Browsing by Subject "Master's Programme in Russian Studies"

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  • Kim, Sergey (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The thesis focuses on the process of large-scale privatization in Russia and Kazakhstan in the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The main research problem was finding the structural similarities that two countries shared before and during the implementation of the economic reforms and, also, the differences that defined the divergence of the political and economic trajectories already in the second half of the 1990s. The main method used in the thesis is a comparative analysis based on David Kang´s analytical framework described in his book ‘Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines’ (Cambridge University Press, 2002). The focus of the analysis is the balance of power between the government and the private sector as one of the main determinants of economic development. The conclusion of our work is that the large-scale privatization that was supposed to be democratic and distributive ended up enriching a small group of beneficiaries in both Russia in Kazakhstan but because of completely different reasons. Kazakhstani regime very early transformed into the predatory state where the political elite, consolidated around a strong figure of the president, could successfully take advantage of the private sector. Whereas, in Russia, stronger political polarization led to the rise of the powerful economic groups and actors (the ‘oligarchs’) that had a say in the key political decisions during the 1990s. Thus, portraying just one group of actors (whether the oligarchs or the corrupt government) as responsible for the ‘failure’ of large-scale privatization is too simplistic. The dynamics between the government and the private businesses as the system constraint was much more important.
  • Katsev, Libbie (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Music in the Metro, a city-run project wherein musicians audition for the right to play in Moscow’s metro system, opened in 2016 following a police crackdown on street musicians in the 2010s and consequent activism by street musicians. This M.A. thesis is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with street musicians in 2017 and 2018. It uses qualitative analysis of interviews to understand the impacts of the Music in the Metro project for the meaning of street music in Moscow—both for street musicians themselves, and in the wider context of cultural production in Russia. The focus of the study is threefold: First, I draw on Russian cultural studies to discuss the history of street music in Moscow and how Music in the Metro has commodified the practice. Second, I use theory based in popular music studies to outline the discursive practice of street music in Moscow and argue that Music in the Metro is incompatible with the standards by which street musicians value their own music. Finally, I apply a spatial perspective to street music to examine the specific implications of the space of the metro. I conclude that despite the city’s attempts to commodify both street music, the performance of street music in Moscow’s metro, even under the aegis of Music in the Metro, can have subversive and transformative meanings.
  • Taggart, Peter (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This qualitative study explores the extent to which nostalgia for the Soviet era of social provision motivated Russians to protest against raising the retirement age in 2018. Social rights as formulated in the Soviet era still inform expectations of a paternalistic welfare system in Russia today, in spite of a gradual state withdrawal from the social sphere. Meanwhile, the Russian state continues to espouse a rhetorical commitment to social provision. This thesis compares local news media and Vkontakte discussions of the reforms across three Russian cities (Saint Petersburg, Togliatti and Pskov), and is guided by Zubarevich’s concept of ‘Four Russias’. This thesis argues that, for many Russians, nostalgia for the Soviet era of social provision motivated them to protest. Nostalgic sentiments varied between regions - in Saint Petersburg, many residents reflected on the Soviet past critically (reflective nostalgia), while people in Togliatti longed for the reinstitution of Soviet norms and institutions (restorative nostalgia). Little nostalgic sentiment was noted in Pskov. Fears of a diminished quality of life in retirement and mistrust of the actions of the federal administration were other motivations to protest. This thesis sheds light on the gap between social welfare provision and state rhetoric in Russia, highlights the limits of nostalgic rhetoric for political aims, and explores how expectations of the state vary between Russian regions.
