Researchers and lecturers

On this page you will find the Institute's lecturers and researchers and links to their respective teaching programmes and research projects.
Aitamurto, Kaarina

Head of Research Training
Research coordinator | Senior researcher

I am a scholar of religion, but my research is characterized by interdisciplinarity approach that combines theoretical insights and methodological tools from both social sciences and humanities. In addition to religiosity, my research interests include such topics as nationalism and migration. My areas of expertise are Islam and contemporary Paganism in Russia. In my current research, I focus on the governance and the representation of Islam in contemporary Russia. In addition, I participated in the project “Migration, Shadow Economy and Parallel Legal Orders in Russia”.

Starting on August 2019, I am working as the acting research coordinator. In this position, I perform administrative and operational duties, but I am also engaged in planning and developing the research at the Aleksanteri Institute. I am a member of the board of the international Master's Programme MAREEES. My teaching is mainly focused around this programme, but I also teach courses and give individual lectures in other study programmes at the University of Helsinki. I also coordinate the international doctoral student's network INREES. 

I am co-editing Aleksanteri Insight with Teemu Oivo and the Religion and Spirituality in Russia & Eastern Europe with Maija Penttilä. In addition, I am a member of the editorial boards of the journal Transcultural Studies. I hold the title of Docent in Study of Religions at the University of Helsinki.

Autio-Sarasmo, Sari

Vice-director of the Aleksanteri Institute
Director of MAREEES | Senior University Lecturer

I have a title of docent in General history. I am a historian with a strong focus on economic modernization in the Soviet Union and Russia, especially the economic history of the Cold War and the transfer of technology between East and West during the Cold War. 

I am director of the international MA programme in Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies (MAREEES, former Russian Studies MARS). I teach on MAREEES programme and other study programmes at the University of Helsinki. I act as a supervisor in the international INREES research training network. I’m also a vice director of the INREES network.

I am a research member of the Finnish Historical Society, a chair of the advisory board of the Slavonic Library, a member of the scholarly editorial council of the journal Baltic Worlds and member of the advisory board of the journal Scandia.

Since 2018 I've taken on the responsibilities of vice-director at the Aleksanteri Institute.

Bauvois, Gwenaëlle


I'm a sociologist and my research focuses on conspiracies, Post Truth politics, right-wing populism and anti-immigration discourses.I'm currently working as a researcher in the Horizon research consortium 'Analysis and Responses to Extremist Narratives' (ARENAS). This four-year project aims to characterise, measure, and understand the role of extremist narratives in discourses that have an impact on the political and social spheres, but also on the stakeholders themselves. It examines more specifically narratives about science, gender and the nation.

Bergmane, Una

Academy of Finland Research Fellow

I'm a historian interested in Soviet collapse, the Baltic states, diasporas, transnational networks and international relations, collective memory, late socialism, and the post-cold War transitions in the Baltic sea region.

My first book "Politics of Uncertainty: the United States, the Baltic Question and the Collapse of the Soviet Union" ( Oxford University Press, 2023) investigates the triangular relations between the US government, Baltic independence movements, and Moscow during the Perestroika years. My current research project focuses on collective memory dynamics during the final years of the Soviet state.

Before joining Aleksanteri Institute I was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, a teaching fellow at the London School of Economics and a postdoctoral researcher at the Academy of Finland funded BALTRANS project (Political History Discipline, Helsinki University) . I hold a Ph.D. from Sciences Po (2016) and I'm currently a Baltics Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (PA, USA).

Brin, Yuliya

Doctoral Researcher

I am a PhD candidate. My research entails evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of Istanbul Convention along with other international conventions on reduction of violence against women during and post armed conflict. The dissertation will consist of a case study of Ukraine, Russian, Armenia & Azerbijan, with a controlled case study of Bosnia-Herzgovina. In addition, I am a doctoral researcher in the Political and Societal Violence in Russia (POSOR). 

Cronberg, Tarja

Visiting Professor

I am an academic and a politician in security and defence. As a visiting professor at the Aleksanteri Institute I will concentrate my work on Russian nuclear policies and Russia as a member of the world nuclear order.

I am currently also a Distinguished Associate Fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI and an Executive Director of the Board of European Leadership Network, London working for nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and European security.  My latest book is titled “Renegotiating the Nuclear Order: A Sociological Approach” (Routledge, 2021). 

