A conference on electoral malpractice and its political consequences in December

Dr. Margarita Zavadskaya and doctoral student Elena Gorbacheva will be presenting the results of their three-year research project focusing on trust in political institutions in post-communist countries on the 8th–9th December 2022. The project's final conference “Elections after 2022: The short and long-term impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine” will be held in Metsätalo and is open to staff members working at the University of Helsinki.

The aim of the conference is to provide and share scholarly expertise on the consequences and mechanisms of how electoral processes are being affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. The military aggression of Russia in Ukraine has multiple reverberations in all spheres from politics, business, and energy to culture, environment, and migration. Elections are by no means an exception.

Since many European states held or are about to hold national elections after February 24, we may expect that the war interfered with usual political landscapes and policy agendas by stressing the challenges of security, solidarity, energy politics as well as politically motivated redistribution policies. Russia as a high-capacity authoritarian regime that regularly holds elections marred with fraud and propaganda has been exporting electoral malpractice elsewhere through a variety of channels: hybrid warfare, media, trolls and bots, policy advice, and outright attempts to meddle with other states’ elections.

During the conference, the project team will seek 1) to locate the research given the new circumstances, 2) to look at the past and forthcoming elections in the EU and beyond with a focus on countries that share a common border with Russia, 3) to spell out the main shifts in the party and electoral politics, citizens preferences as well as 4) the role of media and technologies in sustaining electoral integrity and preventing polarization and hate speech. Finally,  Zavadskaya and Gorbacheva will present the research results of their three-year research project "Electoral malpractice, Cyber-security and its Political Consequences in Russia and Beyond (ElMaRB)" funded by the University of Helsinki.

To join, please email the project planner and doctoral student Victor Lambin (viktor.lambin@helsinki.fi). For Aleksanteri institute staff no registration is necessary. 

Conference Programme

December 8-9, 2022
Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40,
Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki

Day 1

9.00–9.30  Welcome words from the Aleksanteri Institute (Humina hall 17 3d floor)

9.30–11.00  Panel Discussion 1 Elections in the EU during the Wartime (Humina hall 17 3rd floor)

  • Sanna Salo (Finnish Institute of International Affairs)
  • Jussi Westinen (Taloustutkimus)
  • Andrey Makarychev (University of Tartu)
  • Una Bergmane (University of Helsinki)

11.00–11.30 Coffee break

11.30–13.00 Panel Discussion 2 Electoral Landscape in Ukraine (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Sergiy Kudelia (Baylor University)
  • Inna Melnykovska (Central European University)

13.00–14.30  Lunch 

14.30–16.00 Panel Discussion 3 Elections in Russia: Before and After the War (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Inga Saikkonen (Åbo Akademi)
  • Mikhail Turchenko (University of Indiana)
  • Tatiana Tkacheva (independent researcher)
  • Logan Carmichael, Bogdan Romanov (University of Tartu)

16.00–16.30 Coffee break

16.30–18.00 Panel Discussion 4  Elections and Contentious Politics (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Jan Matti Dollbaum (University of Bremen)
  • Aleksandra Rumyantseva (University of Bremen)
  • Regina Smyth (University of Indiana)

Day 2

9.00–10.30 Roundtable Electoral malpractice and its political consequences. Presentation of the project outcomes and discussion (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Margarita Zavadskaya (University of Helsinki)
  • Elena Gorbacheva (University of Helsinki)
  • Viktor Lambin, Valeria Caras (University of Helsinki)
  • Amelie Tolvin (University of Toronto)
  • Philipp Chapkovsky (University of Bonn)

10.30–11.00 Coffee break

11.00–12.30 Panel Discussion 5 How Media Shape Electoral Agenda? (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Teemu Oivo (University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland)
  • Marielle Wijermars (Collegium Finnish Academy and University of Maastricht)
  • Andrei Semenov (independent researcher)
  • Max Alyukov (King’s College)
  • Maria Kunilovskaya (University of Wolverhampton)

12.30–14.00 Lunch

14.00–15.30 Panel Discussion 6 War-Related Migration and Elections (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Ivetta Sergeeva, Emil Kamalov (European University Institute)
  • Sherzod Eraliev (University of Helsinki)
  • Kaarina Aitamurto (University of Helsinki)
  • Nika Kostenko (independent researcher)

15.30–16.00 Coffee break

16.00 –17.30 Roundtable ‘No Future? Elections in the Post-Communist Area' (Hall 9 3rd floor)

  • Vladimir Gel’man (University of Helsinki)
  • Katalin Miklossy (University of Helsinki)
  • Ora John Reuter (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
  • Regina Smyth (University of Indiana)
  • Margarita Zavadskaya (University of Helsinki)

17.30 –18.00 Closing words (Hall 9 3rd floor)


Dr. Margarita Zavadskaya

Project Leader, Postdoctoral Researcher, Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki

Margarita Zavadskaya’s research focuses on how perceived electoral malpractice affects electoral turnout and other politically relevant outcomes, and how Russian voters consume and process political information translated by the media. This is studied through a series of survey experiments. Margarita Zavadskaya defended her PhD dissertation, “When Elections Subvert Authoritarianism: Failed Co-optation and Russian Post-Electoral Protests of 2011-12”, in the European University Institute, Florence in 2017.