Raigala’s Police Chief and Mayor played by Latvians Arnis Liticis and Ivars Kalniņš. (screenshot NTV)

Raigala’s Police Chief and Mayor played by Latvians Arnis Liticis and Ivars Kalniņš. (screenshot NTV)

Peer-reviewed articles Pribaltification on Russian TV Looking at smaller Baltic neighbors through Russia’s “mind’s eye”

This article will introduce the term “pribaltification”, designating the tendencies in the Soviet Union and Russia to imagine and represent the Soviet Baltic republics – and later the independent states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – as a largely uniform political and cultural entity, and to significantly blur the cultural and linguistic distinctions between the natives of these republics/countries. Analyzing the narrative and semiotic systems that underpin design and production strategies in an audio-visual text of a Russian television serial Gastrolery [Guest Performers], I will demonstrate that representations/metageographies of Lithuania and Lithuanians articulated in the film closely align with the principle of “pribaltification”. Thus, an image of Lithuania and Lithuanians appears to be employed synecdochically, whereby one specific state embodies onscreen all three Baltic countries as a whole. I will also suggest that “pribaltification” in Gastrolery may not be driven exclusively by popular Russian metageographies of the Baltic States. Thus, analysis of the serial may make it possible to observe traces of the Russian state’s geopolitical discourse on the Baltic States.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds BW 2019:3, pp 17-27
Published on balticworlds.com on November 21, 2019

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“We haven’t differentiated between you since Soviet times. You are pribalts, and that’s it”.

YouTube user commenting on Gastrolery1

“Friends from Russia visited me [in Lithuania] and said that we live here like they live in America”

A Russian woman from the Lithuanian
SSR in the street in Soviet Vilnius2


As an example of “pribaltification” in an audio-visual text I will demonstrate how in a Russian television serial, Gastrolery [Guest Performers], an image of Lithuania and Lithuanians appears to be employed synecdochically, whereby Lithuania, a specific state of the Baltic group, embodies onscreen all three Baltic countries as a whole. This is, for example, prominent in human geographical portrayals of Lithuanian people, and in the visualization of the local “Western” architectural landscape. Such portrayals are driven by intertextual references that evoke highly internalized and largely unquestioned Soviet and Russian metageographies based on popular positive and negative myths and stereotypes about the three Baltic countries. I will also suggest that televised “pribaltification” in the case of Gastrolery may not be driven exclusively by popular Russian metageographies of the Baltic States. In Russia, in which the media, and especially television, are highly controlled by the state, the meanings and scope of “pribaltification” on television may instead be negotiated across popular and practical (elite) geopolitical domains. Thus, in Gastrolery it may be possible to observe traces of the Russian state’s geopolitical discourse on the Baltic States. A Russian colloquial noun, “pribalt” has long defined a non-Russian native of one of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, once occupied by the USSR and collectively called Sovetskaia Pribaltika [Soviet Baltic]. In this article, utilizing the root form of this colloquialism, I will introduce the term “pribaltification”, understood as a manifestation of mental mapping whereby cultural, political and linguistic distinctions between Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are significantly blurred.3

Before proceeding to an analysis of Gastrolery’s audio-visual text, I will provide a theoretical overview of interrelations between metageographies, stereotypes and geopolitical discourse. I will also identify the context of interactions between the Russian media and the state, and indicate how this context may define the character of geopolitical images in television programs.

Metageographies, stereotyping and geopolitical discourses

When one imagines the world geographically, or “mentally maps”4 it, she activates “simplified” or “meta” geographies that allow her to “order every-day and long-term spatial information” relating to “the surrounding world”.5 Mental mapping, according to Péteri,6 is accompanied by the “construction of region-like units” which is characterized by the cognitive foregrounding of resemblances rather than dissimilarities observed within those units. These “region-like” mental geographical constructs can also frequently be assigned a hierarchical placement on a “civilizational” scale adopted in a specific political, cultural and historical context. Thus, various regions may be differentiated as being located between “backward” and “developed”, “civilized” and “barbaric”, “Asian” and “Western” extremities of the scale. In the domain of human geography, mental mapping is manifested through the process of “peopling”, that is, transferring particular names or monikers to — and identifying mental, cultural and physical characteristics of — the population within the constructed units.7

Among real-life instances of “region-like unit” construction, one could identify, for example, the frequent Western portrayal of the Middle East as an exotic and backward homogenous region.8 Similarly, the West often depicts former post-communist countries as islands of poverty and disorder, with Kotkin’s label of “Trashcanistan” aptly transmitting the mood of such descriptions.9 The Baltic nations approach images of Russia from an identical angle: Russia is typically imagined as a militaristic state with bad roads, and perceived in its culture to be closer to the “Asiatic” than the “European” or “Western” extreme of the alleged “civilizational” scale.10 One of the most prominent examples of “peopling” is the representation of Russians as chronic alcoholics in need of constant authoritarian supervision by a strong leader. Such popular clichés are still widely articulated among the Baltic nations.11

Thus, metageographies refer to simplified and constructed knowledge about regional and human geographical peculiarities. They are nourished by an amalgamation of widespread myths and stereotypes that exist in folklore and/or are propagated by the media, real facts, and personal experience of cultural contacts. Before being taken for granted and frequently internalized without much questioning,12 metageographies are shaped in the mind over time, and also depend on the specific political context of the time.13 This renders engagement with other cultures largely pre-configured and biased.14 Thus, instead of aiming for an objective reality, individuals in a certain society employ their “mind’s eye”15 to imagine the world and construct relevant stereotypical representations.

Stereotypical collective representations facilitate the process of collective identity (re)construction16 whereby in-group members (“Us”) “recognize, describe or identify themselves” as being distinct from “Them” — “Others” situated outside the group’s environment.17 For an in-group member, an “Other” is simultaneously a medium to determine what the group is not — to demarcate symbolic boundaries between “Us” and “Them”. In the reality of international relations, national identity construction proceeds alongside the creation of such mental demarcation lines between “Our” nation and geopolitical “Others”. These lines are informed by geopolitical representations and images, enabling actors to undertake the process of world “diagnostics”, identifying which states’ political objectives are reconcilable/non-compatible with one’s own.18 National identities are not of a permanent or irreversible nature. They are actively constructed and reconstructed, constantly narrowing or widening the symbolic demarcation lines between oneself and an “Other”.19 As a result, the role of the “Other” in relation to “Us” will also be continually (re)defined, with an “Other” to be potentially located along a continuum of “otherness” at different historical periods that are characterized by varying dynamics of international relations.20 In this way, an “Other”, for example, may be perceived as a friendly or hostile actor, a backward or superior group to “Us”.21 Németh22 demonstrates how the relationship dynamics between Finland and Estonia during the 20th century changed with respect to Finnish perceptions disseminated through documentaries and television fiction. From “little brother” during the interwar period of close interconnections, “Russians”/Soviets during the period of Soviet occupation and West-East geopolitical confrontation, to a fellow EU member country and a cheap holiday destination — Estonia has experienced degrees of exclusion and inclusion from Finland, narrowing or widening its symbolic demarcation lines.

