Representations of otherness in Russian newspapers: the theme of migration as a counterpoint to Russian national identity
(University of Wales, Bangor, UK)
(St Petersburg State University, RF)
This article examines the coverage of migration topics in a selection of Russian newspapers with nationwide circulations. Based on analysis of the output of RG, KP, K and NG in the first six months of 2005 it responds to the question: how does the Russian national press represent people and features which are significantly different from so-called Russian character and national identity?
The analysis is based on three main themes: immigration, the national project, and Russians abroad. The coverage of immigration addresses issue of Russian and Russian-speaking minorities; immigrants, refugees and displaced persons on territories of Russia; and labour force decline and brain drain from the Russian Federation. Discourse on migration is conducted within the framework of the developed national project on construction of a new identity for Russia and Russians. The national project is expressed in terms of the consolidation of Russian society and unified values. The characteristics of Russians in the context of Europe forms one of the most significant themes in every newspaper, whether the stories are told from the point of view of the state or ordinary people. Oligarchs, sports personalities, children of the wealthy are considered to be the new, but problematic, faces of Russia:
The conclusion is that representatives of others who differ significantly in terms of language and culture from Russians, or who are territorial outsiders, are represented in the press in three main ways. Firstly, there is the understanding in terms of traditional ties to sisters and brothers from the fifteen Soviet republics. Secondly, there is a predominantly aggressive stance towards those who are seen as not wanting to assimilate or not wanting to engage with Russia and regard it as to the older brother. Representations of the Chinese and the Baltic states fit this category. Finally, there is a conditional response, mainly in relation to stories of Russians abroad in Europe or North America, about the interactions between Russian and non-Russian. When the question of Russian national identity surfaces, there is a consistent message but differently articulated according to the diversity of the Russian press.
This article examines the coverage of migration topics in a selection of Russian newspapers with nationwide circulations. The choice of topic reflects the growing significance of migration issues in contemporary Russian society and their importance in current politics. President Putins state of the nation address in 2004 included reference to questions of immigration in the recent period. He set a target to double Russian gross national product. But it became apparent that it would be impossible to achieve because of the lack of labor force. Immigration is one of the ways to improve the supply of labour. In the press we find discussion of the possibility of easing barriers to immigration from the East, but there is a strong fear of uncontrollable inflow. Putin is also concerned with a question of the depopulation of Russia. In 2004-05 maternity benefits on a birth of the child were increased twice.
Recent press coverage provides rich material for the analysis of representations of Russians and others, including attitudes towards Russians in the countries of the CIS, explanations for migration, how development can accommodate new forms of diversity and how the authorities promote Russian national identity at home and abroad. The Duma Defence Committee proposed revising the content of the school curriculum to include lessons in patriotism based on military-style discipline while others have proposed including an introduction to Russian Orthodoxy. Some articles question the identity of wealthy new Russians who carry the image of Russia abroad. This image is disliked by the state and causes much indignation among ordinary people. The president is clearly concerned about questions of national identity of Russia and Russians. For example, the television channel Russia Today, financed from the state budget, was created in 2005 to promote a positive image of Russia in the West. (This channel is under construction yet.)
The representation of social differences is challenging for journalists in Russia because of the major new population movements, restructuring of social hierarchies, and internationalization of labour markets since perestroika. It is also a question of institutional changes which have transformed the practices of journalism in the post-Soviet period, notably the realignments of the political, economic and journalistic fields since the early 1990s.
The press in Russia is increasingly politically dependent and economically vulnerable and this is likely to be reflected in the representations of the powerful and the powerless. P. Bourdieu makes sense of this in his discussion of the principles of vision and division which are determined by society become our mental structures and which are the typical forms and representational practices used to represent difference in popular culture today.
Where do these popular figures and stereotypes come from? How are they linked to the sources of power, and how are they changing during the transformation of Russian society? Migration in this context refers to the mobility of all groups in the population from their places of origin. Clearly, it includes legal and illegal labour migration, for example from the former Soviet republics to Russian cities. It also includes the relocation of Russian entrepreneurs (oligarchs and others) and their businesses outside the country, creating new diasporas. Some migration follows more established patterns, such as the mass emigrations of Jews to Israel or ethnic Germans to Germany. In each case, the representation of migration and mobility articulates categories of otherness. Representation of otherness through the migration topic is the reverse side or counterpoint to the process of the construction of the Russian national identity, which itself is a complex composite of traditional, Soviet, post-Soviet and even postmodern ideas. The question posed is: how does the Russian national press represent people and features which are significantly different from so-called Russian character and national identity?
Our understanding of representation broadly follows the work of Stuart Hall and others who interpret the process as a discursive practice in a cultural circuit involving institutional processes, forms of language and repertoires of meaning .
