We linked to this one from the Moscow Times in our News Blast today, but I think the story is one to follow closely. Reporting on the opening of the Russian government-sponsored “Institute of Democracy and Cooperation”, journalist Alexander Osipovich writes:
Gottemoeller said it made sense for Russia to invest its newfound oil wealth in soft-power projects, which have long been used by Europe and the United States and typically include foreign-aid programs, cultural foundations and student exchanges. “Russia historically has not been great on the soft-power front and, instead, has liked to throw its military weight around,” she said. “It makes sense for any country to have a full panoply of capabilities — a full toolbox, so to speak, to advance its own interests. That’s just common sense.“
Sounds like a great idea, in theory. Anatoly Kucherena also told Interfax that the main purpose of the new GO (not NGO) would be to “develop methods of perfecting civil society institutions.” That must seem richly ironic to many civil society leaders in Russia.