The Language of War : Framing Enemy Images in Russian Online Media

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Title: The Language of War : Framing Enemy Images in Russian Online Media
Author: Datsko, Oleh-Semen
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern Languages 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Fonetiikka (puheviestinnän linja)
Phonetics (Speech Communication)
Fonetik (talkommunikationslinjen)
Abstract: This Master's thesis examines the language manipulations used by Russian online media to create enemy images that are essential for justifying armed aggression. The study explores the issues emerging in the discourse on information warfare and mass-manipulation in the context of the conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The purpose of this research is to explore how and why Russian state-funded media used the rhetorics to influence the audience's attitudes towards Ukraine as a state and Ukrainians as a nation, and to evaluate if such manipulation can be recognized as propaganda. This study addresses the gap in current knowledge on a rhetorical angle of enemy creation in Russian online media. This research is the first to apply the theoretical concepts of enemy images and propaganda devices to the process model of framing research developed by Dietram A. Scheufele. This theoretical approach allowed to address the framing of enemy images by state propaganda. The empirical data of this research consists of sixteen online publications from two state-funded media organizations in Russia: international network RT and the information agency Rossiya Segodnia, which includes subsidiaries RIA Novosti and Sputnik. Rhetorical frame analysis was applied in this research. The in-depth critical nature allowed to identify the key elements and techniques of enmity framing in the analyzed publications. The findings of this study confirm the hypothesis that the Russian state-funded online media indeed do work as a body of state propaganda. As earlier research suggests, they did play a crucial role in the info-warfare campaigns preceding and during Russian military operations in Crimea and Donbas by manipulating and distorting information to frame Kremlin's agenda, creating and reinforcing enemy images, spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories that resonated with the state's position. This research contributes to the pool of investigations that expose a strong Kremlin's commitment to information warfare on many fronts. It confirms that the creation of enemy images is vital for the justification of military aggression. Lastly, it proves that even though modern state propaganda is a highly sophisticated, data-driven powerhouse, on a rhetorical level, it still uses the same techniques as 100 years ago.
Subject: Russia
Ukrainian Crisis
Rhetorical Framing Analysis
Enemy Images
Enmity Transfer
Information Warfare
Language of War
Rossiya Segodnia
RIA Novosti
Radio Sputnik

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