40 'supports', 20 'economies' and one 'quarantine': what words Putin uses in addresses to the nation

The Russian president doesn't like to mention coronavirus, using the words 'situations' and 'difficulties' instead

40 'supports', 20 'economies' and one 'quarantine': what words Putin uses in addresses to the nation
Photo: kremlin.ru

Russia's President Vladimir Putin for the sixth time in just over 3 months has delivered an address to Russian citizens, which the official website of the Kremlin refers to as 'Statements on important issues' earlier this week. Twice these speeches concerned the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II (on May 9, when the Victory parade was cancelled due to quarantine, and on June 24, when it was still held), three times they were dedicated to the coronavirus epidemic and the introduction of quarantine measures, the last time they were dedicated to the day of voting on amendments to the Constitution. Realnoe Vremya has conducted a content analysis of his recent speeches, learning that the president of Russia does not like to mention “coronavirus”, using the word “situations” and “difficulties”, prefers to appeal to friendly unity with the Russians, and instead of “restrictions” he likes to tell — to be more precisely “offer” — support.

Three of the six addresses were “coronavirus” ones — as mush he appealed to Victory

The “parade of Putin's speeches” was opened by the actual address of March 25, 2020, when he declared the following week as non-working, with the preservation of wages (from March 28 to April 5). This was followed, just a week later, by another “Covid” address, where the decision was announced to extend the non-working days until the end of the month, that is, until April 30 inclusive.

The last coronavirus address to the Russians is dated June 23. In it, he also summed up the “Covid” speeches, noting at the very beginning: “On March 25, I first addressed you in connection with the threat of the spread of coronavirus infection.” It is also the first appeal, one way or another, caused by the upcoming vote on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In it, Putin proposed changing the tax rate on personal income from 13 to 15 per cent for those who earn more than 5 million rubles a year — to support less well-off families from the collected taxes.

The last address of June 30, which is typical, was also tied to the 75th anniversary of the Victory, and was made against the backdrop of the “monument to hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers who fought at Rzhev”, which the president mentioned in the first words of the address.

Twice the speeches concerned the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II (May 9 and June 24). Photo: kremlin.ru

The first address of the president was more “friendly”

Interestingly, only in the first two addresses to the nation of Putin, caused by emergency measures, epidemic and lockout, in addition to the mandatory, as in others beginnings “Dear citizens of Russia!”, he used more “warm” words as well: “Dear friends!” (April 2, in anticipation of the month-long lockout, which is rare — these were the first words in the address: “Dear friends! Dear citizens of Russia!”). In the first coronavirus addresses, Putin was also warmer in the finals.

On March 25, he finished with the words with “Thank you for your attention”. On April 2, he also wished the Russians good health. In addresses in honour of the victory, for obvious reasons, at the end there was a “Hurrah!”. And in the messages to the people from June 23 and June 30, dedicated to the amendments to the Constitution, there was just “Thank you”.

Only in the first two addresses to the nation of Putin, caused by emergency measures, epidemic and lockout, in addition to the mandatory beginning “Dear citizens of Russia!”, he used more “warm” words. Photo: kremlin.ru

“Now we are for everyone — only of Russia” — what Putin most often said

Realnoe Vremya has made a simple content analysis of Vladimir Putin's speeches over the past 3 months, starting from March 25, when the head of the state announced a week of self-isolation based on several services, receiving a cloud of words most often used by the president of the Russian Federation in his addresses to the Russian people. Apart from prepositions (“on”, “for”), Putin most often used the pronouns “we”, “all”, “us”, adverbs “only” and “now”, and the noun “Russia”.

The main “contour” statement in general sounds like this:" “Now FOR all of US — ALL of us — only FOR Russia”, indicating the intention to somehow unite themselves and society (as well as society as a whole).

Interestingly, Putin often tries to use the words “Russia” and “we” rather than “people” and “citizens”, which still sound too abstract and official.

The Russian president doesn't like to mention coronavirus, using the words “situations” and “difficulties” instead

Despite the prominent “covidness” of most of the speeches of the head of the state, the coronavirus was mentioned only nine times, instead of it, Putin tried to use the word “epidemic”. Putin often used the words “I suggest” (19 times), as well as “I emphasise”, which, obviously, had to somehow balance the negative effect of referring to the disease.

But almost 30 times Putin also used the word “must”: “We must learn from this situation”, “Support must reach every child”, “The decisions on the use of these funds, this money, must be transparent”, "..the created mechanisms must become the basis for improving employment services”.

Most often, the word “must” did not refer to the Russians themselves, but to officials, officials, or the economy (and the laws) — that is, they must do so, but the probability that they will do exactly as Putin “suggests” is not 100 per cent. To minimise the use of the word “epidemic”, Putin tried to use more abstract words, such as “situations” (27 times) or “difficulties” (10 times).

Putin prefers to talk about the support, he often asks for and wants — and almost no mention of restrictions

According to the cloud of words, for example, “epidemic”, “difficulties” and “regime” having negative connotations were mentioned incomparably less often than the word “support”, “measures” or “our victory”. Only once Putin used the word “quarantine”, and then in the context of “the wall of quarantines and restrictions” in other countries, but not in Russia. Even the word “self-isolation” was used by the president only twice, as well as the word “infection”, preferring the word “restrictions” — 10 times (often together with the word “forced”). And only seven times he remembered “illness” and “infection”.

For comparison, more than 40 times Putin mentioned the word “support”, more than 20 times — “economy”, and 14 times “I want” together with the words “to thank you”, “to wish”, “to emphasize” — as much as the word “please”. And more than 10 times he used the expression “dear friends” (changing them twice to “dear veterans”).

By Sergey Afanasyev