RUSSIA’S WAR ON UKRAINE
A special series of six online events co-hosted by:
· Melbourne Eurasianist Seminar Series at the University of Melbourne;
· Ukrainian Studies Foundation in Australia;
· Ukrainian Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand
Part III: “Propaganda”
Friday 27 May 2022, 5:00 p.m. AEST
This session will feature:
· Professor Natalia Chaban (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
· Dr Julie Fedor (The University of Melbourne)
· Dr Robert Horvath (La Trobe University)
· Dr Volodymyr Kulyk (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)
This event will take place online via Zoom; all are welcome.
You can register for this event via this link.
Registration is free, but attendees who wish to support Ukraine may make a donation to one of the appeals endorsed by the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstracts and Speaker Bios
Mapping Information Flows in Ukraine, Russia and the World: Political Communication at Times of War
Professor Natalia Chaban
February 24, 2022 – the day of the Russian Federation’s military assault on Ukraine – marks a watershed in the geopolitical history of the 21st century. This presentation will dissect flows of information in Ukraine, Russia and the world which came to life after the start of the war. In focus is the interplay of the information projection properties which are argued to create powerful narratives for domestic and international audiences – accentuation of content, its contextualisation through historical and cultural resonance, narrative tactics and emotive charge.
Professor Natalia Chaban focuses her interdisciplinary research on cognitive and semiotic aspects of political and media discourses, image and perceptions studies within the EU and IR contexts, and public diplomacy and political communication. Natalia widely publishes including articles in high impact journals such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, Cooperation and Conflict, Journal of European Integration, Foreign Policy Analysis, Mobilities, Comparative European Politics. Professor Chaban is a twice awarded Jean Monnet Chair, President of Ukrainian Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand, Director of the Public Diplomacy and Political Communication Forum at the University of Canterbury, co-editor of the peer-reviewed Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies and leader of a number of transnational research projects supported by the European Commission, European External Action Service/Foreign Policy Instrument of the EC, and NATO. Several of her research projected focus on Ukraine-EU relations.
The Figure of the “Sacrificial Victim” in Russian State Propaganda
Dr Julie Fedor
This presentation will explore a key but hitherto under-examined trope in Russian state propaganda: the figure of the sakral’naia zhertva (a phrase that might be glossed as ‘sacred victim’ or ‘sacrificial victim’). The notion that enemies of the Russian state routinely commit acts of ‘human sacrifice’ which are then blamed on the Putin regime and used to generate revolutionary moods in society plays an important role in state-promoted conspiracy theories about how the world ‘really’ works. The presentation will consider some examples of this phenomenon, as well as seeking to show how it fits in with broader patterns and strategies of victim-blaming in Russian state propaganda, including in the framing of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Dr Julie Fedor is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. She obtained her PhD in History at King’s College, Cambridge. She is the author of Russia and the Cult of State Security: The Chekist Tradition from Lenin to Putin (Routledge 2011); co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity Press 2012); co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan 2013); and contributing co-editor of Memory, Conflict and New Media: Web Wars in Post-Socialist States (Routledge 2013) and War and Memory in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (Palgrave Macmillan 2017). Since 2015 she has been General Editor of the Journal of Soviet & Post-Soviet Politics & Society (www.jspps.eu).
The Rise of Dmitrii Steshin: How a Neo-Nazi became Russia’s Most Celebrated War Correspondent
Dr Robert Horvath
This paper examines the meteoric career of Dmitrii Steshin, a leading pro-Kremlin propagandist and perhaps the most prominent neo-nazi in the Russian media today. Steshin was a key member of Russkii Obraz, a Moscow-based neo-nazi organisation that advocated an apartheid-style regime and celebrated racist violence. In 2008-9, Russkii Obraz became part of the Kremlin’s ‘managed nationalism,’ an attempt to mobilise nationalist extremists against the anti-Putin opposition. This relationship collapsed after the FSB exposed the relationship of Russkii Obraz to BORN, a terrorist organisation responsible for a series of politically motivated murders. Despite being closely connected to BORN’s leader, Steshin avoided prosecution and his career flourished. As the star correspondent of the mass-circulation tabloid Komsomol’skaya Pravda, Steshin has been showered with accolades for his coverage of Russian military interventions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. This paper illuminates the connections between Steshin’s neo-nazi sympathies and his role as a propagandist for Putin’s wars.
Dr Robert Horvath is a specialist on Russian politics. His most recent book is Putin’s Fascists: Russkii Obraz and the Politics of Managed Nationalism in Russia (Routledge, 2021). It examines the relationship between the Putin regime and Russkii Obraz, a neo-nazi organization that became a major force on Russia’s radical nationalist scene in 2008-10. He is also the author of Putin’s ‘Preventive Counter-Revolution’ (Routledge, 2013), a study of the programme of reforms and repression that transformed the face of Russian politics during Vladimir Putin’s second term as president.
Russian Propaganda Narratives in Western Academic and Think Tank Publications on Russian-Ukrainian Conflict before the Full-Blown Invasion
Dr Volodymyr Kulyk
One way propaganda affects public opinion is through the incorporation of its narratives into academic and think tank publications which, in turn, influence media coverage of the respective topics. While most studies of the impact of Russian propaganda on Western societies have focused on mass media and politics, less attention has been paid to how its perspectives are adopted by scholars and policy analysts. Based on a systematic analysis of texts produced by academics and think tank analysts in seven Western countries in 2014-2019, we have identified six key narratives of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict starting with the annexation of Crimea and the instigation of separatist outburst in the Donbas. Most of these narratives proposed some kind of compromise with Russia rather than deterrence thereof, a preference partly accountable for Western politicians’ reluctance to strongly support Ukraine and help it prepare for the current full-blown invasion.
Dr Volodymyr Kulyk is a Head Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He has also taught at Columbia, Stanford and Yale Universities, Kyiv Mohyla Academy and Ukrainian Catholic University as well as having research fellowships at Harvard, Stanford, Woodrow Wilson Center, University College London, University of Alberta and other Western scholarly institutions. His research fields include the politics of language, memory and identity as well as political and media discourse in contemporary Ukraine, on which he has widely published in Ukrainian and Western journals and collected volumes. His latest book is Movna polityka v bahatomovnykh kraïnakh: Zakordonnyi dosvid ta ioho prydatnist’ dlia Ukraïny (Language Policies in Multilingual Countries: Foreign Experience and Its Relevance to Ukraine; forthcoming from the Ukrainian published Dukh i Litera in May 2021).