Geopolitical knowledge determined by continuous redefinition of mental demarcation lines, according to Ó Tuathail and Agnew23, is a product of discourse. Discourse is not restricted to written and verbal texts that highlight geopolitical “truths”. It is rather “a set of capabilities”, of “socio-cultural resources”, of “societal mythologies” that render geopolitical texts meaningful.24 Consequently, in effect, discourses generate “anti-geographical” knowledge.25 This means that actors such as individuals, academics or politicians foreground “controllable geopolitical abstractions”26 in the process of mental mapping instead of acknowledging the complexities and diversity of the geographical areas in question. Like national identities, discourses are also dynamic:27 they can be transformed and modified depending on the socio-cultural and political context of the time. The dynamics of a geopolitical discourse, consequently, can inform the dynamics of relations between “Us” and “Them”, altering demarcation lines or the perceived distance and attitude to an “Other”. In the reality of international relations, this would translate into the dynamics of the foreign policy of a particular state towards other actors in the system.

Geopolitical discourses in popular culture and on television

Popular culture remains an important resource for geopolitical discourses, facilitating processes of circulation and legitimation among the public.28 As a mirror for popular geopolitical images reinforced by widespread metageographies of other states, nations and regions, popular culture, as Kolosov29 argues, has in recent decades become an object of focus for the domain of practical geopolitics. The latter is embodied by an official foreign policy agenda, political speeches and diplomatic practices, and has become increasingly responsive to public opinion and mass media culture.30 Thus, domains of geopolitics (also including formal or academic geopolitics)31 are not entirely isolated from each other, but, as Szostek puts it, are permeable.32

Such permeability may attain a considerable level in authoritarian states in which the media, as well as academic and expert environments, are highly controlled by the authorities.33 In Russia, for example, such permeability and strong unity of a political agenda that absorbs increasingly anti-Western attitudes across different domains of geopolitics is particularly visible.34 As Kiriya and Degtereva35 indicate, all types of mainstream Russian media, and especially television, are almost completely controlled by the Kremlin and its big business allies. As a result, television in highly controlled societies may transmit to the public those geopolitical representations that have been negotiated, to an extent, with the public itself. However, it would be inappropriate to assign exclusive agency in relation to geopolitical reality creation to the Russian regime. Anti-Western geopolitical rhetoric functions quite well for a society that is feeling disenchanted by its general helplessness in creating change in Putin’s Russia but is also harboring deep complexes of alleged humiliation by the West, and is longing to restore the former superpower.36 Such complexes and desires appear to be advanced by popular metageographies formed in the Soviet and early post-Soviet periods, when the West was portrayed as an enemy of the Soviet Union, and was then blamed for Russia’s social and economic disasters in the 1990s.

Returning to Gastrolery — the serial to be analyzed in this article — as a potential projector of geopolitical images, it is useful to note that the show in question is a media product that contains elements of comedy. For such a production the genre obviously demands a special focus on humor in order to provoke laughter in the audience. Dodds and Kirby37 suggest that the appreciation of humor depends on national states of affairs, and is mostly acquired over a prolonged period through society, folklore and the media, but can also be regulated through the same channels. For laughter to be provoked, then, jokes in films and serials as audio-visual texts have to refer to well-established metageographies that have been internalized by the public, manifesting the degree of permeability between different domains of geopolitics. Humor projected through mass media has the potential to re-articulate the unifying power of a nation, and restate differences between a socially constructed “Us” as a unified body and a signified “Other”.38


In order to analyze the serial I will utilize the method of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of a multimodal audio-visual text as approached by Kress and Van Leeuwen.39 Like all television serials, Gastrolery is an example of a text in which Russia’s negotiated geopolitical discourse on the Baltic States has been potentially articulated. The serial’s text is multimodal because it combines aural/sound and visual modalities that are simultaneously perceived by the audience. It is also multisemiotic as the two modalities are underpinned by respective semiotic systems: soundtrack, noise effects, dialogue, speech and visual effects, writing, gestures, colors, editing techniques, etc.40

When approaching the analysis of the serial’s narrative I will scrutinize the design and production plan of the serial. The design plan is reminiscent of a specific content “package” that a creator can take advantage of when preparing a product for a specific kind of audience.41 In the case of Gastrolery, the “design” plan relates to the production’s genre — television entertainment, or a tragi-comic serial. “Actual material articulation of the semiotic event”, Kress and Van Leeuwen42 suggest, is the manifestation of the “production” stage of an audio-visual text including, for example, such techniques as casting decisions, landscape visualization, sound expression or footage editing. Because discourses can only be expressed through different semiotic systems, it is necessary to concentrate attention on the latter and attempt to pinpoint potential intertextual relationships of Gastrolery’s narrative with existing Russian metageographies of the Baltic States. For this task, along with the CDA method, I will provide a review of academic literature on how the Baltic States have been imagined in Russia within different domains of geopolitics.

Which country is depicted?

The 16-episode tragi-comedy Gastrolery, produced by well-known Russian actor, Sergei Zhygunov, was first aired in 2016 on the Russian federal channel NTV, and then uploaded via YouTube onto NTV’s official account. The serial’s narrative follows the adventures of two Russian criminals, brothers Vladimir and Mikhail Saboneev who, following a conflict with a local mayor, leave their native city of Tambov, planning to reach Brazil via Lithuania and Sweden. Stuck in the fictional Lithuanian seaside town of Raigala, however, the two brothers gradually establish a rapport with the locals, develop romantic relationships with Lithuanian women, and decide to stay, eventually building successful businesses and careers in the town. In Raigala, the brothers present themselves as Vladimiras and Mykolas Saboniai — Russified ethnic Lithuanians who have returned to their homeland.

