Dr Ilya Yablokov

Dr Ilya Yablokov

Teaching Fellow in Russian Studies

+44 (0)1133435271

Summary: Russian politics; Russian media; Russian history; conspiracy theories; nation-building and inter-ethnic relations in post-Soviet Russia

Location: Parkinson building, 1.18


BA (History, 2006, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia)

MA (Nationalism Studies, 2009, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary)

MPhil - Candidate of Sciences (History, 2010, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russia)

PhD (Russian studies, 2014, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom)

Research interests

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 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. It will be published by Polity Press in June 2018.

This research strand spawned various research 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. At the moment, with 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 section on Eastern Europe in the handbook of conspiracy theories. 

The second strand of research is concerned with the history of post-Soviet Russian media and, in particular, Russian media elites. The special issue of the journal Russian Politics, that I co-edited with Elisabeth Schimpfossl, was published in 2017 and dealt with the history of Russian media elites. Currently, we are conducting interviews for the upcoming monograph on the history of Russian media elites. 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.

Parallel to this, 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. 

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.  



Yablokov, I. (2018, forthcoming) Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World (Cambridge: Polity)


Etkind, A., Yablokov, I. (October 2017, forthcoming) 'Global Crises as Western Conspiracies: Russian Theories of Oil Prices and the Ruble Exchange Rate', Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society

Yablokov, I. with Dreval N. (2018, forthcoming) 'Chernukha' in Alena Ledeneva et al. (eds.) The Global Encyclopedia of Informality, vol.2. London: UCL Press, pp. 436-439.

Yablokov, I. (2017, forthcoming) 'Social networks of death: conspiracy panics and professional journalistic ethics in the post-Soviet Russia', Quaderni.

Schimpfossl, E., Yablokov, I. (2017) 'Power Lost and Freedom Relinquished: Russian Journalists Assessing the First Post-Soviet Decade', Russian Review 76 (July), pp. 524-539.

Schimpfossl, E., Yablokov, I. (2017) 'Introducing Russian Media Elites', Russian Politics 2 (1), pp. 1-5

Schimpfossl, E., Yablokov, I. (2017) 'Media Elites in Post-Soviet Russia and Their Strategies of Success', Russian Politics 2 (1), pp. 32-53

Gatov, V., Schimpfossl, E, and Yablokov, I. (2017) 'From Soviet to Russian Media Managers', Russian Politics 2 (1), pp. 7-31.

Yablokov, I. (2015) ‘Conspiracy Theories as Russia’s Public Diplomacy Tool: The Case of Russia Today (RT)’, Politics, doi: 10.1111/1467-9256.12097

Hutchings, S., Gillespie, M., Yablokov, I., Lvov, I., Voss A. (2015) ‘Soft Power, Geopolitical Crisis and the Broadcast-Social Media Interface: RT, BBC World and the Sochi Winter Olympics’, Participations: International Journal of Audience Research, http://www.participations.org/Volume%2012/Issue%201/35.pdf

Jablokov, I. (2015) ‘Feinde, Verrater, Fünfte Kolonnen: Verschwörungstheorien in Russland’, Osteuropa, 4, pp. 99-114 (In German)

Yablokov, I. (2014) ‘Pussy Riot as Agent Provocateur: Conspiracy Theories and the Media Construction of Nation in Putin’s Russia’, Nationalities Papers 42 (4), pp. 622- 636;

Schimpfossl, E., Yablokov, I. (2014) ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and selfcensorship among Russian media personalities and reporters in the 2010s’, Democratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 20 (2), pp. 295-312;

Yablokov, I., Landa, L. (2014) ‘Tranzit simvolov v konspirologicheskom diskurse postsovetskoi Rossii: mif o Khazarskom Kaganate i mezhetnicheskie otnosheniia v obshchestvakh Severnogo Kavkaza’ in Ol’ga Malinova, (ed.) Simvolicheskaia Politika: Spory o proshlom kak proektirovanie budushchego, pp. 277-287 (in Russian);

