The dangerous Russian other in Ukrainian conspiratorial discourse: Media representations of the Odessa tragedy
This chapter analyzes an anti-Russian conspiratorial discourse within the Ukrainian public sphere in the aftermath of the Euromaidan revolution of 2014. Because it ended with a change of government in Ukraine, the Maidan transformation has provided fertile ground for conspiracy theories of various sorts. However, in contrast to Russian propagandistic constructions, which presented the Maidan as a coup d’etat staged by the West and committed by local neo-Fascists, Ukrainian conspiratorial discourses have not become a popular subject of analysis in academic research. With the aim of contributing to this research area, this chapter discusses how Ukrainian politicians exploit conspiracy theories to incite public fears and shift attention from the internal dimensions of Ukrainian problems to external ones. The case study discussed is the Odessa tragedy that happened on May 2, 2014, when 48 people died as a result of street clashes between two groups of Ukrainians, the opponents and proponents of the Maidan revolution. Using framing analysis, the chapter investigates the coverage of the tragedy by the news programs of three national television networks and Ukraine’s five most popular news websites on May 3 and 4, the two days immediately after the tragedy.
Language policy and usage in the post-communist region have continually attracted wide political, media, and expert attention since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. How are these issues politicized in contemporary Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine? This study presents a cross-cultural qualitative and quantitative analysis of publications in leading Russian-language blogs and news websites of these three post-Soviet states during the period of 2004–2017. The most notable difference observed between Ukraine and the two Baltic countries is that many Russian-writing users in Ukraine’s internet tend to support the position that the state language, i.e. Ukrainian, is discriminated against and needs special protection by the state, whereas the majority of the Russian-speaking commentators on selected Estonian and Latvian news websites advocate for introducing Russian as a second state language. Despite attempts of Ukraine’s government to Ukrainize public space, the position of Ukrainian is still perceived, even by many Russian-writing commentators and bloggers, as being ‘precarious’ and ‘vulnerable’. This became especially visible in debates after the Revolution of Dignity, when the number of supporters of the introduction of Russian as second state language significantly decreased. In the Russian-language sector of Estonian and Latvian news websites and blogs, in contrast, the majority of online users continually reproduce the image of ‘victims’ of nation-building. They often claim that their political, as well as economic rights, are significantly limited in comparison to ethnic Estonians and Latvians. The results of Maksimovtsova’s research illustrate that, notwithstanding differences between the Estonian as well as Latvian cases, on the one hand, and Ukraine, on the other, there is an ongoing process of convergence of debates in Ukraine to those held in the other two countries analyzed in terms of an increased degree of ‘discursive decommunization’ and ‘derussification’.
This study investigates the outburst of anti-Americanism among Russian Internet users during the Russia-Georgia military crisis of 2008. The paper analyzes the discussions of Washington Post articles at the Washington Post Internet forum and the Foreign Media Russian Internet site. This study shows that, despite numerous attempts by Russian users to deliver their messages to the American readers, their postings were ignored by the American users and global dialogue did not occur. It is this exclusion from the conversation, together with the denigration of Russia by writers in the United States that led to the intensification of anti-American sentiments among the Russians. The study makes clear that for the establishment of effective global public spheres access to new communication technologies and knowledge of English are inadequate, unless accompanied by the willingness to listen to others and a desire to understand them.
Media frames have been traditionally extracted via manual content and discourse analysis. Such approach has a limited ability to deal with large text collections and is prone to subjectivity both in terms of text selection and interpretation. We illustrate possibilities and limitations of topic modeling for frame detection applying this method to a collection of 50,000 news items related to the Ukrainian crisis and retrieved from a Russian and a Ukrainian TV channels websites. We conclude that although topic modeling results allow to make assumptions about how topic is framed it is still not as precise as human reading of texts.