My experience on Russia covers both pioneering work on Russian military transformation after the cold war as well as administrative work as Leader of the Regional Council of North Karelia to establish cross-border cooperation with the Karelian Republic on the Russia side in accordance with the EU´s policy of Europe without dívides. My work on the technological transformation after the Cold War is presented in “Transforming Russia: From Military to Civilian Economy” (I.B. Tauris, 2003) and “Technological Powers in Transition: Defense Conversion in Russia and the U.S. 1991-1995” (Akademisk Forlag, 1996). 

Di Puppo, Lili


I am a social anthropologist focusing on religion, memory, sacred sites, the environment, and ethnicity. Currently I am part of the team in the Gulag Echoes research project. I have conducted fieldwork in Russia’s Volga-Ural region, Moscow, and Georgia. I was an assistant professor of sociology at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow from 2013 to 2022.

I have published two special issues on Islam in Russia in Ethnicities and Contemporary Islam and am finalizing two additional ones on Muslim ontologies, transcendence and anthropology and local environmental movements in the Eurasian region. I am the convenor of the European Association of Social Anthropology’s network ‘Muslim Worlds’ and co-editor of the book ‘Peripheral Methodologies: Unlearning, Not-Knowing and Ethnographic Limits’ (Routledge, 2021).

Dovbysh, Olga

Postdoctoral Researcher

I work at the intersection of media studies, economic sociology and political economy, studying media markets in Russia. Currently I am the Principal Investigator in the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation funded research project "Russian independent journalism in exile: in search of relevance and resilience". The project studies the emerging ecosystem of exiled media that had to flee Russia and explores and problematises its relevance for their Russia-based readership.

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute since 2018. My research focuses on how internet and digital technologies affect regional and local media landscape. Before coming to Helsinki, I have been lecturing and running seminars in both Russian and English language in Media Studies at Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia, 2013-2018). I have previously conducted research on state support of regional media in contemporary Russia. I defended my dissertation, “Transformation of structural links between media companies and the state on Russian regional media market”, at HSE in 2018.

Frolov, Dmitri

Grand-funded Researcher

I am a researcher with more than 70 published books and articles about migration and foreign expatriates in Russian Empire and Grand Duchy of Finland, forced migration and interned civilians during the World War I and II, commemoration of dead on the field, Finnish and Soviet prisoners of war, forced migration and cross-national relations in the POW camps, archival research, archival studies, as well as military and cultural history.

My interests include also Digital Humanities, Digital History, Digital Education, science history and cultural history. In 2007-2023 I worked for the National Archives of Finland as development manager and head of a project responsible for digitalisation of the documents relative to the history of Finland in the archives of many East European and Eurasian countries. 

Gel'man, Vladimir

Professor of Russian Politics

My work as Professor of Russian Politics focuses on issues such as political regime dynamics, political institutions, governance and policy-making, elections, political parties and political protests, and sub-national politics in Russia. During 2012-2017, I served as the Finland Distinguished Professor at the Aleksanteri Institute and was a cluster leader in the Centre of Excellence “Choices of Russian Modernisation”, funded by the Academy of Finland. I taught at the European University in St. Petersburg as professor of political science and specialized on Russian politics in a theoretical and comparative perspective. I also have expertise in authoritarianism, electoral and party politics, contentious politics, and regional and local government.

I am an author and/or editor of more than twenty books and author of more than 150 research articles, published in English, Russian, Finnish, and other languages. My current research concentrates on political and institutional foundations of quality of governance and policy conduct in Russia and post-Soviet Eurasia.

My teaching duties include classes on the international MA Programme in Russian Studies as well as other special courses and programmes coordinated by the Aleksanteri Institute. I’m also a co-director of FRRESH (Finnish-Russian Network for Russian and Eurasian Studies in Social Science and Humanities) and YRUSH (Young Russian Scholars Helsinki Visiting Fellowship programme), both projects funded by the Kone Foundation.

Gorbacheva, Elena

Doctoral Student

I am a Doctoral Candidate at the Political, Societal, and Regional Change Programme (PSRC) working in FLOWISION project, led by Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen and funded by Kone Foundation for the years 2021–2024. In my dissertation, I study environmental protests in Russia, focusing on the campaign against the landfill at Shies railway station in Arkhangelsk region.

In 2020–2022, I also worked as a Doctoral researcher for "Electoral Malpractice, Cyber-security, and Political Consequences in Russia and Beyond" (ElMaRB) led by Margarita Zavadskaya and Project planner for DigiREES project.

