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COVID-19 Vaccination policies in an autocratic context: Belarus vs. Russia


Weiss, Daniel (2023). COVID-19 Vaccination policies in an autocratic context: Belarus vs. Russia. In: Thielemann, Nadine; Weiss, Daniel. Remedies against the Pandemic : How politicians communicate crisis management. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 136-168.

Abstract

The paper continues a book chapter devoted to the Belarusian and Russian crisis management during the first months of the pandemic (Weiss 2022). The present chapter examines the second half of 2021 when vaccines were already available in both countries. It is based on data from speeches broadcast on TV, reports by so-called “foreign agents”, i.e. Russian independent investigative agencies, and online news including the official Kremlin site. The main research question focuses on the impact of vaccination on both Lukašenko’s and Putin’s policies: how did their communication strategies change, what was their own stance towards vaccination, and how did they cope with peoples’ reluctance to get vaccinated? The tools to achieve this goal are mainly provided by argumentation theory and impoliteness theory. The comparison is somewhat impeded by Lukašenko being a tacit COVID denier who rejected any compulsive protective measures but nevertheless had to support vaccination. He mercilessly insulted his ministers who tried to impose protective measures on citizens and he tended to conflate online bloggers criticizing his crisis management with his political opponents. Putin backed the vaccination campaign but did not succeed in overcoming the masses’ passive resistance despite a “split-voice” strategy: whereas he officially maintained his image of an unbiased father of the nation, state media such as the TV station “Russia today”, which attacked anti-vaxxers very aggressively, portrayed him as the main decision-maker and ruthless punisher. His publicly pronounced arguments against compulsory vaccination proved very weak.

Abstract

The paper continues a book chapter devoted to the Belarusian and Russian crisis management during the first months of the pandemic (Weiss 2022). The present chapter examines the second half of 2021 when vaccines were already available in both countries. It is based on data from speeches broadcast on TV, reports by so-called “foreign agents”, i.e. Russian independent investigative agencies, and online news including the official Kremlin site. The main research question focuses on the impact of vaccination on both Lukašenko’s and Putin’s policies: how did their communication strategies change, what was their own stance towards vaccination, and how did they cope with peoples’ reluctance to get vaccinated? The tools to achieve this goal are mainly provided by argumentation theory and impoliteness theory. The comparison is somewhat impeded by Lukašenko being a tacit COVID denier who rejected any compulsive protective measures but nevertheless had to support vaccination. He mercilessly insulted his ministers who tried to impose protective measures on citizens and he tended to conflate online bloggers criticizing his crisis management with his political opponents. Putin backed the vaccination campaign but did not succeed in overcoming the masses’ passive resistance despite a “split-voice” strategy: whereas he officially maintained his image of an unbiased father of the nation, state media such as the TV station “Russia today”, which attacked anti-vaxxers very aggressively, portrayed him as the main decision-maker and ruthless punisher. His publicly pronounced arguments against compulsory vaccination proved very weak.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Slavonic Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
410 Linguistics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Gender Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:Belarus, Russia, vaccination, anti-vaxxers, pandemic, impoliteness, argumentation
Language:English
Date:August 2023
Deposited On:15 Feb 2024 09:50
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 03:34
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing
Series Name:Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture
Number:102
ISSN:1569-9463
ISBN:9789027249579
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.102.05wei
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)