Exploring the ways in which language and conflict are intertwined and interrelated, this volume examines the patterns of public discourse in Ukraine and Russia since the beginning of the Ukrainian Crisis in 2014. It investigates the trends in language aggression, evaluation, persuasion and other elements of conflict communication related to the situation. Through the analysis of the linguistic features of salient discourses and prevalent narratives constructed by different social groups, Language of Conflict reflects competing worldviews of various stakeholders in this conflict and presents multiple, often contradictory, visions of the circumstances. Contributors from Ukraine, Russia and beyond investigate discursive representations of the most important aspects of the crisis: its causes and goals, participants and the values and ideologies of the opposing factions. They focus on categorization, stance, framing, (de)legitimation, manipulation and coping strategies while analysing the ways in which the stress produced by social discord, economic hardship, and violence shapes public discourse. Primarily focusing on informal communication and material gathered from online sources, the collection provides insight into the ways people directly affected by the crisis think about and respond to it. The volume acknowledges the communicators' active role in constructing the (often incompatible) discursive images of the conflict and concentrates on the conscious and strategic use of linguistic resources in negative and aggressive communication.
Miscommunicating Social Change analyzes the discourses of three social movements and the alternative media associated with them, revealing that the Enlightenment narrative, though widely critiqued in academia, remains the dominant way of conceptualizing social change in the name of democratization in the post-Soviet terrain. The main argument of this book is that the “progressive” imaginary, which envisages progress in the unidirectional terms of catching up with the “more advanced” Western condition, is inherently anti-democratic and deeply antagonistic. Instead of fostering an inclusive democratic process in which all strata of populations holding different views are involved, it draws solid dividing frontiers between “progressive” and “retrograde” forces, deepening existing antagonisms and provoking new ones; it also naturalizes the hierarchies of the global neocolonial/neoliberal power of the West. Using case studies of the “White Ribbons” social movement for fair elections in Russia (2012), the Ukrainian Euromaidan (2013–2014), and anti-corruption protests in Russia organized by Alexei Navalny (2017) and drawing on the theories of Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Nico Carpetntier, this book shows how “progressive” articulations by the social movements under consideration ended up undermining the basis of the democratic public sphere through the closure of democratic space.
Drawing on the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985), this chapter discusses how the popular memes ‘jumper’, ‘kolorad,’ ‘maidown,’ ‘panhead’, ‘sovok’, ‘and vatnik’, which had been created or activated during the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine, contributed to the intensification of its internal social conflict. To analyze how these and similar significations deepened old societal divisions and created new ones, the chapter refers to Nico Carpentier’s theory (2017) of the Discursive-Material Knot (DMK) and its conceptualization of the antagonistic discourse characterized by three nodal points: (1) the radical difference of the enemy, (2) homogenization of the self as opposed to the enemy, and (3) the need for destruction of the enemy. Analyzing discussions of the Maidan and its developments by Ukrainian users of Facebook, the chapter argues that all three points of Carpentier’s antagonistic discourse were evident in the ‘anti-other’ discourses of both pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan Facebook users.
This paper examines how selected Ukrainian news media - three television channels, one newspaper, and one Internet site - framed the nation's political crisis of 2000-2001. Dominant media frames and framing devices were identified through content analysis of 829 news stories. Frames were compared across these news outlets as well as across different time periods to analyze the role of framing in public deliberation. The study revealed the strong influence of ideology in the way that different Ukrainian media framed controversy and thus distorted the deliberative process. The two main patters of framing included overt propaganda and hidden manipulation. Metaphors and depictions that exploited cultural values and past political events were the dominant framing devices identified.
It has been argued that the advent of transnational media technologies leads to the formation of a global public sphere. By means of framing analysis, this article examines whether signs of global public deliberation were present in American and Ukrainian media coverage of the Russia-Georgia military conflict of 2008. To embrace the range of ideas presented in the Ukrainian and American public spheres, several popular national dailies and weeklies were selected for analysis. The study has revealed notable difference in ways American and Ukrainian media defined the crisis, interpreted its causes, and recommended treatment. American periodicals predominantly blamed Russia and meditated upon the possibility of deterring it by means of NATO expansion. Ukrainian news outlets, depending on their cultural orientation, destributed blame between Russia and Georgia, the United States, and entire Western world. Neither of Ukrainian periodicals considered NATO membership as a remedy against Russian aggressiveness. The study has revealed that pro-Russian views popular in Ukraine were ignored by American media, opinions of pro-Russian publics were excluded from the war-related American discourse.