Strategic Interference: The Evolution of Russian State-Sponsored Trolling from the Annexation of Crimea to the Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


Russia’s state-sponsored "trolls" have gained notoriety for their attempts to interfere with political discourse on social media in the U.S. and Western countries. This issue has attracted attention through scholarly research, official government investigations such as the Mueller report, and extensive media coverage, collectively raising concerns about the potential influence of these actors on social media discourse. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the former head of Russia's 'troll factory' (the Internet Research Agency - IRA), has publicly acknowledged the organization's ongoing efforts to meddle in U.S. electoral processes, although the impact of these endeavors remains a subject of debate.
This paper presents findings from a bilingual diachronic corpus analysis of the language and discourse practices employed by Russian "state trolls" (as identified by Twitter/X) on social media from the IRA and beyond during periods of conflict and socio-political turbulence, including the annexation of Crimea, the 2016 U.S. Election, the COVID pandemic, and Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The study examines the interplay between socio-political contexts and linguistic practices, shedding light on ideological stances, historical justifications, and power dynamics through the lens of language choices and usage. Employing a hybrid methodological approach, the paper combines diachronic quantitative computational lexical analysis with qualitative discourse analysis to explore publicly available "Russian troll" Twitter/X datasets from 2014 to 2020. It also offers a speculative analysis of post-2022 trolling efforts based on earlier findings.
Period21 Nov 202424 Nov 2024
Event titleASEEES 2024 Annual Convention
Event typeConference
LocationBoston, United States, MassachusettsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • disinformation
  • media studies
  • lingustics
  • propaganda