COVID-19 in Russian and Eurasian societies

The global corona virus pandemic has hit different societies in different ways, and the ways of fighting the epidemic and its consequences vary, too. It is clear that this is not a crisis that can be solved by virologists and public health experts alone. The scholars at the Aleksanteri Institute have approached the situation from the points of view of their specialist fields of political science, sociology, anthropology, economics and history.

The first blog for publishing scholarly insights about the COVID-19 situation in Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia was founded already on first of April, when the pandemic had just hit Finland and the Russian Federation for real. The Gulag Echoes research group started their Gulag Echoes blog with a post by Olga Zeveleva illustrating the spreading of the virus in prisons world wide, and also mapping the riots caused by insufficient protection of the inmates in these institutions. Later posts in this blog include insights in the exceptional way of approaching the pandemic in Georgian prisons - by actually moving the prison staff to live in the facilities - and historical pandemics such as the late 1800 - early 1900s Cholera and typhus/typhoid pandemics.

While the focus of Gulag Echoes is on prison environments, Politics & Pandemics blog takes a wider look at the issue. Altogether eight posts are published to date in this multidisciplinary blog, the topics ranging from the pandemic's effect on Russian domestic politics to it's consequences for Central Asian migrants working in Russia, and the way the pandemic helps boost sliding into autocracy in societies with weak democracy, such as Hungary.

The Aleksanteri researchers have published analyses and comments on several platforms maintained outside the University of Helsinki, as well. For example, see Vladimir Gel'man's post about corona and bad governance in The Riddle, and Sherzod Eraliev's article in Voices on Central Asia.

Welcome to follow an online discussion event on Thursday 11 June

To provide continuation to, and synthesis of these expert views, the Aleksanteri Institute will host an online panel discussion streamed from Think Corner at the University of Helsinki on Thursday 11 June at 14-15.30. Three scholars elaborate on the effects of the pandemic on Russian and Eurasian societies in this event entitled "COVID-19 in Russia and Eurasia" taking a look at politics, economy and labour, and as a very telling example, look at the ways the Russian prison system is handling the situation compared to western societies.

  • Dr. Margarita Zavadskaya: Political Consequences of the COVID-19 in Russia: Another Blame Game?
    "Recent Russian polls have registered an increase of trust in regional heads, while state-sponsored agencies and independent pollsters keep reporting contradicting numbers for the presidential support; I will talk about who and why is held accountable for fighting the coronavirus and economic downturn."
  • Dr. Sherzod Eraliev: Covid-19 pandemic on Central Asian labour migrants in Russia
    “As thousands of Central Asian labour migrants have lost jobs due to the pandemic-caused lockdown and economic crisis, how have their perspectives changed in the Russian job market? What are the effects on their remittance-dependent home countries?”
  • Dr. Olga Zeveleva: Prisons and punishment in Russia during the COVID-19 pandemic
    "Prisoners have been among the most vulnerable groups during the virus outbreak. I will examine how Russia’s prison system has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, and situate the Russian case in a broader context of responses to the virus in places of detention around the world."

After the presentations, there will be a panel discussion chaired by Dr. Mikhail Nakonechnyi. The online audience is invited to join the discussion via Twitter and send in their comments and questions using hashtag #coronainrussia. The event can be followed online via Think Corner Live Stream