In my research, I combine political science with environmental studies to explore how activists protest for a better environment in an authoritarian regime. My research interests include environmental movements, activism, state-civil society relations, electoral politics, contentious politics, and authoritarianism. I also give lectures in several MA-level courses on the environmental movement in Russia

Heusala, Anna-Liisa

University Lecturer | Head of Discipline in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Educated as a political scientist, I am a researcher and teacher in Russian and Eurasian studies whose work focuses on the connections between public administration, security and societal change. The topics of my publications include Russian public administration, law, border security and crime prevention, and migration. My ongoing work explores global migration and illiberalism in Eurasia.

I am a founder of the network on "Global Processes and Flows in the Eurasian Space". I lead three sub-projects in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe funded international consortiums that investigate informality and corruption Eurasia.  

I teach courses in the Masters´ Program in Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European studies and supervise doctoral students in Russian and Eurasian studies. I hold the title of docent in political science at the University of Helsinki and the title of docent in comprehensive security at the Finnish National Defense University.  

Heininen, Lassi

Professor Emeritus

I have a PhD in social sciences and a title of docent in geopolitics. My research interests include international relations, geopolitics, security, environmental policy and research on the North and the Arctic.

I was Professor of Arctic Policy at the University of Lapland from 2013-2018. I have been the editor of the Arctic Yearbook since 2012 and chaired the international touring symposium Calotte Academy since 2002. 

Humphreys, Brendan

Senior Researcher

I received my PhD from the University of Helsinki (political history and anthropology) in 2014. Excluding a one-year post-doc in the Faculty of English – where I taught biographical studies – I have been in the Aleksanteri Institute for 13 years. I am also affiliated with Urbaria, the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies.

My research interests include the Balkans, Soviet Studies, the Cold War, the sociology of conflict, nationalism and exceptionalism. I have also lectured and published on corruption, religion in society, visual culture, and the politics of sports. I teach extensively in the Institute’s teaching programs. I am currently working in the Finnish Academy-funded project, "The Politics of Punishment", a survey of the prison system in Ex-Yugoslavia. I am PI of "Incarceration and Forced Deportation in Ukraine", funded by a Finnish Academy special call to help Ukrainian scholars at risk.

My ongoing book projects are:

  • Really Existing Nationalism, state, people, and nation in Cold War Socialist Europe, (De Gruyter’s Rethinking the Cold War series, forthcoming)
  • Rugby in Communist Romania, an unknown and tragic story (Tauris/Bloomsbury, forthcoming)
  • Urbicide, Towards a Cultural History, Reflections on Urban/Rural Dynamics in Warfare, (Helsinki University Press, forthcoming)
Järvinen, Jouni

Director of Educational Programmes

I am responsible for East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB) and Ukrainian Studies. ECEBB is also part of Bachelor in Cultural Studies, Master in Area and Cultural Studies as well as international Master in European and Nordic Studies and Master in Intercultural Encounters.  Ukrainian Studies is a joint program with the Bachelor of Modern Languages.

My research interests include civil society, dissidents; politics and contemporary history of East Central and South East Europe. My teaching is linked with these themes. I also supervise bachelor’s and master’s and doctoral theses.  In addition, I am interested in the development of the university – work-life interaction.

I am also actively engaged in societal interaction.

Kahla, Elina

Principal Investigator | Liaison Officer

I am a philologist and Slavist, focusing on cultural production, as well as cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and State. I hold the title of Docent in Cultural History of Russia at the University of Helsinki. My research projects include the clash of values and geostrategic shifts in the contemporary world, and the relations of state, church, and society. My latest published book Petsamon marttyyri (2020) tells the story of the last leader of the Pechenga-Petsamo monastery, hieromonk Paisi. 

Currently I hold the title of Liaison Officer of the Aleksanteri Institute advisory board. I am a member of the Docent committee. In the years 2012–2016 I worked as the Director of the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg. I have published over hundred journal articles and book chapters over my career

Kangasluoma, Sohvi

Grant-funded researcher

I defended my dissertation in spring 2023. In my dissertation "Arctic oil and gas: Entanglements of gender, emotions and environment" I focus on the entaglements of Arctic oil & gas with emotions, gender and environment.

I work in the project Flowision, funded by Kone foundation and led by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen. I am interested in how the northern resouce extractivism could be more sustainable, for both humans and environment. 

