Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Is There Civil Society Left in Russia? What Are Its Prospects?
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This event is online only.

Join us for a meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Series, co-hosted by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin initiated another crackdown on the Russian opposition and civil society. The anti-war protests that sparked across Russia in the spring were brutally suppressed, and thousands of activists have left the country since then. Is there any Russian civil society left after this crackdown? What can activists do under these circumstances? We are bringing together experts on Russian civil society and activism to discuss how the Russian public has reacted to the war and the recent mobilization, whether there remain any pockets of resistance and civic activity, and how the society and activists could respond to a prolonged war.


Grigore Pop-Eleches, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and Department of Politics; Co-Director of the Princeton Workshop on Post-Communist Politics

Janet Johnson, Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York

Tatyana Margolin, Founding Partner of STROIKA, Inc.

Natalia Forrat, Social Scientist at the University of Michigan and Freedom House

Jeremy Morris, Professor of Global Studies and Director of the Research Programme for Global Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark

Moderated by:

Timothy Frye, Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University

Joshua Tucker, Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at New York University



Grigore Pop-Eleches is a Professor of Politics and International Affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Politics Department at Princeton University. He is a co-director of the Princeton Workshop on Post-Communist Politics. His main current research interests are in comparative political behavior with a focus on authoritarian and post-authoritarian regimes (largely in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union). He has also worked on comparative and international political economy of Eastern Europe and Latin America, and on democratization and democratic backsliding, with a focus on the role of electoral behavior and political parties. His first book, entitled From Economic Crisis to Reform: IMF Programs in Latin America and Eastern Europe was published by Princeton University Press in February 2009. His second book, Communism’s Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes (joint with Joshua A. Tucker), was published in 2017 by Princeton University Press. His work has also appeared in a variety of academic journals, including The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Democracy, Studies in Comparative International Development, and East European Politics and Societies.
Janet Elise Johnson is a Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She studies gender, violence, and civil society, especially in Russia and other post-communist societies. Her books include The Gender of Informal Politics (2018), Gender Violence in Russia (2009), and Living Gender after Communism (2007) as well as The Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia (co-edited with Katalin Fábián and Mara Lazda, 2022). In the last few years, she has published articles in Post-Soviet Affairs, Russian Review, Slavic Review, Human Rights Review, Journal of Social Policy Studies, Politics & Gender, Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Social Policy, and Aspasia, as well as in The New Yorker, The Washington Posts Monkey Cage, and The Boston Review. She recently served on the Executive Committee of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and she coordinates a monthly workshop on Gender and Transformation in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
Tatyana Margolin is a founding partner of STROIKA, Inc., a social justice consultancy which supports donors and activists in building a globally connected, intersectional anti-authoritarian movement. Recently, Margolin was regional director for the Open Society Eurasia Program and oversaw all aspects of the program, providing leadership on strategy, management, governance, and budget. In this capacity, she supported activists in some of the most complex, challenging environments for civil society. Prior to joining the Eurasia Program, Margolin was a program officer for the Open Society Public Health Program, where she developed innovative approaches to integration of legal aid and harm reduction initiatives, and published and spoke widely on issues of access to justice for the most marginalized groups. An attorney by training, Margolin was previously a foreign law clerk at the Supreme Court of Israel and a staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization committed to fighting discrimination against women. Margolin holds a JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and an LLM in human rights law from the University of Nottingham School of Law in England.
Natalia Forrat is a social scientist at the University of Michigan and Freedom House. Her research focuses on the state, state-society relations, political regimes, and social movements. She is the author of a book manuscript The Social Roots of Authoritarian Power, which is based on her fieldwork in Russian regions, and a chapter on Russian civil society in Russian Politics Today (edited by Susanne Wengle, forthcoming at Oxford University Press). Her earlier research includes a study of the political economy of Russian higher education, which argues it was influenced by the color revolutions in neighboring states, and a study of schoolteachers’ role in electoral manipulations in Russia. Recently, she has been a co-PI of a research project Civic Mobilizations in Authoritarian Contexts at Freedom House. She is also a Research Affiliate at CDDRL’s Governance Project. In the past, she was a pre- and postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s CDDRL, the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame, and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan.

Jeremy Morris is a Professor of Global and Russian Studies, Aarhus University. His research interests include critical political economy, class, precarity and postsocialism more generally. He uses ethnographic approaches to understand lived experience and personhood in the former Soviet Union. His current research addresses two key debates in social research. It evaluates the transformative power of neoliberalism on the public and private identities of people in Russia and helps theorize this experience within the context of globalisation. Before coming to Aarhus, Jeremy worked at Birmingham University and previously taught at the universities of Durham, Nottingham, and Sussex. His books include: Everyday Postsocialism: Working-class Life Strategies in the Russian Margins (Palgrave 2016); New Media in New Europe-Asia (Routledge 2015); The Informal Postsocialist Economy: Embedded Practices and Livelihoods (Routledge 2014); Informal Economies in Post-Socialist Spaces: Practices, Institutions and Networks (Palgrave 2015); Identity and Nation Building in Everyday Postsocialist Life (Routledge 2017).
This event is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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