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Media and the Ukraine Crisis

Hybrid Media Practices and Narratives of Conflict


Edited By Mervi Pantti

How are media and communications transforming armed conflicts? How are conflicts made visible in the media in different national and transnational settings? How does the media serve as a means by which
various actors manage and communicate conflict?

These are some of the questions addressed in this book. Using a variety of disciplinary perspectives and analytical approaches, contributors discuss the complex, multi-level Ukraine conflict as it is imagined and enacted in and through various media. Covering a wide range of media forms and content, including television news, newspapers, PR campaigns, and social media content, they offer new, empirically grounded insight into the ways in which traditional mass media and new media forms are involved in narrating and shaping conflict.

This book is suitable for students of conflict and media courses in journalism, media and communication, politics, security, and Russian and Eastern European studies.

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Chapter Four: The Rhetoric of (Un)Laughter in the Russian-Language Geopolitical Debates on the Ukrainian Crisis


THE Rhetoric OF (Un)Laughter IN THE Russian-Language Geopolitical Debates ON THE Ukrainian Crisis


The French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, has been attentively followed in Russia, where the conservative mainstream accused the weekly of abusing religion and fomenting violence (Hilarion, 2015; Kirill, 2015). For many Russian government supporters, Charlie Hebdo has become an embodiment of Western Europe and its core values of freedom of speech, liberalism and secularism. A new wave of hatred against it was raised in connection with its caricatures of the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 on 31 October 2015, which had mostly Russian citizens on board. Charlie Hebdo’s reaction was called a “sacrilege” by Putin’s spokesmen who publically demonstrated their unlaughter at the caricatures. One of the powerful instances of this unlaughter is the recent presentation of a countercaricature by the deputy of the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament, Valentina Petrenko. Her picture represented a group of people boiling in hell’s cauldron, inscribed “Charlie Hebdo are not people, [they are] monsters [urody]. Hell welcomes Charlie Hebdo.” Characteristically, she illegally used the picture produced by Ukrainian artist Yuri Zhuravel, in which he caricatured former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his team.

This vignette illustrates how easily an antigovernment caricature can be hijacked by Russian officials and retargeted against the laughter they perceive as coming from their tormentor, in this case, the West. The “irony of resistance” has corroded into the “irony of conformism,” aiming at the consolidation of...

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