Research Portfolio Post #7: Qualitative Data Sources 2

“The Extraterritorial Gap” refers to the lack of literature and analysis on extraterritorial state power and specifically practices of transnational repression.[1]Political scientist Dana M. Moss demonstrates how states exercise coercive power across borders in her comparative case study of Libyan and Syrian exile communities and encourages further research into other states, including Russia and the other former Soviet Republics.[2]

Scholars have argued that the extensive Soviet history of eliminating “traitors” abroad has been inherited by the Russian Federation. [3] This form of transnational repression has also been borrowed by a number of other post-Soviet states, including Uzbekistan.[4]My research aims to explain the Soviet tendency to export repression across sovereign borders and the inheritance of such policies by its successor states. Specifically, my dependent variable is operationalized as the intensity of extraterritorial repression (low, medium, or high) by a former Soviet state in comparison to the USSR (high). In other words, the specific outcome I seek to explain is the inheritance of a Soviet “wetwork” policy by former Soviet states and the different levels of intensity of this form of extraterritorial repression.

Previously classified KGB materials reveal the importance that successive Soviet leaders attached to “liquidating” traitors. [5]From 1972 to 1984, intelligence officer Vasily Mitrokhin took extensive manuscript notes of KGB operations all around the globe. [6]Another important primary source I plan to use is a declassified CIA report from 1964 that chronicles the policies and techniques of the KGB’s special liquidation operations, also known as “wetwork” (Mokryee Dela). [7]The report outlines the various methods, organizational aspects, techniques, types of targets, and overall trends of USSR extraterritorial repression. [8]This basic structure of the report offers various indicators of the operationalization and intensity of Soviet repression abroad.

I plan on borrowing a similar classifying procedure and using various primary and secondary sources to inform my own observations. Reports from Amnesty International and the Foreign Policy Centre are especially helpful in informing the techniques and targets of extraterritorial repression by the former Soviet States. [9]Additionally, the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database charts the extra-territorial security measures deployed by Central Asian states — more than 75 % of which relate to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.[10]The dataset delineates four categories of exiles and three stages of extra-territorial security: put on notice through Interpol, arrest and/or detention, rendition and/or attacks.[11]


[1]Emmanuela Dalmasso, et al., “Intervention: Extraterritorial Authoritarian Power,” Political Geography (2017), p. 1:

[2]Dana M. Moss, “Transnational Repression, Diaspora Mobilization, and the Case of The Arab Spring,” Social Problems, Volume 63, Issue 4, 1 November 2016, p.494

[3]Calder, Walton. “Russia Has a Long History of Eliminating ‘Enemies of the State’.” The Washington Post. March 13, 2018. Accessed October 29, 2018.

[4]David Lewis “Illiberal Spaces:” Uzbekistan’s extraterritorial security practices and the spatial politics of contemporary authoritarianism,” Nationalities Papers, 43:1, (January 2015) p. 140-159

[5]Ibid, Walton

[6]Vasiliy Mitrokhin, “The Papers of Vasiliy Mitrokhin.” Churchill Archives Centre MITN, Accessed October 29, 2018. The Mitrokhin Archive documents can be accessed through this website portal and all of the documents are in Russian.

[7]Central Intelligence Agency, “Soviet Use of Assassination and Kidnapping” CIA Historical Review Program, Written. Feb. 1964, Declassified Sept. 1993, September 28th, 2018.


[9]Amnesty International, “Return to Torture: Extradition, Forcible Returns, and Removals to Central Asia,”July 2013, Accessed Oct. 28, 2018: As well as — Adam Hug, The Foreign Policy compiled a report: “No Shelter: The harassment of Activists Abroad by Intelligence Services from the Former Soviet Union,” The Foreign Policy Centre , Nov. 2016 Accessed Oct. 28, 2018:

[10]Database of known Central Asian political exiles (CAPE), Exeter Central Asian Studies Network, Accessed Oct. 26:

[11]John Heathershaw, Rosa Brown, and Eve Bishop, “Practices and Patterns of Extraterritorial Security: Introducing the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) Database.”The Foreign Policy Centre. November 21, 2016. Accessed Oct. 29, 2018:

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2 thoughts on “Research Portfolio Post #7: Qualitative Data Sources

  • Avatar
    Milena Bozovic

    Hi Tina–

    I sympathize with the fact that you have this “The Extraterritorial Gap” to deal with that makes gathering data for your particular topic a little challenging, but think you’ve done a great job in identifying some primary sources that will help you generate your own data. I like how the sources you mention in your post deal with both dimensions of your puzzle, the Soviet extraterritorial repression and the inheritance of a Soviet “wetwork” policy by former Soviet states (with the Walton and Mitrokhin pieces dealing with the USSR side and the Amnesty International and CAPE data dealing with former Soviet states).

    I would be interested in hearing what cases you’ve established as possibilities for your small-n study. Because the max number of cases possible in the context of your project (15 former Soviet states) is already a ind of smaller number, you’ll probably have to tease out smaller differences in potential cases. How would you do this? Basically, how would you narrow the cases down? What would your criteria be for a “good case” in the context of your puzzle? Something you might consider when in the process of selecting your small-n cases, is how does the data you put forth above engage with those selections? Would they pass as low, medium, or high intensity of extraterritorial repression by a former Soviet state?

    Your topic is incredibly interesting and complex–I look forward to seeing how your project evolves, and what you come to find.


  • Avatar
    Dr. Boesenecker

    Tina — overall you’ve done a good job here discussing both data sources and the preliminary operationalization for your DV. The potential values of low/medium/high would seem to work well, so the next question would then be what questions you would ask of the data in order to determine that value in a given case (similar to the operationalization process that Howard uses)? I would also echo Milena’s question regarding particular cases: which ones have you identified (tentatively) for analysis and what value does the DV take in those cases?