Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Kremlin Mulls Creation of New Soft Power Agency

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 -- Stung by a survey that shows Russia ranking 30th out of 30 countries with soft-power programs, the Kremlin is considering reforming its existing organizations charged with the projection of soft power and possibly creating a new one alongside or in place of Rossotrudnichestvo, the RBC news agency says. 

            That organization, the Federal Agency for the Affairs of the CIS, Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, has too many different responsibilities and, in the view of Kremlin sources speaking on condition of anonymity, hasn’t been successful (

            Among those involved in these discussions are Dmitry Kozak, the deputy head of the Presidential Administration, Yevgeny Primakov, the new head of Rossotrudnichestvo, and representatives of various ministries.  The news agency noted that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the new constitutional amendments adds new tasks to this effort.

            But almost certainly what has prompted these discussions was the finding by the Portland International Consulting Agency that Russia has slipped from 26th place in national soft power efforts in 2016 to 30th out of 30 countries last year, the RBC news agency says in its report about these developments.

No final decisions have been made, but the news agency sources suggest that there will be at least two changes: the agency will be directly subordinate to Vladimir Putin, thus signaling its importance, and will be a state corporation, an arrangement that will allow it to attract money from various enterprises.  

It is possible that the new head of Rossotrudnichestvo is behind these moves. Primakov is known to be skeptical about traditional forms of advancing Russia’s interests in this area abroad, by exhibits and conferences. Others have criticized the agency for its shortcomings relative to American, German, British and French efforts.

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