As the story takes place in Lithuania, on the one hand the production team of Gastrolery has been sufficiently precise when identifying the nominal country featured in the plot. In the serial, Raigala’s bureaucrats’ offices are equipped with authentic Lithuanian tricolor flags and coat of arms, while local policemen drive apparently genuine Lithuanian police vehicles and wear a specific uniform. Some relevant historical and political references are also made, for example, the rule of the medieval leader Grand Duke Vytautas, President Smetona’s government, or Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance. Nevertheless, if one pays attention to depictions of Lithuanians — in particular, the portrayal of their speech and emotions — as well as visual representations of the social environment, and the local architectural and natural landscape, it could be suggested that representations of the human and landscape geography of Lithuania may have been employed in the serial as synecdochical instruments that identify all three Baltic nations. Thus, Gastrolery appears to implement production strategies that are tightly coupled by the means of intertextual relationships with the metageographies of the Baltic nations and their states, which have been predominant in Russia since Soviet times.43 While the show does not employ any explicit allusions to specific popular (audio-visual) texts, it nonetheless requires viewers to possess a significant degree of popular cultural and geographical knowledge of the Baltic region.44 The depiction of Lithuanians in the serial is managed overwhelmingly in line with ethnic, cultural and political hegemonic stereotypes about the Baltic nations, including those disseminated by popular jokes taking into account the tragi-comic nature of Gastrolery.

Pribalts: homogenous

Specific casting decisions and the actors’ verbal performance point to deliberate attempts at portraying Lithuania according to a collective internalized image of “pribalts”. The moniker of “pribalt” designates a non-Russian native of one of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, collectively labelled as Sovetskaia Pribaltika [Soviet Baltic] during the decades of Soviet occupation. The colloquialism of “pribalt”, nowadays considered by the Baltic nations to possess imperialist undertones,45 continues to be actively utilized in the Russian-speaking world.

The image of “pribalts” in Russia has been reinforced by stereotypes and myths gradually accumulated through literature, cinema, the media, personal cultural contacts46 and popular jokes.47 For example, a typical “pribalt”, according to Krikmann, could be popularly portrayed as speaking heavily accented and incorrect Russian with long-drawn-out syllables; or as a Russophobe who wouldn’t serve a Russian-speaking customer if the latter addressed a “pribalt” in Russian.48 As Klubkov indicates, after the breakup of the USSR, the minimal or non-existent experience of contacts between a large number of people from former Soviet republics and the Baltic nations continues to sustain widespread and internalized stereotypes of “pribalts”, significantly blurring the cultural, linguistic and political distinctions between the three states.49

As Krikmann demonstrates,50 it was only after the Soviet disintegration that the Baltic nations became explicitly targeted by Russians in popular jokes. This may have been connected to Russian grievances over the allegedly decisive role of the Baltic republics in the USSR’s destruction.51 A large percentage of such jokes engages with imagined daily interactions between “pribalts” and Russian speakers, underpinned by presumed realities of local ethnic co-existence. In these popular depictions, cultural and political differences between the Baltic nations have increasingly been minimized, and salient linguistic and emotional distinctions significantly diminished. For example, in a Russian popular joke about Estonians one can frequently utilize a Lithuanian last name pattern when indicating an Estonian person. Another instance could be the incorrect application of history and political knowledge in relation to a specific Baltic state.52

In Gastrolery, a prominent linguistic characteristic, which many Russian actors playing Lithuanians persistently emphasize when speaking either Lithuanian or Russian, is comically exaggerated drawn-out speech. A person familiar with the Lithuanian language and its average speed would identify the grotesque character of the actors’ intonations, which are intentionally overdone and caricature-like speech melodies reminiscent of Finno-Ugric (Estonian or Finnish) rather than Lithuanian (Baltic) prosody. ‘Stretching’ vowels is sometimes coupled with slowness and delayed reaction — a widespread Russian stereotype of a “slow Finn or Estonian”53 applied here to Lithuanian film characters. As Shmeliova and Shmeliov54 underline, humor in ethnic jokes is often the result of perceiving an ethnic “Other” as someone manifesting non-normative and non-standard features in comparison with one’s own culture — a perceived “standard”. Curiously, according to a long tradition originating in the Russian Empire, the Baltic nations and sometimes even Finns continue to be represented in Russian folklore as inorodtsy [of foreign descent], a type of imperial “Others”, not “foreigners” separated from Russians by international borders.55 This is confirmed by Klubkov,56 as the word-building model that utilizes the prefix “pri” (as in “Pribaltika”) was never used in Russia or the USSR to refer to foreign territories. Thus, in the case of the linguistic and ethnic features of Gastrolery, humor emanating from comical situations portraying Lithuanians appears to be largely driven by collective and overly schematic images of “pribalts” as formerly Soviet and currently post-Soviet imperial “Others”: speaking long-drawn-out Russian, making mistakes or reacting slowly to questions.

The stereotype of the alleged “homogeneity” of “pribalts” may have also been cultivated by the means of Soviet popular cinema. Soviet filmmakers regularly cast Baltic actors in the role of “foreigners” in Western literature adaptations, spy films and fairy tales. The extreme popularity of Soviet Baltic film productions in the Soviet Union, together with the frequent lack of viewers’ actual cultural contacts with “pribalts” and with real foreigners from beyond the Iron Curtain, resulted in a situation in which Baltic actors and actresses quickly became an embodiment of a “Western” person onscreen, facilitating the creation of a “foreign” image in cinema and in ordinary life.57 Many films of Soviet Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius cinema studios employed a mixed cast of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian actors and actresses, which increased the perception of such films as being “Western” or non-typical Soviet productions.58

An intertextual reference, pointing to the previously mentioned widespread Soviet casting practice, is present in Gastrolery. The creators recruited three popular Baltic Soviet-era film actors: a Latvian, Ivars Kalniņš, his compatriot, Arnis Licitis, and an Estonian, Lembit Ulfsak, who all play Lithuanians. Occasionally, when the characters of Kalniņš and Licitis converse in “Lithuanian”, both actually speak Latvian to each other, which is not evident to the common Russian audience. Another Latvian celebrity who is widely known in Russia — a young Latvian pop singer, Intars Busulis, provided his accented Lithuanian vocals for the serial’s soundtrack “Lithuanian rap”.