  • Kuukasjärvi, Kyösti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Tässä maisterintutkielmassa tarkastellaan Venäjälle kohdistuneiden matkustajavirtojen sekä Venäjän viisujärjestelmän kehitystä vuosina 2002–2019. Tutkielman tavoitteena on ollut koota Venäjään kohdistunut matkailukehitys ei-IVY-maista yhdelle paperille, jotta aineistoa voitaisiin tarkastella Venäjän ulkopolitiikan muutoksen näkökulmasta. Tämä maisterintutkielma ehdottaa matkustajavirtojen sekä viisumijärjestelmän toimivan hyvänä indikaattorina valtioiden ulkopoliittisesta muutoksesta. Tutkielman aihe on ajankohtainen, sillä tilastoja Venäjän matkailusta ei ole englannin kielellä koottu kattavasti koherenttiin kokonaisuuteen, ja toisaalta vuonna 2019 Venäjän toteuttama sähköinen viisumireformi tekee aiheesta ajankohtaisen. Vuoden 2019 Venäjän sähköinen viisumireformi on osa historiallista jatkumoa, minkä takia on mielenkiintoista tarkastella viisumireformia edeltänyttä ajanjaksoa osana laajempaa kehityskaarta Venäjän viisumi- ja ulkopolitiikassa. Tässä tutkielmassa aineistona käytetään Venäjän valtiollisen tilastokeskuksen kokoamaa aineistoa Venäjälle kohdistuneesta matkustuksesta vuosina 2002–2019 sekä erityisesti Oxfordin yliopiston koostamaa DEMIG Visa -dataa globaalista viisumikehityksestä. Tämän lisäksi Maailmanpankin, UNWTO:n sekä Maailman talousfoorumin aineistoja käytetään hyväksi Venäjän matkailukehityksen kokonaiskuvan kokoamisessa. Tutkielman tilastoanalyysin teoreettisena pohjana käytetään ulkopolitiikan muutoksen kategorisointiin luotuja teoriarakenteita esimerkiksi K.J. Holstin sekä Charles F. Hermanin toimesta. Tutkielman tilastoanalyysin mukaan eurooppalaiset valtiot ovat menettäneet merkitystään Venäjän matkailusektorilla vuosituhannen vaihteen jälkeen ja erityisesti 2010-luvulla. Tutkielman tilastoanalyysi osoittaa, kuinka esimerkiksi Kiina, Etelä-Korea sekä Israel ovat merkittävimmin kasvattaneet markkinaosuuttaan Venäjän matkailussa matkustajamääriä mittaessa. Tutkielman primääriaineistoa laajemman ulkopoliittisen tutkimuskirjallisuuden tarkastelun myötä käy ilmi, kuinka matkailukehityksellä sekä diplomaattisten suhteiden laajemmalla kehityssuunnalla vaikuttaa löytyvän ajallinen yhteys Venäjän kontekstissa. Tämä tukee tutkimuksen premissiä siitä, kuinka matkustustilastot sekä viisumipolitiikka voisivat toimia hyvinä indikaattoreina ulkopolitiikan muutoksen tutkimukselle. Tutkielman tilastoanalyysi sekä viisujärjestelmätutkimus osoittavat, kuinka vuoden 2014 jälkeen eurooppalaisten valtioiden merkitys Venäjän matkailusektorille matkustajavolyymeja tarkasteltaessa on voimistuen vähentynyt, sillä vuosina 2014–2019 matkailu Euroopasta Venäjälle supistui lähes 25 prosentilla globaalin kokonaismatkailun Venäjälle kasvaessa samanaikaisesti. Tutkimus toimii hyvänä aineistona niille, jotka tarvitsevat koottua tilastotietoa Venäjän matkailukehityksestä vuosilta 2002–2019.
  • Verro, Denis (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This thesis examines the relationship between the state’s climate policy position and media coverage of anthropogenic climate change in Russia. It achieves this by applying Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Dominant Ideology theory (Propaganda Model) (1988) to the Russian media. The Propaganda Model argues that media coverage stays within the boundaries defined by ‘elite’s’ interests. Through a critical discourse analysis, this thesis has found that in the Russian case, there seems to be very little difference in the coverage of climate change throughout several critical discourse moments, and that coverage does not seem to differ based on ownership structure or dependence on advertising. The newspapers analysed in this thesis mostly rely on Russian officials as sources of information, articles tend to publish the states position without any criticism and do not question Russian climate change policy or Russia’s contribution to global levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the analysis concludes that in the Russian case, there is a clear omission of climate change issues in media discourse and the overall number of articles published which discuss climate change decreases as time goes on, despite the government admitting the anthropogenic character of climate change. It is argued that due to Russia’s unique vulnerabilities towards climate change the issue will become a more prevalent policy agenda for the Russian government in the near future, and therefore a more widely covered topic by the media. The Propaganda Model will provide a useful theory for explaining media communication of climate change risks.
