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Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the social-media app Telegram skyrocketed in political importance in Russia. New censorship laws and the dearth of information about the war made Telegram a vital source of information for both war supporters and opponents. The pro-war, so-called “Z,” segment is especially important to study. It represents the most active supporters of the war—milbloggers, combatants, and volunteers—who have created their own public sphere on Telegram, where they coordinate their activities and discuss their motivations and concerns. Their active investment makes the pro-war activists both a resource and a threat for Putin’s government, which looks for ways to divide and control them. Meanwhile, the “Z” community is already divided, representing a variety of lived experiences and political ideologies. Parker’s research addresses the complicated dynamics within “Z” Telegram.

Alina Parker teaches in the Russian, Eurasian, and Polish Studies Program at UMass Amherst. She has a PhD in Communication from UMass (2022). Her interdisciplinary dissertation discusses politics of history in Russia after the Crimean annexation. Her research interests include postsocialism, Eastern Europe, far-right politics, and historical memory, and her work was published in East European Politics and Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research. Her current project is focused on the pro-war activists in Russia and the emerging pro-war public sphere on the social media app Telegram. Parker is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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