This research examined the use of public diplomacy strategies by the Russian federation and the West in order to extend or maintain a soft-power presence in what has become known as the "Russian near abroad" or Russia’s sphere of "privileged interest."
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good patriotic cry. Russians and like-minded Ukrainians are lining up these days to see a movie, “Taras Bulba”, that allows them this public pleasure while undercutting Ukraine’s separate national identity. A real “twofer” for the movie’s sponsors, the Russian government.
Students of public diplomacy and propaganda are quick to point out the difference between the two, but sometimes it’s not so easy. One man’s strategic government effort to communicate with foreign publics can be another man’s tendentious information blitz to smear the reputation of another country.
Vladimir Putin is obsessed with cinema’s potential to sway hearts and minds. Over the past several years, Russia’s paramount leader has been tightening the screws on his country’s film industry. What is most remarkable about Putin’s move is not his power grab per se, Radio Free Europe’s anxiety-laden reportage in late December notwithstanding.
When awake with jet lag in a hotel far from home, the traveler naturally turns to the TV remote. So it was for me in Moscow this week, when a few absent minded clicks brought me face to face with Russia Today (RT)– the English language news channel and flagship for contemporary Russian public diplomacy. The channel did not come highly recommended. It had raised eyebrows with recent magazine advertisements adorned with a portrait of Stalin holding a quill and that caption: “Stalin wrote romantic poetry” and the tag line “Proud to be different”.
Since September 11th much of our nation's public diplomacy efforts have been focused, appropriately enough, on the Middle East and the Islamic world. However, while much energy and attention has gone to improve understanding of America and its policies in those regions another important sphere has been neglected. The Russian government is now clearly conducting a concerted effort to indoctrinate its people, particularly its young people, in anti-Americanism. America is hardly the Kremlin's only target. Indeed, the list is a long one -- Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, Britain, etc.