The “Moscow Case” as a Factor of Protest Communication Activity in the Social Network “VK”

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This paper addresses the impact of negative juridical sanctions implemented against the participants of the 2019 protest movement in Moscow on the communication in the social network “VK”. The empirical analysis of the mentions of protests and juridical prosecutions allowed to estimate the volume of discussions about the negative sanctions, to compare it with the discussions around the protest rallies and to outline the main factors affecting how active the discussion is on different episodes of negative sanctions. The results show that the coverage of the criminal persecution of activists provokes substantively less interest among the authors and the readers than the communication on the protest movement itself. Increased activity in comments is not observed, while the communication is concentrated in large communities. The input in the protest communication was not the same for sanctions against different activists: the impact was more notable when the media campaign in defense of the accused managed to involve persons with high media capital or a considerable number of people outside the protest movement. In the cases when the events around the accused were only relevant for other activists the surge in online communication turned out to be less noticeable. This implies that negative juridical sanctions are not a newsbreak themselves but have the potential to provoke an outburst in protest communication if the coverage is complemented by the traditional forms of political mobilization or includes opinion leaders.

About the authors

Ilya B. Philippov

National Research University “Higher School of Economics”

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1464-2923

postgraduate in the PhD School of Political Science

Moscow, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2022 Philippov I.B.

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