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Panel — get rid of visas
RIA Novosti - 7.13.12 - JRL 2012-127

The Moscow News' debate on changing Russia's image abroad raised the issue of official accountability ­ as well as amending the visa regime.

Russian Border Crossing
This week's debate on Russia's image abroad, hosted by The Moscow News, was an exercise in untangling an intricate puzzle ­ fitting for a country with a dramatic history and a complicated present.

The event, moderated by Natalia Antonova, deputy editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, featured media and PR professionals both foreign and local ­ and the discussion initially opened up by acknowledging the recent deadly flash floods in the Krasnodar region, and the role of such events and their aftermath on Russia's image abroad.

Miriam Elder, The Guardian's correspondent in Moscow, called the audience's attention to a macro image currently making its rounds on Facebook and other social networking sites: in it, a picture of Japanese officials publicly apologizing to their people following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima was juxtaposed with a picture of Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov, who dismissively told flood survivors that they "would not have left their homes anyway" had they been warned of the disaster in time.

Both Seda Pumpyanskaya, vice president of international communications and relations at the Skolkovo innovation hub, and Olga Ivanova, new media projects director at Russia Beyond the Headlines, both pointed out the need to reappropriate certain stereotypes. Ivanova used the example of her native Siberia ­ which is indeed cold and vast, much like foreigners picture it. Yet Siberia is also an area with great natural resources and enormous potential for development ­ and ought to embrace its identity, according to Ivanova.

Pumpyanskaya also pointed out that good PR for Russia should not involve counter-propaganda or rhetorical fireworks ­ but that an understated, professional approach was needed in shaping Russia's image on the official level.

Jeffrey Tayler, Moscow-based travel writer and contributor to The Atlantic and NPR, recalled the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. ­ when Russian president Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to really reach out to Americans in a time of confusion and grief. A gesture of sympathy, coming from a nation that has a lot of first-hand experience with terror on its soil, went a long way at that time, according to Tayler.

James Brooke, bureau chief for Voice of America in Russia, and Igor Guzhva, deputy editor of Moskovskiye Novosti, both said that visa restrictions in particular play a crucial role in shaping Russia's image abroad.

A general consensus was reached both by the panel of speakers and by those members of the audience that chose to speak out ­ the minute that the visa regime in Russia is eased, more and more people will be able to come and see Russia for themselves, forming their own opinion along the way. More so than any costly PR campaign, simply giving more people the opportunity to experience Russia will be a major step forward for the nation.

Keywords: Russia, Assassinations, Beatings, Prison Deaths - Russian News - Russia

 

The Moscow News' debate on changing Russia's image abroad raised the issue of official accountability ­ as well as amending the visa regime.

Russian Border Crossing
This week's debate on Russia's image abroad, hosted by The Moscow News, was an exercise in untangling an intricate puzzle ­ fitting for a country with a dramatic history and a complicated present.

The event, moderated by Natalia Antonova, deputy editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, featured media and PR professionals both foreign and local ­ and the discussion initially opened up by acknowledging the recent deadly flash floods in the Krasnodar region, and the role of such events and their aftermath on Russia's image abroad.

Miriam Elder, The Guardian's correspondent in Moscow, called the audience's attention to a macro image currently making its rounds on Facebook and other social networking sites: in it, a picture of Japanese officials publicly apologizing to their people following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima was juxtaposed with a picture of Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov, who dismissively told flood survivors that they "would not have left their homes anyway" had they been warned of the disaster in time.

Both Seda Pumpyanskaya, vice president of international communications and relations at the Skolkovo innovation hub, and Olga Ivanova, new media projects director at Russia Beyond the Headlines, both pointed out the need to reappropriate certain stereotypes. Ivanova used the example of her native Siberia ­ which is indeed cold and vast, much like foreigners picture it. Yet Siberia is also an area with great natural resources and enormous potential for development ­ and ought to embrace its identity, according to Ivanova.

Pumpyanskaya also pointed out that good PR for Russia should not involve counter-propaganda or rhetorical fireworks ­ but that an understated, professional approach was needed in shaping Russia's image on the official level.

Jeffrey Tayler, Moscow-based travel writer and contributor to The Atlantic and NPR, recalled the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. ­ when Russian president Vladimir Putin was the first world leader to really reach out to Americans in a time of confusion and grief. A gesture of sympathy, coming from a nation that has a lot of first-hand experience with terror on its soil, went a long way at that time, according to Tayler.

James Brooke, bureau chief for Voice of America in Russia, and Igor Guzhva, deputy editor of Moskovskiye Novosti, both said that visa restrictions in particular play a crucial role in shaping Russia's image abroad.

A general consensus was reached both by the panel of speakers and by those members of the audience that chose to speak out ­ the minute that the visa regime in Russia is eased, more and more people will be able to come and see Russia for themselves, forming their own opinion along the way. More so than any costly PR campaign, simply giving more people the opportunity to experience Russia will be a major step forward for the nation.


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