Research staff and experts L-Ö

The Aleksanteri Institute is an academic community of more than 60 researchers and other experts in Russian and Eastern European Studies. We share a multidisciplinary approach to the social, political and cultural phenomena. Our internationally renowned research covers the study of politics, history, civil society, regimes, culture, environment and the media. A notable part of the Institute's activities stems from its role as a national centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies: we coordinate nationwide research and study programmes and provide information services for a network of Finnish universities.

For technical reasons our staff have been alphabetically listed on two separate pages. Research staff and experts with surnames beginning with letters from A to K are to be found via this link. 

For emeritus members and associates (title of docent), please click here.

NB! Email addresses follow the pattern unless otherwise indicated. If you have trouble finding the right expert, please contact information specialist Niina Into.

University Lecturer, Head of Discipline in Eastern European and Balkan Studies

I am a historian and an area specialist in East Central and South Eastern Europe. In my current research, I focus on how spatiality determines the closely interlinked subjects of the rule of law, strategic culture and nationalism. Previously, I have also studied the role of competition in societal development and Cold War interactions. My latest publications include the co-authored book Strategic Culture in Russia’s Neighborhood (Lexington 2019) and special issue Erosion of the rule of law in East Central Europe (Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 3/2018). Based on my expertise, I have been invited to evaluate research projects for the EURIAS, the Austrian Science Fund and Baltic Sea Fund. I also frequently assist the media, political decision-makers on the Finnish and European level, and NGO’s.

 In 2013, I was appointed as a founding member of the Teachers’ Academy at the University of Helsinki, as acknowledgement of teaching skills and scholarship in education. Ever since, I am working to develop the internationalization of higher education and to invent new methods for interdisciplinary teaching. At the moment I am involved in a multilateral teaching co-operation with three Baltic universities (the Nordplus-project) Baltic-Nordic Network for the Advancement of Methodology in Area Studies. Previously, I collaborated with Belarussian and Georgian universities in the three-year Basercan-project.

Room 243
Tel. +358 50 368 3231

Katalin Miklóssy: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media
Katalin Miklóssy: Contact information

Associate Professor, Russian law and administration

I have been engaged in socio-legal research and policy activities with public and voluntary sector organisations since 1996. I have worked as a researcher, trainer and professor for academic and non-academic agencies and projects, including the UN (UNDP program in Central Asia), NGOs (including women’s shelters in St. Petersburg) and a number of universities in Russia, Finland, the US and the UK. My research and policy engaged projects include those sponsored by the EC, US State Department, Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils, Finnish Academy and Dutch National Research Organisation.

My research is interdisciplinary, bringing together history, social sciences and law to examine long-term trends and patterns in social development, with a special focus on normativity, gender and violence. Some of my most recent projects focus on family violence (violence against parents and domestic violence), the history of crime (homicide and, particularly, femicide), legal history, gender history, and history of sexuality. Currently, I am focusing on the study of everyday uses of law based on empirical data from Russian courts and how it contributes to thinking about rule of law and better governance.

I am a founding member of the Russian Association of Women’s Historians (RAIZhI) and co-chair of the Women and Gender Network of the European Social Sciences History Conference. I am also an editor for the Palgrave book series World Histories of Crime, Culture and Violence and a member of a number of editorial boards, including for the Russian Law Journal and Comparative Legal History.

Marianna Muravyeva: Research outputs, projects, activities

University Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies

I am in charge of the Finnish Universities network’s Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES) since May 2019. I plan and develop teaching in this study module as well as teach and supervise the ExpREES students.

I am a scholar of  international politics and hold a PhD in Political Science (2008). In my research I have focused on Russia’s role in international relations, and my current research interests deal with the link between higher education and international relations. Recently I have published on EU-Russia cooperation in the field of higher education and Russia’s educational diplomacy. I continue studying how Russia promotes its higher education abroad and how Russia’s higher education is perceived and its promotion received in the countries of post-Soviet space and EU member states. I am the leader of the research project Towards Good Neighbourliness with Higher Education Cooperation funded by the Kone Foundation and hosted by the Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University. I have also published e.g. on Russian geopolitical argumentation, geopolitics teaching and studies in Russian universities and Russian border discourses.

