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Role Of Russian Media In Shaping Public Opinion In Western Europe: Cases Of France And The United Kingdom

Student: Olga Leonidova

Supervisor: Vera Ageeva

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2021

This work presents a comprehensive analysis of Russian soft power and its two instances in France and the United Kingdom. The work defined a strong theoretical framework of soft power, media agenda and framing, strategic narratives and their possible influence on public opinion. The comprehensive model of Russian soft power, identified in this study, was proved to be working in the given countries and their settings. The research goal to formulate the model and cover the gap in knowledge was completed. It gives a complete understanding of Russian foreign policy goals, areas of Russian influence abroad (political agenda, business, culture, education and social values and media) and the tools used there. The work also gives a comprehensive outlook on the implementation of Russian soft power strategy in both France and the United Kingdom, identifying the context and usage of Russian soft power tools. The second research goal to analyze the usage of Russian state-affiliated media RT in the given countries was also completed. Providing the outlook on the RT specifics and agenda, 5 media frame analysis as well as critical discourse analysis (CDA), this work analyses the news coverage of Covid-19 that RT uses to polarize the public opinion in the Western European countries. The findings include specific narratives and story lines that RT promotes in both of the countries, e.g., appeals to the distrust towards the institutions of the UK and France, as well as towards the high-profile officials, presenting governments as dysfunctional, lacking resources and common sense to implement rational quarantine or lockdown policies, discrediting vaccination campaigns, Pfizer and AstroZeneca vaccines, as well as providing critique for vaccination passports

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