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What Do Twitter Users in Ukraine and Russia Say About Their Presidents? An Introduction

Photo by Kamyar Adl on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Photo by Kamyar Adl on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

This article is part of a citizen-media data-analysis project, a collaboration between RuNet Echo and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Explore the complete article series on the All the Presidents’ Tweets page.

Both Ukraine and Russia have loomed large on the social-media radar in recent months, not in the least because of the political and social turmoil caused by the Euromaidan protests and the ongoing international conflict in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Amid the political, military, and information struggles, Internet users often resort to discussing public figures, officials, and politicians as representing the best and worst of their countries, and none have been as central to recent events as the leaders of the two states.

RuNet Echo decided to investigate how Russian and Ukrainian Twitter users talk about their presidents—Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. Which one do they talk about more? What do they say and in what context? What images and multimedia do users associate with these prominent politicians? To find answers to these and some other questions, we've been collecting tweets since October 2014, and now have a corpus of over six million tweets mentioning Putin or Poroshenko in English, Russian, and Ukrainian. Only a fraction of this huge data set represents tweets posted by Russians and Ukrainians, of course, but that still means we have thousands upon thousands of data points that can reveal insights about the public discourse around these two men.

Over the next few months, we'll be publishing the results of our analysis and telling you the stories that emerge from the Twitter data. Stay tuned for engaging infographics, unexpected discoveries, and fun multimedia collections, all based on what Russian and Ukrainian Twitter has been saying about the two presidents.

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