Anti-corruption and opposition in Russia: Digital media and rhetorical strategies of Navalny

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för globala politiska studier (GPS)

Abstract: What were the main goals in Navalny’s political agenda and how did this influence his rhetorical approach? This paper explores how Navalny and his aspirants were disqualified as political candidates in Russian elections, and how this affected his approach to being focused on contentious politics as it became the only viable means to push for political change in the country. Two of his most viral videos are analysed to investigate the rhetorical strategies he used to set frames on the political elite, and the main answers revolved around corruption, theft, and the self-image of Medvedev and Putin. Although there were clear similarities between the two videos, the most recent “Palace for Putin” displayed new and more moral, judgmental and offensive methods than the previous “He is not Dimon to you”. Furthermore, this paper investigates the large-scale protests of 2021 and how public opinion about Navalny has developed in Russia. The expectation was that public opinion would be more favourable in recent times than it has been in the past, largely due to the massive protests which he managed to spark. However, the answer was surprisingly the opposite, as statistics tilted slightly against him rather than the other way around. Part of the explanation to this was that the highest number of people who disapproved of Navalny used state television as their main source of information, as opposed to the majority of the younger population who frequently used the internet, and thereby had a more positive view of him. When examining the protest trajectories, it was possible to find elements of Navalny’s political message amongst the people in terms of keywords and phrases that they chanted, evidence of his success above the fact of the protests themselves. The final aim was to review how the authoritarian regime responded to Navalny’s contentious politics, and in this regard, it was concluded that both domestic and international pressure moved the regime to increasingly repressive measures against Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and further deteriorated the relationship between the EU and Russia. 

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