Accepted Paper:

"Putin is a real man!": pre-existing beliefs and Russian diaspora narratives about Putin's politics towards Ukraine  

Author:

Mariya Lesiv (Memorial University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will focus on the role of pre-existing beliefs, based on traumatic personal experiences in their home countries, in some Russian immigrants' utopian vision of the president of Russia as a "real man" driven by the mission of "protecting the Russian people" in Ukraine.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will address the personal narratives of Canadian Russian immigrants who hold strong pro-Putin views regarding Russia's annexation of Crimea. The focus will be on those Russians who formerly resided in the Soviet Union, but outside of Russia (predominantly in the Baltic and Caucasus republics) and experienced major social trauma after the collapse of the Communist regime. They were transformed from representatives of the dominant nation into diaspora communities that were often discriminated against (Kolstø 2001) and, thus, needed protection. With the exception of some views that connect the roots of pro-Putin sentiments to Russian history and imperialist mentality, Putin supporters are widely perceived as the victims of informational propaganda. However, the situation is more complex. Most of the Russians included in this study are educated professionals who are fluent in English and have access to multiple sources of information. Although there is no record of discrimination against Russians in Ukraine, some respond to propaganda through the prism of pre-existing beliefs based on traumatic personal experiences in their home countries. These beliefs create the need for a utopian vision of the president of Russia as a "real man" driven by the mission of "protecting the Russian people" in Ukraine. Media narratives bring these immigrants the comfort of belonging to a powerful nation, ruled by a strong, masculine leader, and the sense of protection that they once lost. In order to be protected, there is a need for "inventing the enemy" (Eco 2013).

Panel Gend005
Gender and power in communist and post-communist places