However, the theoretical assumptions based on S. Hall need to be adapted to the fluidity of contemporary Russian conditions. The assumptions also need to recognize the active, state-sponsored, national project to create a self-image for the society as a whole to overcome the crisis of national identity in conditions of political and economic instability, migration and transformation of culture. It cannot be taken for granted that there is a stock of ready-made representations or that existing categories are adequate to interpret new forms. For example, there have been multiple representations of new Russians since the expression first appeared in the late 1980s and it still has no fixed meaning after more than 15 years. The process of reducing attributes to simple ciphers and caricature is common: gold bracelets and shiny (raspberry colour) jackets signify new Russians. But there is more than this in the creation of the spectacle of the others. The analysis also draws on the recent works on the representation of ethnicity, race and social differences. The article, then, builds on a cognitive-constructivist paradigm which means, that people form circuits of perception and estimation, therefore actions too, through a discourse and not in the final instance through mass-media influence. Thus some of the movement is from below, as the form of adaptation to chaos. On the other hand it is spread from above as ideology, a method of control and manipulation. Media discourse is important both for what it reveals about these circuits and because it also itself contributes to the character of society by mobilizing understandings, anxieties and fears.
The press sample and method of analysis
The analysis is based on reporting in the four of the most popular Russian newspapers in the six month period between 1 January and 30 June 2005, namely Kommersant, Komsomolskaia Pravda, Rossiiskaia Gazeta, an Novaia Gazeta. They are all papers with national circulations, daily publication (except for Novaia Gazeta which appears twice a week), and comparable size. They have contrasting ownership, editorial policies, readership and differing emphasis on migration topics which makes for interesting comparisons.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta (www.rg.ru) has been the official newspaper of the government of the Russian Federation since1990. It publishes official documents, proceedings and decrees. It also contains news, reports and interviews with statesmen and informed commentary on documents. According to sociological surveys it is read by adults who take a balanced view and inclined to be conservative. It gives a politically correct view on questions of migration. This is an ideal model of interpretation of events from the point of view of the federal government.
Kommersant (published since 1992) is the leading newspaper for business (www.kommersant.ru), generally adopting a line that is critical of government and interested in business and political corruption. Its editorial policy is to promote the free market. In the typical phrase used in other media, Kommersant defends the feudal Byzantine corrupt style of business a la Berezovsky not surprisingly, given the proprietorial influence of Berezovsky, an oligarch in exile. However, the emphasis on business freedom does not necessarily mean support for every entrepreneur or all forms of business.
Komsomolskaya Pravda (www.kp.ru ) is the successor to the original Komsomolskaya Pravda published in 1925. It was relaunched with a new format in 1999 and in recent times it has become a populist newspaper, concentrating on everyday life and appeals to ordinary experience, tending to reflect and shape mass perception. More often than the other titles, it uses binary distinctions in texts about migration and tends to reflect as well as shape mass perception.
Novaia Gazeta (www.novayagazeta.ru), established in 1993, is oppositional to the government and the official press. It is pro-Western, advocating a civilized, democratic style of a politics. Its staff come from a wide variety of backgrounds and it has a reputation for independent journalism.
These are the general characteristics and editorial positions of the newspapers in the sample. However, our main purpose is to identify the representations of Russian national identity through stories of migration. A number of themes relevant to migration were covered in every newspaper. For example, there was frequent coverage of refugees from the north Caucasus and Beslan, of the life of oligarchs, and relations with the Baltic countries Other themes do not appear in each title but reflect the particular editorial emphasis whether official or oppositional to mainstream politics. Newspapers may use the same stereotypical representations, but from different perspectives, and negative or positive estimations of the same phenomenon. Kommersant gives most attention to Russian migrants, namely those who are connected to business and occupy important positions. The business of Russians abroad (oligarchs) is a central theme, occurring in every issue and sometimes several times. (Articles appear reflecting important happenings e.g. very popular theme concerns acquisitions of Russian companies, often means oligarchs, abroad. Special column on oligarchs lifestyles caused annoyance among readers, rich and poor) Komsomolskaya Pravda contains the least amount on migration issues but published two special issues on the subject during this period.
Using article headlines and summaries as the initial sample, the texts from the online database for each newspaper was examined for content connected with migration issues (not limited to keywords). The effect was to exclude the majority of business, cultural and sports pages. The most relevant articles were readily identified by content referring to refugees, migration, immigrants etc. But others were identified by economic problems connected with the changing labour force or the politics of the Russian Federation in relation to the CIS countries. A major article in RG is likely to trigger articles on the same theme in other newspapers, so certain key themes are represented by significant coverage in all four newspapers in the sample: for example, Beslan refugees and oligarchs abroad. The coverage of other stories reflects the editorial position and emphasis of the newspaper. Thus NG has more emphasis on stories about Chechnya and relations with the Baltic countries. Not surprisingly for a business newspaper, K paid a great deal of attention to the Yukos story and the Khodorkovsky case which reached its climax at the end of the sample period. NG also prioritized this story (with a dedicated column) but from a political perspective. Labour market and migration issues figure most prominently in the RG and KP. Our analysis of migration theme is based on a selection of article that reflect the interest in broad areas. It is not an attempt to carry out a systematic content analysis.
Following S.Hall (ref.) we allocate 3 approaches of stereotyping: The first is the reduction of everything about the person to certain traits, exaggerating and simplifying them. The second is the strategy of splitting which divides the normal and the acceptable from the abnormal and the unacceptable. This feature of stereotyping symbolically fixes boundaries and sets up a symbolic frontier between insiders and outsiders, Us and Them. It facilitates the bonding together of all of Us who are normal into one imagined community and it sends the others into symbolic exile. Thirdly, stereotyping tends to occur where there are gross inequalities of power. The domination and classification of subordinates is then linked to domination. Power is usually directed against the subordinate or excluded group.
