Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hi! I am a political scientist who uses computational methods and experiments to study political behavior. My major region of specialization is post-Soviet space.

I prefer to think that my research mainly focuses on one or several of the following fields:

I plan/hope [insert degree of uncertainty here] to be on the job market in 2025-26.

I am currently working on:

Olga and I are proposing a new approach to understanding why some visuals depicting politics trigger polarized evaluations while others do not. We argue that the key to understanding this puzzle lies in how we analyze these images and what we consider an important analysis unit. Understanding this will improve our prediction of the effect that political images have on perceptions.

We explore how media outlets from different ideological perspectives visually frame a polarizing issue, immigration, and how their target audiences are likely to interpret these frames. We illustrate yet again that media bias is important to study, but this time from the perspective of a visual slant.

We point out an important limitation of studies that use at-scale approaches to address annotator bias. In addition to showing that some biases cannot be addressed, we provide a guide for how to proceed.

By using machine learning tools, I am exploring persistent structural properties of political propaganda canvas that (could) affect persuasion in autocracy. The project is in the data mining phase.

To explain why citizens support or oppose dictatorial leadership, most approaches to studying political behavior and public opinion in autocracies focus on mass explicit preferences. I show that implicit preferences - people's gut attitudes about politics - represent a significant and yet understudied source of citizens' disruptive preferences against the regime and in support of dictators' opponents.

The rest is in my CV.



  1. How Biased Media Generate Support for the Ruling Authorities: Causal Mediation Analysis of Evidence from Russia. European Journal of Communication. 2020. Vol.36. N.2. P.183-200. (PC) (CPP)
  2. When the Party’s Over: Political Blame Attribution under an Electoral Authoritarian Regime. Post-Soviet Affairs. 2020. Vol.36. N.1. P.36-60. (with Margarita Zavadskaya) (CPP)
  3. A Top-down Movement with Grass-Roots Effects? Alexei Navalny’s Electoral Campaign. Social Movement Studies. 2018. Vol.17. N.5. P.618-625. (with Jan Dollbaum and Andrei Semenov) (CPP)

Book chapters

  1. Active Urbanites in an Authoritarian Regime. In: Regina Smyth, Jeremy Morris, Andrei Semenov (eds.): Urban Activism in Contemporary Russia, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (with Jan Dollbaum and Andrei Semenov), 2023. (CPP)
  2. Varieties of Russian Activism: State-society Contestation in Everyday Life. Katie Stewart, Madeline McCann, Carola Neugebauer, Irina Shevtsova, Daniela Zupan, Irina Meyer-Olimpieva, Katherine Hitchcock, John P Burgess, Anna Zhelnina, Anna A Dekalchuk, Ivan S Grigoriev, Eleonora Minaeva, Jan Matti Dollbaum, Guzel Yusupova, Elena Sirotkina. Indiana University Press, 2023. (CPP)

(C) Elena Sirotkina | Ph.D. Candidate, UNC-CH