Seminar May 21, 15:15-17:00: The inefficiency of EU leverage in Serbia during the Russia-Ukraine war

The inefficiency of EU leverage in Serbia during the Russia-Ukraine war, Branislav Radeljić

When: May 21, 15.15-17:00 CET
Where: Zoom link

The war in Ukraine has exposed a rift between Serbia and the Brussels administration. Serbia has been accused of aligning itself with Russia as opposed to the strictly pro-Ukrainian EU. In this talk, Prof. Radeljić will look at the nature of EU–Serbia relations, with a particular focus on (a) the relevance of EU norms and values as policy tools, (b) the foreign policy of Serbia under the Progressivists and the regime of Aleksandar Vučić, and (c) the rising influence of Russia and China in the Western Balkan region, which has been undermining the EU’s push for democratization and Europeanization.

Branislav Radeljić is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Government and Society, United Arab Emirates University. In addition, he serves as Visiting Professor of European Politics at Nebrija University. His scholarly interests focus on European and Middle Eastern political and socioeconomic developments. 



RUCARR Seminar, April 23, 15:15-17:00: Civil society in the South Caucasus: Resource dependencies, organizational behaviors and shifting environments

Civil society in the South Caucasus: Resource dependencies, organizational behaviors and shifting environments

When? April 23rd, 15:15-17:00

Where? On Zoom:

Abstract: Civil society developments in the Eurasia region have been under scholarly scrutiny since the early 1990s, particularly due to their presumed actorness in political and societal transitions. In the meantime, a growing number of challenges, including limited trust and participation, lingering legitimacy, agency and accountability issues, external aid dependence, precarious professionalization, and governments’ increased regulative and political assaults, have faced civil society organizations (CSOs). This talk will draw on research into cases of the South Caucasus countries – Azerbaijan and Georgia – from neo-institutional and resource dependence perspectives. The Azerbaijani case will highlight the transformation of organizational behaviors of CSOs in the wake of government-imposed restrictions over the past decade, focusing on the trend of de-NGOization under entrenched authoritarianism. The Georgian case will discuss the effects of foreign funding on self-regulation in civil society, focusing on agency and accountability practices against the background of government allegations and legislative proposals deeming CSOs as “foreign agents.”

Bio: Najmin Kamilsoy is a doctoral candidate at Charles University Department of Public and Social Policy, where he received a master’s degree in 2019. His current research area is civil society development and organizational behaviors in non-democracies, with a regional and comparative focus on the South Caucasus. Kamilsoy is a co-founder and policy analyst of Agora Analytical Collective, a think tank that has been dealing with the analysis of social and economic policies in Azerbaijan since 2022. He held a visiting Ph.D. fellowship at the University of Zurich in 2021 and he is an upcoming research fellow at Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

RUCARR Seminar April 9th, 15:15-17:00: Armenia’s agency in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)

When: April 9th 2024, 15.15-16.30
Where: Niagara building, 9th floor, seminar room or  by Zoom:

Erik Davtyan is Assistant Professor at Yerevan State University, Armenia.


This talk will examine Armenia’s agency in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It will demonstrate how Armenia, being the smallest member state and facing a huge power asymmetry, has been able to influence the decision-making in the EAEU. The presenter will talk about three different strategies Armenia used to protect its interests: a) instrumentalizing the opportunities emanating from the institutional settings of the organization, b) negotiating exemptions from the EAEU legislation and securing core interests in the external relations of the union, and c) promoting specific ideas with the purpose of tailoring EAEU’s policy in a particular field to its economic needs.

How do parties compete in hybrid regimes – seminar with Levan Kakhishvili

How do parties compete in hybrid regimes: Programmes, clientelism or the marriage of the two? Case study of Georgia

Seminar given by Levan Kakhishvili, Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS), Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg

When? Tuesday 17th of October, 15:15-17:00 (CET)


Description: Party competition in hybrid regimes, especially in post-Soviet context, is often treated as a popularity contest of the party leaders seeking public office. At best, it is assumed that competition is over votes through informal networks and vote-buying practices, while policy ideas are almost entirely absent from the equation. This, however, is a rather simplistic account of party politics in hybrid regimes. Party competition in non-democratic contexts is a complex phenomenon and exhibits both programmatic and clientelistic characteristics. Therefore, studying hybrid regimes can lead to answers to questions such as: How do parties win elections in hybrid regimes? How does clientelistic competition work? How does it co-exist with programmatic competition? How does programmatic competition emerge? Why do parties produce electoral programmes in contexts where they matter little in terms of electoral outcome? Based on the primary data of 48 hand-coded party manifestos, 16 in-depth interviews with party representatives, 20 informal interviews with electoral brokers, and publicly available surveys, this research explores the questions of party competition in post-Soviet Georgia.

