is often depicted as a tragic figure – a Soviet dissident writer who was forced to leave his beloved Leningrad, never to return. But Brodsky’s case was one of exile's success stories, as he was able to find a niche for himself in his new environment.

“If Brodsky is analysed solely in the framework of literary exile, a lot is missed out,” says Dr Sanna Turoma, whose book entitled Brodsky Abroad was recently published by The University of Wisconsin Press. “His work should be studied from the perspective of displacement as a larger social and historical question, which relates his writings to the postmodern and postcolonial contexts of the time.”

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 3/2010 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 2/2010

Anna-Liisa Heusala

Our impression of Russian law and administration can sometimes be too negative. It's not all chaos and corruption. "We've witnessed an impressive amount of progress", says Dr Anna-Liisa Heusala.

The road to western model in public administration is both long and diffcult but Russia has already taken decisive steps. The difficulty for Finnish public, and European actors in general, lies in how to keep track of and interpret the changes that are happening in the process. Anna-Liisa Heusala is one of the researchers working on a newly launched project, Venäjän uudet pelisäännöt, that attempts to shed light on the matter.

This and other new projects in the Aleksanteri News 2/2010 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 1/2010


The Great Patriotic War and the way it is interpreted restricts contemporary Russian freedom of expression more than Putin, claims Dr Markku Kangaspuro, Director of Research at the Aleksanteri Institute

Dr. Kangaspuro's new project Constructing Russian Identity in the Media: Between the History of WW II and the Future of Europeanness will focus on the importance of those interpretations.

This and other new projects in the Aleksanteri News 1/2010 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 4/2009

Sari Autio-Sarasmo

“During the Cold War, transferring technology through the Iron Curtain was difficult but far from impossible”, says Dr Sari Autio-Sarasmo, a senior researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Finland played an important role in such technology transfers thanks to its position as a neutral state. The research project "Knowledge through Iron Curtain, lead by Dr Autio-Sarasmo has revealed that other small actors also were much more powerful than we have so far thought.

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 4/2009 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 3/2009


While many Russians complain that there is widespread historical amnesia’ in their country, Russians in general actually remember the Soviet terror quite well.

The differences arise in the interpretation, says Dr Alexander Etkind, a renowned scholar in cultural studies from the University of Cambridge and a Visiting Fellow in the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Scholar Programme in August and September 2009.

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 3/2009 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 2/2009


Belarus is almost totally dependent on energy supplies from Russia, receiving almost 90 percent of its energy from Russia. In such cases, the receivers of energy are usually seen as passive recipients.

The reality, however, is much more complex, claims Aleksanteri Visiting Fellow Margarita M. Balmaceda, a renowned expert on energy issues in the post-socialist world.

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 2/2009 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 1/2009

Riikka Nisonen-Trnka

While most of us know of the Bausch & Lomb soft contact lens, few of us have heard of the Czechoslovak chemist Otto Wichterle. Still fewer know that he was the man behind the lens.

According to Riikka Nisonen-Trnka, the Iron Curtain was far from impenetrable: “Technology was transferred through the Iron Curtain, and not only from the West to the East but also, as in this case, from the East to the West.”

Read more in the Aleksanteri News 1/2009 (pdf).

Aleksanteri News 2/2008

Jelena Obradovic

"Denial of war crimes is not a failure to come to terms with the past but is part of the first seps in understanding the past. It is a sign that people feel something as negative and feel the need to justify", argues Aleksanteri Visiting Fellow Jelena Obradovic on the situation in contemporary Serbia in the second issue of the Aleksanteri Newsletter. (pdf)


Aleksanteri News 1/2008

Mikko Palonkorpi Finland as a neighbouring country to Russia should be cautious in joining NATO, as the membership contains more security risks than benefits, argues Mikko Palonkorpi, researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute in the First issue of the Aleksanteri Newsletter (pdf).)