Football, oil and hockey: how did the Russian regions “cling” to foreign media in 2018.

24 April 2019

Smyslografiya analytical agency (part of AGT communication group) and Dow Jones conducted an annual study of the perception of Russian regions by foreign English-language media. The methodology developed by Smyslography specialists includes quantitative and qualitative elaboration of references to constituent entities of the Russian Federation analyzed using materials from the information-analytical service in the top 100 key English-language media, including The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswire, The Economist, The Guardian, Washington Post and others. 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 proportion of favorable publications. Moscow was excluded from the general rating, since its comparison with other subjects of the federation was considered methodologically incorrect due to the federal and international agenda associated with it.

Top 10 rankings, 2018:






Novosibirsk region




Sakhalin region




Krasnodar region




Republic of Bashkortostan




Primorsky Krai




Tula region




Republic of Tatarstan




Krasnoyarsk region




Chelyabinsk region




St. Petersburg



For the first time since the release of the rating, half of the list of the top 10 are regions of the Far East, Siberia and the Urals. The Eastern Russian development vector has become noticeable for leading foreign media.

Analysts of “Smyslografia” agency note that in 2018 one more was added to the traditional key positive news stories about the Russian regions - football and the news of the fuel and energy sector. Foreign media began to pay much more attention to the Continental Hockey League, which helped a number of Russian territories that had not been spoiled before. According to project manager Fedor Belyaev, increased media attention to the KHL may be due to the Olympic Games held in 2018 in Pyeongchang. In the 2018 Winter Olympics, more KHL representatives than usual participated in the refusal of the NHL leadership to let players go to the Games.

Of the negative information issues of the past year, the Scripals case stands out. Biographies of people who are connected to this case by foreign media have influenced the media presence of a number of regions, including the Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov, Arkhangelsk and Tomsk regions, and the Khabarovsk Territory.

At the end of 2018, the Novosibirsk region took the first place in the ranking for the first time. In addition to the news of the Siberia hockey club, foreign media reported on the opening of the plants of the Russian company Rusagro and the German concern Ekosem-Agrar, which, as noted, improved the economic situation in the region. Another widely spread news is the victory of Ruslan Ustinov from Novosibirsk in the World Competition for Knowledge of the Chinese Language for Foreign Students.

In the second place is the “old-timers” top-10 ranking of the Sakhalin region. Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects, which are implemented with the participation of Rosneft and international companies, and production in the field of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are mentioned on the background of news about potential Western sanctions against Russian energy producing companies. The Sakhalin region was also often mentioned as the place of the previous work of the new governor of the Primorsky Territory selected in the second round.

3-4 place in the ranking of 2018 divided the Krasnodar Territory and the Republic of Bashkortostan.

For Kuban, the Magnit retail chain has become the traditional main newsmaker. In 2018, a bridge opened connecting the Krasnodar Territory and the Crimea peninsula. The President of the Russian Federation arrived at the opening of the bridge, which foreign media reported to their readers.

And, as usual, Krasnodar is often mentioned in connection with events in the world of football - the World Championships, competitions within the Europa League and the Russian Premier League. In addition to positive football brought negative fame - the scandal associated with the detention of football players Alexander Kokorin from Zenit St. Petersburg and Pavel Mamayev from Krasnodar FC was actively discussed in the English-language media.

For Bashkortostan, Bashneft became the main business newsmaker. Foreign media also drew attention to the project, according to which the Finnish company Fortum will install solar panels and wind generators in the Republic of Bashkortostan, as well as in the Ulyanovsk and Orenburg regions. The high place of Bashkortostan in the ranking was contributed by the news of HC Salavat Yulaev, as well as football events of the Russian Premier League and Europa League matches, especially the opposition of FC Ufa - Rangers Glasgow.

Separate interest of foreign media was aroused by the British ultra-marathon runner Sean Conway, who set a new record for Europe crossing the bike. Conway started from Cape Roca (Portugal, the westernmost point of Europe) and finished in Ufa, driving 6405 kilometers in 24 days, 18 hours and 39 minutes.

The main information point for Primorye’s presence in foreign media in 2018 was the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe. After this meeting, the region was mentioned in connection with the further discussion of the terms of a possible peace agreement between Russia and Japan. In the fall of 2018, foreign media outlets spoke about Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, and also actively discussed his invitation to North Korea’s leader in Russia.

More than 60% of publications in foreign mass media of the Tula region once again brought the football club "Arsenal". The region was often mentioned as part of the news about the US sanctions list, which was included in the governor of the Tula region. The main business infopovodom about the region was the construction in the area of ​​the plant Haval car production.

The largest number of mentions of Tatarstan in the foreign press was associated with the World Cup - with reports of matches and the placement of graffiti with Brazilian national team player Neymar on one of the city walls of Kazan. The republic often got into the pages of foreign media thanks to the news from the oil industry and in connection with the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia.

Krasnoyarsk Territory owes its presence in the top-10 of the rating to 70% of the debutant of the Russian Premier League to the football club Yenisei. The main business news about the Krasnoyarsk Territory for foreign media was the attraction of Polyus, a division of which is located in Krasnoyarsk, with a $ 70 million ING bank loan and related publications.

About half of the foreign publications about the Chelyabinsk region are connected with the news of hockey - two teams of the Continental Hockey League are based in the region. The rest of the foreign media materials are devoted to the activities of large Chelyabinsk companies - ChTPZ, Mechel, Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant.

After a five-year break, St. Petersburg returned to the top ten leading regions. There is still a lot of negative news about the city in the foreign media (in 2018, the most replicable news is about searches in the Sokurov foundation, about the so-called “troll factory”, about the arrest of the football player of Zenit A. Kokorin, about protest actions) . But compared to previous years, the northern capital has dramatically increased the number of positive informational issues in foreign media. In addition to the SPIEF and sports topics (results of HC SKA and FC Zenit, World Cup 2018, the possible holding of the Champions League final in 2021), the St. Petersburg cultural life has finally become an event for the English-language media. Mariinsky Theater and the opening of the exhibition Mstislav Dobuzinskis. The change of governor and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg did not go unnoticed either.

According to Vladislav Shulaev, director of promotion of the territory of AGT communication agency, despite the fact that among the top 10 rankings there are only three regions that hosted the matches of the World Cup, Mundial contributed to improving the positions of almost all regions where the games took place, most of them entered the top twenty.

Earlier, Smyslografia has already analyzed the interest of foreign media in the host cities of the 2018 World Cup. As a result, with the exception of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan became the leaders in terms of mentioning.

V. Shulaev also noted that in 2018, the palette of information about the Russian regions, interesting for foreign media, almost doubled. But, on the whole, according to the expert of AGT, the Russian regions have not yet begun seriously their informational advancement in foreign countries. And without this their effective investment and tourist promotion is impossible.

Olga Vasilyeva, the director general of Smyslografia, commented on the rating results, noting a significant improvement in the positions of the Oryol and Ivanovo regions (+49 and +32 positions, respectively) compared to 2017: light industry. For example, the media talked about the work of designers in the Ivanovo region and the Miratorg agreement on the purchase of Oryol companies of the RAV Agro agricultural holding controlled by the Czech PPF Group.

The full version of the study can be found on the website of "Smyslografia" analytical agency in the "Research" section.