Статья 'Видение имиджа России европейцами с 2000 по 2014 год' - журнал 'Мировая политика' - NotaBene.ru
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Vision of the image of Russia by Europeans from 2000 to 2014

Vedernikova Mariya Igorevna

Postgraduate student, St. Petersburg State University

125993, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Smolny str., 1/3 Entrance No. 7, p. 3.

maria.vedernikowa@yandex.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8671.2023.3.43445

EDN:

ZJJNJF

Received:

27-06-2023


Published:

05-10-2023


Abstract: In this study, an attempt is made to form a holistic view of the image of Russia in Europe on the example of the image of the country in the UK, France and Germany, which was formed in the period from 2000 to 2014, i.e. before the annexation of Crimea to Russia, since this event had negative consequences for the image of Russia in European countries and after it the image significantly deteriorated. The choice of the object and subject of research is dictated by the purpose of this work. The object is the image of the state as one of the most significant elements of "soft power", and the subject is the image of Russia in Europe from 2000 to 2014. The purpose of this study is to examine the image of Russia during this period in European countries (using the example of the image of Russia in the UK, France and Germany). The research methodology is based on the principles of scientific objectivity and consistency: materials are selected and considered in the context of the situation, and facts and events are analyzed comprehensively. An important role in the research was assigned to general scientific research methods – content analysis and comparative analysis. The interdisciplinary approach makes it possible to use the achievements of such sciences as political science, image studies, sociology, psychology and marketing in the work. The territorial boundaries of the study cover countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France. The scientific novelty of the work consists in a comprehensive analysis of the factors influencing the perception of the image of the Russian Federation in Europe during this period. It can be stated that in the 2000s, in the context of the problem of perception of the image of Russia in the UK, France and Germany, ethnocentrism and altruistic democracy were significant concepts. It is also important to note that in the 2000s, not only negative, but also some positive characteristics of Russia's image were presented in European countries.


Keywords:

image, PR, Russia, Europe, EU, Great Britain, Germany, France, perception, promotion

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction

In the 2000s, there was a contradictory and ambiguous image of Russia in Europe. An example of the fact that Russia's image potential has not been fully exploited is the image that has been formed, in particular, in the European media.

The negative image of the country in the Western press was a sign that Russia needed to pay closer attention to image optimization in European countries. Many politicians and experts in this field have paid attention to this.

In this study, an attempt is made to form a holistic view of the image of Russia in Europe on the example of the image of the country in the UK, France and Germany, which was formed in the period from 2000 to 2014, i.e. before the annexation of Crimea to Russia, since this event had negative consequences for the image of Russia in European countries and after it the image significantly deteriorated.

The main goals of image research in the 2000s are:

– to make a complete picture of the perception of Russia in the UK, France and Germany;

– to identify the main characteristics of the image of Russia;

– identify common and different features of Russia's image in the UK, France and Germany;

– to consider the main factors that influenced the formation of the image of Russia in the 2000s.

Since the perception of Russia in the designated period was influenced by a previously formed image, it is necessary to indicate how Russia was perceived earlier, therefore, in order to compile a holistic view of the image of Russia, it is necessary to turn to those historical prerequisites that contributed to the formation of such an image of Russia in European countries.

The perception of Russia is considered in detail by E.Ya. Batalov in the work "European images of Russia: yesterday, today, tomorrow". There were several such images and they are worth listing. The first image was the idea that Russia is not Europe. The second is that Russia is not only not a European country, but has not even fully completed the transition from barbarism to civilization. The third is that Russia, although a European country, is already another, some kind of wrong Europe. The fourth is that Russia will prove itself, but in the future.

Batalov emphasizes that the image of Russia as a country of the future has always been the least popular in Europe and has not gained popularity in wide circles. The idea of "light from the East" has always been suppressed by the idea of "threat from the East". This was reinforced in the modern world by the fear of European countries that Russia could use the opportunity to influence them with such a pressure instrument as the "gas pipe".

