Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Russian think tank

Is this new Russian think tank a means of projecting soft power?

A Russian foundation devoted to democracy and human rights is setting up shop in the United States.

The Moscow-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation officially registered its New York branch on Dec. 31, several weeks after registering a branch in Paris, the chairman of the foundation said Friday.

Anatoly Kucherena, a lawyer and member of the Public Chamber, said his foundation’s U.S. office would organize expert discussions about elections and human rights issues — while helping improve Western perceptions of Russia.

“The improvement of Russia’s image abroad is, of course, an important goal,” Kucherena said by telephone.

The foundation appears to be the latest attempt to influence foreign opinion about Russia through so-called “soft power” tactics. Another such project is Russia Today, a 24-hour English-language news station funded by the Kremlin.

In October, President Vladimir Putin told European leaders that he wanted to set up a think tank for freedom and democracy in Brussels or another European capital.

The goal, he said, was to counter the activity of Western nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia.

Moscow has accused Western NGOs of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs and helping oust Moscow-friendly governments in Ukraine and Georgia.

But Kucherena denied that his foundation was a Kremlin project.


Cannoneer No. 4 said...

A platform for projecting perception management and Russian propaganda. It's an influence operation.

phil said...

I agree. Given Russia's long history of influence operations we would be naive to think that this is anything else.