Kangaspuro, Markku

Director of the Aleksanteri Institute

I started as Director of the Aleksanteri Institute in April 2018 having previously worked as Deputy Director (since 2010) and Research Director (since 2009).  My research interests and projects have ranged from the history of the early decades of the Soviet Union and Soviet Karelia, nationalism and patriotism there, identity politics, history politics and during the last years Russian domestic and foreign politics. At the moment I share my time between:

  • Leading the academic and administrative duties of Aleksanteri Institute
  • Research on Russian history politics and identity
  • Leading the Russian Media Lab project on freedom of speech in Russia
  • Public lectures and teaching on the university courses
Kantokoski, Olga

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Helsinki. I hold BA and MA degrees in European studies. In May 2020, I graduated with a PhD degree in world politics from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. My PhD dissertation dealt with the politics of the European Union’s police cooperation in the Western Balkans.  

I am part of Professor Judith Pallot’s four-years’ research project “The Yugoslavian Penal Nationalism and the Politics of Punishment in the Contemporary Western Balkans: Testing the Limits of the European Human Rights Regime in the EU's Southeastern Neighbourhood”. I have engaged with this research not only due to my interest in the still under-explored Southeastern part of the EU's periphery, but primarily because of my long-standing passion for complex historical projects. Through this project I intend to contribute to a better understanding of the complex socio-political fabric of the Western Balkans and hopefully help to construct ways for the EU to deal with this region. 

Khmelnitskaya, Marina

Visiting Research Fellow

I work on the policymaking process in authoritarian regimes, specifically focusing on Russia and in comparison with other countries, including China and Turkey. Analysing different aspects of national economic, social and local policymaking in Russia – including areas of housing policy and housing finance, strategies of socio-economic development, family policy, social benefits and urban development – my research has examined different modes of the policy process (evolutionary change and paradigmatic shifts) and conditions under which they occur, the choice of policy instruments, the role of policy experts and the politics of expertise, the budget formation, public participation, and the role of ideas and discourses in the exercise of flexible authoritarian governance.

I am also a member of Urbaria: Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies. Previously I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence “Choices of Russian Modernisation” hosted by the Aleksanteri Institute and held visiting fellowships at King’s College Russia Institute and at the University of the West of England. I received my doctorate from the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford and before working in Helsinki was a junior research fellow at the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre at St Antony’s College and a senior member of the Common Room of St Antony’s College.  

Korhonen, Anna

Head of International Affairs

I am responsible for providing operational and strategic support for advancing our international academic initiatives. I am the Director of our Visiting Fellows Programme with overall responsibility for the programme, and am also involved in its day-to-day management and interaction with visitors. I give grant-writing support to selected international scholars wishing to establish projects with the Aleksanteri Institute, and help with the Institute’s own international funding proposals. I oversee our other incoming research visit plans and provide support for training programmes with student and teacher exchanges. You can contact me for further information about the Visiting Fellows Programme or about our other opportunities for scholars from abroad.

I have been facilitating the development of study and scholarship on Russia and Eastern Europe in Finland for over 20 years. I have designed and initiated many of our key lines of activity, with a view to advancing our academic capacity also within the international context. I joined the Aleksanteri Institute at the start of its operations when we were a team of four. I was first tasked by the Ministry of Education to create a Finnish university network in Russian and Eastern European studies, and designed the concept for a nation-wide Master’s school, now ExpREES, and then for the Finnish doctoral programme in our field. I have also served as acting Head of Development and vice-director, and as acting Director of the Master’s school. My academic interests are in the study of post-socialist nation-building, nationalism, and the minority policies of international organisations.

Kytöneva, Santeri

Doctoral Researcher

I am a doctoral researcher in the political, societal, and regional changes doctoral programme. Prior to starting my doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki, I worked as a research assistant at the Finnish National Defence University’s Russia Research Group.

In my research I focus on how religion is weaponised in Russia’s attempt to justify its war of aggression against Ukraine. I am working on my dissertation as part of the working group under the Mannerheim professorship.

My other research interests include Russian military science and strategy.

Käihkö, Ilmari

Visiting researcher 

I hold the title of Docent in War Studies at the Swedish National Defence University and am a veteran of the Finnish Defence Forces. My research concerns modern warfare and war strategy and the (ethnographic) methods used to study these phenomena. 

My monograph "'Slava Ukraini!' Strategy and the Spirit of Ukrainian Resistance, 2014-2023" (HUP 12/2023) tells the story of the volunteers lauded to have saved Ukraine twice. First in the spring of 2014 after the onset of the war in Donbas, and again in February 2022 after the large-scale Russian invasion. Aimed at interdisciplinary audience, this volume makes significant contributions to our understanding of events in Ukraine over the past decade. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with volunteer battalion fighters, the volume focuses on strategy, control, and use of force. 