Within stereotyping, then, there is a connection between representation, difference and power. In the framework of media discourse the text will not reveal power in terms of direct physical coercion or constraint but we can discover power in representation of someone or something in a certain way; power to mark, assign and classify; of symbolic power; of ritualized expulsion. Symbolic power, symbolic violence in some cases, becomes visible through representational practices. We now consider this discourse from the point of view of three areas of representation. They engage with the hierarchy of power at different levels and with different protagonists.
Immigration in the popular press
According Rossiiskaya Gazeta and pro-state Komsomolskaya Pravda, the Russian government is currently facing the following problems: policies towards those countries, in which there are Russian and Russian-speaking minorities; immigrants, refugees and displaced persons on territories of Russia; and labour force decline and brain drain from the Russian Federation.
Komsomolskaya Pravda published two special issues on Migration (Will Russia be empty of Russians? on the 4th and 6th May 2005. The first text is devoted to depopulation and the second is on the new labour force. These issues provide interesting copy for research on representations. They include dramatic examples of techniques of manipulation used by journalists. For this reason we begin the analysis of journalists techniques of covering and stereotyping migrant groups with these articles. It is useful to identify techniques in the popular press in order to be alerted to their more veiled form in the other newspapers. The first issue poses the question: who will be living on the territory of the Russian Federation by the mid 21st century? It reports that demographic forecasts give grounds for anxiety. The text creates a climate of fear through its vocabulary (the problem is urgent and accelerating); through the use of subheadings which invoke a future horror with allusions to childrens folklore (horrible future is used in 5 subheadings in the first issue, 2 in the second); and the suggestion that, improbable though it might be, the nightmare could come true. The scientific information is attributed to UN sources (which show the largest exporters of labour to RF as Armenia in first place, then Azerbaijan and Georgia. It concludes These ideas might be thought to be the invention of a Russian nationalist but unfortunately, not absolutely. The article demonstrates the concept of Russian identity as being under threat from itself and from dilution by immigration. The causes are not attributed to the economic reform process or to state policies. Instead the high male death rate is attributed to drink and women are blamed for not choosing to have children.
The Immigration special issue equates immigrants with Islam (ref. Edward Said Covering Islam). Russia is depicted as being half way between xenophobic Europe and cosmopolitan America because it has a history of managing multiple nationalities. We are the Russian state and society; immigrants are they, outside. The commentary is not an analysis of specific migrant phenomena but is more like a re-statement of the problems with causes and blame. Stylistically, the article uses repetition and exaggeration. Grammatically it adopts the present tense and imperative mood. It imitates dialogue by using question and answer sequences, with accentuation in the form of alternatives without a choice. The main conclusion, echoing the frequent exhortations of the Russian president, is that we all have to work and we should accept and legalize the position of Russians from the CIS countries. It is implied that those unwilling to assimilate through language and culture remain outsiders. The article shows that population/migration issues are approached from the perspective of Russian national identity. In this respect Komsomolskaya Pravda has some similarities with Rossiiskaya Gazeta but with a populist emphasis.
The construction of the text can be understood by analogy with transaction analysis (ref. E Berne) in psychology which represents the mental structure of the person in terms of three components (the child - the parent the adult). Applying this idea, the text is constructed as a conversation with the child being addressed by the parent (teacher). Such monological conversation assumes both passivity of the child who should not think, but needs to obey, and full awareness and confidence of the correctness of the parent. An adult conversation assumes an appeal to common sense, reasoning, and argument. In this text we find instead childish emotions and feelings on the one hand, and values of the parent on the other, which aspire to raise the level of moral behaviour, one of the characteristic features of Soviet pedagogy. The feelings we encounter are fear, pain, hopelessness, frustration, despair, melancholy, and envy. For example, it is hurtful (to be just one of a number of nationalities), we cant avoid it (our future), look at the USA (there is a chance to match its success). The article suggests that the future may be shaped by something stirring in the public consciousness, not yet recognizable. The parent or teachers voice teaches (I assure you ), defines limits (it would be desirable to warn of attempts), intimidates (miracles generally do not happen, meaning that you should not hope that the problem will go away), convinces and gives instructions (it is enough that, for this it is necessary, compare, consider), forces (it all becomes more and more difficult), explains (the reasons are as follows), and summarizes (so, first, second).
The article creates an appearance of adult conversation, for example, through references to experts and sources. However, they are not defined and there is no adult dialogue in the text. Argument is replaced with expressions such as everyone knows, the answer is obvious, the answer has been familiar for a long time , and as usual. The presence of visual material in the form of charts and colour illustrations works in a similar way, leaving unanswered questions about the contents (for example why there are no Kirghiz migrants in the list of migrant worker groups). The story resembles a moral tale told by the teacher, familiar in its narrative and injunctions. But in this case, after generating the tension of a dilemma (working harder or having more children; raising pensionable age or accepting immigrants) the writer does not offer a resolution. In fact, the basic metaphor revealed by analysis of the vocabulary is an impasse or deadlock which all actors in the story must attempt to overcome.
