Twilight of the Gods?: How the Internet Challenged Russian Television News Frames in the Winter Protests of 2011-12
26 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2013
Date Written: June 28, 2013
In the winter of 2011-12, Russian citizens participated in their first large street demonstrations since the early 1990s. This paper looks at a specific element of the internet’s role in these protests by examining different news frames in state-run television news, commercial news, and online content for the protests on December 10, December 24, and February 4. The research finds that state-run news admitted only that people were dissatisfied with the political process, while commercial news and the internet were far more critical of political leaders and the regime. Overall, a ‘war of frames’ emerged, with all of the news sources attempting to either dismiss or support the idea that the protests had significant grass-roots support and represented a legitimate threat to the Putin regime. Online news sources provided not only a broader range of voices and ideas, but also gave important details about the protest events themselves. What emerges from this study is that state-run news will struggle to contain future protests using the same post-Soviet propaganda methods, suggesting that the Russian state will either have to find a more effective way to control information challenges or experience change on the scale of the Arab Spring. This research was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (The Internet and Everyday Rights in Russia, RES-000-22-4159).
Keywords: Russia, internet, protest, winter of discontent
JEL Classification: J30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation