Trends in post-Soviet media consumption : assessing media freedom and Russian media influence in Georgia and Ukraine




Wierschke, Katherina M.

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Media assessments produced by organizations such as Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) provide a useful benchmark for gauging levels of media freedom in the post-Soviet world. However, these evaluations do not necessarily provide a complete picture of the media landscapes they assess, neglecting to factor in the effects of media consumption on democratic outcomes. This point is particularly relevant in the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, considering that both states have been the target of Russian aggression through both military and information warfare. This analysis provides a clearer picture of the interaction between trends in media consumption, effects of Russian disinformation narratives, and democratic media in Georgia and Ukraine, ultimately arguing that Russian disinformation narratives succeed in Georgia because they are disguised by nationalist rhetoric, while these same efforts fail in Ukraine due to the enforcement of censorship policies targeting Russian media sources and the implementation of nationwide media literacy campaigns. These findings have significant implications for short- and long-term understandings of democratic media and media freedom in the post-Soviet space


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