In response to the question in the title: Will Russia be empty of Russians? Russia is taken to mean the human resource of those who possess Russian language and culture. Those who introduce another's language, another's customs, isolation of national communities, disrespect for the district which is sheltering them cannot be accepted, according to the purpose given in the text, which is the preservation of Russian people on whom the state stands. It becomes clear that the author has been assigned or has chosen to write, not that citizenship is a question of birth, but a question of culture and fidelity to the national idea of the state, as declared in official statements. The parental voice in the text explains how Russian culture and language are essential for national identity through an appeal to the historical evidence that the Russian nation was initially formed from an amalgam of tribes and that at the end of the 19th century a quarter of officers in the imperial army were not Orthodox, and only just over half the hereditary noblemen were Russian-speaking and that the tsars (not to mention tsarinas) were very conditionally Russians. They became Russian by accepting the common language and culture. But then the childish response is the example that in Israel, in Germany, in Finland if you have somehow proved yourself to be Jewish, German or Finnish by birth, you receive high-grade citizenship immediately. By implication the future of the Russian state does not have this protection. Attention then turns to the binary classification of favorable and unfavorable features of migrant others and their ability to assimilate to our culture.
So this article appeals to feeling not reason. The illusion of reason is created, but the reader encounters contradictions as well as unsupported opinions. It concludes that the time is ripe for a re-birth of the supranational idea echoing Soviet national policy. Note that this is emphatically not an expression of right-wing political Russian nationalism; in fact the article includes some anti-nationalist sentiment. The rhetoric uses some familiar schemas of communication between author and reader. The first is the reference to an undefined external threat. The rhetorical question Perhaps the external threat will force us to be united? suggests an older circuit of perception, acting to stimulate the reflex responses of former Soviet citizens to external dangers. Two further popular Russian themes appear in the text: the idea of a deep but undefined identification with Russias soul, and hope for the strong authoritative hand the opportunity for citizens to show fidelity to a central power.
The official press: the Russian national project
There is a clear example of the official rendition of the Russian national project in an interview feature with the president of North Ossetia in Rossiiskaya Gazeta (19 Jan 2005). The untypical form of expression, stylistically complex but not in the usual forms of news or political feature reporting, hints at the possibility that the article may have been influenced by Moscow advisers. A Caucasian view is likely to be viewed as having more natural authority than a view directly from Moscow. The national project is expressed in terms of the consolidation of Russian society and unified values. The president of the Caucasian republic speaks about the Russian national project as being built not in opposition to the Caucasus, but including it. Dealing with the Caucasus problem is a major headache for Russian politics and this text attempts to express the possibility of peaceful relations with Caucasians despite the wave of Caucasian terrorism. It is an effort to make a step towards the people of the Caucasus, but finely tuned to Russian politics rather than the situation in the region. The article challenges the reader with a statement on the tragedy of Beslan, accusing those who are undecided, whoever still has illusions about the prospects and probable consequences of displacing Russia from the Caucasus, and whoever else sits on two chairs as a citizen of Russia in public and privately hates everything connected with Russia.
From this article it is possible to identify the following elements and structure of attitudes to various aspects of interethnic relations in the Russian Federation. First of all, the article refers to attitudes of hostility to foreigners. The growth of phobias and ethnically focused violence over the country is identified as a serious threat. But it also draws attention to racist criminal behaviour among youth and skinheads and criticizes the tendency for the judicial system to underestimate their seriousness. It is evident from the following fragments where the author highlights the serious threat from criminal practice which displays hatred of the foreign. The crimes of skinheads are dismissed as domestic hooliganism and even as the contribution of youth to national "revival" and "consolidation". According to the author, such crimes are intended to attract public attention. In the press they represent not only concrete instances of violence towards victims, but also symbolic violence towards the wider audience, a kind of symbolic terrorism.
The second feature of attitudes to interethnic relations is revealed by the use of an original German word to designate invited workers 'Gastarbeiter'. In contrast to its meaning in the German context, in current usage in Russia it is used to describe, for example, construction workers from Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova as well as parts of the Russian Federation and it has strong connotations of illegality. The authors view of issue becomes clear from the following quotation where the he states that internal Russian migrants, sometimes appear almost in the position of gastrarbeiters within the boundaries of their own country. The third feature of attitudes to interethnic relations is a fear of external threats. Everyone who has the appearance of the other and who is not clearly one of us represents a potential threat. The fourth feature refers to the ongoing reproduction of inequality and ethnic disparities between regions inside Russia that generates envy and undesirable artificial migration. The fifth feature is the attribution of blame for xenophobia to the vicious circle of military intervention and its consequences for forced migration.
All these undesirable features of interethnic attitudes can be overcome by the help of the state national project possessing moral power and cultural power. In the regions particularly, according to the author, there is a lack of an organizational conductor of the state ideology - a conductor, in the form of an all-Russian movement or network of civil associations, whose activity would be concentrated outside the machinery of the state and not subject to departmental control. This national project should be independent of pragmatic economic and political considerations. It should not allow itself to succumb to the tendency for self-blame, the syndrome of Russias historical fault and guilt which is commonly found in studies which reflect other choices and a sense of greatness not achieved.