Most of my teaching and public and private lectures are on issues of war and peace. In addition to the University of Helsinki, I also lecture at the Swedish and Finnish Defence Colleges, among others. I also regularly appear in the Finnish, Swedish and international media, commenting on the ongoing war in Ukraine and other security-related issues.

Lambin, Viktor

Doctoral researcher

I'm a doctoral student in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal, and Regional Changes. I hold a MA degree in Global and Regional Security Issues from Ural Federal University (Yekaterinburg, Russia, 2020), and M.Soc.Sc. degree in European and Nordic Studies from the University of Helsinki (2021). In my PhD studies, I focus on Russian strategic communication, specifically on framing enemy images in the national discourse. Within this framework, I explore the so-called enemization of Russian public discourse in my PhD dissertation. In addition, I am also interested in Russian foreign politics in Europe, and Russia's security issues.

Lebediuk, Vitalii

Visiting researcher

Vitalii Lebediuk is an Associate Professor of the department of Political Science at the National University “Ostroh Academy” in Ukraine. At the Aleksanteri Institute Dr. Lebediuk is conducting his ongoing research focused on analysis of patterns of local elections in Ukraine and, especially, of the impact of political decentralization of Ukrainian local governance on their dynamics. His visit and stay funded by the Academy of Finland mobility grant, aimed at supporting Ukrainian scholars and strengthening their collaboration with Finnish universities.

Luukkanen, Arto

University Lecturer

I’m a historian (originally church historian) and university lecturer of Russian and East European Studies at the Alexander Institute, University of Helsinki. All my studies have been informed by a strong interdisciplinary approach: my research deals not only with history, but also, for example, with political science, theology, philosophy and history of ideas. My current fields of interests are focused to the dilemmas of contemporary Russian history (post-mortem history of Putin’s securocracy) and the history of perestroika in Ukraine. I am now investigating the archival material from the KGB filial at Kiev; the “operation Blok” (against the Ukrainian dissidents in 1970’s) and the history of last years of the Soviet system through the lenses of the secret police.   

To mention some of my activities; I have been in a position of a Senior Associated Member, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 1999–2000. In 2005–2006 I was the director of the international Finnish-Russian Cross-Border University Consortium project. From 2006 I received the tenured position of university lecturer of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Miklóssy, Katalin

Jean Monnet Chair | 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. I hold the Title of Docent in Political History. Since May 2023 I lead the Finnish team of the international, EU-funded research consortium Analysis and Responses to Extremist Narratives (ARENAS). The four-year project aims to characterise, measure, and understand the role of extremist narratives that have an impact on the political and social spheres.

In am interested in how the rule of law, strategic culture and nationalism present themselves in European countries. Previously, I have also studied the role of competition in societal development and Cold War interactions.

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. 

Mitikka, Eemil

Doctoral Student

I’m a quantitatively oriented social scientist specialized in Russia and post-Soviet countries. At the moment, I work as a doctoral researcher in doctoral programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change (PSRC). In my dissertation research, I examine the relationship between political participation and autocracy in Russia and more generally in post-Soviet countries.

Muravyeva, Marianna

Professor, Russian law and administration

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. My newest book "The Foundations of Russian Law" (2023) elucidates the main concepts and frameworks behind Russian law, and uses original legal sources and case law to explain how it operates in practice. My past 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.

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.

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

Mäkinen, Sirke

University Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies

I am the head of a multidisciplinary, Master’s level area studies minor called Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES). The Aleksanteri Institute coordinates this programme on behalf of a Finnish university network with twelve member universities. ExpREES focuses on Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and South Caucasus.  I plan and develop teaching and other activities  in this programme as well as teach and supervise ExpREES students.

I am a scholar of  international politics and hold a PhD in Political Science  (University of Tampere) and the title of Docent in Political Science, specifically International Politics (University of Turku). My current research interests deal with global knowledge production, international academic collaboration and the link between international higher education and international politics. I have studied, for example, Russia’s education diplomacy in the EU and Central Asia. I am a member of a Nordic research network, which studies international knowledge networks and academic collaboration with authoritarian states, in particular, China and Russia. In addition, I am interested in knowledge relations in Central Asia.   In my previous research I have focused on Russia’s role in international relations. I supervise also PhD theses and welcome applications that are close to my research interests.

