Political Trust and Russian Media in Latvia

Open access


Russia’s attempts to influence public opinion outside its borders attracted increased interest in the context of its involvement in the war in Ukraine, Brexit referendum, the elections in the US and other political processes in the West. This article focuses on the assumption that Russian activities in the information environment of NATO and the EU member states among other things are aimed at undermining public trust in democratic governance institutions. Russian state-owned media is one of the tools about how Kremlin disseminates and promotes its worldview within and outside Russia’s borders; therefore, the research questions being addressed in this paper are related to the relationship between political trust and consumption of Russian media. To study this issue, Latvia was chosen as an outstanding case due to the relatively large presence of Russian media content in its information environment. The paper examines the trends of Russian media consumption and political trust in Latvia to assess if this is a fruitful further research area since linking political trust and Russia’s information activities is a new perspective on the issue. The theoretical part of the paper outlines the concept of political trust and the factors affecting it as they are identified in previous research, with a specific focus on the impact of media on political trust. The empirical part of the paper examines the trends in the growth of the audience of the TV channels retranslating Russian media content and political trust in Latvia in the period from 2007 to 2017. Considering that political trust in Latvia is increasing alongside with an increase in Russian media consumption, this paper suggests several further research directions with a focus on political and economic performance indicators and the impact of domestic media.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Avery James M. 2009. Videomalaise or Virtuous Circle?: The Influence of the News Media on Political Trust. International Journal of Press/Politics 14(4) pp. 410-433.

  • Baltijas Mediju Alianse. n.d. PBK. Available at: http://1bma.lv/ru/virzieni/televizija/pbk/

  • Bershidsky Leonid. 2017. Facebook Ads Reveal the Real Russian Game. Bloomberg November 2. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-02/facebook-ads-reveal-the-real-russian-game

  • Berzina Ieva. 2018. Russia’s Narratives and Public Opinion in the Baltic States Finland and Sweden. In: Russia’s Footprint in the Nordic-Baltic Information Environment NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. Available at: https://www.stratcomcoe.org/russias-footprint-nordic-baltic-information-environment-0

  • Ed. Berzina I. (2016). The Possibility for Societal Destabilization in Latvia: Potential National Security Threats. Center for Security and Strategic Research National Defence Academy of Latvia. Available at: http://www.naa.mil.lv/~/media/NAA/AZPC/Publikacijas/WP%2004-2016-eng.ashx

  • Catterberg Gabriela Moreno Alejandro. 2006. The Individual Bases of Political Trust: Trends in New and Established Democracies. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18(1) pp. 31-48.

  • Ceron Andrea Vincenzo Memoli. 2015. Trust in Government and Media Slant: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Media Effects in Twenty-Seven European Countries. International Journal of Press/Politics pp. 1-21.

  • Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 2011. Distribution of population by statistical regions republic cities and counties according to the most commonly used languages at home on March 1 2011. http://data1.csb.gov.lv/sq/22441

  • Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 2018a. GDP in total thousands Euro at actual prices. Available at: http://data1.csb.gov.lv/sq/22547

  • Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 2018b. Total unemployment age group 15-74. Available at: http://data1.csb.gov.lv/sq/22548

  • Easton David. 1975. A Re-Assessment of the Concept of Political Support. British Journal of Political Science 5(4) pp. 435-457.

  • The Economist. 2017. Putin’s Prevaricating Puppets: RT’s Propaganda is Far Less Influential than Westerners Fear. The Economist January 19. Available at: https://www.economist.com/europe/2017/01/19/rts-propaganda-is-far-less-influential-than-westerners-fear

  • European Commission. n.d. Standard Eurobarometer. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/eb_arch_en.htm

  • European Parliament. 2016. European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties. Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P8-TA-2016-0441&format=XML&language=EN

  • Freedom House. n.d. Nations in Transit Methodology. Available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit-methodology

  • Helmus Todd C. Bodine-Baron Elizabeth Radin Andrew Magnuson Madeline Mendelsohn Joshua Marcellino William Bega Andriy and Winkelman Zev. 2018. Russian Social Media Influence: Understanding Russian Propaganda in Eastern Europe. RAND Corporation. Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2237.html

  • Hetherington M. J. 1998. The Political Relevance of Political Trust. American Political Science Review 92(4) pp. 791-808.