An article in Komsomolskaia Pravda Russians come back discusses the return of temporary migrants who abandoned their homes in Ingushetia following the disturbances in the north Caucasus in 1990. President Putin is quoted as saying nationality is not important in this re-migration. But the main theme is preferential treatment for Russians, among whom Cossacks are included. The text about the reimmigration of the Russian population constitutes naive propaganda. It is written to call Russians into Ingushetia where they will have no problems on arrival. The text clearly indicates that all will be wonderful with reimmigration, that everyone is waiting and loving Russians and everything necessary is already prepared to them to feel immediately at home housing, schooling for children, even Orthodox churches. The text contains no mention of the current state of Ingushetia, its problems, or possible relations with the indigenous population.
The text appeals to emotions, and nostalgia for home. Quoting the words of the poet Lermontov These people have lost what they hold most dear - the small native land, the ancestral ground, tombs native and close.... The text is focused on the emotional child. The article supports federal policy of encouraging the return of all refugees irrespective of nationality. Ingushetia is a model for other republics in the northern Caucasus to follow. It amounts to a project of colonization of Ingushetia by Russians because strong regions are necessary for Russia. Strong, powerful regions, mighty, consolidated people are necessary for Russia. All of us were, and, unfortunately, we are witnesses of how someone persistently tries to create enmity between peoples, centuries living in the world and good neighborhood. The aim of the article is to persuade readers that the return of the Russian-speaking population is guided by good management of the republic in the interests of all nationalities. It fails to address the real problems of integration and rebuilding community. The final significant comment is on the subject of religion: [it] declares there is one God, we should live in peace. The Koran says that the closest religion to Islam is Christianity. It illustrates how cynically journalists can use any efforts to make the content conform to the aim.
In this section we consider examples of the representation of Russians who reside abroad, in Europe. The characteristics of Russians in the context of Europe forms one of the most significant themes in every newspaper, whether the stories are told from the point of view of the state or ordinary people.They are considered to be the new faces of Russia (oligarchs, sports personalities, children of the wealthy). Reading all these texts the ordinary reader can feel shame for their indecent behavior, a certain pride concerning national sharpness, resourcefulness and cunning, envy concerning luxury and rage at the robbery from Russia. The official attitude is to promote the construction of middle class identity in opposition to the behavior of Nouveaux Riches, and also to prosecute dishonest business and display the authority of the state. Therefore, materials about business oligarchs are a good indicator not only of the editorial position of the newspaper but also the discursive construction of the phenomenon of Russians abroad.
Kommersant considers large business to be oppressed by the state bureaucracy and opts to defend business, noting that the political elite lives just as well as the oligarchs. New Russians are the subject of an article published in the newspaper in January 2005 (N 5 15.01.05) New Russians lead the dance. The article illustrates the interplay between concepts of what is Russian and the behaviour of new Russians. Using a source from Figaro (Duponchelle Les nouveaux Russes font la loi 14.1.05 ) and comments on the perception of new Russians as mafiosi, careless spenders, easterners, distrustful, cunning. Meanwhile it still the primitive, unstable market which is difficult for operating which is quite often hidden for intermediaries and the Russian antique dealers, research district for the clients. Contrary to a cliche about the mafiosi in black leather raincoats with gold, these new Russians are already formed or very quickly become those, so strongly their desire to study the past and again to become its owners. Purchase of a Faberge collection by Victor Vekselberg became world advertising of his name and simultaneously fine launching pad for all others ", - antique dealer Alexis Kugel who with brother Nicolas in many respects has anticipated this "new Russian revolution", having organized in 1998 a magnificent exhibition " Art of Romanov " (three quarters of the catalogue was sold in just one day).
The text notes new Russians thirst for knowledge of the history in a context of Europe and desire to have everything that is a reminder of Russian history. All this speaks of patriotism or, more cynically, the use of historical associations to compensate for a poor image.
Novaia Gazeta is critical of both state and oligarchs. The theme of an article titled Pound of the Sterlet ( 06.06.2005 N40) is the 60 billion so-called Russian dollars invested in Britain in the last six years. The material is written by the newspapers correspondent in London and the construction and stylistics of the text are closer to British newspapers than other examples. However, the text represents not pure reporting but the imagination of the author on a theme of rich Russians, living in Londongrad. The material satirizes and criticizes the oligarchs. It is designed to capture the dislike of the rich on the part of the audience. But the most curious thing is that in London rich Russians practically always behave very much more decently. It is noticeable that something in this city constrains their unrestrained natures. Most likely, this "something" speaks monetary reasons. Here is an idea that out of control Russians could be disciplined by the English order, civilization.
Komsomolskaia Pravda (March 12) presents an interview with the TV commentator M. Leontiev (well known as one of the most pro-Kremlin journalist supporting theory of West plot against Russia) who is characterized by acerbic commentaries deliberately designed to shock his readers. He is quoted as saying in his typical style that: The 27 richest people; it is not a rating this is a verdict. They have defrauded the state. But we are not living in any Cambodia. People see everything. The majority of people experience only one feeling towards them punishment. Billionaires should understand it. They too are not fools. They have to prepare their response. If in the evening the state were to hint that it would no longer offer protection to oligarchs, then in the morning they will envy Khodorkovsky because in prison he is protected from the people. These 27 "lucky beggars" should start to worry and think how they can agree with people. But, sorry, with eggs to pay off will not succeed in buying peoples support. Even porcelain
The article illustrates three things: first, the oligarchs fear of peoples retribution; second the racist distinction between Russian and other (e.g. Cambodia); third the crudeness of the characterization of oligarchs.
