The elusive cyber beasts: How to identify the communication of pro-Russian hybrid trolls in Latvia’s internet news sites?


  • Anda Rožukalne Riga Stradiņš University
  • Klāvs Sedlenieks Riga Stradiņš University



Internet trolls, hybrid trolling, Internet users' comments, news sites, Latvia


The research described here was performed on the background of the geopolitical fluctuations in Eastern Europe and the annexation of Crimea by Russia. These events caused fear of pro-Russian propaganda particularly in the so-called Internet hybrid-trolls, i.e., commentators who are on the payroll of Russian state agencies who disrupt internet discussion boards with massive pro-Russian information and opinions. This paper describes methodology of identifying possible hybrid-trolls, data gathering from the biggest Latvian online news sites,, that provide information in Latvian and Russian language, and analysis of the data by means of quantitative analysis as well as qualitative, that included content analysis and a case study. The analysis shows that the presence of pro-Russian hybrid trolls is inconclusive. However, following the outlined methodology some cases were recorded. Quantitative as well as qualitative analyses demonstrate that the overall presence and exposure of the alleged trolls in the given period was insignificant and the influence of trolls on public opinion highly questionable.

Author Biographies

Anda Rožukalne, Riga Stradiņš University

Anda Rožukalne, Ph.D., former journalist and editor, establisher and chair of the Board of Association of Latvian Journalists (2010–2012, 2014–2015), Head of the Department of Communication Studies at Riga Stradiņš University in Latvia since 2010. She is a well-known media expert, author of books and academic publications on journalism quality, media systems and media regulation in Latvia and Baltic States. In the beginning of 2016 Anda Rožukalne became a Chair of the Board of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, which is the clearing house for journalists training and a facilitator of professional dialogues in the Baltic and beyond. She has actively taken part in the drafting of laws related to Latvia’s media environment, and in 2012 she was a member of a working group to come up with a detailed concept for a new public media outlet.

Klāvs Sedlenieks, Riga Stradiņš University

Klāvs Sedlenieks, Docent at the Faculty of Communication, Riga Stradins University. Klavs Sedlenieks is a social anthropologist, holds a Ph.D. from Tallinn University (Estonia) and MPhil from University of Cambridge (UK). His regional interests are linked to the Baltic and Western Balkan area and he has written on various topics related to political and economic anthropology, particularly informal economic and political activities. Another area of his specialisation is anthropology of peace and peaceful societies. As his academic post is at the Faculty of Communication, he has recently collaborated on several projects in the field of communication and media analysis.


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How to Cite

Rožukalne, A., & Sedlenieks, K. (2017). The elusive cyber beasts: How to identify the communication of pro-Russian hybrid trolls in Latvia’s internet news sites?. Central European Journal of Communication, 10(1(18), 79-97.



Scientific Papers