Levan Kakhishvili

Joint REDEM/RUCARR seminar: «The importance of solving the problems of internally displaced persons by local authorities and protecting their rights in the administrative courts in Ukraine

Joint REDEM/RUCARR seminar: «The importance of solving the problems of internally displaced persons by local authorities and protecting their rights in the administrative courts in Ukraine

Seminar given by Olena Miliienko, British Academy Fellow at the Politics & International Studies Department of the University of Warwick UK

When? October 3rd, 15:15-17:00


Abstract: In Ukraine, since 2014 (the beginning of Russia’s armed aggression in the east of the country and illegal annexation of Crimea), a significant number of people have become internally displaced persons who have repeatedly suffered violations of their rights, including the right to life, basic social services, medical care, education, access to housing. Resolving these issues requires effective intervention by administrative courts to protect the rights of IDPs. The purpose of the study was to reveal the mechanisms and effectiveness of administrative courts’ intervention in resolving internal displacement issues, and to identify problems and shortcomings of government policies that encourage internally displaced persons to apply to the court. It was found that administrative courts play an important role in resolving issues of internal displacement in case of possible shortcomings in government policy. They provide legal protection and support for those in need of internal displacement and can influence the improvement of government policies in this area.

The study highlights the need to change government policies, systematically assess and develop effective internal displacement strategies. The study has practical implications for understanding the impact of administrative courts on internal displacement and government policies. There is a need to improve coordination and cooperation among various government bodies to ensure appropriate conditions and protect the rights of persons in need of internal displacement. In this way, court decisions can be a catalyst for changes in government policy and force the government to provide adequate protection and support to affected individuals.



SEMINAR JUNE 13th, Striving towards democracy? Political participation in post-Soviet countries by Viktor Tuzov

When? Tuesday 13th of June, 15:15-17:00

Where: Zoom-link:

Striving towards democracy? Political participation in post-Soviet countries by Viktor Tuzov,  Ph.D Candidate in Media and Communication, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

The formation of political systems in the post-Soviet region remains a relevant topic even thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Due to the social, economic and cultural factors, the political regimes continue to move from the general communist in the past towards different political futures dominated by authoritarian or democratic frames. Our study aims to analyze the patterns of political participation and political culture, focusing on the binary categorization of political regimes across post-Soviet countries and the impact of media trust. It focuses on eight post-soviet countries equally divided into authoritarian and hybrid political regimes using WVS/EVS 2017-2020 survey. The results highlight the importance of media in the formation of political participation habits across countries with unconsolidated democracy. The people with higher media trust tend to participate in non-institutional political actions less frequently but have a higher willingness to vote during the national elections. The freedom index has also been integrated into the research as a moderator due to the importance of freedom for the media to mobilize society. The moderation analysis has revealed the distinctive patterns of political participation in countries with lower and higher levels of freedom.


Seminar April 25th, 15:15-17:00: Internet freedom in Russia: An infrastructural approach by Dr Mariëlle Wijermars

Internet freedom in Russia: An infrastructural approach, by Dr Mariëlle Wijermars, University of Helsinki

When: April 25th, 15:15-17:00


Description: Over the past decade, internet freedom in Russia has dramatically declined as a result of the state’s repressive policies and enhanced digital surveillance and censorship capacities. Yet, looking at the Russian state provides only a partial picture and risks obscuring the agency of various domestic and foreign (private) actors in shaping these processes. This talk shifts focus to the implementation and enforcement of restrictive Internet policies in Russia to examine how the actions of, among others, platform companies can enable, shape or constrain how these policies impact internet freedom.


Dr Mariëlle Wijermars is a CORE Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies of the University of Helsinki, on leave from her position as Assistant Professor in Cyber-Security and Politics at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on the human rights’ implications of internet policy and platform governance, in particular in authoritarian states.  Her work has been published in, e.g., Post-Soviet AffairsDigital JournalismNew Media & Society, and Information, Communication & Society. She is the editor (with Daria Gritsenko and Mikhail Kopotev) of The Palgrave Handbook of Digital Russia Studies, published by Palgrave Macmillan (2021), and Freedom of Expression in Russia’s New Mediasphere (with Katja Lehtisaari), published by Routledge (2020).

