„From the escape of Viktor Yanukovych to

the annexation of the Crimea by the
Russian Federation.
Events in the Crimea in the Polish national newspapers and
periodicals in February and March 2014.

Contexts, metaphors and meanings“

Dr Karolina Brylska
Dr Tomasz Gackowski
Dr Łukasz Szurmiński

Introduction
Why we decided to analyze this topic?
 the

issue is heavily exposed in the Polish
media discourse
 the issue is important from the perspective
of Poland and its closest neighbors
 the issue is complex, complicated, and
need to be profoundly explained to the
audience

Introduction
Purpose of the research was to check:
 to what extent the sociopolitical
journalism can be predicative
 to what extent press journalists can
explain the complex reality to their
readers

Data & Methodology
• articles (editorials: feuilletons, analysis,
comments, etc.) containing the word
„Crimea”
• published in Polish newspapers (dailies,
weeklies)
• time scale: from the escape of V.
Yanukovych to the annexation of the
Crimea by the RF (February – April 2014)
 317 articles met the criteria

Data & Methodology
• method: qualitative and quantitative content
analysis, narrative analysis (frames), quantitative
language analysis
• only text (language) examined
graphics, photos, diagrams, etc.)

(without

• Extended code key (with multiple categories –
almost fifty categories – defined as precisely as
possible - dozens of operational definitions (on
the basis of pilot research)

Temporal distribution of texts

number of publications

35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

date

Text genre

40; 13%
44; 14%

126; 40%

comment

interview
analysis

48; 15%

reportage

59; 18%

feuilleton

Number of publications by
newspapers and magazines
120
100

108

80
60

64

40
20
0

23 16 15 12 10 10 10

8

8

7

5

4

4

2

2

2

2

2

2

1

Number of publications by
newspapers and magazines

96; 30%
Daily
newspaper

221; 70%

Weekly
magazines

Number of publications by
theme sections in press
3; 1%
3; 1%
14; 4%
18; 6%
24; 7%

113; 36%

Comments/reportages
News
Foreign affairs
Special issue (Crimea)

66; 21%

Economy

Topic of the week

76; 24%

First page
Others

Nationality of authors
Polish

Ukrainian
American
Russian
English
19; 6%
10; 3%

31; 10%
257; 81%

2; 1%2; 1%
1; 1%
4; 1%
1; 1%
1; 0%
1; 0%
1; 0%
1; 0%
6; 2%
1; 0%

Belarussian
Turkish/Tartar

Polish/Ukrainian
Bulgarian

10; 3%

German
Estonian
French
Polish/Belarussian
Polish/German
Polish/American

Professions of authors
39; 12%
1; 0%

33; 11%
7; 2%
3; 1%
15; 5%

2; 1%

1; 0%
1; 0%
1; 0%
1; 0%

2; 1%

2; 1%
2; 1%

220; 69%
journalist
social activist
philosopher
political commentator
sportsmen

expert
lawyer
historian
actress
priest

2; 1%
politican
musican
writer/poet
soldier
translator

Point of view presented in
articles
140
120

129

100
80
60
40
20
0

85

43

22

11

3

2

2

1

1

Leading thread
4; 1%

12; 4%
27; 9%

54; 17%

220; 69%

political
socio-cultural
economical
military
legal

Secondary thread

6; 2%
23; 7%
75; 24%
68; 22%

socio-cultural

none
political
economical

74; 23%
71; 22%

military

legal

Historical context

128; 40%
Yes

189; 60%

No

Most frequent historical
contexts
 detachment of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
from Georgia in 2008
 the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008
 Crimea transfer from the Russian SFSR to
the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, at the 300th
anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav (1659)
 Treaty of Pereyaslav (1659)
 uprising led by Bohdan Khmelnytskyi

Definition of situation
Russia's military aggression in the
Crimea may turn into war
Russia's military aggression is a violation
of international law
sanctions against Russia may help to
stop V. Putin from escalation of the
conflict

The object and the axis of
dispute
 conflict about the power in Ukraine
 conflict about the control of the Crimea
 social and political position of the
Crimean Tatars
 conflict about the truth
 conflict between Western and Russian
perspective
 internal Polish conflict about attitude
towards events of the Crimea

The most frequent nouns in
the titles
Contrrevolution

Contrrevolution; 2

Maidan

Maidan; 4

Separatism

Separatism; 4

Fear

Fear; 4

America/U.S

America/U.S; 6

Army

Russia: 136
Western World: 80

Army; 8

Revolution

Revolution; 8

Annexation

Annexation; 8
Sanctions; 10
Kiev; 8

Kiev
Sanctions
EU

EU; 12

Kreml

Kreml; 16

Wiktor Janukowycz; 16
Moscow; 16

Moscow
Wiktor Janukowycz
Poland

Poland; 22

War

War; 22

West

West; 28

Wladimir Putin

Wladimir Putin; 38

Russia

Russia; 50

Ukraina

Ukraina; 66

Crimea

Crimea; 100
0

20

40

60

80

100

120

Scenarios in texts

106; 33%
No

211; 67%

Yes

Possible scenarios
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

44
36

scenarios in favour of Russia

scenarios in favour of Western
world

Probability of military conflict
45
40

41

35
30
25

20
15

20

10
5
0
conflict not expected

conflict expected

Scenario considered as the
most possible
long-term, international political
tension
further expansion of Russia on the
territory of Ukraine (and even
Moldova)
BUT: lack of specified scenario in 106 of
317 analyzed articles

Subject of metaphor
• Russia (inc. V. Putin)
• Western world (USA, inc. B. Obama;
Europe)
• Poland
• Ukraine (inc. Crimea)
• International relations (UkrainianRussian; Russian-Western; PolishUkrainian; Polish-Russian; PolishWestern)

Metaphors – traditional
metaphors of politics…
• Game (chess, cards) (eg. Calculation of
"geopolitical" is always the same, it consist of the
leading the little tin soldiers on a well-worn
chessboards of paper)

Metaphors – traditional
metaphors of politics…
• War (you can not shoot straight all of
your ammunition [a gradual sanctions
punishing Russia])

Metaphors – traditional
metaphors of politics…
• Theatre (eg. Putin is an actor
appearing in the absurd comedy)

Metaphors - … but also
innovative, emotional
• Sport (eg. Looking at each other like
boxers before a fight)

Metaphors - … but also
innovative, emotional
• Movement/action (He pussyfoots, gives
the impression of an indecisive and
vacillating on Syria [for Obama])

Metaphors - … but also
innovative, emotional
• Disease / body (eg. A political corpse),
Erotica (eg. Poland kneeling in front of
the US as a slut)

Metaphors - … but also
innovative, emotional
• Mythology / sacrum (eg. Russia’s stay in
purgatory)

Conclusions
• The language of description of the
Crimea’s events presents that the issue is
emotional (incertainty, fear, anger,
powerlessness, weakness, sadness),
involving and metaphorized.
• It is worth outlining that this mechanism –
metaphorization – does not fully explain
this complex situation – core of the
events, motivations, attitudes, actions,
causes and consequences.

Conclusions
• Metaphorization primarly serves to
impose certain frames and schemes of
interpretations.
• Metaphors of Crimea’s discourse seems
to give a complete model of reaction
(on the basis of acctually emotional
simplifications), but do not help recipients
understand and construct adequate
attitude and behaviour

THANK YOU FOR YOUR
ATTENTION!
karolina.brylska@id.uw.edu.pl
tomasz.gackowski@id.uw.edu.pl
lukasz.szurminski@id.uw.edu.pl

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