“Victims of Democracy” or “Enemies at the Gates”? Russian Discourses on the European “Refugee Crisis”

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With over one million people arriving in Europe as refugees, the UN Refugee Agency declared 2015 “the year of Europe’s refugee crisis.” This article explores the meaning-making process surrounding the “refugee crisis” in a Russian context, using discourse theory to analyze representations of refugees, Russia, and the West in opinion pieces and interview articles in three major Russian newspapers. In addition to the humanitarian and security discourses presented in existing studies, I identify a geopolitical discourse that represents refugees as victims of interventionism and democratization processes that the West has promoted in the Middle East and North Africa. More generally, this study adds to the literature on discursive construction of identity and difference.