As we showed above, the oligarchs are a Russian diaspora in London-grad and also in Paris. Their wealth allows them to choose flexible identities according to their business and landed properties even if the capital originates in Russia. For example, Khodorkovsky did not choose, like his partner Nevzlin, to be regarded as a Jew and to leave for Israel he chose Russian identity. For this reason, he commands much popular support.
Many other texts about rich Russians in the pro-Western newspapers Novaia Gazeta and Kommersant advance the idea that if Russians can bridle their wild instincts (for immediate profits etc.) they can behave in a civilized way they will be accepted by the Europeans. Journalists write many descriptive texts about new Russians, and the general tendency is to push this phenomenon in existing interpretative frameworks. Thus, oligarchs with their money are considered to be the puppeteers of Russian politics (as in occasional references to Masonic connections or US influences). The Russian reader is familiar with thinking in such categories and in terms of explanations of who stands for any particular ideology, and whose material interests are involved. It could be called Marxism at an everyday level. For the Russian, no further explanation is needed. There is an illusion of full understanding of the historical process if you can only identify the director or sponsor of the performance.
An article Exile as return (14.03.05) by V.Mozgovoj in Novaia Gazeta the exiled oligarch L. Nevzlin, shows the point of view which is not peculiar to the Russian mentality. He speaks about the attraction of the American investments. He shows respect to the American president and not for President Putin. We operated and proved by our own example how it is necessary to live in democracy. Because our capital accumulation is transparent. Because we have negotiated for the purchase of a part of Yukos by the American companies. Because were ready to take on the Russian market with serious foreign capital. This is a standard representation of international entrepreneurial activity by Nevzlin and he contrasts it strongly with the model that has been gaining ground since Putin came to power. If business is allowed to continue to develop according to open principles - the strong democratic state will inevitably emerge. In Nevzlins view, Khodorkovsky considered himself to be close to the Kremlin the position and thought that this position was accepted, that Putin supported the open market and democracy. He was mistaken for they spoke yes only to win time - and to cut down the oligarchs power, to prison, expel and destroy them. The contrast is made with American politics, which is seen as plain speaking. In Russian politics the principle is to dissimulate or conceal. He will tell lies, and wont give a damn (spit in eyes - the divine dew). And the American hears what he hears If he hears Putin declare democracy - it means democracy. The Russian mentality is inertial and the population is still waiting to become indignant. But the point will come when people will say enough is enough! we wont live in a cage. Nevzlin remarks that this is true if it is not a gold cage. In gold to it is still possible to keep people in captivity.
The most common objects of sneers and hate are rich people, businessmen, new Russian, and oligarchs - not immigrants. The visual and verbal repertoire is more rich, varied and insulting. People consider that they do not have the opportunity to move ahead on a social ladder and to raise the standard of life and the social status because of the existence of rich people. It is considered, that the rich impose on poor people the way of life, the rules of a survival connected to bribery, extensive connections with same influential people, etc. The rich are seen as closer to the values of the Orient values than to Western values of the market. The problem of social intolerance and hostility to rich and successful people is not new. It is necessary to take into account the seventy-year Soviet experience and the traditions in which some generations were brought up. Propagation of the state has been directed on inoculation of disgust and hatred to materialism and narrow-mindedness, accumulation of property and money resources, luxury goods and other private-ownership displays. The real property inequality was hidden carefully or represented as justified by political rank. This asceticism in many respects belongs to the character of people who historically lived poorly. It is one of the qualities actively supported by the Orthodox Church.
Failures and difficulties of emerging market attitudes and an unwillingness to perceive the wreck of real socialism as a historical reality are the basis of a enduring myth about the undermining of the great Soviet Union by a gang of new businessmen who then became very rich and influential people, due to the plunder of the peoples property. People attribute to oligarchs active participation in great power collapse, plunder of the national property and other sins. The most dangerous of all is that oligarchs, being guided on doubtful values of the gloomy capitalist West, having agreed with representatives of American imperialism, to carry out a genocide of Russian people (an expression from Soviet era propaganda still in use in todays communist media). Even insignificant episodes from the lives of oligarchs are covered, allowing readers to discuss the enemy. There are continuing echoes of the old distinction between westernizers and slavophiles in the contemporary discourse.
The critical attitude towards the rich does not mean that the view of the poor is necessarily more favourable. On the contrary, while the rich at least offer some lessons to be learned, the poor are an embarrassment. The attitude towards jobless people, parasites is a direct heritage of the Soviet past. Whoever does not work - as socialist slogan says - should not eat.
Beggars, the homeless, former prisoners from the lowest levels of society are represented in the mass media with mistrust (it is commonly held, for example, that many beggars have large incomes). There are examples of journalistic investigations which open cherished secrets of the life of vagabonds as a form of business. Often people think, that tramps and beggars are always drunk, dirty, do not want to work, suffer addictions and have spent on drink all property and habitation. This is linked with the assumption that the majority of these groups are foreigners, essentially Ukrainians, Tadjiks, Azerbaijanis and other non Russian nationalities. This derives from the Soviet heritage - the attitude to national minorities as parasites living off the hardworking, but innocent and trusting Russian people.
