Coverage of Presidential Elections in Kazakhstan and Ukraine by Russian Media

Koltsova O.Yu.,

National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia,

elibrary_id: 786332 | ORCID: 0000-0002-2669-3154 | RESEARCHER_ID: C-1891-2016

Judina D.I.,

St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia,

elibrary_id: 868784 | ORCID: 0000-0002-6603-0697 | RESEARCHER_ID: ABC-7801-2020

Pashakhin S.V.,

research assistant at the Social and Cognitive Informatics Laboratory, HSE Univesity, spashahin@hse

ORCID: 0000-0003-0361-2064 | RESEARCHER_ID: V-1803-2018

Kolycheva A.V.,

National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia,

elibrary_id: 792307 | ORCID: 0000-0001-9530-7184 | RESEARCHER_ID: R-5199-2016

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.06.07

For citation:

Koltsova O.Yu., Judina D.I., Pashakhin S.V., Kolycheva A.V. Coverage of Presidential Elections in Kazakhstan and Ukraine by Russian Media. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 6. P. 89-107. (In Russ.).

This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant number 19-18-00206).


Manifestations of political bias in media coverage of political events abroad, despite a large volume of research, have been only partially investigated. First, relevant studies nearly never examine how such coverage might be affected by conflicts between the countries whose media are studied and the countries covered by these media, as compared to non-conflict configurations. Second, systematic bias is usually seen as an attribute of a country’s media system as a whole, without attempts to investigate differences between specific media types within the same country. In this paper, we take a first step to address these gaps by studying how framing of elections in a country that has no conflict with Russia (Kazakhstan) and a country that does have such conflict (Ukraine) varies in different types of Russian media: those controlled by the state, liberal-oppositional and politically neutral. For this purpose, 30 popular online news outlets were selected and divided into the three aforementioned types by experts. From the totality of the news published in these media, we formed a sample of 792 news items devoted to the presidential elections in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan, so that all three media types would be equally represented. All news items were labeled into one of three framing types: pro-government, liberal and neutral. Prevalence of one of the extreme framing types in a given group of media was considered as a manifestation of systematic bias. The research has shown that pro-government bias is observed only in one, albeit dominant, group of media outlets – those controlled by the state. In the other two groups it is the neutral frame that prevails, suggesting that a large portion of the Russian audience has access to a non-pro-government way of framing international political events. However, the coverage of Ukrainian and Kazakhstan elections has been found to be visibly different. In the coverage of Ukraine, the distribution of shares of all three frame types in all three groups of media is shifted in the pro-government direction compared to the coverage of Kazakhstan. Simultaneously, texts by the oppositional media about Kazakhstan turn out to be the only group of news where the liberal frame prevails (and, therefore, the liberal bias is observed). The coverage of a non-conflict country appears to be more polarized than that of a country which has a conflict with the country of the studied media. A number of interpretations for this observation are given in the paper. 

political media bias, systematic bias frame analysis, media agenda, topic modeling, Russian media, online media, election.


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Content No. 6, 2021

See also:

Kobzeva S.V.,
Media Monitoring of Crises and Conflicts.. – Polis. Political Studies. 2008. No1

Shevchenko A.Yu.,
Discourse-Analysis of Political Media-Texts. – Polis. Political Studies. 2002. No6

Kostenko N.,
The Media at the Elections: Value Guide-Lines of the Ukrainian Political Press. – Polis. Political Studies. 1999. No6

Tuzikov A.R.,
Mass-Media: Visible and Invisible Ideology. – Polis. Political Studies. 2002. No5

Fedotova N.N.,
Mass media and the post communist transformations. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No1



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