RUSSIA’S ‘SHARP POWER’ MANIFESTATIONS IN LITHUANIA’S MASS MEDIA
Keywords:Russia, sharp power, Lithuania, mass media
The concept of ‘sharp power’ has recently emerged as a reaction to the assertiveness of authoritarian regimes. It serves to underline the complexity of challenges which are posed by authoritarian regimes, referring to diverse front lines in the overall ‘battle’, be they culture, education, or the media. The latter, according to Dmitri Trenin, “has become such a crowded battlefield”. This paper attempts to fill in the information gap regarding Russia’s ‘sharp power’ manifestations in Lithuania’s mass media and focuses on NATO related messages in particular. The paper presupposes that messages which evoke an air of support for Russia’s foreign and security policy tend to pass through to Lithuania’s mass media, and argues that, as a result of the insufficient activity by Lithuania’s mass media in terms of forming an independent perception of Russia vis-à-vis NATO, the preconditions for possible manifestations of Russia’s use of sharp power are therefore created. The article is organised into four parts. The first section sets out a theoretical framework for the analysis which focuses on the concept of sharp power. Then the research methodology is outlined. The third section presents features of the informational environment of Lithuania in 2016 and 2019. The final, and most elaborated, section investigates messages which apparently serve to support Russia’s foreign and security policy in terms of the NATO‘s topic in Lithuania’s mass media based on the aforementioned criteria.