The Role of Civil Society in Russian Public Diplomacy
Without the participation of civil society institutions, all public diplomacy efforts in any country might utilize propaganda and lose the option of “soft power”. The understanding of this interconnection in Russian politics took place gradually, as the need for public diplomacy was recognized as part of a foreign policy strategy to craft a favourable image of the Russian Federation. The concept of civil society and its institutions required ideological and practical adaptation to Russian realities. At present, the place and role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been determined in the structure of society and public administration. Some NGOs have acquired the status of institutes and/or instruments of public diplomacy. These include (1) specialized institutions (Rossotrudnichestvo, the Gorchakov Foundation, etc.); (2) traditional networks with support from the Russian Federation and abroad (the Red Cross, Greenpeace, Sister Cities, etc.); and (3) an expert community. Also, among the subjects of public diplomacy should be attributed to prominent politicians, cultural figures, individual journalists and bloggers. In this aspect, the main problems in discourse on public diplomacy are (1) from the institutions—financing, difficulties in interaction at different levels, forecasting of current topics and risks; (2) from the side of civil society—distrust to institutions, lack of awareness and priority of internal problems.
KeywordsCivil society Non-governmental organizations Public diplomacy Soft power Russian legislation
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