Pribalts: “fascist”

At the end of the 1980s, strong national aspirations and openly anti-Soviet orientations of the once independent Baltic nations triggered the emergence among many Russian speakers of a popular depiction of a “nationalist” and “fascist pribalt”. When the Baltic states became independent again in 1991, an international argument with Russia soon erupted concerning the destiny of a large number of Russian-speaking Soviet migrants. These people, who had not lived in the Baltic states before their illegal annexation by the USSR in 1940, were predominantly not eligible for automatic citizenship (with the exception of Lithuania).59 However, even the gradual improvement of the Russian-speaking minority’s position in Baltic societies, which has taken place under pressure from international and European institutions, does not prevent the Kremlin from sustaining the myth of “Baltic fascism” (actively promulgated by the media), whereby the rights of Russian-speaking minorities have been (allegedly) methodically and incessantly violated. Problems integrating Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states certainly remain, but references to “fascism” appear to be deliberately exaggerated by Russia, both domestically and internationally, in an attempt to link the problem with other prominent political and economic Russian-Baltic issues, and gain leverage in negotiations.60 Furthermore, the Baltic nations’ official rejection of the main narrative of Russia’s Great Patriotic War (in the Baltic region, 1944 is regarded not as the year of liberation from the Nazis, but as the beginning of the second Soviet occupation) continues to aggravate state relations.61

The stereotype of “nationalist” or “fascist” pribalts in the analyzed serial is echoed in an allegorical and almost grotesque manner when the protagonist Mikhail gives a passionate interview on TV after managing to neutralize a gang of Estonian bank robbers. While speaking to a journalist, he aggressively beats the robbers who are lying on the ground and claims that he will not allow “sneaky foreigners to set foot on sacral Lithuanian soil”, enumerating potentially unwelcome ethnicities afterwards. Immediately following the interview, Mikhail becomes well-known in the country, and some unnamed high Lithuanian authorities order Raigala’s City Council to employ Mikhail as a police officer because “this guy is very promising”. Although the plot’s turn refers to nationalism in the Lithuanian context, it would arguably be relatively easy for an ordinary Russian viewer to associate the nationalist tirades depicted here with “Baltic nationalism” in general. The presumed uniformity of Baltic attitudes towards foreigners and Russians in particular is echoed in one of the episodes when a man from Tambov, sent to the Baltic to search for the Saboneev brothers, comes to Estonia. The only place shown here, apart from stock footage of Tallinn’s Old Town, is a bar in which dangerous looking leather-clad (a possible reference to the outfits of stereotypical neo-Nazis) Estonians frown at the man who asks for a drink in Russian.

Pribalts: “agrarian” and “peripheral”

Quite a prominent Soviet and Russian stereotype associated with “pribalts” has also been that of khutoriane [farmstead people],62 possibly echoing the historical importance of agriculture for the Baltic states’ economic subsistence, the Baltic nations’ close connection with their native land and the rich peasant foundation of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian national cultures.63 One may also enquire as to the extent to which this label of a “farmstead person” evokes the situation in the Russian Empire — most prominently in Lithuania — in which the majority of Baltic peoples lived in the countryside, while the capitals and large towns were predominantly inhabited by Poles, Jews, Russians and Germans.64 In the post-Soviet era, this stereotype may have been reinforced by the fact that many Soviet-built factories in the area were rapidly closed by the Baltic states after they regained their independence. In the context of broken economic links with other Soviet republics that were previously the main internal markets for Soviet Baltic products, many such factories became highly unprofitable.65 However, according to Russian popular interpretations that are actively supported by the Kremlin-supervised media, the traditionally agrarian Baltic states were presumed to be simply unable to preserve and maintain the industrial heritage that the “generous USSR” presented to the “underdeveloped” countries of “ungrateful” Baltic nations.66

In Gastrolery, Raigala is depicted as a seaside resort. However, almost all its inhabitants engage in agricultural or nature-related activities and live in detached summer houses or on farmsteads, which might be a reference to the khutoriane stereotype. No major industries are shown in the vicinity; local businesses are small and struggling. One can consider how such portrayals may also be connected to the prevalent post-Soviet Russian images of the increasingly impoverished “Pribaltika”, supposedly struggling under the neoliberal diktats of Brussels. According to such accounts, having once been a Soviet region with developed industries and a high standard of living, the new Baltic EU members had to get rid of former successful enterprises. This allegedly happened not only because the factories were unprofitable for independent Baltic countries but also because such plants were “Soviet-built and had no place in independent Baltic states”. Becoming a Western periphery, it was presumed, however, that the new agrarian EU members were unable to compete with Western European manufacturers and growers.67

The narrative portrays the Saboneev brothers as strong leaders determined to bring prosperity back to Raigala. During an argument with Raigala’s mayor, Lokys, an ethnic Lithuanian, locals note that the businessman Vladimir Saboneev has done more for the welfare of the town in a year than Lokys has done during his entire term. Though Vladimir’s business is of dubious legality, he nevertheless manages to provide many locals with jobs and entertainment. Thus, the order and prosperity that return to Raigala become an echo of the popular and elite discourse in Russia — even articulated by Putin himself in relation to Lithuania68 — that the Baltic states are a poor periphery of the EU, “failed states”, weakened by Western neoliberal economy and huge immigration to Western Europe. In this case Russia is presented as a potential economic savior of the Baltic — the latter only needs to resume friendly relationships with its big neighbor to become prosperous again. Thus, Russophobic Lokys, embodies Baltic authorities that allegedly facilitate “the diktats of Brussels” and carry out “anti-Russian” foreign policy. In contrast, Baltic people, as portrayed by the inhabitants of Raigala, do not support their politicians’ geopolitical orientations and are friendly towards Russia, which is consistent with the official Kremlin discourse that frequently demonizes Baltic leaders but not necessarily the ordinary population.69

Pribalts: “Western”

Stereotypes need not necessarily be exclusively negative.70 It is therefore crucial to underline that Soviet and Russian stereotypes that feed metageographies of “Pribaltika” have also displayed neutral and positive tones, revealing a significant amount of genuine admiration for the region and locals, and thus, simultaneously, a degree of confrontation with previously outlined negative stereotypes and myths about “pribalts”. The populations of other Soviet areas widely imagined the Soviet Baltic republics as being “our abroad”, “our West” and Soviet “façades”71 — a more prosperous and progressive region in comparison with other “non-Western” USSR republics; a model region to be emulated elsewhere in the Union. For example, this was discernible in the Baltic region’s better access to consumer goods — at least until the late 1970s72 — and higher living standards, presumed to be like those in the real “West”. Tourists from other Soviet national republics were also attracted by “Western” customer service, especially in seaside resort cities like the Latvian Jūrmala.73 The imagined “Westernness” of locals was presumed to be reflected in such personality features as politeness, a strong work discipline, attention to detail and law abidance.74