Previously I have worked at Tampere University, Finland, for 20 years in different positions in teaching, research and administration. I have supervised Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor’s theses and taught courses on Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, geopolitical thinking and methodology. I have also been a convener for a double degree programme in Cross-Border International Relations (CBIR) organized in cooperation with St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk State Universities. In addition, I have been the chair and deputy chair of the Finnish Political Science Association. 

Room 241
Tel. +358294123656

Sirke Mäkinen on Research Gate



Postdoctoral Researcher

I graduated from the History Department of Pskov State University and studied as a postgraduate student in the St.Petersburg Institute of History (Russian Academy of Sciences) in 2012-2016. Additionally, I was a Research Associate in the Carceral Archipelago project (School of History, University of Leicester), funded by the European Research Council. Currently, I am a DPhil student at St.Peter's College, History Faculty, University of Oxford.

My area of expertise includes a comparative history of penal medicine, the GULAG, and Russian imperial prisons. I joined ERC-funded GULAGECHOES (Gulag Echoes in the “multicultural prison”: historical and geographical influences on the identity and politics of ethnic minority prisoners in the communist successor states of Russia and Europe) project in September 2019 as a post-doc researcher. My principal responsibility as a member of the team is to elucidate the historical dimension of the project research questions, particularly unexplored ethnic facets of the Soviet GULAG. 

Room 320

Doctoral student

I am currently working on the University of Helsinki three-year project “Strategies of Persuasion: Russian Propaganda in Algorithmic Age”. In this project, I study how Finnish websites that present themselves as “alternative news”, use RT and Sputnik as their information sources. In addition, I am involved in the Russian Media Lab Network . More general research interests of mine deal with establishment and contestation of authority that are embedded in national ideas in public discussion. Furthermore, I am affiliated with the University of Eastern Finland, where I do my PhD research on discursive Russianness in Russian and Finnish media within the Doctoral Programme on Social and Cultural Encounters.
Room 219


I coordinate the planning and implementation of the East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB) and Ukrainian Studies teaching programmes.  In addition, I am coordinator for the Baltic-Nordic Network for the Advancement of Methodology in Area Studies (BAMSE 2020) network funded by Nordplus.

Our courses are open to all University of Helsinki degree and exchange students and students of the nationwide Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES), and students from other Finnish universities via the Flexible Study-Right Scheme (JOO). I am responsible for guidance and support for students and teachers, and I take care of international teachers visiting our programmes. I want to provide students with a nice learning environment and teachers with a good teaching environment.

If you have any questions concerning ECEBB, Ukrainian Studies or BAMSE, please turn to me!

Room 202
Tel. +358 50 330 1898

Minna Oroza: Research outputs, projects, activities
Minna Oroza: Contact information

Professor, Research Director

In 2018, I was awarded European research Council Advanced Grant to continue the research I have been engaged in for the past decade on the experiences of minority prisoners of the Russian penal system, especially of its geographical aspects.  I am happy to have been able to bring this grant to the Aleksanteri Institute, and to lead the GULAGECHOES project. As well as research director of the ERC project in Helsinki, I am emeritus professor at the University of Oxford and Christ Church (college) in the United Kingdom.  

I have  been  researching and writing on the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for my whole academic career and have authored books and articles on a range of subjects, including the Stolypin Land Reform, household production in the rural peripheries, Soviet spatial planning and, since 2009, minorities’ experience of the Russian prison system. In 2016, I was made President of BASEES (the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, a position which I have held for the past three years. 

Read a profile written by Joonas Pörsti for Yliopisto 8/18: "Who runs Russia's prisons? Judith Pallot, who transferred from Oxford to Helsinki, knows prison hierarchy"

Room: 323
Tel. +358505685215



I coordinate the Finnish Universities network’s Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES) and make sure that the roughly 100 study units provided by the 12 Finnish network universities all fit into the big picture, the 25 ECTS ExpREES study block.

