Yana Gorokhovskaia

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

Yana Gorokhovskaia received her PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia in November 2016. Her research examines elections and patterns of protest in Russia and contributes to scholarship on authoritarian endurance and democratic backsliding. 

Her dissertation, Elections, Political Participation, and Authoritarian Responsiveness in Russia, explores 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 research, Testing for sources of electoral competition under authoritarianism: an analysis of Russia's gubernatorial elections (Post-Soviet Affairs, 2017), 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 the Harriman Institute, Yana is pursuing two projects related to elections in Russia: the first is focused on ways elections can be manipulated by the regime, and the second examines local elections as sites of genuine political contestation.

Mobilizing voters

Expanding on findings from recent research linking electoral clientelism and the mobilization of vulnerable voters, 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 employer (known as monogrorods). Although the literature on clientelism suggests that such municipalities would be prime targets for workplace mobilization, the analysis shows that monogorods in fact have systematically lower voter turnout. 

Local democracy

How and why do ordinary people enter organized politics in an authoritarian state? How do they manage to win elections held on an uneven playing field?

Using interview data collected as part of her dissertation fieldwork, Yana examines the path into politics and the electoral strategies of independent and opposition deputies who participated in Moscow’s 2012 municipal election. In a working paper, “If you’re afraid, don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be afraid: Exercising voice in Russia”, she argues that most were ordinary people with no history of political participation who found their way into politics after signing up to become election monitors in the wake of anti-electoral fraud protests of 2011-2012. During their training, they were recruited to participate in the municipal election and helped along in the process by training and legal support provided through several civil society initiatives.

Yana returned to Moscow in October of 2017, supported by Harriman’s PepsiCo Fellowship, to conduct a second round of interviews with deputies. In a working paper prepared for the 2017 ASEEES annual convention – “What it takes to win” - she contrasts the 2012 and 2017 municipal elections in order to analyze the development of new campaign strategies and technologies employed by the opposition. 

Other publications

Yana also regularly writes on issues of Russian domestic politics. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage, EurasiaNet.orgIPI Global Observatory, and the Harriman Magazine. She's been a guest on Expert Opinions podcast and an article on the causes and consequences of Democratic Consolidation appears in the Oxford Bibliography of Political Science.