Yana Gorokhovskaia

Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Russian Politics
Columbia University
Russian Studies & Policy

Yana Gorokhovskaia completed her Ph.D. in political science at the University of British Columbia in August 2016. Her research, which is focused on Russia and employs both qualitative and quantitative methods, contributes to scholarship on authoritarian endurance and democratic backsliding. Her dissertationElections, Political Participation, and Authoritarian Responsiveness in Russiaexplores how authoritarian power structures are maintained and resisted by analyzing subnational elections, public mobilization, and political engagement in Russia. In an article based on her dissertation researchTesting for sources of electoral competition under authoritarianism: an analysis of Russia's gubernatorial elections (Post-Soviet Affairs, 2016), Yana uses an original dataset of protests to determine whether voter preferences or regime manipulation drive variation in vote shares during three rounds of gubernatorial elections in Russia's regions. The analysis shows that elites are sensitive to voter preferences especially in the form of public demand making: "noisier" regions with a history of protest have more competitive elections. 

Current research

At Harriman, Yana is pursuing two main projects. The first continues her focus on elections in Russia. Expanding on findings from recent research linking electoral clientelism and the mobilization of vulnerable voters - especially state-employees, agriculture workers and ethnic minorities - in a working paper, Yana uses rayon-level voter turnout data from the 2012 presidential election to examine whether turnout is systematically different in Russian cities with a single substantial employer (known as monogrorods). Although the literature on clientelism suggests that such municipalities would be prime targets for workplace mobilization - the towns are geographically isolated, workers have few alternative employment opportunities, and monitoring of voting behavior is relatively easy - the analysis shows that monogorods in fact have systematically lower voter turnout. 

The second project is a book manuscript examining political learning among opposition politicians. During fieldwork for her dissertation research, Yana interviewed deputies elected in March of 2012 to Moscow's district councils. Most were ordinary people with no history of political participation who found their way into politics after signing up to be election monitors in the wake of anti-electoral fraud protests of 2011-2012. During their training, they were recruited to participate in municipal elections and helped along in the process by various civil society organizations. Contrary to the widely held academic wisdom that Russians use informal practices to deal with malfunctioning or corrupt institutions, the strategies developed by these individuals in order to cope with authoritarian practices once in office are highly legalistic and rule-based. In October of 2017, with funding from Harriman's PepsiCo Fellowship, Yana will return to Moscow in order to conduct a second round of interviews with municipal deputies who have now completed their first five-year term in office.   

Other publications

Yana also regularly writes on issues of Russian domestic politics. Her work on protest in Russia has appeared in EurasiaNet.orgIPI Global Observatory, and Harriman's podcast Expert Opinions. An article on Russia's 2018 presidential election is forthcoming in Harriman Magazine. Yana's article on the causes and consequences of Democratic Consolidation appears in the Oxford Bibliography of Political Science.