  • Rossi, Paula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian state-owned international news broadcaster. It is considered to be one of the Russian government’s key means through which mis- or disinformation can be spread. Russia has been accused of spreading disinformation and causing political polarisation through ‘troll factories’ on social media and state-owned, internationally targeted media outlets such as RT. The presumption that can be found in the existing literature on RT is that it only functions as the Kremlin’s propaganda mouthpiece. Such a stance is problematic; hence, this research instead analyses RT’s coverage of the 2019 European Parliamentary elections as an independent actor separate from the Kremlin. Due to its transnational nature, the European Parliamentary elections in May 2019 were seen as a potential target of Russian interest and hence chosen as the context of this research. Instead of seeking for signs of Russian intervention, the focus is on how RT constructs the notion of a collapsing EU establishment. The materials included in this research consist of 94 articles derived from RT’s English language website. As the research deals with text and meaning-making, discourse theory forms its theoretical framework, while the method of analysis is discourse-theoretical analysis (DTA). DTA employs the key concepts of discourse theory to guide the analysis. In this context, the main concepts are hegemony and antagonism. Hegemony refers to a discourse that holds power and is able to influence social order. A hegemony always implies an antagonism, which is the hegemony’s ultimate ‘other’ that struggles to overturn the hegemonic discourse in order to shift power relations. The analysis shows that in this context, hegemony refers to the EU establishment and ‘mainstream’ media, while antagonism refers to the right-wing anti-establishment and alternative media. The EU establishment and mainstream media are framed as hostile in the articles, as they accuse the anti-establishment having connections to Russia, and RT in particular of being the Kremlin’s messenger. The articles provide counter-evidence of the allegations, thereby discrediting the establishment and mainstream media. The electoral success of the anti-establishment parties is framed as ending the centuries-long hegemony of the EU establishment. By framing the EU establishment and mainstream media in such a manner, the anti-establishment and alternative media are mirrored in a more positive light, representing the true will of the people and acting as the bearers of ‘truth’. These can be seen as increasing the credibility of the anti-establishment and RT in the eyes of the reader.
  • Felix, Bella (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Is there a Lockean separation of church and state in contemporary Russia? The answer to this question has, for a long time, been yes, at least on paper. However recent amendments to the Russian secular constitution now include a mention of Russia’s belief in God. This is not the only piece of legislation in Russia that has adopted religious rhetoric. In fact, after a few decades of a complicated relationship, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian state have increased their cooperation. Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have declared that Russian Orthodox values, are part of the newly promoted Russian identity. This acceptance of conservative Orthodox values as part of the Russian identity, has had its influence on Russian legislation and thus Russian society. Examples of this are restrictions on abortion, the ban on ‘homosexual propaganda’, the importance of the family and traditional gender role in society etc. This has an influence on the status of the Lockean separation of church and state in Russia. Lockean because this thesis utilizes John Locke’s theory of tolerance, slightly adapted to the modern context, to analyse the status of the separation of church and state in contemporary Russia. A secular state is defined here as a state with not just a separation of institutions, but also one with freedom of conscience based on the idea of tolerance. This policy of tolerance entails that a government 1) cannot deprive any citizen of their civil rights based on their values, 2) they cannot prosecute a citizen based on their values and 3) a government cannot impose a certain belief system on their citizens directly or indirectly. These three criteria form the theoretical framework of this thesis. The case materials of this thesis include the Bases of the Social Concept by the ROC to analyse what values they promote, speeches by Putin that outline foreign and domestic policy to show that the Russian government also promotes Orthodox values, and Russian federal legislation regarding family values to analyse the effect of the values of the ROC on Russian legislation. After studying federal legislation affected by the adoption of Orthodox values this thesis concludes that although criteria 1) and 3) are violated to some extent, there is not enough proof that criteria 2) is affected. Discourse in Russian legislation has gotten more religious, but in practice this religious influence has not led to Russian citizens being prosecuted for things like getting an abortion or falling in love with someone of the same sex. However, an increased cooperation between church and state has led to the dilution of the separation between the religious and the secular, and the Russian government has started using the conservative values of the church as a political tool to suppress those who think differently or are critical of the government.