Yablokov, I. (2013) ‘Konspirologicheskoe mifotvorchestvo v sovremennykh politicheskikh ideologiiakh SSHA i Rossii: naskol’ko marginalen iazyk zagovora?’ Politicheskaia nauka, 4, pp. 175-191 (in Russian);

Yablokov, I., Sainakov, N. (2011) ‘Teorii zagovora kak chast’ marginal’nogo diskursa (na primere sozdatelei Novoi Khronologii N.A.Morozova i A.T.Fomenko)’, Forum noveishei vostochnoevropeiskoi istorii i kultury, 1, pp. 148-159 (in Russian);

Yablokov, I. (2010) ‘’Teoriia Evreiskogo Zagovora’ v Soedinennykh Shtatakh Ameriki v kontekste istorii amerikanskogo antisemitisma (XVIII-XX vv.)’ in Tat’iana Skorohodova’s (ed.) Va pensiero sull’ali dorate. Issledovaniia po istorii mysli i kultury Vostoka i Zapada. K 70-letiiu E.B. Rashkovskogo, Moscow: Tsentr Knigi Rudomino, pp. 261-274 (in Russian);

Non-academic publications

Yablokov, I. (2017) 'Conspiracy theories and the fear of Others', New Eastern Europe, no.5-6, pp. 57-63. 

Yablokov, I. (2017) '"Don't let the facts spoil a good story": Russian journalism from Gorbachev to Putin', Eurozine, 16 June 2017, http://www.eurozine.com/dont-let-the-facts-spoil-a-good-story/

Yablokov I., Kovalev A. (2016) ‘Putin and Trump’s Bad Bromance’, Open Democracy Russia, 29 July, https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/alexey-kovalev-ilya-yablokov/putin-and-trump-s-bad-bromance.

Yablokov, I. (2016) ‘Can conspiracy theories be instruments of global diplomacy?’ Political Studies Association blog, 2 March, https://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/blog/can-conspiracy-theories-be-instruments-global-diplomacy.

Yablokov, I. (2016). ‘Russian journalism’s double white lines’, Open Democracy Russia, 22 July,https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ilya-yablokov/russian-media-s-double-white-lines.

Yablokov, I. (2016). ‘Why Are Russia’s Journalists So Prone To Conspiracy Theories?’, Open Democracy Russia, 9 May, https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ilya-yablokov/why-are-russia-s-journalists-so-prone-to-conspiracy-theory.

Meduza (2016). ‘Otkuda berutsia teorii zagovora and chto oni znachat’, Meduza, 5 May 2016,https://meduza.io/feature/2016/05/05/otkuda-berutsya-teorii-zagovora-i-chto-oni-znachat.

BBC Russian (2015). ‘Glava RZHD Yakunin obrushilsia na mirovoi oligarkhat’, BBC Russian, 17 March,http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/russia/2015/03/150317_yakunin_oligarchs_conspiracy.

BBC Russian (2015). ‘Why Conspiracy Theories are So Popular in Russia?’ 5th Floor, Broadcast on 28 May 2015,http://wsodprogrf.bbc.co.uk/russian/dps/2015/05/5f_280515_podcast_150528_5floor_conspiracy_theories_yablokov_au_bb.mp3

Yablokov, I. (2014) ‘Russian Media Coverage of MH17 Leaves no room for Dissenting Voices’, The Conversation, 21 July, https://theconversation.com/russian-media-coverage-of-mh17-leaves-no-room-for-dissenting-voices-29494.

Yablokov, I. (2014) ‘Russia Runs on Conspiracy’, The Moscow Times, 18 September, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/russia-runs-on-conspiracy/507384.html

Selected Honours / Nominations / Awards

The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) Prize for the Best Peer-Reviewed Article in the field published by a postgraduate student (2015)

The Overseas Research Training Grant, The Centre for East European Language Based Area Studies (2014)

Honourable mention in the Manchester Doctoral College competition for the 'Best Contribution to PGR Environment or Society', The University of Manchester (2014)

Honorary Appointment  of Research Fellow, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester (2013)

The Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation Professional Mobility Travel Grant (2010) 

The Eugene Weiner Award for Promising Junior Scholars in Jewish Studies in the CIS Countries (2009)

Selected presentations

'Screening the Enemy Within: Conspiracy Theories and the Media Construction of the Russian Opposition in 2013-2016' (Conference paper, 'Citizen Preferences, Political Mobilization, Institutional Change, and Regime Stability in Russia and Ukraine', London School of Economics, 10 June 2016).

