UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Essay and poster competitions for Russian Politics and Society students

1 January 2017

From 15 May 2014

During the Spring term, students attending the Russian Politics and Society course had an opportunity to win books in their subject area for their non-assessed essays. The selection panel, made up of Postgraduate Teaching Assistants Costanza Curro, Valerie Pacer and Ondrej Timco, chose four winners.

In first place was Ophelia Lai for her essay ‘On what grounds can we claim that power elites, institutions and the people in Russia are corrupt?’ The panel was impressed by Ophelia’s mature approach towards such a complex issue focussing on sistema, the way of doing things in Russia, and untangling varying nuances of informal practices for separate branches of Russia’s state: the elites, institutions, and people.

In second place was Eliot Gelberg, whose essay ‘Has Putin been successful in limiting the role of ‘big business’ in Russian politics?’ examined Putin’s effort to constrain political influence of big business from two perspectives - the accomplishment of this objective enabled Putin to concentrate power and subdue threats to his authority; and by gaining control over the system generating a set of issues which have been impairing Russia’s economic development ever since.

The panel decided to award two essays in third place. Tatiana Tsvetkova’s essay looked into the issue ‘Has Putin been successful in limiting the role of oligarchs in Russia?’ Tatiana engaged in a cause-and-effect analysis and explained the underlying reasons, which enabled the formation of oligarchs during the economic transformation of the 1990s. The other essay was an investigation by Amy Yates entitled ‘In what sense, if any, are the Russian media free?’ Amy linked development of civil society with access to diversified information and indicated that despite technological advances, the media have remained functioning as a political instrument limiting public inquiry into the informal governance of Putin’s Russia.


For the poster competition students were asked to design research posters on the topic Sport and Russia.

Winning entries




First place was won by Cheryl Tan, who portrayed Russian politics and society as a game of chess. Black knight can completely change the game with one move, yet it is the white player’s turn; what is the future of Russia’s democratic aspirations?

Second place went to Matthew Luongo, who meticulously investigated the intertwined relationship between corruption and sport in the Soviet Union and Russia.

In third place was Eliot Gelberg with his poster comparing Russian football through the lens of Russkie and Rossiiane.

The panel decided to give a special prize to Dayeun Lee, who chose the out-of-the-box approach and created a website about a traditional Russian game Gorodki.

The best eight posters are on display in the UCL SSEES Library until the end of the summer term.


The organisers welcome your feedback. Tweet them: @UCLSSEESLibrary, or email: o.timco.10@ucl.ac.uk.


Photo: from left - Costanza Curro, Matthew Luongo, Eliot Gelberg, Cheryl Tan, Dayeun Lee, Ondrej Timco.