  • Whyte, Breandán (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The past two decades has seen significant shifts (or a rebound) in Russian foreign policy, ranging from Putin’s pragmatic cooperation to a new line of assertiveness under a “rhetoric of resistance” against a perceived US-led Atlantic expansionism. The incommensurate views between Moscow and the Atlantic Community regarding the political layout of the post-Cold War order has seen the emergence of what some would describe as a New Cold War on the European continent. With it has come a renewed focus on Northern Europe and the Arctic. For smaller Nordic countries such as Norway, the collapse of the USSR brough a general optimism that Oslo’s geopolitical position between Moscow and Washington belonged to the past. However, the re-emergence of a Muscovite State capable and willing to assert its interests in opposition to Washington’s hegemonic interests has made it clear that these predictions had not come to pass. During the immediate post-Cold War period, Norwegian foreign and security policy underwent significant shifts in pursuit of its partnership interests vis-à-vis the United States. As such, Norway finds itself increasingly in a squeeze between its partnership interests and increased dependency vis-à-vis United States, and its position as a good neighbour towards Russia. As such, this thesis aims to understand on what grounds Russian perspectives may increasingly come to view Norway as a growing operational piece for US-led ‘post-Cold War expansive Cold War liberal order’?
  • Byström, Vilja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis investigates strategy formation and its use in the Saint Petersburg contemporary dance community. In Russia the 1920s was the golden era of contemporary dance, however, this period only lasted for a few years. As the development of the industries, modern and contemporary forms were hindered by political and societal changes. During these ambiguous times, only classical ballet and folk dance were widely accepted in the country. Still today, there is inequality in the Russian dance field between different genres since classical ballet as well as folk dance are provided government support both financially and through educational opportunities. As a result, restrictive policies and uncertainty appear in the everyday life of contemporary dance practitioners and they are part of a somewhat divided community. The main research question of this thesis is ‘How do actors in the Saint Petersburg contemporary dance industry understand their mission and what kind of strategies do they have in their use to pursue this?’. This study aims to understand their strategic planning processes; to identify the community’s current engagements in strategic management and how the actors utilize operational tools such as SWOT analysis or the inspection of goals and mission statements within the organizations. In addition, the study analyzes how these objectives can be transformed for the benefit of the industry. This research is a qualitative case study and its primary data are five semi-structured interviews conducted in Saint Petersburg in July 2019 with local contemporary dance practitioners and professionals. The materials are analyzed using applied thematic analysis and grounded theory. This study contributes to the theoretical discussions of strategic management in arts organizations and oversees how the power of a mission statement is understood and operational planning tools are used. There is still a need for actions in building sustainable infrastructure in order to ensure the continuation of financial support for contemporary dance. The main results of this research suggest that the organizations have become aware of the tools they need to use to influence and ensure the future of contemporary dance in Russia. An objective of the dance community is to increase individual engagement of contemporary dance in order to elevate this visibility of the discipline amongst decision-makers and new audiences. By not focusing on internal competition, the actors in Saint Petersburg can turn their skills into resources for the whole industry. This thesis will help to demonstrate the attempts of these professionals and the whole community and lastly, bring new topics of advocacy into discussion among the actors in the Saint Petersburg contemporary dance community, institutions and the whole cultural and creative sector in Russia.
