ABSTRACT

Russia’s sharp power uses humour as a tool to ridicule and humiliate political opponents. Humour is used to unite Russian society and the Russian speaking part of Latvian society around Russia as a “powerful country,” in contrast to the West which is “weak and evil.” Most Russian comedians practice self-censorship and joke about Vladimir Putin in a eulogistic way – presenting him as a decisive and strong leader, again in contrast to the indecisive and weak leaders of the US and Europe. Politicized humour serves the Kremlin as a tool for dividing Latvian society and reminds us of the comprehensive nature of Russian authoritarianism. This chapter helps in understanding the methods and purposes of humour in the exercise of sharp power.