It is important to understand what our country wanted to see in European countries in the 2000s. There is a hypothesis that a Russia with a democratic form of government and a capitalist economy was very desirable for Europe.  At the same time, the state should have lacked imperial ambitions and a strong army. According to European politicians, such a Russia would not pose a danger to European countries [1].

During this period, Russia continued to remain alien and undemocratic in the minds of Europeans. As M. G. Nosov rightly noted, the stereotype of Russia as a country trying to counteract the spread of democracy in post-Soviet countries prevailed in the West during this period [2].

The image of the Russian population in Europe was also ambiguous. On the one hand, it was represented by oligarchs and "new Russians" who are wasting illegally acquired money, and on the other hand, pensioners and poor people of other ages.

In addition, the perception of the Russian population strongly depended on the presence or absence of personal contacts with Russians and varied greatly. Most often, if a foreigner communicated with Russians personally, they were characterized as kind, hospitable and sociable; if not, as angry and withdrawn. This is largely due to the prevailing image, which not only did not correspond, but often contradicted reality.

The "energy" image of Russia in Europe from 2000 to 2014

Russia's image in Europe was also negatively affected by concerns about Russia's ability to use energy resources as an argument in disputes and as a means to achieve not only economic goals. The motives for achieving political goals seemed to Europeans to be serious and with real grounds. Despite Russia's attempts to position itself as a reliable supplier of resources and an energy superpower, this image has not always been maintained (including due to disagreements with third countries).

Since the versions about possible blackmail by Russia with the help of energy resources were constantly exaggerated in the European media and used by populists to achieve their goals, they have become quite common. Even in some EU documents it is noted that, despite the importance and prospects of energy partnership with Russia, it should always be borne in mind that this country can use the energy dependence of European countries as a real or potential instrument of pressure [3]. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated that it was necessary to prevent Russia from "throwing an energy stranglehold" on Europe" [4].

The fact that there were concerns about this in the EU was one of the factors of subjective perception of the image of the Russian Federation. The possibility of using energy resources as a political tool has long been known. Russia was repeatedly accused of using energy resources as an instrument of pressure on certain countries in the 2000s, especially with regard to Ukraine, projecting a similar situation on European countries.

At the same time, there were many objective reasons for close and mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and the EU in the field of energy. This includes the existing infrastructure, geographical location, and political stability (at least when compared with energy suppliers from the countries of the Near and Middle East).

The events related to the problems of gas supplies through Ukraine had extremely negative consequences for Russia's image as a reliable supplier of energy resources and contributed to the beginning of the policy of "equidistant" energy suppliers to Europe, since dependence on energy resources from Russia was a problem for some European countries. The work "The International Image of Russia and its Energy Policy. Unreliable supplier?", which examines the current contradictory situation: on the one hand, Russia invested heavily in improving its image as an energy power in the noughties, and on the other, the conflicts that arose due to interruptions in gas supplies through Ukraine led to a sharp deterioration of this image.

The Russian leadership was aware of the problem of the current "energy" image of our country, so a PR campaign was carried out to create the image of an energy superpower, which was noticed by European researchers and noted in foreign scientific literature. In the daily updated Scopus database, the most significant studies related to the perception of the image of Russia and conducted during the designated time period were selected and analyzed.

There were all the necessary prerequisites for close energy cooperation between Russia and the EU: historical experience, the availability of sufficient energy resources, a convenient geographical location and, most importantly, mutual interest: the availability of supply from the Russian side and demand from the European Union.

It was political reasons, as well as the prevailing negative image and widespread stereotypes that hindered the perception of our country as a reliable and equal partner in the energy sector. In addition to accusing Russia of energy dominance and blackmail, countermeasures were considered that were aimed at restricting access to the markets of high-tech goods [5], since cooperation between Russia and Europe on a number of other issues was of great importance during this period.

However, the fact that Russia's interaction with European states in the energy sector has a long history was forgotten.