Baltic human “Westernness” manifests itself in the serial through the depiction of Raigalians as being polite, showing good manners, trying to be as helpful as possible, and generally following the rule of law. On the first day of the brothers’ sojourn in the town, the locals are shocked: someone (the younger Saboneev brother) has stolen two bottles of vodka from a small store. People are portrayed as being genuinely surprised, as in this comically exaggerated portrayal of a “safe and civilized Western” society, such misdemeanors would instantly make the news. As Zhygunov himself puts it, the Lithuanians in this story possess a “greenhouse” character75 — they are relaxed and poorly adjusted to the Russian “tough” life of daily competition for a place in the sun — something that the Saboneevs eagerly engage in while staying in this small EU town.

An undeniably important influence on Russian-speaking people’s image of “our West” was also exercised by the immediately visible cultural differences. Having experienced long periods of Polish, Swedish and German rule in the area, and maintaining a firm Western political and cultural orientation during the interwar years of independence, the Baltic states could indeed be visibly foreign to a tourist from the USSR’s East.76 When visiting “Pribaltika” one could observe the “Western” baroque, gothic and art nouveau architectural heritage of the old towns of the Baltic capitals.77 This architecture, which looked quite unusual to an ordinary Soviet citizen, was frequently used by socialist filmmakers in cinematic roles of urban landscapes in an otherwise almost inaccessible Western Europe or America.78 The local languages’ use of the Latin-based alphabet in comparison with the predominantly Cyrillic-based alphabet of other Soviet republics, and the deep Catholic and Lutheran traditions that influence the daily life and social relations of the locals, demarcated a clear boundary between the rest of the Soviet empire and a “Soviet Western Other” to an Eastern Soviet tourist.79

Apart from an emphasis on the human geography of “pribalts” in the serial, the creators have implemented several production strategies to visualize the landscapes that render the imagined “sense of place and history”.80 This is associated with the widespread Soviet and Russian trope of “our West”, and underlines the “Western otherness” of the local inhabitants and their culture.

The “material articulation” of the imagined “Pribaltika” already starts manifesting itself in promotional materials prepared for the show. For instance, the choice of visuals for the early serial’s poster — initially Gastrolery was to be titled Begletsy/Palanga [Fugitives/Palanga] — speaks in favor of a deliberate intention to evoke “symbolic geographies”81 of the whole “Pribaltika” rather than those of Lithuania exclusively. The poster is a collage with an image of the reconstructed House of the Blackheads in Riga (Latvia) on the right, a spire of the St. Nicholas Church in Tallinn (Estonia) on the left and an unidentified Old Town street — which could in reality belong to any of the three Baltic capitals — running through the center. No actual sights of the well-known Lithuanian seaside town of Palanga are included.

The actual serial’s backdrop, particularly the architectural landscapes that are portrayed, are likewise consistent with the aesthetics of “our West”. According to Zhygunov,82 the project’s producer, it is difficult to determine the precise location of fictional Raigala — scenes were shot in different locations both by a hired Baltic production team and members of Zhygunov’s crew. The former provided genuine Lithuanian aerial views and landscapes, including well-known Lithuanian tourist sights, countryside scenery and views of the Curonian Spit. All acting scenes were shot by the Russians themselves in the Leningrad region of Russia by the Bay of Finland. During the editing stage, clips of various origins were merged, forming a cinematic landscape patchwork.

The visual content of the commissioned footage inserted into each episode for several seconds on multiple occasions operates as a “landscape of place”,83 introducing viewers to the geographical context in which the story takes place. Although panoramic and aerial views were produced by a Baltic production team in real Lithuania, the use of footage and its editing suggests the producer’s objective of recreating a concentrated portrayal of a typical Baltic — and not necessarily Lithuanian — town featuring “Western” architecture. Thus, not unlike Soviet viewers who had minimal knowledge of the Baltic republics, an audience not familiar with Lithuanian landmarks might have successfully imagined the Baltic resort of Raigala when observing the amalgamated landscape patchwork. This patchwork not only includes scenery from the Curonian Spit sand dunes and the Baltic Sea, as well as woods and beaches shot in the Leningrad region, but, interestingly, it also includes visuals of the baroque historical center of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, situated not in the western but in the eastern part of the state. One can also observe in the serial a medieval Gothic-Romanesque island castle apparently located in Raigala, but in reality found in Trakai, several hundred kilometers from the Lithuanian coast to the east. In the same manner that architectural sights found in all three Baltic States are utilized on the serial’s promotional poster to represent Lithuania’s Palanga landscape, it is not difficult to visualize Latvian and Estonian sights mixed with Lithuanian landmarks to convey the visual aesthetic of an imagined “Pribaltika”. The fact that crumbling Soviet-built residential high rises, found almost everywhere in the Baltic as in other post-Soviet areas, were not included to portray the local architectural landscape might be another indication of an intention to present a refined “Western” landscape of neat, small streets and historical architecture not visually stained by bleak Soviet residential towers.


I would like to stress that in the serial being analyzed, the range of stereotypes potentially underpinning the Russian metageographies of the Baltic States and their natives is most likely not restricted to the examples provided in this article. However, even a selective focus on the respective intertextual references found in Gastrolery’s audio-visual text appears to reveal the presence of an amalgamation of widespread internalized Soviet and Russian metageographies of the Baltic States consistent with the “pribaltification” principle. The design and production dimensions of the serial’s multimodal text expose images of “pribalts” as “homogenous” in language, speech or temperament, with Lithuanians represented as caricatural Estonians or Finns, an “imperial Other” to laugh at. The story also echoes a stereotype of a “fascist” or “nationalist pribalt” circulating widely not only in Russian folklore but in the media and also among the elites. The Lithuanian/Pribaltika’s province is portrayed as a peripheral and economically unsuccessful region allegedly unable to prosper in the neoliberal and highly competitive economic environment of the EU. The success of the Saboneevs’ businesses in Raigala resonates with the discourse promulgated by the Russian elites that the ordinary Baltic people would benefit from closer cooperation with Russia. Positive representations of “Pribaltika” manifest themselves in the general narrative and production dimensions of the audio-visual text. In line with relevant Soviet-era human geographical imaginations of “pribalts” as “Western”, Lithuanians, in comparison with Russians, are depicted in the story as hard-working, law-abiding, disciplined and well-mannered. Visual landscapes of Raigala are recreated according to the aesthetic of the “Soviet West”, rather than being consistent with the genuine geography of the Lithuanian coast. The cinematic patchwork that visualizes a plethora of Romanesque, Gothic and art-nouveau buildings establishes a concentrated portrayal of a local “Western” landscape.

