Russian Propaganda Colloquium

“The Use of Political Humor by Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia to Resist the Kremlin’s Propaganda”

Thursday May 17, 4:30-6pm, CMU 104

Co-Organized by the UW Department of Communication and the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asia Studies

Dr. Andrejs Berdnikovs and Pavel Marozau are participants in a Baltic-American security exchange project titled “Resisting the Kremlin’s propaganda targeted at Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia: the use of political humor,” sponsored by the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF), Baltic-American Security Exchange (BASE) program.

This project entails delivering video content to different audiences of Russian-speaking people in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltics and beyond, testing and analyzing their impact on socially and ideologically different groups. They also analyze how, by whom, and by what, means anti-Kremlin online content is blocked and censored, particularly in pre-election periods in Russia, and how content is attacked by groups of Kremlin-sponsored Internet trolls.

In this talk, they will present findings on how different audiovisual content and formats affect individual behavior / group behavior of distinct segments of Russian-speakers, what kind of audience reactions and “clicktivism” they provoke, and other related issues. They will also share their practice-driven vision for the field of political communication on the pressing challenges and shortcomings of Russian-language progressive media.

Speaker Biographies:

Andrejs Berdnikovs was a Fulbright Fellow at the UW Department of Communication in 2008-09 while earning his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Latvia. He is a civic and media activist in Latvia with experience working in such fields as strategic communication, community organizing, social / interethnic integration, and aging society-focused social entrepreneurship. Dr. Berdnikovs is also a member of the ARU TV’s Management Board, and an Editor at the European Journalism Observatory (EJO). His roots are in the community of Old Believers, a traditional ethnic and religious Russian minority in Latvia.

For many years, Dr. Berdnikovs has been involved in social integration policy, including an appointment as Adviser to the Minister of Culture, and as Chairman of the Advisory Council on National Identity and Social Integration Affairs at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia in 2011.

Pavel Marozau is a Belarusian / Estonian civic and Internet activist. In 2005, Mr. Marozau was accused of slandering the Belarusian president, and experienced politically-motivated persecution by the Belarusian authorities, for producing satirical animated films featuring a cartoon-character representing President Lukashenko. In 2006, he obtained political asylum in Estonia, where he has been living after  the Belarusian authorities’ unsuccessful attempt to arrest him in Minsk.

In 2006, Mr. Marozau established and took charge of the Valgevene Uus Tee civic organization in Estonia, which encourages the critical thinking skills of young people, and has carried out multiple media projects in the Baltics, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. In 2008-2009, he organized “Art against Dictatorship” exhibitions of Belarusian dissident artists at the U.S. Congress, the Estonian parliament, and the Oslo City Hall. In 2009, during the Geneva Summit, Mr. Marozau, together with pro-democracy activists from Iran, Burma, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Egypt, founded a coordination and cooperation network between dissidents of these countries.

Mr. Marozau founded ARU TV in 2014 as a Russian-language guerrilla / grassroots activist media organization based in Estonia and on YouTube. ARU TV’s content includes various formats: from humor-driven social commentary to animation and even animated music videos.