For almost half a century, Russia has been the main producer and supplier of natural gas to European countries and had every chance to maintain this position. Considering that about 23.7% of the world's natural gas resources are located in Russia, in the 2000s it was obvious that such a reserve of resources would allow European countries to provide "blue fuel" for a long time [6].

"Status conflicts" of Russia and Europe

Important in this period of time was Russia's desire to assert its status in the international arena, which was significantly shaken after the collapse of the USSR. Many actions were aimed precisely at gaining status, which led to status conflicts [7].

Thus, V. Feklyunina from the University of Glasgow in the work "The Battle for Perception: Designing Russia in the West" [8] provides an analysis of the image of Russia that the country's leadership tried to create in Western countries. This author notes that Russia's foreign policy was perceived as neo-imperial at the very beginning of the 2000s. This fact made it much more difficult to improve Russia's image in Europe. The image campaign was also complicated by the lack of significant changes in the country for the European audience.

In European countries, the elections in Russia were criticized. It was noted that the Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted under rather controversial circumstances, so it contains only general provisions on elections and is constantly supplemented with new laws, the list of which is getting longer. At the same time, Europe recognized the high turnout for elections in the 2000s and the high level of involvement of the population in the political life of the country.

It is important to note that since the image, despite its exposure to various factors, including stereotypes and other perception mechanisms, reflects the real features of the object, the formation of the image of Russia in European countries was influenced by the objective characteristics of our state.

Until 2014, the Russian leadership relied on the formation of the image of the country as open and ready for cooperation as possible. Also, the status was raised due to the organization of world-scale events in Russia and the country's entry into international organizations. Despite the fact that this process began back in the 1990s (for example, Russia joined the "Big Eight" (G8) in 1997), the trend continued until 2014 (in 2011, Russia joined the World Trade Organization - including for the sake of improving its image).

For this study, the priority is the image of Russia, which has developed in the leading European countries: France, Germany and the UK.

The image of Russia in France in the 2000s

In the 2000s, Russian-French relations retained the role of one of the significant components of not only European, but also world politics [9]. It is important to note here that for more than two centuries Russian diplomacy has skillfully used the contradictions between Germany and France, which manifested themselves in the designated period, especially aggravated with the onset of the economic crisis. The subsequent improvement of relations between Paris and Berlin made it possible for Russia to join this tandem as a guarantor of security on the European continent.

At the beginning of the XXI century, an image of Russia was formed in France, which combined many well-established stereotypes. This was also reflected in the French media. Y. I. Rubinsky wrote that "attacks on Moscow's policy in the post-Soviet space do not stop. The sympathies of the French media turned out to be entirely on the side of the "rose revolution" in Georgia and the "orange revolution" in Ukraine" [10]. This author separately noted that the main claims against Russia were the continuation of the imperial policy and the desire to influence European countries with the help of energy resources.

As for the French publications that set the tone in the perception of Russia, the main ones are the daily evening newspaper of left-liberal views Le Monde, Le Figaro, which reflects the views of the French authorities and is moderately right-wing, as well as Lib?ration. It was these print media that had the greatest influence on the coverage of events related to Russia, as well as the creation, broadcast and perception of its image. In addition, it is worth noting the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published 150,000 copies, cartoons from which are distributed around the world via the Internet. Many of them in the 2000s portrayed the Russian leader and the political and economic situation in Russia in a negative light.

As an example of the tone of publications about Russia, the coverage of the war in Chechnya by the French media can be considered. This military operation has not met with approval or support. This war received negative ratings in 88% of materials, and neutral ratings in 12% [11]. Having studied the articles of these publications, it can be argued that such statistics extended to the actions of our country in other military and political conflicts.

The reasons for this perception can partly be explained by the multitude of stereotypes that exist in France and have historical roots (it should be noted that during this period the French considered Russia's foreign policy neo–imperial), partly by differences in mentality.

