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Crisis Communication under Terrorist Threat: a Case Study of Counterterrorist Operation in Chechnya


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The article analyses crisis communication and media relations of the Department of Information of the President of Russia for years 2000-2004 during the counterterrorist operation in Chechen Republic. …

The article analyses crisis communication and media relations of the Department of Information of the President of Russia for years 2000-2004 during the counterterrorist operation in Chechen Republic. The findings are based on official documents and media messages.

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  • 1. Crisis Communication under Terrorist Threat: a Case Study of Counterterrorist Operation in Chechnya Elena Gryzunova Ph.D. Student, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), Russia. Paper presented at the 4th European Communication Conference, Istanbul, 25.10.2012 © Elena Gryzunova, 2012Intellectual property. No part can be reproduced without a reference to the author 1
  • 2. Terrorism is violence thatconsists in itself a threat ofmore violence designed tocause social disruption, panicand victimization within thecommunity for the purpose ofpolitical change.2 10 14
  • 3. Characteristics ofModern Terrorism Civil targets,Widespread mass in the victimizatiocyberspace n Religious motivation, Internationa use of l or global distorted Islamic terms3 10 14
  • 4. Terrorism as Communication:the Role of Traditional Media“Terrorism is aimed at the people watching, not atthe actual victims. Terrorism is theater”. (Brian M.Jenkins, 1974) THE MASS MEDIA Terror act is an ideal media product widely broadcasted 4 10 14
  • 5. Communication Circle ofTerrorism5 10 14
  • 6. Antiterrorist Governmental Media Policy Forming a loyal terrorism-reporting press pool. Development of consensus communicational strategies. Education, not victimization. Alert, not panic. Joint media/government simulation trainings. Designation of a spokesperson responsible for governmentalantiterrorist communication. Creation of a special media center. Being premium newsmaker omnipresent in the news field. Joint media/ government control of interpretations and of verbaldesignations. Restrictions for: 1) live and unedited interviews with terrorists, 2)secret details of counter-terror and hostage-release operations, 3)intimidating details. Soft control by means of exclusive information. Partnership and two-way communication: using the media as thesource of information. 6 10 14
  • 7. Terrorism as Communication:the Role of New Media 7 10 14
  • 8. Terrorism and Islam:Misconceptions andCommunication Traps 108 14
  • 9. Levels of Social Disruption and itsPrevention LEVEL TERRORISM GOVERNMENT •distrust to the authorities •forming patriotism, civil consciousness •political extremism and confidenceIndividual as •political apathy •image makinga citizen •wish to change the state system or •news making and response to leave the country disinformation mass fear, inadequate perception of •informing of terror manipulativeIndividual as reality, panic, apathy, spontaneous mechanisms aggression •psychological rehabilitationa personality •general preventive measures: ethical and educational hostility, conflicts, violence, genocide, •disclaiming terrorists’ support of anyGroups and separatism social group •general preventive measures: inter-groupgroup dialogue and consolidative ideasbehavior total demolition of a social structure: complex measures on all the previous revolutions, civil wars levelsSociety 9 14
  • 10. The Crisis ParadigmCrisis is an unpredictable perceiveddisruption of a social unit whichthreatens its integrity, reputation orsurvival, challenges the public’s sense ofsafety, values or appropriateness andrequires immediate action under thecircumstances of uncertainty, urgencyand increased attention.10 14
  • 11. Terrorism as a Crisis:the Classification Variations A form of crisis of malevolence (Lerbinger;Coombs) A conflict crisis (Quarantelli) or a mixedconflict-consensus crisis (Peek, Sutton) Political and social crisis (Morozova et al.) Terrorism crisis as a special type (Shrivastava).Terrorism crises “evolve end emerge as economic,social and political processes over time"; provoke bothphysical and social disruptions; require the design anddevelopment of special systems for terrorism crisiscommunications.11 14
  • 12. Genesis and Extension of a Crisis A crisis can have either an objective or a subjective reason. It can be based on a real event as well as on a rumor or a willful disinformation.The objective and subjective sides are interconnected so the crisis extends on both. 12 14
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  • 14. A Case Study of Counterterrorist Operation in Chechnya Russian Counterterrorist Communication Strategy 2000-2004: integrated crisis communication system14
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  • 16. Integrated Crisis Communication System:Organizational StructureHierarchy within the Social net cooperation withgovernmental structure other organizations16
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  • 20. Framing the counterterrorist operation Sense making (determination of the events’ parameters) Meaning making (definition of the situation) TASKS: - substantiate the necessity of the counterterrorist operation; - discredit the enemy; - gain support of the Russian government by different target audiences; - improve the image of the Russian army; - respond to any threats in the information field20
  • 21. Status of the Chechen Republic - the status of the Chechen Republic as a constituent entity of the Russian Federation, the integral part of the country; - the Russian authorities follow the basic principle of territorial integrity of a State; - Russia’s actions correspond to the Constitution, national and international laws21
  • 22. The Mission of the CounterterroristOperation WAR ON TERRORISM COUNTERTERRORIST OPERATION  The media and the citizens were against wars  The term “war” provides the terrorists with equal political status THE MISSION: - liquidation if the illegal armed groups; - ensuring security of the Russian citizens; - re-establishment of the constitutional order on the territory of the Chechen Republic22
  • 23. Sense Making: Threat Determination FORMULATION OF THREATS SUSTAINED BY FACTS: - the threat to the sovereignty and the integrity of the Russian Federation; - the threat to the security of Russian and foreign citizens; - the transnational threat of proliferation of terrorism, crime and drug traffic; - the threat to basic values such as democracy and human rights23
  • 25. Table of contents Terrorism Characteristics of Modern Terrorism Terrorism as Communication: the Role of Traditional Media Communication Circle of Terrorism Antiterrorist Governmental Media Policy Terrorism as Communication: the Role of New Media Terrorism and Islam: Misconceptions and Communication Traps Levels of Social Disruption and its Prevention The Crisis Paradigm Terrorism as a Crisis: the Classification Variations Genesis and Extension of a Crisis Crisis Life Cycle A Case Study of Counterterrorist Operation in Chechnya First Chechen Campaign / Counterterrorist Operation Integrated Crisis Communication System: Organizational Structure Organizational Structure 2 The Information Policy Department of the President’s Administration Field Crisis Communication Centers Framing the Counterterrorist Operation Status of the Chechen Republic The Mission of the Counterterrorist Operation Sense Making: Threat Determination Meaning Making: Identity Attribution of Terrorists25
  • 26. Thank you for your attention!Contact information:Elena GryzunovaMoscow, RussiaMoscow State Institute of International Relations(MGIMO-University)+7-916-607-2770+7-926-170-7334Mail2.elena@mail.ru26