Twenty years ago, it looked like Russian President Putin would move closer to the West. What happened then? An analysis of his most important speeches provides answers.
Once a year, the Russian president delivers a comprehensive address to parliament. The frequency of individual terms in these speeches provides clues as how much Putin has isolated Russia over the years, radicalizing himself and making the country less free. The analysis of his speeches makes clear how his political priorities have shifted. It shows how Putin’s distrust of the West ultimately took full hold.
The project is intended to show how Putin’s attitudes towards Europe and the West have evolved over time, from a conciliatory stance in 2001 to a confrontational one in the present day. It uses an analysis of Putin’s speeches over the years to demonstrate how his political priorities have shifted and how his mistrust of the West has grown, which led to the radicalization of his views and ultimately the invasion of Ukraine. It provides historical context for understanding Putin’s actions and the current state of Russia’s foreign policy and relationship with the West.
We used a data-driven approach to research and report the story. The use of a Python script to collect the word count per speech, and the use of Excel to analyze the data, allowed us to examine the speeches in a quantitative manner. The use of D3 to visualize the data in the form of heatmaps and line charts helped us to make the data more accessible to the reader and to highlight key insights. The use of Scrollytelling as an interactive introduction to the text helped to guide the readers through the story, and to make it more engaging.
Context about the project:
Our objective was to provide an analytical view of Putin’s speeches, focusing on the evolution of his views on Europe and the West and how this led to the invasion of Ukraine. We wanted to gain a deeper understanding of Putin’s mindset and actions, and explain how he moved from a conciliatory stance in 2001 to a confrontational one in the present day. We used a data-driven approach and data visualization tools to make the information more accessible and highlight key insights.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
The text uses an analysis of Putin’s speeches over the years to demonstrate how his political priorities have shifted and how his mistrust of the West has grown. This can serve as an example for other journalists to analyze speeches as a way to gain insight into a leader’s attitudes and priorities.