Most researchers who have studied the image of Russia in France share the opinion about the predominantly negative image of our country in France in the 2000s and note that the main claims of the French are reduced to widespread corruption (they call it "the trouble that corrupts the country", because it is present at all levels of government structures) and the lack of developed democracy freedom of assembly and fair elections; as well as the underdevelopment of civil society.

The image of Russia in the UK in the 2000s

In the UK in the 2000s, a negative image of Russia also prevailed. And the claims made against our country were largely similar to the claims of the French: the greatest negative related to the political sphere and to the leader of the country. There is a historical stereotype in Britain, which consists in the fact that Russia is a country of political despotism, and its population has a tendency to lack of freedom and submission. The whole Russian power structure seemed to the British to be something like a feudal hierarchy system, including the tsar, heirs to the throne, priests and feudal lords. In this system, the "king" had absolute power and was the "anointed of God." In addition, in the British media sphere (in the editions of The Economist, The Independent, The Week and The New Statesman) Russia was associated with cruelty and corruption.

The image of Russia in the UK was also largely formed under the influence of established stereotypes. An example is the fact that quite often Russia was presented in the British press in the image of an aggressive bear, unceremoniously violating the borders of neighboring sovereign states.

The image of Russia in Germany in the 2000s

Next, it is necessary to consider what kind of image of Russia has developed in Germany, because it is this state that is our key and priority partner in Europe. The presence of interest in our country in the 2000s confirms the fact that the number of publications in the German press about Russia was constantly increasing, and Russia's foreign and domestic policy was regularly covered in the German media.

The publications Der Spiegel and Stern focused on the political and economic problems of Russia, picking up mainly negative facts and using established stereotypes about our country, as well as words with a bright emotional coloring.

Die Zeit and Focus made about a third of their publications lexically neutral. These publications focused more on social and cultural issues related to Russia; they often had a more artistic and emotional presentation of the events described, and they often published interviews, which partially removes the evaluation burden from the editorial policy of these magazines. The Focus edition remained more neutral in the emotional coloring of publications about Russia than its competitors.

Conclusion

It can also be stated that in the 2000s, in the context of the problem of perception of the image of Russia in the UK, France and Germany, ethnocentrism and altruistic democracy were significant concepts. The first concept means that the presentation of news is influenced by the perception of the surrounding world by a journalist through the eyes of compatriots and through the prism of their culture. The second concept in this work implies that a significant number of journalists in Europe during this period were of the opinion that the main purpose of politics is to serve the interests of society. These two factors had a significant impact on the coverage of Russia in the European media.

Summing up, it can be stated that in the 2000s, not only negative, but also some positive characteristics of the image of Russia were presented in European countries.

The following factors most often contributed to the negative perception of Russia 's image in Europe:

– according to the Western media, Russia's neo-imperial foreign policy;

– corruption within the country;

– stereotypes about Russia rooted in the European consciousness;

– internal policy;

– the election of D. A. Medvedev as president (this event was perceived as an attempt by V. V. Putin to retain power and had a negative impact on the perception of the domestic political situation in Russia);

– high level of class stratification;

– the economic situation in the country;

– fears that Russia can achieve political goals with the help of natural resources;

– the lack of freedom of the Russian media.

Most often in Europe, they reacted positively to such areas of activity of our country as:

– culture and art;

– openness and readiness for dialogue with European countries;

– Russia's increased influence in the international arena.

This perception of Russia in the 2000s can be explained by the simultaneous influence of many contradictory factors, as well as by the fact that the creation and correction of the existing image of Russia is a dynamic process, which is simultaneously influenced by a complex of political, historical, natural-geographical, cultural and other factors [12].

The conducted research allows us to conclude that, despite the campaigns to correct the image of Russia and the presence of positive features, the image of our country in the 2000s in Europe was mainly negative and, consequently, negatively affected Russia's international relations with European countries.