I take care of study administration and offer advice and guidance to the over 180 registered students. As our students are geographically scattered all over Finland, my aim is to promote online teaching and e-learning. I'm also interested in other projects in education development and international education exchange (see, for example, BASERCAN).

My academic interests include the Russian economy and entrepreneurship.

Room: 202
Tel. +358 50 331 9894
E-mail: hanna.o.peltonen at

Hanna Peltonen: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media
Hanna Peltonen: Contact information

Assistant Professor, Russian Security Policy
(University of Helsinki and National Defence University)

I am an assistant professor at the University of Helsinki (Aleksanteri-institute), holding the Mannerheim Chair of Russian Security Studies. This joint professorship between the University of Helsinki and the National Defense University was established in August 2017, and a multidisciplinary research project titled "Russia's Role in the World in 2035: Interests, Resources, Challenges" was developed in collaboration with Russia Group at the NDU. The research project explores four main themes: Russian military policy and the changing character of war, Russia’s strategic goals and the rupture of international system, security implications of the energy transition and climate change, and resilience of the Russia’s political system.

Within this larger research program, my own research focuses on Russian foreign and security politics, with emphasis on changes in strategic thinking (doctrines, strategies and concepts), conceptualization and implementation of information warfare tools as part of Russian foreign policy, and the analysis of treat perceptions and enemy images in Russian strategic communication/deception.


Room 215
Tel. +358 299 530577

Katri Pynnöniemi: Research outputs, projects, activities
Katri Pynnöniemi: Contact information

Doctoral Student

I work as a graduate student on the Academy of Finland funded project, Assessing Intermediary Expertise in Cross-Border Arctic Energy Development (2015-2018). The subject of my dissertation is the attempts to modernise the Russian domestic energy field and the renewable energy prospects this work provides, especially from the viewpoint of the country's Arctic regions. I teach on the International Master's Programme in Russian Studies and in addition tutor Master’s students, for example on summer schools. I follow global Arctic (energy) politics as a member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Sciences (HELSUS) and the hematic Network on Geopolitics and Security of UArctic and by participating in events and seminars in the field.

Room 306
Tel. +358 50 448 8623

Hilma Salonen: Research outputs, projects, activities
Hilma Salonen: Contact information

Visiting Research Fellow (May - November 2018)

My research interests are in the field of gender and child protection policy. I work in the research project A Child’s Right to a Family: Deinstitutionalization of Child Welfare in Putin’s Russia lead by Meri Kulmala. In frame of the project I study ideological level of on-going child-out-of-home care reform in Russia. My focus is changes in normative ideas in experts' and cultural discourses about the relationships between the State, NGOs, family and children without parental care.

My permanent position is at the Higher School of Economics in St Petersburg, where a work as a docent at sociological department. 

Room 216

Academy of Finland Visiting Fellow

I am working as a post-doctoral researcher on the “Sustainable development in sparsely populated regions: The case of the Russian Arctic and Far East (SD-SPR)” project at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. My research focus is regional economy of the Russian North-East from the aspects of spatial and strategic development as well as the environmental economy.

Before coming to Helsinki, I have been lecturing the “Regional Development and Strategic management course” in both Russian and English language in the North-Eastern Federal University named after M.K. Ammosov (Yakutsk, Russia) and acting as a research coordinator in the Strategic Research Centre of Sakha Republic (Yakutia). During last years I have conducted researches: in 2015-2017 – COPERA project, funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Belmont Forum; in 2017-2018 – “Spatial model of Sakha Republic in the various scenarios of social and economic development”.

