The Agency of Journalists in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of Ukraine During Yanukovich’s Presidency

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

The Agency of Journalists in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: The Case of Ukraine During Yanukovich’s Presidency


  • Esther Somfalvy Department of Politics and Economics, Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany
  • Heiko Pleines Department of Politics and Economics, Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany


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Abstract:  On the example of Ukraine during the Yanukovich presidency (2010–2014) this article explores which factors support journalists’ agency in relation to censorship pressure in a competitive authoritarian regime. It shows that a critical mass of journalists existed who reacted to censorship pressure with rejection. Based, first of all, on 31 semi-structured interviews, we examine the working conditions of prominent national journalists and analyse how they describe their role and motivations. We argue that the nature of competitive authoritarianism offers journalists opportunities for critical reporting, but that it is individual characteristics of journalists—including professional ethics, networks, and job mobility—which define whether and how the respective opportunities are used.

Keywords:  authoritarian regime; censorship; competitive authoritarianism; journalism; Ukraine; Yanukovich

Published:   21 October 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i4.4227


© Esther Somfalvy, Heiko Pleines. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.