The good, the bad and the dancing king

In my previous post, I looked at the frequencies of different countries and organizations in Putin’s speeches. But we can also check which countries appear more frequently in positive and negative contexts, like I did once. This time I made a list of all countries of the world plus some organizations like NATO and the UN, and found all sentences in which these forms occur in Putin’s speeches from 2012 until now. Next, I carried out a sentiment analysis of the data with the help of RuBERT for Sentiment Analysis from the awesome Hugging Face AI community. The model was trained on social media posts.

The algorithm gave a rating (Positive, Negative or Neutral) to every sentence. Below you can see the proportions of Positive and Negative ratings for the names with frequency greater than 20. If you add up the positive and negative score of a country or organization, and subtract it from 1, you’ll get the neutral score. We’ll focus here only on positive and negative scores, because they are the most revealing ones.

Proportions of positive and negative ratings of sentences where these proper names occur.

Russia is often mentioned in positive contexts, although there are also some negative ones, in which it is represented as a victim of Western aggression and arrogance. It is located in the bottom right corner together with Israel, Brazil and Argentina. Surprisingly, Israel has the most positive ratings. But if the Foreign Minister Lavrov keeps saying that Hitler was a Jew, and Israel is forced to support the anti-Russian sanctions, this is likely to change.

Countries of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), as well as Egypt, India, Japan, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam, occur always in positive contexts. Many of these countries were either part of the USSR or were in its zone of influence, such as Egypt, India, Mongolia and Vietnam. Putin once said, “The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.” We can see that he’s been trying really hard to resurrect the USSR, using verbal and non-verbal means.

The contexts with Iraq and, Libya are negative, and never positive because of their role as examples of the detrimental results of the Western aggression. This is one of the leitmotifs of Putin’s propaganda. NATO is only negative, too, due to the same reason. China, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine, the UN and the USA are used in positive and negative contexts, but with very different ratios.

At the same time, two European countries, Austria and Italy, occur frequently in positive contexts and do not occur in negative contexts. Their elites have a history of strong personal ties with Putin’s regime (remember the ex-Austrian minister who waltzed with Putin at her wedding?). So, European countries and the EU are used in quite diverse contexts, which reflects the lack of unity in the EU’s policy towards Russia.

Apparently, Vladimir Putin has fond memories of Austria.

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