The relative style of texts on questions of immigration deserves some separate analysis. All texts connected with immigration depict the demise of Russia, which does not know how to respond to the disaster of being swamped by immigrants. (Flooding is the most commonly used metaphor). The press claims that officialdom cannot cope (with delivery of immigration documents). Ordinary people do not know how to relate to visitors and to other cultures (e.g. story of the Georgian school, seen as an inappropriate form of education for permanent residents of Moscow. NG 40).
Journalists aim for effect and influence on an audience with the help of expressive language, use of metaphors, metonyms, paraphrases and other devices. They try to express themselves through style and knowledge of culture, but sometimes it dominates over the logic of a narration, as for example, in the texts on migration mentioned above (KP ).
Many journalists could be called exhibitionists in the profession - wishing to be expressive, using hyperbole and dramatic words. Every time finding a new angle for a familiar topic (which is likely to be derivative from other sources). This is linked with the well-known lack of distinction between fact and comment in the Russian press. Headings as a rule expect for Rossiiskaia Gazeta which maintains a more official style - contain references both to a theme, and to familiar literary, cultural texts. (It is some kind of reproduction of high culture through references to cases, or precedent texts as Maingeneau describes them (
.). Some the most obvious examples of references to literature in our sample include the following. A headline asks the question: How to make Kafka real? (in other words, how to make the absurd real?); a quotation from Maxim Gorky Man it sounds proud; Ladies with little doggy refers to the Chekhov story with a similar title but another level of meaning is added by the inclusion of the @ sign in the headline - Äąģū ń ńīį@÷źīé (Chekhov) @ in Russian is doggy NG N17; «Óķčęåķķūå č ĪŃŹĄŠįėåķķūå» NG N17 - Humiliated and offended (a reference to Dostoeveskys novel
). This article is about the Oscar ceremony that phonetically is a part of the word offended with the change of one vowel. The offended are those who did not receive the award. Another headline Who is guilty? (16 June, N 3797) is a Hertzen reference. Superfluous children (ŹP April, 15) echoes Superfluous people by Dostoevsky. Many headlines contain similar cross-references to jokes and songs. Literary examples meet not only met in headlines but also in the basic text of articles. For example, use of the quotation from Lermontov (KP mentioned above).
Having analyzed this sample it is possible to tell that many texts are directed towards the creation of a new national project. Discourse on migration is conducted within the framework of the developed national project on construction of a new identity for Russia and Russians. In comparison with the British press, for example, the Russian newspapers pay less attention to a question of migration as such. They are most likely to appear either in official statements and accompanying colour (in interviews, opinions, description of cases and similar), or in popularized versions of official statements. The direct spokesperson for the official policies of state is Rosiiskaia Gazeta, and Komsomolskaia Pravda, currently the most popular newspaper of Russia, presents the basic ideology for the less intellectual audience. Kommersant responds with close scrutiny of state policy and interprets it for business.
Novaia Gazeta criticizes official policies, corruption and dishonest business. Compared with most of rest of our sample it uses language of emotions and feelings, appeals to old stereotypes and high culture.
The basic approaches and images in representation of a reality of 4 newspapers
Rossiiskaia Gazeta constructs a generally the tolerant attitude towards migration consistent with the prevailing legal framework. Migration is measured in many texts as a matter connected with the problem of depopulation. Texts support feelings of national superiority and superpower status; they waken the imagination of a new form of colonialism in the CIS countries; and they engender hope of restoration of the Soviet cooperation.
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda migration may be seen as the potential labour force which will develop our territories, master our resources, to keep pensioners and children. Texts show common fears and prejudices, and also variants to cope with them. It is important how advanced countries have solved similar problems and there are suggestions of what may be learned from others experiences. There are a lot of comparisons given.
If in the popular newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda we get lectures or even instruction to act for the unintellectual reader, then in Novaya Gazeta where we find conversation of the intellectual with an equal partner who can understand and appreciate the glass-bead game , ironic style, intertextuality and amusement of hints. Looking through texts of Novaya Gazeta it is possible to perceive the tendency to be anxious about the condition of culture, preservation of knowledge, language, a mental potential, values of a civilization. Texts give references to world history and the history of Russia, classical literature and philosophy.
There are significant stylistic variations between the newspapers in the sample. In the most popular texts in Komsomolskaya Pravda it is possible to find stylistic features appealing directly to patriotic feelings and moods. There is a similar appeal in Rosiiskaia Gazeta but based on more impersonal, generalized arguments from history and cultural tradition. Kommersant on the other hand is more likely to offer ambiguous statements, but they are given in the opaque, veiled form. The irony or criticism can be reconstructed if the Russian context is understood. We have not found out ready cliches to describe the new phenomena. But found that journalists try to use old frameworks and, with the exception of Rosiiskaia Gazeta interpret questions of migration rather rigidly. The language sometimes verges on being overtly hostile, encouraging fears and primitive instincts).
