The Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association (ICA) has awarded Doctoral Researcher Aliaksandr Herasimenka with the 2019 Top Student Paper Award. 


The ICA received over 400 applications for the award, which went through an extensive peer-review process before authors were invited to the conference. 

Aliaksandr’s paper entitled “Coordinating a Political Campaign on a Messaging Platform: The Case of the Navalny Organisation in Russia” examines how digital activists use messaging app Telegram to build their organisation and coordinate their actions during recent protests in Russia.

His work investigated how the encrypted app is used to overcome common obstacles encountered by political activists in non-democratic countries: state surveillance, persecution of leaders and digital censorship. 

For this paper, Aliaksandr focused on the two political campaigns of Alexei Navalny in Russia in 2017-2018. 

He argued that the use of a messaging platform in an authoritarian political communication environment enables three organisational adaptations: segmentation of the organisational structures, the emergence of pseudonymous interjacent spokespeople and the adoption of the three-step scheme of information distribution.

Speaking about the award, Aliaksandr said: “This award is a very important recognition of my research by leading scholars in the field of political communication. This paper has both theoretical and practical value, as it explores how to encourage civic participation in authoritarian countries.

“I am thankful for my supervisor, Dr Anastasia Kavada, for her support, the Global Challenge Research Fund and the Graduate school whose Globally Engaged scheme allowed me to attend the ICA conference in Washington DC and present this paper.”

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