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Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest

Dossier: Révolutions conservatrices en europe centrale et orientale. Hongrie et Pologne

Russia’s Accession to the WTO. The Debate in the Russian Mass Media

Anastasia Kazuna1 and Svetlana Barsukovaa2

a1 Research Fellow, Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Lecturer at the HSE Department of Economic Sociology, adkazun@hse.ru.

a2 Deputy Head at the Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Professor at the HSE Department of Economic Sociology, sbarsukova@hse.ru

Abstract:

The paper focuses on the debates about Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that unfolded in Russia’s print media from December 2010 to December 2013. The authors highlight the initial arguments of supporters and opponents of this accession, the ways in which those arguments are presented in the media, and the differences in the standpoints of the business, government and expert communities. The authors further analyze changes in the content of this discussion and its discursive space following Russia’s accession to the WTO. Our research on print media shows that positive assessments of Russia’s accession to the WTO prevailed before it entered into force. However, after the accession negative assessments started to dominate. This may be explained by the fact that before the accession it was mainly politicians and officials who expressed support for the act, while after the accession the negative views of the business community became more prevalent. Politicians and officials supported the accession by relying on abstract values of “progress” and “open markets”, while businessmen’s (mainly agribusiness) views took into account the non-competitiveness of their industries. Media campaigns helped some industries to create images of “victims” (resulting from enforcement of the treaty) in order to legitimize the industry lobby and the need for government subsidies to compensate for the damage caused by the WTO.

Key Words:

  • risks and potential benefits of Russia’s WTO accession;
  • public discussion;
  • agenda-setting in media
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