It was a shock for her when Russian troops entered Ukraine on 24 February 2022. As a political scientist in Russia, she had always been critical of the political regime in her country. Nevertheless, the invasion of Ukraine came unexpectedly for her. It was immediately obvious to her that she could not stand idly by: “I have never been a public person, nor have I made political statements. But I'm a university professor. I could not help expressing my attitude to what was happening to the students, some of whom were also supporters of the official point of view.” She signed several letters of protest. And, being familiar with the dynamics of the development of political regimes, she subsequently decided to leave the country together with her husband. She did not want to live permanently in fear and have to lie. Since their flight, their worst fears have been confirmed and even exceeded: “Honest academic research in my area of interest as well as teaching, which I have been doing for more than 30 years and which I love very much, have become impossible.” In Mannheim, however, she will be able to continue her research as a member of the “RISS” research group.
The researcher and her husband received help from friends who also put them in touch with researchers in her field of expertise at the University of Mannheim. Professor Richard Traunmüller, co-spokesperson of the research group and holder of the Chair of Political Science and Empirical Democracy Research at the University of Mannheim, submitted a supplementary proposal to the German Research Foundation (DFG), which has now been approved. The RISS research project focuses on the potential impact of social change: Will the socio-structural mixing of people with different group affiliations lead to more societal integration? Or is the opposite the case and identification with society will decrease? To explore the various hypotheses, the researchers combine social structural analysis and political sociology. The project started in the fall of 2021 and will be funded by the DFG for an initial period of four years. The Mannheim branch of the research group is based at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES).