There’s a Woman in Crimea Showing the Men How Blogging Is Done

by    /  December 30, 2014  / No comments

Polina Dubinina, known online as Politichanka, does not disclose her true appearance, but her LJ avatars use the image of Russian pop star Meseda Bagaudinova (pictured above). Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

This article is part of an extensive RuNet Echo study of Russian-language blogosphere in Eastern Ukraine. Explore the complete interview series on the Eastern Ukraine Unfiltered page.

She’s had a LiveJournal account for years, but Polina Dubinina, who runs the blog Politichanka, only began updating regularly last February, when the aftershocks of the revolution in Kyiv reached Crimea. Dubinina chose LiveJournal in a conscious attempt to connect to the Russian speaking world, where LJ is widely popular.

“LiveJournal is one of the most famous and popular platforms on the Russian-language Internet segment. Because of this, people who live in Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia prefer to to use this platform for their personal blogging. And I’m no exception.”

While many political bloggers in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine tend to view their online activity primarily as spreading important information or furthering a political cause, Dubinina runs her blog more as a platform for discussion, regularly engaging in long conversations in the comment threads on her posts, which sometimes include dozens of back-and-forth replies. Dubinina often polls her readers about issues, creating a barometer that is also a launchpad for for further discussion.

RuNet Echo asked Dubinina about her motivations.

I made this blog specially to discuss politics. In general, the aim of my blog is to discuss political events in Russia and the world with my friends … [but I also] read the opinions of friends who live in different regions of Russia and Ukraine. It’s interesting to interact with people from different cities and countries and learn about various opinions.

Dubinina moderates her discussions by a defined a set of rules. Diversity of opinion is allowed, she says, but bad language and personal insults result in deleted posts or a permanent ban of the user responsible.

Like most Crimeans, Dubinina is supportive of the “reunification” of Crimea and Russia, which she feels is a direct consequence of the Maidan movement and the “Junta” that arose in its wake. She is highly critical of Ukrainian media that she feels tried to paint the annexation as unpopular among Crimeans themselves.

There is this propaganda about how inhabitants of Crimea didn’t want to be part of Russia. But in reality, the majority of Crimea’s inhabitants were on the whole pleased with the reunification with Russia.

Dubinina however is equally critical of Russian media, which she says have portrayed the uprisings in Donetsk and Lugansk as organic popular uprisings. In her opinion, Russian soldiers are mostly to blame for the rebellion.

We have a lot of people from the Donbas holidaying in Feodosiya right now. This is their disposition: it doesn’t matter what country they’re in. The main thing is for their cities to stop being destroyed.

Dubinina is critical of both the Ukrainian military and the militia fighting them, expressing sympathy for the civillian population caught in the crossfire. “I hold generally pacifist beliefs,” she explains.

Like many bloggers in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, she privileges personal contacts and Internet-driven information over mainstream media.

Lately I don’t believe media reports, I don’t even watch television. [I believe] my relatives who live in [the south-eastern Ukrainian city of] Zaporizhzhya, or my friends online, whom I’ve known for a long time, and draw my conclusions from them.

Generally speaking, male voices dominate the RuNet’s political discourse. As a woman, Politichanka is an exception to this trend.

Men write to me often, saying that, as a woman, I shouldn’t be writing about politics. But I consider this unfair. Politics isn’t like dragging bags of cement. Both men and women can discuss politics… so I consider phrases like “you’re a women, don’t write about politics” to be obsolete chauvinism.

Despite this, Dubinina does concede that women’s voices are often ignored in political discussions.

“Alas, people unfortunately are used to listening to men’s opinions in politics, and not women’s.”

In many ways, Dubinina’s blog operates more like a community than a traditional blog, like others popular in Crimea. Its unusual blend of classic blogging and more interactive “social media” is precisely why Politichanka represents the changing face of “blogging” on the Russian Internet, where so many netizens are migrating to Facebook and similar platforms.

Written by Daniel Alan Kennedy

This article was originally published by Global Voices on August 7, 2014.

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