Université de Strasbourg

Fellows Seminar - Propaganda of violence in Putin’s memory politics

March 14, 2024
From 14:00 until 15:30
MISHA, Strasbourg

By Dina Khapaeva, 2023 Fellow

Two years into Russia’s war against Ukraine, Putin’s domestic support endures. Under the pretext that Ukrainians were Nazis because they wanted to join the EU, and Satanists in cahoots with the Devil and the West, the Kremlin was able to mobilize half-a-million men, of whom approximately half were wounded or died in combat. Russian soldiers committed war crimes against Ukrainian civilians that have been justly called ‘medieval.’ The tenacity of Putinism and the willingness of Russians to participate in atrocities was facilitated by the propaganda of violence.

I argue that the Kremlin has compensated for its lack of ideology with a massive politics of memory, which changed the meaning of several historical events and reshaped Russians’ historical memory. By focusing on historical instances of Russian state terror, this politics transformed these crimes into the country’s valued heritage and its perpetrators into national heroes. Analyzing films and TV series sponsored either by the Kremlin or its proxies since 2000, I expose the dynamics of this memory politics, its primary goals, and its message, and discuss its correlation with the political events leading to February 24, 2022.

An example of one of the TV series that Dina Khapaeva analyses:

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