Thus, the audio-visual text of Gastrolery utilizes the geographical entity of Lithuania as a synecdoche to refer to all three Baltic States and their nations. As Brüggemann indicates84, comprehension of the Baltic nations and their distinct histories and cultures is almost absent in Russia. Russians overwhelmingly continue to mentally map the Baltic region as the former “Soviet West” or as “Russophobic Pribaltika”, a geopolitical “Other”, now a full member of blocs perceived by Russia to be hostile. In fact, even the term “Baltic”, firmly established to designate Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia during the Soviet era only, is not questioned in Russia in comparison with the Baltic States themselves.85

As mentioned previously, metageographies of the Baltic nations referring to the “fascism” and “peripherality” of the three countries are present in the multimodal text of the serial. The fact that Russian political elites have increased the articulation of such stereotypes in recent decades suggests that such myths have been firmly embedded in Russia’s geopolitical discourse on the Baltic States. In the context of a highly controlled media environment, popular and practical (elite) geopolitical images can inform and nourish each other, negotiating a synthesized discursive output. No evidence has been available of whether Gastrolery was explicitly commissioned by NTV,86 the third most viewed channel, which is owned by the state holding Gazprom-Media on behalf of the state. But whether or not Zhygunov, himself a supporter of Putin’s politics, produced the serial as an ordered product, Gastrolery appears to be an audio-visual text predominantly based on the negotiated meta-geographical output that is well aligned with the Kremlin’s “controllable geopolitical abstraction”87 of the Baltic States.

This article does not aim to deliver any foreign policy prognoses. In particular, I do not argue that the Baltic states should be alarmed by contemporary Russia’s imperial syndrome in spite of rising moods of revanchism in the Kremlin, frequent provocations in the Baltic NATO airspace, Russian-Belarusian military exercises near the Baltic borders,88 or even Putin’s 2018 weapons presentation aimed at intimidating the West with a new type of missile.89 Rather, the aim of this article is to call for more serious, expansive and detailed academic research, not only of the most prominent Russian feature films to engage with the topic of national identity, such as “Brat-2” [Brother-2] or “The Barber of Siberia”, but also numerous Russian small screen productions broadcast by state-owned channels. Another crucial factor would be for renowned scholars of popular geopolitics to apply greater interest to Russian television serials, particularly Western academics who, regrettably, continue to sustain their focus on audio-visual texts originating in liberal democratic states in which the media are not controlled as much as they are in authoritarian countries.90 Television remains the most widespread and popular type of media in Russia,91 and because Gastrolery is only one example among many Russian small screen productions of different genres that engage with popular geopolitics, the prospects of such research appear to be lavish. ≈

Note: All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.
Acknowledgements: I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for their observations and recommendations.


1     “‘Gastrolery’. 1 seriia [Guest Performers. Episode 1],” YouTube video, 42:11, posted by “NTV,” April 25, 2016, https://youtu.be/LU5EaT7fhAY.

2     In a Lithuanian-French documentary ŽodžiaiLietuva 1989 // ParolesLituanie 1989 [Words — Lithuania 1989] these words, uttered by an ethnic Russian woman from Lithuania, provoked an outburst of laughter from the Lithuanians standing nearby, who were quick to remark that the alleged similarity of the Lithuanian SSR to “America” did not exist in reality. The woman appears to have articulated a widespread Russian myth that the Baltic was the embodiment of the “progressive” and “prosperous” West, with the USA perceived as an ultimate ideal of all things “Western”. See “Žodžiai — Lietuva 1989 // Paroles — Lituanie 1989 [Words — Lithuania 1989],” YouTube video, 1:15:31, posted by “Laisves Kovu Videoteka”, January 15, 2013, https://youtu.be/Cj1Iezlod08.

3     Here I am borrowing the word-building pattern from Armeyskov’s term “klyukvification”. The word klyukva means “cranberry” in Russian and is utilized in a non-literal manner to refer to foreign stereotypes (negative or neutral) about Russia and its natives. See Sergey Armeyskov, “Russian Stereotypes: Western Perception of Russia as seen through Russians’ eyes. Part II.,” Russian Universe, October 31, 2013, https://russianuniverse.org/2013/10/31/russian-stereotypes-2/; Pavel Klubkov, “‘Pribalt’: slovo i predstavlenie” [‘Pribalt’: the word and representation], Acta Slavica (2001), http://www.grammatik.narod.ru/pribalt.html.

4     Janne Holmén, “Changing mental maps of the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean regions,” Journal of Cultural Geography 35 (2018): 231—232, accessed September 9, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1080/08873631.2017.1401405.

Ibid, 232; Lewis and Wigen (1997) in John O’Loughlin and Paul F. Talbot, “Where in the World is Russia? Geopolitical Perceptions and Preferences of Ordinary Russians,” Eurasian Geography and Economics 46 (2005): 25, accessed December 13, 2018, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Gyorgy Péteri, “Introduction: The Oblique Coordinate Systems of Modern Identity,” in Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, ed. Gyorgy Péteri (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 2.

Ibid, 3.

Robert A. Saunders, Popular Geopolitics and Nation Branding in the Post-Soviet Realm (London: Routledge, 2016), 72—74, 188, accessed October 27, 2018, https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781315737386; Sharp (2009) in Saunders, 73.

Stephen Kotkin, “Trashcanistan: A tour through the wreckage of the Soviet empire,” The New Republic 15 (2002): 26—38.

See Rita Repšienė and Laima Anglickienė, “IDENTITY AND STEREOTYPES: HUMOR MANIFESTATIONS,” Folklore 50 (2012): 19—22, accessed October 27, 2019, http://www.folklore.ee/folklore/vol50/identity.pdf; A. Lorraine Kaljund, “Orientalism Against Empire: The Paradox of Postcoloniality in Estonia,” Anthropological Quarterly 91 (2018): 751—765, accessed August 9, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2018.0032.