We have presented evidence that readers of pro-state newspapers are presented with stereotypes of the strong state integrating and assimilating peoples, and colonizing territory. Construction of the new patriotism is based on a strong, autocractic concept of the state, the presidency and national institutions, especially the army and the Orthodox Church which is loyal to the state. The national project is expressed in terms of the need to maintain the integrity of the territory (which is why the Caucasus represents a defining case) and the cohesion of the people of Russia and the need to defend the country against the threat of population decline.
The process of representation is constructed through elementary binary distinctions of the following kind. First there is the category of Russia itself, contrasted with the countries of migration and other countries that experience migration issues differently. This is discursively expressed through the parent-child, donor-recipient distinction, where we are the owners of the cultural and historical tradition (the civilization) which defines Russianness. Others may grow up to become part of it. This phenomenon of otherness is ambivalent. Depending on the political context the phenomenon can be redefined. The history of Russia (and its representation in the classical literature) is full of examples of relations between Russians and other peoples. Depending on the topic, journalists use these resources of the past to apply the lessons to today (especially from the 19th century). Journalists, being trained technicians in a philological tradition, have to display their knowledge of pre-texts from high culture to demonstrate their professional competence. This form of intertextuality lends a particular kind of authority in the context of the Russian cultural tradition.
In all texts there is a tendency to prophesy from the point of view of superiority. The categorization of others and discourses on them helps to position Russia in the awareness of readers. Others are estimated first of all according to their economic success, as well as according to other kinds of capital. Others advantages are treated by journalists with skepticism, mistrust, and the question whether it is good for us. Russians look at the advantages of others and evaluate themselves, and find indemnification for missing characteristics. However unexpected and excellent others may be, there is the belief that Russians have superior potential and capital, an idea that comes from the constantly repeated theme of high culture, and a feeling of affinity with great persons who spoke Russian. It is possible that recourse to tradition can be explained as a response to the insecurity and impoverishment of everyday life, as an attempt to compensate for feelings of inferiority.
For journalists: representing social diversity/differences old schemas which assign blame - need to be adapted to new circumstances social differences are more important than national differences. Journalists help to identify new others to help people feel better.
Inter-group attitudes change according to the new social order (e.g. attitude to Baltic republics since accession to EU and WWII anniversary) . Russians resent interference from others, and problems created by outsiders, because of insecurity about their own position.
As a general conclusion, we can say that representatives of others who differ significantly in terms of language and culture from Russians, or who are territorial outsiders, are represented in the press in three main ways. Firstly, there is the understanding in terms of traditional ties to sisters and brothers from the fifteen Soviet republics. Secondly, there is a predominantly aggressive stance towards those who are seen as not wanting to assimilate or not wanting to engage with Russia and regard it as to the older brother. Representations of the Chinese and the Baltic states fit this category. Finally, there is a conditional response, mainly in relation to stories of Russians abroad in Europe or North America, about the interactions between Russian and non-Russian. Pride in Russian achievements is tempered by certain negative images. All these variants could be expressed in terms of the cultural, economic and political dimensions of the journalistic field. The dynamic of the field is to reconcile the schemas into a common ideology for Russias future. To use a musical metaphor, every time the question of Russian national identity is raised, you can hear the same tune but differently modulated and counterposed to otherness in its unending variety of forms. This is linked with next. It is shown how this tune can be possible.
When looking at the West realities, Russia criticises many of them. However, when opposing itself to the East, Russia attributes the same categories to itself with positive meanings. For example, one can often hear that Western civilisation is unspiritual, people act according to the regulations like mechanisms, that Western civilisation depraved a man. While relations between people in Russia are ostensibly natural, open, based on spirituality. It is a civilisation of another sort, with another culture. And there are wildness and uncivilisedness in the East.
Part of a two-year EU INTAS Young Scientist Fellowship project on discourses of migration in the press in the UK and Russia.
According to a report in Kommersant, 1% of St Petersburg land has been sold to Chinese (10.06.05).
Kommersant No. 103, 08 June 2005. Headline from patriotic hymn of WW 2 stand, great country
The new TV service is described as spetzpropaganda
H Pilkington etc.
S.Hall ed. 1999 Representation p.28
Data is presented on the site of this title.
For example Anna Politkovskaya, an internationally-known critical journalist, is a special correspondent for Novaya Gazeta. See Politkovskaya (2004).
YUKOS, The Chechen Republic, Northern Caucasus, Depopulation, Israel, Terrorists, Kazakhstan, Labour, Patriotism and identity, The future, Shuttles, Migration, Masons, Nationalists, Anti-Semitism, GNP, The control and censorship of the state, Yachts for the president, Registration of immigrants, relations with Ukraine and CIS.
Illustrations are executed in an entertaining manner cartoon style and with photos of children, women and figures of heroes of a animated film by A.Lingren story «the Kid and Carlson».
The Russian national project. The answer to threats of xenophobia and terrorism. Alexander Dzasokhov, the president of Republic of Northern Ossetia. 19 January 2005.
A secret radiooperator Kat. A popular television serial about world war II " Seventeen moments of spring "; Kommersant. N102. In mass disease of hepatites blame the lieutenant Rzhevsky. The lieutenant Rzhevsky - the hero of jokes, meets heroes of the L. Tolstoi War and peace, and also with heroes from other classical literature.