Department of History

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Liudmila Lyagushkina

PhD student,



I am a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, enrolled in an ESRC-funded 1+3 program. During my first year in Nottingham, I completed my MA in Social Science Research.

Since 2012, I have been involved in scholarly research on political repressions in the Soviet Union, primarily at leading Russian universities such as HSE University and Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU). In 2016, I successfully defended my Candidate of Sciences thesis at MSU. My research focused on the statistical social characteristics of the victims of the Great Terror (1937-1938) in the USSR (full text is available here).

After completing my dissertation, I made the decision to pursue a corporate career in communications while continuing as an independent scholar. I collaborated on various projects with distinguished Russian NGOs, including the International Memorial (a 2022 Nobel Prize winner) and the GULAG History Museum.

In September 2020, I enrolled in a one-year program in applied data analytics offered by the European University at Saint Petersburg and Yandex to further enhance my quantitative approach and incorporate analytical methods and tools into my research. This program provided valuable insights into the advanced use of quantitative methods in scientific research, as well as practical skills in tools such as Python, R, and Tableau.

In 2021, I returned to a full-time academic position to further develop my research skills and experience. I joined HSE University as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies (ISPI). There, I worked on the paper on women victims of political repressions.

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Research Summary

Thesis Title: From arrest to arrest: experiences of the re-convicted victims of Stalinist terror in the USSR, 1930-1953

The issue of mass terror under dictatorships has traditionally attracted great attention, and scholars have intensively studied the case of the Soviet Union after the 1990s archival revolution. However, the central question of the exact number of victims of Stalinism is still widely debated. This is, not least, because for precise estimation researchers need to identify the number of so-called 'repeaters' ('povtorniky'), i.e. people arrested multiple times during Stalin's rule.

The proposed research will offer an estimation of the number of 'repeaters'. Their case will also tell a lot about the long-term strategies for survival under totalitarianism. The unique history of over 20 years of Stalinism provides abundant material for a longitudinal study. Finally, the study will enrich the historiography of the state security agencies. It will estimate if the specific ethnicities or social or gender groups of 'repeaters' were disproportionately targeted.

The principal source base for this research is a large-scale online database, Victims of Political Terror in the USSR (Memorial, 2017), which includes more than 3 million short biographies. Additionally, I shall examine a digital collection of terror victims' case files from the Moscow Region from the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF). Methodologically, this research project will use complex data-analytics tools to identify within the database subsequent arrests of the same person with a high degree of probability. For example, machine-learning algorithms will be used to classify victims' social profiles, and georeferencing for tracking changes in victims' places of birth and residence.

My supervisors are Dr. Nick Baron and Prof. Sarah Badcock.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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