Repšienė and Anglickienė, 19—22.

Lewis and Wigen (1997) in O’Loughlin and Talbot, 25.

Vladimir Kolosov, “‘Nizkaia’ i ‘vysokaia’ geopolitika” [‘Low’ and ‘high’ geopolitics], Otechestvennye zapiski 3 (2002), accessed January 1, 2019, http://www.strana-oz.ru/2002/3/nizkaya-i-vysokaya-geopolitika.

See Saunders, Popular Geopolitics and Nation Branding in the Post-Soviet Realm, 72—74, 188; Stuart C. Aitken and Leo E. Zonn, “Re-Presenting the Place Pastiche,” in Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film, eds. Stuart C. Aitken and Leo E. Zonn (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1994), 5—7; Kyle Grayson, Matt Davies and Simon Philpott, “Pop Goes IR? Researching the Popular Culture–World Politics Continuum,” Politics 29 (2009): 155—160, accessed October 2, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467—9256.2009.01351.x.

Saunders, “Popular Geopolitics,” 76.

Virginie Mamadouh, “Europeans among themselves: Geographical and linguistic stereotypes,” in Stereotypes and linguistic prejudices in Europe, eds. Anna Dąbrowska, Walery Pisarek and Gerhard Stickel (Budapest: Research Institute for Linguistics, 2017), 41.

Kristina Riegert, “Storylining Baltic News,” Nordicom Review 21 (2017): 192, accessed September 2, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1515/nor-2017-0380.

See Eiki Berg and Saima Oras, “Writing post-Soviet Estonia on to the world map,” Political Geography 19 (2000): 602—603; Mamadouh, 42.

Riegert, 192.

Hansen (2006): 37—41, in Christopher S. Browning and George Christou, “The constitutive power of outsiders: The European neighborhood policy and the eastern dimension,” Political Geography 29 (2010): 110, accessed December 13, 2018, doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2010.02.009.


Ágnes Németh, “Watching the Other Across the Border: Representations of Russia and Estonia on Finnish National Television,” Journal of Borderlands Studies 30 (2015): 40, accessed December 20, 2018, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08865655.2015.1030187.

Gearóid Ó Tuathail and John Agnew, “Geopolitics and discourse: Practical geopolitical reasoning in American foreign policy,” Political Geography 11 (1992): 190.

Ibid, 192, 193, 194.

Ibid, 190.

Ibid, 195.

Ibid, 193.

Mamadouh, 42.


John O’Loughlin, Gearóid Ó Tuathail (Gerard Toal) and Vladimir Kolosov, “Russian Geopolitical Culture and Public Opinion: The Masks of Proteus Revisited,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30 (2005): 324, accessed March 12, 2018, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3804409.


Joanna Szostek, “Popular Geopolitics in Russia and Post-Soviet Eastern Europe,” Europe-Asia Studies 69 (2017): 196, accessed May 12, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/09668136.2017.1288861.



Ilya Kiriya and Elena Degtereva, “Russian TV market: Between state supervision, commercial logic and simulacrum of public service,” Central European Journal of Communication 1 (2010), accessed June 11, 2018, https://www.cejc.ptks.pl/attachments/Russian-TV-market-Between-state-supervision-commercial-logic-and-similacrum-of-public-service_2018-05-28_09-19-02.pdf.

Lilia Shevtsova, “Forward to the past in Russia,” Journal of Democracy 26 (2015): 24, accessed June 1, 2018, https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/article/authoritarian-resurgence-forward-past-russia.

Klaus Dodds and Philip Kirby, “It’s Not a Laughing Matter: Critical Geopolitics, Humour and Unlaughter,” Geopolitics 18 (2013): 50—52, accessed May 12, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2012.668723.

Darren Purcell, Melissa Scott Brown and Mahmut Gokmen, “Achmed the dead terrorist and humor in popular geopolitics,” GeoJournal 75 (2010): 374, accessed May 12, 2018, DOI 10.1007/s10708-009-9258-9.

Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen, Multimodal Discourse. The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication (London: Edward Arnold, 2001).

Monika Bednarek, “Corpus-Assisted Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Television and Film Narratives,” in Corpora and Discourse Studies: Integrating Discourse and Corpora, eds. Paul Baker and Tony McEnery (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 66.

Kress and Van Leeuwen, 5.

Ibid, 6.

Marcus Power and Andrew Crampton, “Reel Geopolitics: Cinematographing Political Space,” Geopolitics 10 (2005): 195, accessed August 12, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/14650040590946494.

Brian Ott and Cameron Walter, “Intertextuality: Interpretive practice and textual strategy,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 17 (2000): 430, accessed April 2, 2019, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15295030009388412.

Renal’d Simonian, “Strany Baltii: Etnosotsyal’nye osobennosti i obshchie cherty” [The Baltic states: ethnosocial specificities and general features], (2003): 60—61, http://ecsocman.hse.ru/data/593/683/1231/007-Simonyan_R.H.pdf.

Klubkov; O’Loughlin and Talbot, “Where in the World is Russia?,” 25.

Arvo Krikmann, “Finnic and Baltic Nationalities as ethnic targets in contemporary Russian jokes” (paper presented at the ISHS 19th Annual Conference, hosted by Salve Regina University (Newport, Rhode Island), July 1, 2007). http://www.folklore.ee/~kriku/HUUMOR/Nlj_pribalts.pdf.

Ibid, 9—11.

Klubkov, “Pribalt”.

Krikmann, “Finnic and Baltic Nationalities,” 1—12.

Renal’d Simonian, “Pribaltika v kontekste raspada SSSR” [The Baltic states in the context of USSR destruction], Obshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost’ 3 (2014): 98, http://ecsocman.hse.ru/text/50597776/.

Krikmann, 4—11.

bid, 6—8.

Elena Shmeliova and Alekseĭ Shmeliov, “Ėtnicheskie stereotipy v russkikh anekdotakh [Ethnic stereotypes in Russian anecdotes],” Otechestvennye zapiski 4 (2014), accessed January 1, 2019, http://www.strana-oz.ru/2014/4/etnicheskie-stereotipy-v-russkih-anekdotah.



Mordiukova in Klubkov; Irina Novikova, “Baltic Cinemas–Flashbacks In/Out of the House,” 256—257. http://www.eki.ee/km/place/pdf/kp7_16_novikova.pdf.

