When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the world was shocked to learn how often Russians fell for the Kremlin’s pro-war propaganda pushed through loyal state media. Some citizens even trusted television reports more than they believed their own family members in Ukraine. In his talk, Dr. Shirikov will explain how authoritarian media can gain and cultivate such public trust, presenting evidence from surveys and experiments he conducted in Russia in recent years. He will discuss whether Russians are–as scholars often think–sophisticated and discerning news consumers, why they find propaganda messages credible, and why so few of them seek alternative information sources. This research offers insights into how Vladimir Putin’s regime manages public opinion and maintains acceptance of the war.
Anton Shirikov is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Russian Politics at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University. His first book project, currently in progress, examines trust in propaganda and the strategies of news discernment in Putin’s Russia. His research and commentary have been featured in the Washington Post, Financial Times, USA Today, PBSNewsHour, and other outlets. Anton holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before pursuing academic studies, he worked as a journalist and editor in Russian independent media.