Democratist

Democracy. Russia. CIS.

“Modern Russia.”

Posted by democratist on July 23, 2010

23rd July 2010

Democratist has been fascinated to hear that the Russian government yesterday launched a new website – run by US PR firm Ketchum – (www.modernrussia.com), aimed at informing foreigners about Russian domestic politics, the investment climate, and economic opportunities.

This is especially curious since, as regular readers will be aware, Russia already has a very well-funded (if not especially popular)  international TV channel in Russia Today (broadcasting in English, Spanish and Arabic) as well as a fairly extensive supporting website.

Could it be that the creation of Modern Russia marks the beginning of a tactical shift away from RT’s coarse anti-American propaganda, on-demand faux-pacificism, and penchant for obscurantist conspiracy theory, towards something more sensible, focused around a modernizing agenda?

And if so, who is behind it? Democratist’s initial suspicion is that the new website is a product of President Medvedev’s reform-minded Kremlin, and as such represents a potential rival for RT, which was set up under Vladimir Putin in 2005, and has so far shown little sign of any willingness to change its typically-rabid tone. 

If this is indeed the case then it seems symptomatic of Medvedev’s ongoing circumscribed  power in relation to his Prime Minister that, while the siloviki apparently retain influence over the multi-channel Russia Today, the President has been reduced to hiring a foreign PR firm to creating his own, far more modest web-based affair. 

Nevertheless, Rossiya 24 reports that the site’s creators hope that it will become a “club for discussing problems of modernization” and hope that “visitors’ active participation in internet discussions will help the government to find new ways to resolve various problems and tasks”.

And, according to Matt Stearns, Ketchum vice president, the site is meant to invite participation for people to offer commentary and solutions, which will all be posted if they aren’t angry or profane.

Democratist certainly looks forward to making a contribution. Perhaps if Mr Stearns means what he says, he will post, or link to this, and the following article?

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