Irina Novikova, “Baltics — Images of City and Europeanness in Soviet Cinema,” in Cities in Film: Architecture, Urban Space and the Moving Image, ed. Julia Hallam, Robert Kronenburg, Richard Koeck and Les Roberts (Liverpool: University of Liverpool, 2006), 193—195.

Šarunas Liekis, “Old Paradigms of Ethnicity and Post-Soviet Transition in the Baltic States,” in A Quarter Century of Post-Communism Assessed, eds. M. Steven Fish, Graeme Gill and Milenko Petrovic (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 222—227, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43437-7.

Viktor Denisenko, “Kremliaus propagandinių matricų, taikomų Baltijos šalims ir Ukrainai, panašumai ir skirtumai” [Similarities and differences between the Kremlin propaganda matrices in relation to the Baltic States and Ukraine], Žurnalistikos tyrimai 11 (2016): 109—110, http://www.zurnalai.vu.lt/zurnalistikos-tyrimai/article/view/10752; Karsten Brüggemann, “An Enemy’s ‘Outpost’ or ‘Our West’? Some Remarks about the Discourse of Russian Pribaltika in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union,” in Ethnic Images and Stereotypes — Where is the Border Line? (Russian-Baltic Cross-Cultural Relations), ed. J. Nõmm (Narva: Tartu Ülikooli Narva Kolledž, 2007), 81—98; Liekis, “Old Paradigms,” 222—225.

Viatcheslav Morozov, “The Baltic States in Russian Foreign Policy Discourse: Can Russia Become a Baltic Country?,” in Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences, eds. Marko Lehti and David J. Smith (London: Frank Cass, 2003).

Renal’d Simonian and Tamara Kochegarova, “Russkie sredi narodov Baltii: istoki vzaimovospriiatiia i vzaimootnoshenii” [Russians among the Baltic nations: origins of mutual perception and interrelationships], Vestnik MGIMO 6 (2015): 127, http://www.vestnik.mgimo.ru/razdely/mirovaya-politika/russkie-sredi-narodov-baltii-istoki-vzaimovospriyatiya-i-vzaimootnosheniy.

Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 19.

Ibid, 10, 19.

Ibid, 334—335.

Gatis Krumiņš, “Soviet Economic Gaslighting of Latvia and the Baltic States,” Defence Strategic Communications 4 (2018): 52—54, accessed October 2, 2018, DOI 10.30966/2018.RIGA.4.2.

This stereotype is reinforced in a 2009 Russian television documentary “Baltic States: The story of one ‘occupation’” discussed by Digrytė. Eglė Digrytė, “Naujas rusų filmas apie sovietų okupaciją: klestėjimas tada ir griuvėsiai dabar [New Russian Film about Soviet Occupation: Prosperity Then and Ruins Now],” Delfi, March 27, 2009, https://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/naujas-rusu-filmas-apie-sovietu-okupacija-klestejimas-tada-ir-griuvesiai-dabar.d?id=21195500.

Putin quoted in Denisenko, 111.

Ibid, 110.

Mamadouh, 41.

Brüggemann, “An Enemy’s Outpost,” 83; Aldis Purs, Baltic Facades (London: Reaktion Books, 2012).

Romuald J. Misiunas and Rein Taagepera, The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940-1990 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 210—211, 222—223.

There one could find, for instance, the best waiting staff in the USSR serving coffee prepared using an unusual appliance for ordinary Soviet citizens: a coffee machine; cocktails in bars were made with otherwise virtually inaccessible imported whiskey and gin. See Galina Iuzefovich, “Stydlivyĭ konsiumerizm” [Embarassing consumerism], NLO 1 (2017), http://magazines.russ.ru/nlo/2017/1/stydlivyj-konsyumerizm.html; Simonian and Kochegarova, 128.


“Teleserial kak forma otrazheniia massovogo soznaniia” [TV serial as a form of mass conscience reflection], last modified April 23, 2016, https://echo.msk.ru/programs/kulshok/1752690-echo/.

Stanley V. Vardys, “The Role of the Baltic Republics in Soviet Society,” in The Influence of East Europe and the Soviet West on the USSR, ed. Roman Szporluk (New York: Praeger, 1975), 159–160.

Ibid, 164.

When the Soviet authorities refused to let Arūnas Žebriūnas, a Lithuanian film director, work on his 1986 film Chameleono žaidimai [Chameleon’s games] in Paris, the director vengefully used locations in Vilnius and Kaunas as “Western” sights which, curiously enough, were not in any way detected by the majority of non-Baltic viewers and Moscow state television and radio agency. See “Nikto ne hotel zabyvat’. Budraĭtis, Banionis i drugie | Telekanal ‘Istoriia’ [No one wanted to forget. Budraitis, Banionis and others | TV channel ‘History’],” YouTube video, 45:28, posted by “Istoriia,” October 31, 2016, https://youtu.be/mTAA9RbWZ_I; Novikova, 2006, 193—195.

Vardys, 164.

Chris Lukinbeal, “Cinematic Landscapes,” Journal of Cultural Geography 23 (2005): 6, accessed May 2, 2019, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs10.1080/08873630509478229.

Saunders, 188.


Lukinbeal, “Cinematic Landscapes,” 6–7.

Karsten Brüggemann, “Russia and the Baltic Countries: Recent Russian-Language Literature,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 10 (2009): 6, accessed May 2, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1353/kri.0.0129.

Ibid, 936—937; On the attitude of Estonia towards its Baltic identity see Pärtel Piirimäe, “The Idea of Yule Land: Baltic Provinces or a Common Nordic Space? On the Formation of Estonian Mental Geographies,” Baltic Worlds 4 (2011): 36—39, accessed May 2, 2019, http://balticworlds.com/the-idea-of-“yule-land/?s=Baltic%20states%20West%20Russia%20image.

Nataliya Popovych, Oleksiy Makukhin, Liubov Tsybulska and Ruslan Kavatsiuk, “Image of European countries on Russian TV,” (2018): 30–31, accessed June 14, 2018, http://ucmc.org.ua/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/TV-3.pdf.

“Poklonniki garanta” [Fans of the guarantor], last modified December 31, 2014, https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2452540; Gearóid Ó Tuathail and John Agnew, 195.

David E. McNabb, Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Imperial Revival (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2015), 159—162.

Popovych et al.,11.

Szostek, 197.

Popovych et al., 19.


  • by Dzmitry Pravatorau

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