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Online and Offline Responses to Protest in Electoral Autocracies: Evidence from Russia

Seminar: Online and Offline Responses to Protest in Electoral Autocracies: Evidence from Russia - Anita Gohdes (with Katerina Tertytchnaya​) (Hertie School)

14:00-15:00 (IST) Wednesday, April 7.

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Abstract: An influential scholarship shows that contemporary autocrats respond to dissent using a combination of online and offline tactics. Yet, we know little about the relationship between online and offline responses to protest, in particular in the context of electoral autocracies. In this paper we study the extent to which responses in the online and offline sphere operate as complements or substitutes. In addition, we explore whether the regime’s uncertainty with regard to the scale of protests affect the synchronization of online and offline tactics. To gain traction on these question, we investigate the Russian government’s response to two waves of large-scale, anti-corruption protests taking place in March and June 2017. Offline, we analyze strategies of preventive repression, such as officially denying permissions for demonstrations, as well as responsive repression, such as arrests of protesters. Online, we study the social media activity of accounts belonging to the Prime Minister and the Kremlin. Our preliminary descriptive results show important variation in online and offline strategies adopted in anticipation of, and in response to the March and June protests. They also suggest that in both instances, online responses followed similar patterns to the offline repression. Our findings have important implications for our understanding of authoritarian resilience in the context of increasingly networked protest.

About the speaker: (opens in a new window)Anita Gohdes is a Professor of International and Cyber Security at the (opens in a new window)Hertie School in Berlin. Previously, I was Assistant Professor of International Relations at the (opens in a new window)University of Zurich, and postdoctoral research fellow at the (opens in a new window)Belfer Center and the (opens in a new window)Women and Public Policy Program in the (opens in a new window)Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on political violence, state repression and the measurement of human rights. Anita's work has been covered by various (opens in a new window)news outlets and is accepted or appears in the American Journal of Political Science,  Journal of Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Significance, Journal of Human Rights, and at Oxford University Press.