Dashkova Centre

Russian media and conspiracy theories

We are pleased to invite you to our upcoming event jointly organised with the School of Social and Political Science of the University of Edinburgh. 

Whilst nowadays conspiracy theories are becoming mainstream the world over – the victory of Donald Trump and Brexit are the cases in point – contemporary Russia is a curious example. From the mid-2000s the Russian government has spent years and millions of roubles on spreading fears of Western conspiracy among the population and thus guaranteeing the stability of Putin’s popular support. Russian media have played a key role in this process, constantly spreading falsified evidence of the subversive activities of the Russian opposition with the alleged support of the West. Moreover, from the end of the 2000s, the Kremlin reshaped the international television channel RT into a source of various conspiracy theories, thus turning a media outlet in a sophisticated public diplomacy tool.

Following the approach suggested by Mark Fenster (2008), Dr Yablokov investigates the phenomenon of conspiracy theories as a populist tool of power relations which helps relocate legitimacy and power among different political actors. He argues that in post-Soviet Russia conspiracy theories have become a popular element of the media environment owing to the lack of ethical principles among journalists. The failure of the journalistic community to develop a code of ethics and create a strong, united professional community caused a situation whereby the quality of journalistic output has been less important than loyalty to the owner or the state. In this paper, Dr Yablokov will demonstrate the evolution of the Russian media community in the 1991-2016 period, compare the popularity of conspiracy theories in the media in the US and in Russia and will demonstrate how journalists became one of the main drivers to the popularity of conspiracy theories in contemporary Russia.   

Dr. Ilya Yablokov holds an MA in Nationalism studies from Central European University, Hungary (2009) and received his PhD from the University of Manchester (2014). His research interests include conspiracy theories, nation building and politics in post-Soviet Russia, the history of post-Soviet journalism and international broadcasting. His book Building Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World (Cambridge: Polity Press) is due to be published in 2018. Currently, he teaches Russian politics, history and media at the University of Leeds (UK).

Dr Ilya Yablokov
Jan 25 2017 -

Russian media and conspiracy theories

In this joint lecture with the School of Social and Political Science Dr Yablokov investigates the phenomenon of conspiracy theories and will demonstrate how journalists became one of the main drivers to their popularity in contemporary Russia.

Room 2.14
Appleton Tower
11 Crichton Street
EH8 9LE