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Date of Award

Winter 5-3-2019

Thesis Access

WSU Access Only Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.A.

Department

Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Faculty Advisor

Laura Kline

Abstract

Today, many are quick to condemn President Vladimir Putin and his approach to Russia’s Second Chechen War in the early 2000s. However, a historical analysis of the war period reveals that Putin and the conflict actually received support from both domestic and foreign sources. Putin was meticulous in his presentation of the war, employing rhetoric designed to capitalize on larger domestic and global conditions to justify what was taking place. In Russia, Putin appealed to his fellow citizens’ need for stability and a core Russian identity following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the chaos of the 1990s. Abroad, Putin played to the post-9/11 hysteria and portrayed Russia as being united with the West in their Global War on Terror. The attempts were generally successful, for in Russia the majority of citizens either supported the war or were indifferent towards it because larger societal problems had their attention, and in the West—the United States in particular—one can see a clear shift in Putin’s rhetoric after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a subsequent improvement in the former opposers’ reactions. The success of Putin’s discourse was short-lived however, and one can easily attribute this to the fact that the global conditions are no longer the same and his rhetoric no longer holds to the same degree. The examination of the Second Chechen War through the context of its own time period sheds new light on contemporary criticisms of Russia.

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