News of football, fuel and energy complex and credit ratings - drivers of interest of foreign media to Russian regions.

17 April 2018

Analytical agency Smyslografiya and Dow Jones conducted regular study of the perception of of Russian Federation regions by the leading foreign English-language media. The methodology developed by the specialists of Smyslografiya includes quantitative and qualitative elaboration of mentions of subjects of Russian Federation, analyzed using information and analytical service materials in TOP-100 key English-language media, including The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswire, The Economist, The Guardian, Washington Post and etc. The total score assigned to each territory takes into account the assessment of the region both by the number of its references and by the percentage of favorable publications. Moscow was excluded from the general rating, as its comparison with other subjects of the federation was found to be methodologically incorrect due to the associated federal and international agenda.

TOP-10 rating, 2017:






Tula region




Nizhny Novgorod Region




Perm Region




Krasnodar region




Khabarovsk region




The Republic of Dagestan




Republic of Tatarstan




Sakhalin Oblast




Tomsk Region




Sverdlovsk region



In the first ten of the rating of the presence of Russian Federation subjects in key world English-language media, only one debutant is the Republic of Dagestan. The rest of the regions were already on the list of media leaders, while the Perm Krai and the Tomsk Region are present in the top 10 throughout the 7 years of the rating's existence.

One of the most useful applied research findings is the news agenda leading to the most mention in foreign media. Analysts of Smyslografiya agency note that in 2017, a negative, almost guaranteeing heightened interest in English-language media - the authorities' response to the specific activity of the regional headquarters of A. Navalny, was added to the traditional positive triad of information lines - sports, fuel and energy and long-term credit ratings.

According to Vladislav Shulaev, Director for Promotion of Territories of AGT Communications Agency, the annual Smyslography and Dow Jones study clearly demonstrates that only 12-15 regions are actively developing their communication infrastructure for interaction with foreign media. Almost the same regions are most active in the sphere of attracting investments. At the same time, it is possible, perhaps, to talk about a group of regions that actually refused to communicate with the outside world, which year after year remain in the "basement" of the rating. Among them are the Vladimir and Ivanovo regions, the Trans-Baikal and Altai Territories, the Altai Republic.

Traditionally, the leading information reason for the emergence of Russian regions on the pages of foreign sources is football. Of the top 10 leaders in the ranking, only the Sakhalin Region does not have this strategic "weapon" in its information arsenal. In the remaining nine leading regions, more than 50% of all publications were related to football - with participation in the Russian championship and in European competition, preparation for the final World Cup 2018 and even with the news that Argentine Sergio Aguero fainted in the locker room of Krasnodar stadium after the match with Nigeria.

A significant feature of the presence of subjects of Russian Federation in foreign media in 2017, Smyslography experts call diversification of information reasons for all regions from the top ten.

Tula region with a minimum number of negative news reports on the football Arsenal added a double-confirmed upward rating from Fitch.

In Nizhny Novgorod region, the focus of foreign media was the meeting of Vladimir Putin with employees of the GAZ, during which he announced his participation in the presidential elections of 2018, and in September he was actively writing about the resignation from the post of regional governor Valery Shantsev.

In Perm Krai, foreign media discussed the news about changes in shareholders' shares in PJSC Acron, which intends to implement a potassium fertilizer development project in the region. Also, reports were circulated about the assignment of the Fitch rating to the Perm Krai at the level of "ВВВ-" and about the possible construction of a new high-speed railway between China and Perm.

Constant Krasnodar news in foreign media, along with a football theme, were materials relating to the corporate and financial activities of the company "Magnet". In June, the leading English-speaking media reported on the fact that in Krasnodar, the foreign ministers of Russia and Germany opened a forum of partner cities. Significant news on the pages of the foreign press was also about negative news about the death of 18 passengers of a bus that fell at sea, about the detention of cannibals in Krasnodar and about the beating of activists of the NGO Ecological Watch for the North Caucasus.

Khabarovsk Territory "diluted" football topics with the largest range of news related to infrastructure projects, armed forces of Russian Federation and North Korea. So, in the foreign media have reported the release of Khabarovsk publishing pamphlets written by Kim Jong Ynom, Khabarovsk on the participation of athletes in the Continental Hockey League, and to change the S & P Global Platts agency of base oil refinery stock assessments in the Khabarovsk region in the Far East as a whole. The Khabarovsk Territory was actively mentioned in the materials about the plans for the construction of the bridge to Sakhalin and the new pipeline of Gazprom to China. In addition, the edge was mentioned in foreign media in reports about the transfer of Russian military equipment to the border with China in connection with North Korea's nuclear activity in April, as well as in the materials on common North Korean propaganda CIA plot information against the DPRK leader with a forester from Khabarovsk.