  • Hetherington M. J. 2006. Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  • Ikstens Janis. 2018. Ar balsi vien? Mediju patēriņa vērtīborientāciju un valdības darbības vērtējuma ietekme uz Latvijas iedzīvotāju attieksmēm pret valsts drošību. [By voice alone? Impact of media consumption value orientation and government activity assessment on the attitudes of the Latvian population towards national security]. In Zobena Aija (ed.) Apmaldījušies brīvībā: sociālā anomija Latvijā. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds.

  • Kantar TNS. 2018. Konsolidētās TV skatīšanās laika daļa (Share%) [Consolidated TV viewing time share (Share%)]. Kantartns.lv. Available at: http://www.kantartns.lv/petijumu-dati/televizija/

  • Kremlin. 2016a. Meeting of Russian Federation ambassadors and permanent envoys. Kremlin.ru June 30. Available at: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/52298

  • Kremlin. 2016b. Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. Kremlin.ru October 27. Available at: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/53151

  • Latvijas Fakti. 2017. Latvijas iedzīvotāju medijpratība. [Media literacy of Latvian society]. Available at: https://www.km.gov.lv/uploads/ckeditor/files/mediju_politika/petijumi/Medijpratiba_petijuma%20rezultati_Latvijas%20Fakti_18_07_2017.pdf

  • Levi Margaret Stoker Laura. 2000. Political Trust and Trustworthiness. Annual Review of Political Science 3 pp. 475-507.

  • Mediascope. n.d. Danniye po auditorii. [Audience data]. Available at: http://mediascope.net/services/media/media-audience/tv/national-and-regional/audience/

  • Moy Patricia Scheufele Dietram A. 2000. Media Effects on Political and Social Trust. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 77(4) pp. 744-759.

  • Mutz Diana C. Reeves Byron. 2005. The New Videomalaise: Effects of Televised Incivility on Political Trust. American Political Science Review 99(1) pp. 1-15.

  • NEPLP. 2016. Cable operators. All Programs. Available at: https://neplpadome.lv/lv/sakums/kabelu-operatori/visi-kanali.html#kanals-290

  • Norris Pipa. 2000. A Virtuous Cycle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Potapova Kristina. 2017. How We Have Become an Enemy in the Eyes of Russia: The EU as Portrayed by Kremlin Propaganda. Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. Available at: https://www.martenscentre.eu/sites/default/files/publication-files/kremlin-propaganda-european-union-enemy-russia.pdf

  • Robinson Michael J. 1976. Public Affairs Television and the Growth of Political Malaise: The Case of “The Selling of the Pentagon”. The American Political Science Review 70(2) pp. 409-432.

  • Rose Richard Mishler William. 2010. Political Trust and Distrust in Post-Authoritarian Contexts. CSPP Studies in Public Policy 474. Available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2138785

  • Rumpeters Oskars. 2017. Dzīve ne tikai digitālajā. Mūsdienu mediju patēriņš Latvijā. [Life is not only digital. Contemporary media consumption in Latvia.] Presentation at the conference of Latvian Advertising Association. Available at: http://www.lra.lv/webroot/file/uploads/files/LRA_GK_Oskars%20Rump%C4%93ters_Dz%C4%ABve_ne_tikai_digit%C4%81laj%C4%81.pdf

  • Strömbäck Jesper Djerf-Pierre Monika Shehata Adam. 2016. A Question of Time? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Relationship between News Media Consumption and Political Trust. International Journal of Press/Politics 21(1) pp. 88-110.

  • Transparency International. n.d. Corruption Perceptions Index. Available at: https://www.transparency.org/research/cpi

  • Van der Meer Tom W.G. 2017. Political Trust and the “Crisis of Democracy”. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Available at: http://politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-77

  • Weisburd Andrew Watts Clint and Berger J.M. 2016. Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy. War on the Rocks November 6. Available at: https://warontherocks.com/2016/11/trolling-for-trump-how-russia-is-trying-to-destroy-our-democracy/

  • Whiteley Paul Clarke Harold D. Sanders David and Stewart Marianne. 2016. Why Do Voters Lose Trust in Governments? Public Perceptions of Government Honesty and Trustworthiness in Britain 2000-2013. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 18(1) pp. 234-254.

Journal information
Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 44 44 23
PDF Downloads 33 33 24