  • Lavrentjev, Ivan (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This master’s thesis argues that the public discussion in Estonia on the necessity of a national Russian-language TV channel was heavily securitized. Following broad debate involving politicians, experts and journalists, the channel ETV+ went on air in 2015, as a part of Estonian Public Broadcasting. This thesis studies statements by Estonian public figures relating to the TV channel through the securitization framework. First, the thesis explores securitization theory, developed by the Copenhagen School. The theory broadens the notion of security to non-military domains. The Copenhagen School argued that an issue becomes a matter of security if placed above every-day politics, once an actor convinces the audience of the existential threat posed to the referent object. Despite extensive criticism, securitization is applicable to the issue of national minorities. The thesis scrutinizes the social and political background of Russian-speakers in Estonia, with special attention devoted to the group’s media landscape. The thesis then pivots to the discussion over ETV+ and the arguments employed. Following either predominantly domestic (the “Bronze Soldier” riots) or global crises (the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine), numerous concerns were raised about Estonia’s Russian-speaking community, especially its susceptibility to follow the Russian government-controlled media and therefore the community’s challenged loyalty to Estonia. Thus, Russian-speakers were perceived by in Estonian public debate as the group most vulnerable to Russian information warfare. In order to ensure unbiased media coverage, attempts were made to establish a public Russian-language channel in 2007-8. However, these efforts ran short. The state did not opt for a full-scale public Russian-language channel, but limited its support to several commissioned TV shows instead. In 2014-5, the revived debate over the Russian-language channel coincided with European (2014) and domestic (2015) elections, becoming a topic widely discussed by politicians and candidates. Both proponents and opponents of a TV channel referred to the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s hybrid warfare as reasons for or against the channel. Securizing remarks were common within debate, regardless of speaker’s ethnicity/language, political or professional affiliation. The local Russian-speaking community was poorly involved in the early stage of the debate, and its public figures were skeptical over the way and timing the new channel’s creation. Several politicians and journalists tried to convince the audience that the new channel was not a means of counter-propaganda. The creation of a channel was above partisan politics, as both the coalition and the opposition mainly were in favor, albeit with different justifications. This thesis concludes that the securitized debate itself is insufficient to evaluate the channel’s perception by the target audience and its subsequent performance. It therefore proposes several other avenues for prospective research.
  • Goljakov, Kristina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The main task of this thesis is to investigate the Finnish-Russian collaboration in the field of the environment, and more specifically, in the field of waste management. The history of Finnish-Russian cooperation goes back to more than one decade. This cooperation has always been influenced by the political situation in these two neighboring countries. The need for collaboration is also motivated by the necessity to solve mutual problems, such as can be seen in the field of environmental protection. However, since Finland's accession to the European Union, the relationship between these two countries has gained a new overtone. This study aims to answer to the main research question “What do the experiences gained in Finnish-Russian waste management projects reveal about the environmental cross-border cooperation between Finland and Russia?”, and to the sub-questions: “What are the benefits and/or opportunities project participants are searching for?” and “What kind of challenges can be found during project implementation?”. Such formulation of the research task enables to enrich comprehension of cross-border cooperation between Finland and Russia and its potential in the future. The analysis of particular case study promotes better understanding of how the CBC waste management projects work, what challenges can be met during the project implementation, and what risks should be accounted for in the future. In this research, the method used for data collection is questionnaire. This enabled to choose a particular approach for the analysis that was based on Miles and Huberman’s model of qualitative content analysis. The data consisted of replies from five respondents who were also actively involved in two different CBC waste management projects conducted under the framework of the Karelia CBC Programme. Their answers helped to evaluate and analyze the expected and unexpected issues that can be met during project implementation, as well as benefits these projects brought to the countries they represented. The results of this research demonstrated that the cooperation between Finland and Russia in environmental context can solve many problems, for instance, filling the funding gap by attracting the investments or increasing the environmental awareness through organized events. The main obstacles were met in the light of the ongoing pandemic situation which can cause drastic consequences for the further development of cross-border cooperation. The waste management issues are very topical and within this subject matter, there can be found huge opportunities for development for both Finland and Russia. However, the legal framework of the Russian waste management sector is still developing and that can cause challenges for the Finnish project participants. The main benefits that attract participants to the CBC waste management projects are opportunities for the exchange of expertise and direct investments.