I have published in peer-reviewed journals such as Comparative Education, European Journal of Higher Education, Geopolitics, Europe-Asia Studies, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Nationalities Papers, New Perspectives and Problems of Post-Communism.  In addition, I am  the co-editor of Russia’s Cultural Statecraft (2022, Routledge) and editor of a Special Issue on Internationalisation in challenging times (2023, European Journal of Higher Education) and co-editor of Discursive and Material Practices of Space and Modernization in Post-Soviet Russia (2014, Eurasian Geography and Economics). 

Previously I worked at Tampere University, Finland, for 20 years in different positions in teaching, research and administration. There I supervised Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor’s theses and taught courses on Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, geopolitical thinking and methodology, as well as convened a double degree programme in International Relations. In addition, I have been the chair and deputy chair of the Finnish Political Science Association. 

Nakonechnyi, Mikhail

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 "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.

Oivo, Teemu

Visiting Researcher

I study national bordering in Finnish and Russian media, ranging from national television channels to transnational discussion forums. My primary research interests lie in the discursive production of socio-spatial (non-)belonging on one hand, and the social consumption of information on the other.

My post doc research at the Karelian Institute of the University of Eastern Finland is titled “Digital borders” and it currently includes three major subprojects. One of them is continuation of my research stemming from the Kone Foundation project “Flowision” on the production of environmental knowledge in Russian non-institutionalized eco-Telegram channels. Another is connected to the Academy of Finland project “Transnational Death,” where I analyse national and transnational meaning-making in mediated representations of death. Alongside these two long-running projects, I have initiated a study of bordering practices and rationalisation related to Russian nationality in Finland and other European countries.

In my other relevant activities, I have served as the co-editor of Aleksanteri Insight alongside Kaarina Aitamurto since 2021 and as the vice-chair of the Finnish Association for Russian and East European Studies since 2022. Additionally, in Autumn 2023, I was a visiting scholar at Université Grenoble Alpes.

Ollila, Mirkka

Doctoral Researcher

I am a Doctoral researcher at the Doctoral Programme in Political, Soci­etal and Regional Change and part of the Flowision research consortium lead by Professor Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

In my dissertation, I examine the factors affecting the realization and non-realization of the rights of the Indigenous peoples of the Russian Arctic in the 2020s. In the project, I focus on mining in the Kola Peninsula.

Oroza, Minna

Education Planning Officer

I coordinate the planning and implementation of teaching programmes in the Master’s Programme in Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies, (MAREEES), the East Central European, Southeast European and Baltic Studies (ESEB) and Ukrainian Studies.

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 MAREEES, ESEB or Ukrainian Studies, please turn to me!

Pallot, Judith

Professor | Research Director

I have been researching and writing on the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for my whole academic career. I am Professor Emeritus at Oxford University and Christ Church College. Since 2016 I have been President of BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies).

In 2018, I was awarded European research Council Advanced Grant to continue the research I have been engaged in for the previous decade on the experiences of minority prisoners of the Russian penal system, especially of its geographical aspects. I brought the Gulag Echoes project to Helsinki University after 40 years of teaching and research at the University of Oxford. The Aleksanteri Conference 2023, “Decolonizing Space in the Global East: Legal Choices, Political Transformations, Carceral Practices” is connected in part to this research work.

Peltonen, Hanna

Education Planning Officer

I coordinate the Finnish Universities national network of Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES). My main task is to make sure that the roughly 100 study units provided by the 12 Finnish network universities all fit into the big picture and that all the ExpREES students around the country have all the needed info and guidance in their studies.

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

Perkiömäki, Mika

Grand-funded Researcher

I am specialized in the research of Russian culture and media in the sphere of environmental humanities. I defended my PhD in Tampere University in August 2021. In my dissertation, Imagined Riverography of Late Twentieth-Century Russian Prose, I studied representations of rivers in late Soviet Russian natural-philosophical prose from an ecocritical perspective. My PhD research was part of the project Water as Social and Cultural Space: Changing Values and Representations, which belonged to the AKVA programme of the Academy of Finland. 

I started at the Aleksanteri Institute in December 2021, and I work in the research project FLOWISION: Best from Both Worlds – Enhancing Energy Transition in Russia and Finland by Making Resource Flows Visible, where I study practices of mediatized knowledge production and distribution on fossil and renewable energy and climate change in Russia and Finland. Currently I am the editor-in-chief of Idäntutkimus, the Finnish review of East-European studies, and the vice-chair of Society of Finnish Slavists.