 

References
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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The subject of the peer-reviewed study is the image of Russia in the representation of Europeans in the period from 2000 to 2014. The choice of this period is clear: in 2000, Vladimir Putin became president of Russia, and the country's previous foreign policy course was increasingly being adjusted; in 2014, a landmark event took place that significantly influenced the perception of Russia in the world - the annexation of Crimea. Given Russia's extremely difficult and tense relations with Western countries, the relevance of the chosen topic cannot be overestimated. Unfortunately, the author did not bother to properly reflect on the theoretical and methodological basis of his own research, which somewhat reduced the scientific value of the reviewed work. However, from the context it can be understood that in addition to traditional general scientific analytical methods, historical and event-based methods, case study (France, Great Britain and Germany were chosen as case studies), as well as elements of discourse and content analysis of official documents and declarations and an array of publications of some Western media were used. Despite the fact that the chosen topic has been well researched, the quite correct application of these methods allowed the author to obtain results with signs of scientific novelty. First of all, the author's conclusion about the extremely contradictory nature of the set of factors that influenced the formation of Russia's image in the eyes of Europeans is of scientific interest. A deeper analysis of the energy and "status" factors that influenced the result of the above process is also useful. The structure of the reviewed work also does not cause serious complaints: it is quite logical and reflects the main aspects of the conducted research. The following sections are highlighted in the text: - "Introduction", where a scientific problem is posed, its relevance is justified, the purpose and objectives of the study are formulated; - "The "energy" image of Russia in Europe from 2000 to 2014", where the influence of the energy factor on the formation of the image of Russia in Europe is studied; - "Status conflicts" Russia and Europe", which reveals the influence on the formation of the image of Russia's desire to strengthen the status lost after the collapse of the USSR in Europe; - "The image of Russia in France in the 2000s", "The image of Russia in the UK in the 2000s" and "The image of Russia in Germany in the 2000s", which analyzes the process of forming the image of Russia in France, Great Britain and Germany, respectively; - "Conclusion", which summarizes the results the conducted research and the conclusions are formulated. From the point of view of style, the reviewed work can be qualified as a scientific study. There are a number of stylistic ones in the text (for example, the title of the article itself does not seem very successful from the point of view of style: "Vision [why not "perception", for example? – Rec.] the image of Russia by Europeans [three genitive cases in a row – rec. from 2000 to 2014"; it seems that the headline "The image of Russia in the perception [or "through the eyes"] of Europeans (2000-2014)" would be better from the point of view of scientific style; or overloaded sentences, for example: "In this study, an attempt has been made to form a holistic view of the image of Russia in Europe using the example of THAT IMAGE of THE COUNTRY [highlighted words are redundant – rec.] in Great Britain, France and Germany..."; etc.) and grammatical (for example, a missing comma in a compound sentence before the conjunction "and": "... this event had negative consequences for the image of Russia in European countries and after it the image deteriorated significantly"; another example of a missing comma before the conjunction "and": "There were several such images and they are worth listing"; or the missing comma after the turnover "except" in the sentence "In addition to accusing Russia of energy dominance and blackmail, countermeasures were considered..."; or vice versa, an extra comma in the sentence "... It is necessary to indicate how Russia was perceived earlier, therefore, to compile a holistic view of the image Russia needs ..."; etc.) errors, but in general it is written quite competently, in acceptable Russian, with correct (with some exceptions) use of scientific terminology. Among the exceptions, for example, the repeated designation of the time period from 2000 to 2014 as the "2000s", which is not entirely true. The bibliographic list includes 12 titles, including sources in foreign languages, and adequately reflects the state of research on the subject of the article. The appeal to the opponents takes place when discussing the specifics of the formation of the image of Russia in the period under study. GENERAL CONCLUSION: the article proposed for review can be qualified as a scientific work that meets the basic requirements for works of this kind. The results obtained by the author will be of interest to political scientists, political sociologists, specialists in the field of public administration, world politics and international relations, as well as to students of the listed specialties. The presented material corresponds to the topic of the magazine "World Politics". According to the results of the review, the article is recommended for publication.
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