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Russia launches new PR initiative aimed at attracting foreign investment

The Kremlin is getting more Internet-savvy every day. Not only has President Dmitry Medvedev joined Twitter, the Russia government now has an English language web portal to help funnel business and advertise their foray into the information age. Modern Russia, a website devoted to Russia’s public diplomacy mission in the U.S., opened for business today. ...

566730_100722_ModernRussia_MMR_042.jpg
566730_100722_ModernRussia_MMR_042.jpg

The Kremlin is getting more Internet-savvy every day. Not only has President Dmitry Medvedev joined Twitter, the Russia government now has an English language web portal to help funnel business and advertise their foray into the information age.

Modern Russia, a website devoted to Russia's public diplomacy mission in the U.S., opened for business today. Funded by the Russian government, the site is managed by Ketchum, the public-relations firm that represents the Russian government and the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

ModernRussia.com is an online forum designed to facilitate discussion about the steps that government and private industry are taking to make modernisation a reality. The forum also provides a space to identify and discuss the challenges that remain," the website explains.

The Kremlin is getting more Internet-savvy every day. Not only has President Dmitry Medvedev joined Twitter, the Russia government now has an English language web portal to help funnel business and advertise their foray into the information age.

Modern Russia, a website devoted to Russia’s public diplomacy mission in the U.S., opened for business today. Funded by the Russian government, the site is managed by Ketchum, the public-relations firm that represents the Russian government and the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

ModernRussia.com is an online forum designed to facilitate discussion about the steps that government and private industry are taking to make modernisation a reality. The forum also provides a space to identify and discuss the challenges that remain,” the website explains.

There is all sorts of interesting information on the site. For example, did you know that Russia has a hugely successful “cash for clunkers” program to get old cars off the road and spur new car sales? And were you aware Russia just opened its largest-ever shopping mall, called “Vegas,” which has an indoor Ferris wheel?

The site also has a lot of wonky policy and law-related items that purport to show Russia as a burgeoning emerging market that is steadily moving toward economic and legal reform. The lead item in the legal section is entitled “Government flexes legal muscle in corruption fight.”

So, is this just a PR gimmick? Not at all, says 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. Third-party analysis will also come from writers from across the spectrum, he said.

“There will be an opportunity for folks to participate in the debate and we’ll aim to show a balanced perspective of Russia’s investment climate,” Stearns told The Cable.

“Why is this website important? Because Russia’s modernization is dependent in no small part on foreign direct investment.”

The new initiative even has a Twitter feed of its own.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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