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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Crisis Communication under Terrorist Threat: a Case Study of Counterterrorist Operation in Chechnya

P. 193-216.
The dramatic societal changes such as globalisation and information revolution transformed terrorism into a huge security challenge at the turn of the millennium. Modern terrorist groups have access to unprecedented mechanisms of data monitoring, finance collection and recruiting all over the world. Though 9/11 is usually perceived as the dividing line, Russia started experiencing a large-scale terrorism-provoked societal crisis several years before the notorious date. Today’s widespread global terrorism is a product of the informational age because terror is a communication act, a means to transmit messages to the authorities through the mass media and the key audiences. That is why media relations are one of the most important actions in anti-terrorist policy. This paper presents multidisciplinary analysis of terrorism as communication and a social crisis. Most crisis researchers classify terrorism as a crisis of malevolence and a conflict-type crisis. Crisis management expert Paul Shrivastava (2005) qualifies terrorism crisis as a particular crisis type that needs special research and response strategies. This study analyses crisis communication and media relations of the Information Policy Department of the President of Russia for years 2000-2004 during the counterterrorist operation in Chechen Republic. The findings are based on internal governmental documents regulating terrorism-related communication policy. By the year 2000 when the Information Policy Department was created, Chechnya was under the control of terrorist and criminal groups with its own successful propaganda though the Republic was still legally a part of Russia. The Chechen crisis was a large-scale creeping crisis which consisted of different micro-crises such as: terror acts, armed raids, incriminations, rumors and disinformation, social protests. By practicing the principles of speaking with one voice, openness and efficiency the Information Policy Department coped with the crisis and won the confrontation with the terrorists on the information field.