Room 307

Tel. +358 44 9336908

Postdoctoral Researcher

I have a political science background and hold a PhD in Political Science with a focus on the non-profit sector development. I have conducted empirical research on various types of NGOs and their involvement in social service provision as well as interest representation in Russia and other contexts. I’ve participated in several international projects such as the UNRISD research project, New Directions in Social Policy: Alternatives from and for the Global South (supervised by professor Linda Cook of Brown University). Currently I’m working as a post-doctoral researcher on the A Child’s Right to a Family: Deinstitutionalisation of Child Welfare in Putin’s Russia research project run by Dr.Soc.Sc Meri Kulmala at the Aleksanteri Institute.

From 2010 I have been teaching and running seminars in both Russian and English language at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg) as well as giving lectures at universities at home and abroad (University of Helsinki, Finland; University of Bielefeld, Germany).

Room 217
Te. +358 40 811 6381

Anna Tarasenko: Research outputs, projects
Anna Tarasenko: Contact information

Information specialist

I am in charge of Aleksanteri Institute's information service and reference library. This includes their development and following up the field of databases and online services concentrating on the topics around Russia and Eastern Europe, for example the recently created ResearchGuide to Russian and Eastern European Studies. I am helping and training researchers and students on information seeking and retrieval. My duties include guiding the academic staff in using the University of Helsinki Research Portal and I participate in the communications tasks of the institute.

Room 141 (Library)
Tel. +358 50 319 8581

Marko Tiainen: Contact information

Associate Professor, Russian Environmental Studies

From 2018 I have worked as associate professor of Russian Environmental Studies, focusing on issues such as environmental policy, resource policy, regional and environmental planning, democracy and power. During 2011 – 2017, I worked as professor in Russian Energy Policy and energy and climate related themes continue to figure in my current work as well. I’m currently in charge of six research projects:

My teaching duties include lectures in the Master’s Programme in Russian Studies as well as other special courses and programmes coordinated by the Aleksanteri Institute. I’m also actively involved in societal interaction taking part in discussions in the media and at public events as well as providing expertise for public officials and the government. 

Room 309
Tel. +358 40 517 0521

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen: Research outputs, projects, activities, press media
Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen: Contact information


Senior Researcher

Educated as a sociologist of law, I work at the intersection of sociology of law and ethnography, studying migration, corruption, governance, and penal institutions in the context of Russia and Central Asia. At the Aleksanteri Institute, I work as a Senior Researcher within the ERC-funded “Gulag Echoes” project led by Professor Judith Pallot. In addition, I am a principal investigator of the University of Helsinki-funded three year project “Non-Western Migration Regimes”.

My current research focuses on (1) transnational Muslim prisoners in Russian penal institutions, (2) migration, shadow economy, and informal legal orders in non-Western migration contexts, and (3) law, society, and corruption in Central Asia. I am the author of Migration and Hybrid Political Regimes: Navigating the Legal Landscape in Russia (2020), published by the University of California Press.

Room 215
Rustamjon Urinboyev: Contact information


Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a musicologist and my expertise lies in Russian Studies and intellectual history, especially in Western history of art music and musicology, Soviet musicology, Russian/Soviet intellectual and cultural history, Stalinism and Soviet culture.

I defended my Doctoral thesis, The Problem of the Modern and Tradition: Early Soviet Musical Culture and the Musicological Theory of Boris Asafiev (1884–1949), at the University of Helsinki in January 2017. In it, I analysed the Soviet culture, music, philosophy and science of the 1920s. Since April 2017 I have been working as a post-doctoral researcher sponsored by the Cultura Foundation and the Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation. In February 2018, I was employed as a post-doctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute.

My post-doctoral research project focuses on Soviet cultural theories, musicology and the intellectual culture of the Stalin era. It is connected to a larger, international and multidisciplinary project, Russian Cultural Modernisation during Stalinism in Russian/Soviet intellectual history department at the Aleksanteri Institute.

I have worked as a visiting scholar in Russia, the US and China. Currently I have the pleasure of being able to concentrate mainly on research. I am, however, also interested in teaching and especially in developing international interaction in university teaching. I am looking forward to future teaching duties on the Master’s programme in Russian Studies and in the musicology section of the Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies.