I've worked as the coordinator of Tampere Research Centre for Russian and Chinese Media (TaRC), and have taught in the Bachelor’s Programme in Languages and Russian and Eurasian Studies at Tampere University, as well as the Master’s Programme in Languages and the Master’s Programme in Russian Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Pesci, Eugenia

Doctoral Researcher

I am a Doctoral Candidate in the Doctoral Programme of Political, Societal and Regional Change at the University of Helsinki. I'm  an early stage researcher in the Aleksanteri Institute within the framework of the H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions funded Consortium MARKETS. The University of Helsinki subproject focuses on the evolution and coherence of informal and formal rules and practices in the development of post-Soviet institutions.  In my PhD thesis, I explore and compare informal practices in the provision of social welfare in Russia and other post-Soviet states and their impact on the implementation of social policies.

Pinsky, Anatoly

Visiting researcher

I am a historian of modern Russia and Europe (Ph.D., Columbia University, 2011) and focus on the cultural and intellectual history of the Stalin- and post-Stalin-era Soviet Union. I am currently completing a book manuscript, tentatively titled, The Origins of the Thaw: Thought and Literature under Stalin and Khrushchev. My work has appeared in Slavic ReviewRussian Review, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, and other publications. I have held a number of fellowships, including from the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, American Councils for International Education (ACTR/ACCELS), and the Aleksanteri Institute.

In Finland, I have taught courses in Russian and Ukrainian history, both at the University of Helsinki and the University of Tampere, funded in part by the Expertise in Russian and Eastern European Studies (ExpREES) Program. Before coming to Helsinki, I taught at Columbia University, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the City College of New York, and the European University at St. Petersburg. 

Prandin, Federica

Doctoral Researcher

I am a Doctoral Researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, funded by Columbia University’s Harriman Institute’s grant and an Associate Fellow at GLOBSEC. I divide my time between policy-oriented analysis on climate security and my Ph.D. on the links between identity politics and climate change discourses in the EU and Russia.

Previously I was the Director of the Climate Programme at GLOBSEC, where I led the work on climate security and the green transition in the CEE region and at EU level. Prior to joining GLOBSEC, I worked in several think tanks, European Union Agencies, and international organisations, including the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the Italian Consulate in Moscow. I graduated with the highest honors from MGIMO University (MA in Politics and Economics of Eurasia) and Catholic University of Milan (BA in Foreign Languages and International Relations). 

Pulkkinen, Karoliina

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am a philosopher of science with an interest in values in science. At the Aleksanteri Institute, I am researching the role of values in science in the Soviet Union with the aim of determining how past science can inform our normative frameworks regarding the management of social, political, and epistemic values in scientific practice more broadly.

I defended my PhD dissertation in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge in 2019. My PhD research focussed on epistemic values in the development of periodic systems of chemical elements, including the system of the Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev. I also have an interest in the role of values in climate science as my previous postdoc concerned values in climate modelling.

I have been a principal instructor for Ethics of Medical Technology at KTH and a seminar supervisor for Philosophy of Science and Ethics and Politics of Science and Medicine at University of Cambridge. I am also one of the editors and co-founders of Jargonium, the blog for history and philosophy of chemistry.

Pynnöniemi, Katri

Associate Professor, Russian Security Policy

I am associate professor at the University of Helsinki (Aleksanteri-institute) and hold Mannerheim Chair of Russian Security Studies. The joint professorship between the University of Helsinki and the National Defense University was established in August 2017. My responsibilities include development of research on Russian security policy at the University of Helsinki and at the National Defense University. 

I lead a working group of the Mannerheim Professorship at the University of Helsinki, which brings together research on Russian foreign and security policy. The working group produces research on the changing factors in Finland's strategic environment.

In my own research, I examine changes in Russian strategic thinking, in particular threat analysis and the assumptions that guide it, the war rhetoric that underpins Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and the debate in Russian war studies on the aims of the (aggressive) war.

Ruokolainen, Mira

Doctoral Researcher

I am a doctoral researcher in the PhD programme on political, social and regional change.  

In my dissertation, I study the formation of threat portrayals of Islam and Muslim populations, particularly in the context of Russian strategic narratives and warfare. The research aims to shed light on the evolution of Russian strategic thinking and population management practices, as well as on the determinants of threat assessment and anticipation.  

I am conducting my research as part of the Mannerheim Professorship working group on interdisciplinary research on Russian foreign and security policy.

