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«… и печенеги её терзали, и половцы. Со всем справилась Россия. Победим и эту заразу коронавирусную!». How Twitter makes fun of Putin’s communicative management of the coronavirus crisis article

Nadine Thielemann

Die Welt der Slaven, Volume 67 (2022), Issue 1, Page 91 - 120

The paper shows how Russian netizens make use of social media in order to criticize political communication, political projects, and the political and economic elite including President Putin. Using the example of a video speech by Putin in which he compares fighting the pandemic with Slavs’ struggles with their medieval foes, the Polovtsians and Pechenegs, a multimodal discourse analysis of tweets referring to this comparison shows how Twitter is turned into a communicative platform for criticism. The critical stance, however, is predominantly conveyed playfully and relies on intertextuality, interdiscursivity and various forms of irony (e.g. based on the dissociative rendition of stylistic or discursive features and quotes). Furthermore, several Internet memes emerge which playfully refer to the historical comparison. In this way, Russian netizens combine the indirectness of irony, and the bisociation of meanings and contexts characterizing these strategies, with the technical affordances of social media, thus allowing for sampling or remixing but also mere enjoyment of multimodal content. In the context of the discourse, these resources are turned into a tool for protest. The analysis thus also contributes to the discussion of social media’s role in the Russian media landscape.

This article is written in English.

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