Room 331
Tel. +358504119338

Elina Viljanen: Research outputs, activities, press media

Postdoctoral Researcher

I studied journalism in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and spent a few years there in the profession in the mid-2000s. This experience defines my current academic research and teaching profile. In 2008, I started my doctorate in media studies at the University of Tampere. During that time I became a member of Aleksanteri Institute’s Graduate School for Russian and East European Studies (2010-2013). As a result, I have written “The Blogization of Journalism” (2014), my PhD on how blogs politicized media and social space in Russia. I also co-authored and edited “Media and Global Climate Knowledge” (2016) and “Journalism and the NSA Revelations” (2017) where my expertise on Russian media and journalism was brought into international comparative perspective.

Since September 2018, I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Russian Environment research group headed by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. My project (2018-2021) contributes with research on the role of journalism and media in climate change discourse in Russia. Before I studied this topic mainly from a national perspective. It is the local contexts of the Russian Arctic regions and their links to transnational climate change debates that is my current focus.

Since November 2018 I'm also a co-editor of Aleksanteri Insight, together with Kaarina Aitamurto.

Room 305
tel. +358 50 5560576

Postdoctoral Researcher

My 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.

I defended my 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. I've published  in journals such as Democratization, East European Politics, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, and co-edited a volume, Electoral Integrity and Political Regimes: Actors, Strategies, and Consequences (Routledge, 2018).

Currently, I'm working on several projects:

I've taught classes on Comparative Political Economy, Quantitative Methods, Russian Politics, and Comparative Politics for undergraduate and graduate students at several Russian universities and look forward to also teaching a in Finland.

Room 229
Tel. +358 50 329 7066

Postdoctoral researcher

I defended my PhD in sociology at the University of Cambridge (2019), and hold a PhD in sociological theory and methods from the Higher School of Economics (2016). In 2019, I joined the University of Helsinki as a postdoctoral researcher on the project “Gulag Echoes in the Multicultural Prison”, funded by the European Research Council.

I am a political sociologist focusing on systems of social control. I examine how states establish and maintain the rules people are governed by in their everyday lives, and how people respond such rules from the bottom up. My doctoral work at the University of Cambridge investigated how journalists construct their civic, ethnic, and professional identities in a context of state crackdown on news media, focusing on the case of local Crimean journalists during Russia’s occupation and annexation of the peninsula. In 2018-2019, I held the Oxford Russia Fellowship at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, and carried out a research project examining the limits of journalistic autonomy during peacetime and in times of conflict, comparing the Republic of Tatarstan to contemporary Crimea. The results of my research have been published in The British Journal of Sociology, Current Sociology, The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, The European Journal of Communication, and Nationalities Papers.

On the Gulag Echoes project, I work on social control in the context of penal systems. I employ qualitative methods across multiple field sites to examine how ethnic, civic, and political self-identification form among prisoners in the Russian penal system.

Room 320

Planning officer in international affairs / Post-doctoral researcher

I work as Aleksanteri Institute’s Planning officer in international affairs during the academic year 2020-2021. In this position I am the coordinater of three programmes: the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Programme, a nationwide Russian language training programme for Finnish students in Russia and the annual, international Aleksanteri Conference.

As a researcher my areas of expertise are Russian cinema, its history and aesthetics, and also film as industry and film technology. Methodologically my background is in Russian formalist and structuralist theory, but I am also interested in quantitative analysis and computer-assisted methods. My PhD dissertation focused on film music narratology and was titled "What Is That Song? Aleksej Balabanov's Brother and Rock as Film Music in Russian Cinema" (2018). I am currently working on two research topics: film production companies and their production environments in contemporary Russia and Finland, and the early technological development of film sound and related innovations in Russia’s Grand Duchy of Finland. I am also the managing editor of Idäntutkimus, the Finnish Review of Russian and East European Studies.

Room 234
Tel. +358 50 448 4074

Ira Österberg: Research outputs, activities, press media
Ira Österberg: Contact information