Reed, Ryan

Doctoral Researcher

I am a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki in the Political Societal and Regional Changes programme (PYAM). My research borders the disciplines of history and penal sociology, drawing especially from the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. My dissertation, entitled Katyusha Behind Bars: Governmentality and Commemoration in Russian Prisons, focuses on public memory and the act of commemoration in Russian prisons. My current work looks to link themes of nationalism and militarism with the study of power, politics, and punishment. I currently work in the multidisciplinary ERC funded Gulag Echoes project, examining ethnic, religious, and other salient identity construction in the post-Soviet penal space. I received my BA in History at the University of Dayton, USA and a MA in Russian and Eastern European Area Studies  from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Sokolova, Anna

Grant-funded Researcher

I am a scholar of Soviet history working at the intersection of history and anthropology. My primary research objective is to uncover the behind-the-scenes mechanisms of how the Soviet project unfolded in new, underdeveloped territories and in certain life domains through newly established materiality, human-nature interaction, and social bonding. 

My first book ‘New Death for a New Man? Funeral Culture of the Early USSR’ (in Russian) was published in 2022 by the New Literary Observer publishing house. Currently, I am finalizing my second book manuscript, ‘Socialism in the Woods: Dweling in Emerging Materiality of Late Soviet Union.’

As a Grant-Funded Researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute, I am working on my project ‘Reproducing Sovietness: Materiality, Gender and Human-Nature Interaction’ supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. The aim of this project is to analyze how the practices of the late Soviet modernity were determined by gender and to what extent they are being reproduced both among contemporary dwellers of Russian Karelia and migrants to Finland.

Tarasenko, Anna

Grant-funded Researcher

I hold PhD in Political Science and possess proficiency in research on social policy and institutions in Russia based on qualitative and quantitative methods of empirical analysis. I serve as the principal investigator of the project “Sensing as a Refugee: Vulnerable Bodies on the Move” (2023-2026) supported by the Kone Foundation.

I've recently published the article “Outsourcing Elderly Care to Private Companies in Russia: (non)Compliance and Creative Compliance as Responses to the Principal-Agent Problem” in East European Politics. My co-authored and co-edited research appeared in Post-Soviet Affairs, Europe-Asia Studies and in the Routledge Advances in Social Work series.

Tynkkynen, Veli-Pekka

 Professor, Russian Environmental Studies

From 2018 I have worked as associate professor and professor of Russian Environmental Studies, focusing on issues such as environmental policy, resource policy, regional and environmental planning, democracy and power. Currently I'm in charge of the Flowision project, funded by Koneen Säätiö. The research project examines how fossil and renewable energy is presented in Russian and Finnish societies. 

My teaching duties include lectures in the international MA programme MAREEES 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.

Viljanen, Elina

Visiting 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 1920's. 

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.

Vyrskaia, Marina

Doctoral Researcher

I’m a doctoral researcher in the Programme of Political, Societal and Regional Change at the University of Helsinki. My research focuses on public opinion polls in Russia under the wartime censorship. As a grant-funded researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute I work in the project PROPA (Panel Study of Russian Public Opinion and Attitudes) with Margarita Zavadskaya and Alexey Gilev. 

Zavadskaya, Margarita

Grant-Funded Researcher

Margarita Zavadskaya holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from the European University Institute (Fiesole, Italy, 2017). She has worked at the Electoral Integrity Project (Universities of Harvard and Sydney, 2015), the European University at St. Petersburg (2016-2022), and the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki (2018-2022) as a researcher and lecturer. From 2019 to 2022, Margarita served as PI for the research project ‘Electoral Malpractice, Cybersecurity and its Political Consequences in Russian and Beyond (ElMaRB)’. From 2023, Margarita serves as a co-PI to the PROPA Panel Study of Russian Public Opinion and Attitudes.

Margarita has broadly published on the role of elections in authoritarian states, mass protests and public opinion in journals such as Electoral Studies, Democratization, East European Politics, Post-Soviet Affairs, Russian Politics, Europe-Asia Studies and others. She is the editor of the book Politics of the Pandemic: Blame Game and Governance in Russian and Central-Eastern Europe (Routledge, 2023) and co-editor of Electoral Integrity and Political Regimes: Actors, Strategies and Consequences (Routledge, 2018). Currently, Margarita focuses on the political impact of Russian emigration in receiving countries, including EU member states, under the auspices of the OutRush research project.

Zeveleva, Olga

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. In the 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.

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.