Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

At least make things look better

Russian leaders are intent on overcoming Russia's bad reputation in the West. Whether they can do that without actually making things better is the question.

Russia's drive to improve its image
Russia, unhappy with its image abroad, has taken a fresh public relations approach to present a better view of itself and attract foreign investment.

One example is the Russian National Exhibition in Paris…

It's another attempt by Moscow to tell what it sees as the real story, different from what some Russian commentators call an excessively negative coverage of Russia in Western media…

Large international PR agency Ketchum was hired to help Russia "shift global views" of the country prior to and during the 2006 G8 summit.

It said afterwards that the main aim had been "to ensure that Russia's openness, accessibility and transparency were widely communicated to participants and observers of the summit and to the media"…

But experts agree that it will require much more to change Russia's image than a number of PR moves, no matter how good and expensive…

Bureaucracy, corruption, the huge gap in earnings between wealthy and poor Russians, the low prestige of state institutions, relations between the police and the people - all these factors create a negative image of the country, even among many Russians…

Experts agree that only big changes in Russian policy and in its dealings with the rest of the world could gradually improve the country's image.

The question is, though, whether Moscow is ready to implement these long-term changes and will not abandon them if the internal situation changes…

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