Lecturer in Russian Studies, University of Leeds

There are two major strands in my research agenda.

The first is devoted to the study of conspiracy theories and, in particular, Russian conspiracy theories. My recent monograph Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World explores how political elites in post-Soviet Russia use conspiracy theories for political purposes and to boost social cohesion. These theories are a valuable source of political mobilization for the Kremlin; they help it justify the introduction of restrictive laws and serve as a substitute for practical action in achieving community cohesion and nation-building.

This research strand spawned various projects that study the place of conspiracy theories in Russian foreign policy, domestic and international media as well as the role public intellectuals play in developing and spreading these ideas among general population. Together with Precious Chatterje-Doody (of Manchester University) I am working on the monograph Russia Today and Conspiracy Theories: People, Power, Politics (Routledge, 2020) that studies how Russian international broadcaster RT employs conspiracy theories from the time it was founded in 2005 to the moment when the Skripal affair dramatically shook Russia-UK relations. With the colleagues from European University Institute (Florence) and the University of Oslo (Norway) I am exploring how Russian and East European elites see price change in the global oil markets and how conspiracy theories inform their decisions. I am a member of the COST initiative 'Comparative analysis of conspiracy theories' where I contribute to the study of East European conspiracy theories and co-edit the history section in the handbook of conspiracy theories.

The second strand of research is concerned with the history of post-Socialist media. I am a principal investigator of the British Academy small research grant entitled 'Self-censorship in post-Socialist countries'. This project is based on my research into the practices of self-censorship in the Russian media and explores the political, economic and cultural factors influencing the specifics of self-censorship in the post-socialist states of Hungary, Latvia and Germany. In collaboration with colleagues from UK, Denmark, Hungary and Latvia we study informal practices in the countries' media governance and compare the power relations among journalists, and between their communities and the authorities.

The special issue of the journal Russian Politics, that I co-edited with Elisabeth Schimpfossl, was published in January 2017 and dealt with the history of Russian media elites. Together with Dr. Schimpfossl, we are conducting interviews for the upcoming monograph on the history of Russian media elites tentatively titled Putin's Media Managers. Unlike other works in the field, this monograph will study in details the history of several Russian media outlets and biographies of their founders to explore their impact on the post-Soviet Russian media landscape. I am guest-editing two special issues of the leading journals in the field of communication. The first special issue of European Journal of Communication is entitled 'Self-censorship and professional ethics in the former Eastern Bloc' and brings together the colleagues from Hungary, Denmark, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic and the UK who work on these issues for the last several years. The special issue of Journalism is entitled 'Russian Journalism and Newsmaking: In the Midst of Self-Censorship, Market Pressures and State Control' and studies how journalists and media managers in Russia cope with diverse challenges of politics, business and ethics in their day-to-day work.

I regularly give interviews and publish articles related to my research in the media. My commentaries and articles recently appeared in The Moscow Times, BBC Russian, Meduza, Open Democracy Russia, Eurozine, New Eastern Europe and The Conversation.

Experience

  • 2017–present
    Teaching Fellow in Russian Studies, University of Leeds