RUCARR Seminar, March 7th (15-17): “You’re a disgrace to the uniform!” Lev Protiv’s challenge to the police in Moscow streets and on YouTube

“You’re a disgrace to the uniform!” Lev Protiv’s challenge to the police in Moscow streets and on YouTube by Gilles Favarel-Guarrigues 

When: March 7th, 15:15-17:00

Where: On Zoom, link:

Lev Protiv presents itself as a “social project” intertwining civic involvement, moral policing and entertaining Youtube show. Promoting a healthy lifestyle and pretending to defend the innocent youth, the Moscow vigilantes patrol since 2014 in public spaces in search of people consuming alcohol or smoking and implement governmental bans. However, their targets are not only drunkards and youth subculture, but also the police which are reluctant to implement the law. Sponsored by the government during two years and earning money thanks to their YouTube channel, how to explain that a vigilante activity, openly challenging State authority , may be tolerated in an authoritarian regime? This paper is based on the analysis of the videos of the group and on personal participation in several anti-drinking nocturnal raids. It shows that Lev Protiv has imposed a particular form of police oversight from below, forcing law enforcement officers to act as vigilante auxiliaries, partially in line with the governmental management of civil society.

RUCARR Lunch Seminar January 24th: Understandings of democracy and “good citizenship” in Ukraine: utopia for the people, participation in politics not required

Understandings of democracy and “good citizenship” in Ukraine: utopia for the people, participation in politics not required by Dr. Joanna Szostek, Lecturer in Political Communication, University of Glasgow 

When: January 24th, 12:15-14:00 CET time

Where: Zoom-link:

Description: This research presentation will explore how people in diverse peripheral regions of Ukraine understood democracy, their role as citizens in a democracy, and the meaning of “good citizenship” in 2021, the year before Russia’s full-scale invasion. Using thematic analysis of focus group discussions, the research demonstrates gaps and inconsistencies in the understandings of democracy articulated by participants. A utopian understanding of democracy was common, in which authorities are expected to “listen to the people” and keep them satisfied, but the need for government to manage conflicting interests is not recognized. Understandings of good citizenship are inclusive and pro-social, but mostly detached from institutional politics. Similarity was observed across regions in how democracy is understood in the abstract. However, the meaning ascribed to democracy often varied when discussion moved from the abstract to particular country examples – a finding relevant beyond the Ukrainian case, for survey-based research on public understandings of democracy more generally.



Seminar Nov 29: Attitudes to Putin-Era Patriotism Amongst Russia’s ‘In Between’ Generation

Attitudes to Putin-Era Patriotism Amongst Russia’s ‘In Between’ Generation, Seminar with Dr. Jussi Lassila, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

When? November 29th, 15:15.17:00

Where? On Zoom:

Putin-era patriotism has become mandatory across different social groups and communities in terms of their relationship to the state. In particular, there has been a growing polarization between the construction of patriotic policies and attitudes towards these policies by their targets. As a rule, actors representing Soviet-era generations are increasingly producing patriotism derived from Soviet ideals for generations who lack personal experience of the Soviet Union as well as the 1990s that followed its collapse. At the same time, loyalty building to the authoritarian state, aimed at by patriotic education, is working rather poorly among the youngest Russians.

But what is known about Russians between these poles, between educators and those being educated? What is their attitude towards patriotism and the patriotic education of the Putin era? Russians born in the early 1980s form an important intermediate cohort between the older Soviet-era and younger ‘internet’ generations who came of age within different frameworks of patriotic socialisation. They started school in the last years of the USSR, finished their main schooling before the Putin-era patriotic education programmes began but whose own children are now undergoing them.

In this respect, this cohort has a personal connection to all three dimensions of the Putin-era patriotic policies: 1) the patriotic education of the Soviet era, 2) the “unpatriotic” 1990s, and 3) the patriotic education of the Putin era by living in the most socio-economically active phase under Putin and being parents to children who are central targets of patriotic education. Attitudes of this cohort provide us preliminary information about prerequisites for internalizing Putin-era patriotism by active adults of the 2010s and early 2020s. For this cohort the effect of the Soviet-era patriotism could be seen in their recognition of the virtues of official patriotism, but this identification was by no means political. This implies that the political banality of patriotism in general, something that anyone can share, underlines the overall limits of using patriotism for political purposes.

The presentation is based on a case study published this year (ʻAttitudes to Putin-Era Patriotism Amongst Russia’s ‘In Between’ Generationʼ, Jussi Lassila & Anna Sanina, Europe-Asia Studies,, which also provides a background for the current situation influenced by Putinʼs invasion of Ukraine.