In Dagestan, foreign media traditionally drew attention to a significant number of negative news occasions, but in 2017 the flow of positive publications on football topics was for the first time actively supported by numerous reports on the successes of Dagestanis Islam Makhachyov and Habib Nurmagomedov in the UFC battles.

Tatarstan again added a "long-playing" theme to the discussion of the construction project of the Moscow-Kazan CSM at all levels of government. At the same time, perhaps, for the first time during the study, a significant number of news about the republic in foreign media had a negative connotation. For example, reports of a scandal surrounding the teaching of the Tatar language in schools in the republic were widely circulated, and a license was revoked from several large banks in Tatarstan, which led to protests by bank depositors of these credit institutions.

Tomsk region supported a positive "football background" with news related to the activities of the Irish oil company PetroNeft Resources Plc, specially created for work in Russia and licensed to operate in the region.

Sverdlovsk Region in 2017 was present in foreign media mainly as the easternmost city of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and also as one of the key places in the events of the Russian revolution a hundred years ago, connected with the murder of the royal family. Negative materials were connected, as in many regions, with the shares of A. Navalny's headquarters, as well as with a public reaction to the conviction of the Yekaterinburg blogger who played in the "Pokemon Go" in the church.

Sakhalin Region continues to remain among the most represented regions in the foreign media without the help of the football theme. The vast majority of materials in 2017 concerned news in the fuel and energy sector and was devoted to the supply and prices of energy from oil and gas projects "Sakhalin-1" and "Sakhalin-2". Regular reports were published by foreign agencies on oil quotes of Sokol and Sakhalin Blend brands and the operating activities of Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the Sakhalin-2 project. Special attention was paid to the work of the largest oil and gas companies on the territory of the Sakhalin region, including Gazprom, Rosneft, Novatek, etc., as well as negotiations with ExxonMobil on ways to solve the problems of Sakhalin-1. At the same time, the foreign press reproduced the conclusion that the US sanctions imposed on Russia put the joint projects of the two countries in the energy field under attack, including Sakhalin projects.

Close to the group of media leaders came Sevastopol, which significantly expanded the event agenda of international importance. In addition to the tweet Donald Trump about the Crimea's transition to Russia during the presidency of Barack Obama, the Crimean city of federal importance promoted news about holding a tender for the delivery of wheat from Sevastopol to Egypt and sending the frigate of the Black Sea Fleet Admiral Grigorovich from Sevastopol to the Syrian port of Tartus. In addition, foreign media wrote about the visit of Dmitry Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov to the daughter of Sevastopol shipyard and the beginning of Netflix broadcasting in the Crimea. Among the most replicable negative materials in the region's foreign information field are reports of a collision between the Russian Black Sea Fleet ship "Liman" and a vessel from Togo and a scandal involving the supply of Siemens turbines to the Crimea.

The final scores of Chelyabinsk region suffered significantly from the information spreading from September to December about the significant increase in the radioactive background in European countries, the source of which was the plant near Chelyabinsk. 10% of the news related to the legal proceedings between Rosneft and AFK Sistema, within which Rosneft announced its intention to apply to the Arbitration Court of the Chelyabinsk region. Another 10% of the information field (and this is one of the best indicators, according to the survey) was the news of the region's enterprises: the financial results of PJSC Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant, the placement of shares in PJSC Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, the signing of a contract between Rusal and OJSC Energoprom "on the supply of blocks with JSC" Chelyabinsk Electrode Plant ", the placement of shares of PJSC" Chelyabinsk Forge-and-Press Plant ", the reporting of PJSC" Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant ". In addition, foreign media wrote about the participation of Chelyabinsk athletes in the KHL matches and the five-year anniversary of the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

Vladislav Shulaev especially notes the continuing decline in the rating of St. Petersburg, a city that actively claims to be one of the global tourist centers and, in theory, designed to fulfill the function of a positive media driver of the country. Almost all neutral and positive news in foreign media about the Northern capital are connected either with the news of football, or with the performance of companies operating in the region. Naturally, there is a one-time information surge in connection with the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, but it does not significantly change the picture. But the negative news is presented in full. We can say that in St. Petersburg, a system for transferring information about all urban emergency situations to a foreign information field is established. What can not be said about the positive news.

The study of the foreign media field in the Russian regions of 2017, in the opinion of the AGT expert, reflected three new phenomena: the weight reduction of large Russian forums in connection with the region, the demand for reports on regional protests, and finally the radically increased level of interest of the English-language press to industrial and infrastructural news regions of the Russian Federation. This once again underscores the importance of the foreign media field in promoting the business of regions and investment prospects.

The full version of the study can be found on the website of the Analytical Agency "Smyslography" in the section «Studies».