‘Conspiracy theories as Russia’s tool of soft power’ (Conference paper, Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Brighton, 22 March 2016)

‘What it means to be a journalist in Russia: loyalty, prosperity, adekvatnost’’ (Illiberal Governance, Central European University, Budapest, 19-20 February, 2016)

‘Big Brother, where art thou?: Conspiracy theories in politics and culture of post-Soviet Russia’ (lecture, the George Washington University, Washington D.C., 21 January 2016)

‘The White Ribbon aims to shed blood: protest movement and anti-Western conspiracy theories during Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term’ (Conference paper, ‘Gender, Nationalism and Citizenship in Anti-Authoritarian Protests in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine’, Robinson College, Cambridge, 20 June 2015)

‘The Secret Plan of Perestroika: Conspiracy Theories as a historical Narrative of the Soviet Collapse’ (Conference paper, The International Young Researchers Conference ‘Writing the Past/Righting Memory’, The Havighurst Centre for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University, Ohio, Cumae, 2 June)

‘Freedom Relinquished: Russian Journalists looking back to the 1990s’ (lecture, The University of Manchester, Manchester, 4 May 2015)

‘Conspiracy Theories and The Language of Conspiracy: How Does It Work?’ (Public lecture, The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, 18 June, 2014)

‘Broadcasting Anti-Americanism: The Narratives of Conspiracy in the News Agenda of Russia Today (RT) (Conference paper, ‘Russia as a Value Centre: Contemporary Russian Identity and Soft Power’, The University of Edinburgh, 23 May, 2014)

‘Conspiracy Theories in post-Soviet Russia: The Pussy Riot Trial and Nation-Building Through the Lens of Conspiracy Mythmaking (Public Lecture, European University at St. Petersburg, 10 April, 2014)

’Pussy Riot as Agent Provocateur: Studying the Language of Conspiracy in the Russian Media’ (Conference Paper, The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Convention, Cambridge, UK, 5-7 April, 2014)

‘Writing Conspiracy Theories: The Approaches to the Study of Conspiracy Theories’ (Public Lecture, Moscow State University, Moscow, 19 December, 2013)

‘Dividing Russia: Studying the Impact of Conspiracy Theories on Russian Elections in 2011-2012’ (Conference Paper, ‘What is Eurasia to Us’, The University of Manchester, 10 October 2013)

’Sovereign Democracy’ and its Enemies: The Conspiracy Notions of the August 1991 Coup in the Nation-Building Strategies of Post-Soviet Russia’ (Conference Paper, The Association for the Study of Nationalities 2013 World Convention, Columbia University, New York, USA, 18-20 April, 2013)

‘Plotting Collapse of the Empire: Narratives of Conspiracy and National Greatness in post-Soviet Russian Politics’ (Conference Paper, The British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Convention, Cambridge, UK, 5-8 April, 2013)

‘Understanding Conspiracy Theories: Methodological Approaches to Studying the Language of Conspiracy Theories in the 20th century’ (Conference paper, International Symposium ‘The Paths of Russia’, The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, 23-24 March, 2012)

Undergraduate teaching (module leader and contributor)

SLAV 1110 Introduction to Russian Folklore: Fairy Tales and Cultural Practice

SLAV 1104 From Icons to iPods: Approaches to Russian Culture  

SLAV 2107/2108 Not By Bread Alone: Everyday Culture under the Soviet Regime 

SLAV 3124 Out of the Frying Pan in to the Fire: Russian Society from Perestroika to the Crimean Annexation (1985-2015)