MOSCOW, March 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s civil society should take the lead in promoting stronger relations with other countries, including with Ukraine, head of the federal agency for CIS, compatriots living abroad and international humanitarian cooperation Rossotrudnichestvo said.
“Our civil society, Russian citizens should be overgrown with a strong fabric of relations with other societies to form an active majority supporting friendship with Russia in the interests of their own country,” Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview with the Vedomosti business daily published on Thursday. “Not the Russian authorities should promote their own positions in civil societies abroad, as in any case there will be no desired confidence, while accusations of creating a fifth column will not keep waiting.”
“For all these years, our opponents have been enhancing their influence on Ukrainian minds through the massive use of ‘soft power’ tools,” he said, recalling that “opponents with large-scale financial injections into local non-governmental organizations not only in the west, but also in the east of Ukraine have been consecutively promoting to the population the ‘European idea’ as the end goal of Ukraine’s civil society.”
“Heavy resources spent on a massive strategic sowing campaign that yielded its strong crops like Ukraine’s Euromaidan had been effectively used by the European Union and the United States, because Washington and Brussels addressed with important messages, including ideological ones, directly to society, Ukrainian media and non-governmental organizations, expert circles and the youth to a greater degree than to the authorities or business structures,” Kosachev said.
Although for the past two years the financing of Rossotrudnichestvo increased, it would be incorrect to compare it with the budgets allocated by other countries for such work in general and for the Ukrainian track in particular, he said.
“For instance, the budget of the United States Agency for International Development’s programme in Ukraine alone nearly two-fold exceeds Rossotrudnichestvo’s total budget spent for all countries of the world. And not only the United States, but also Europe work there. Therefore it would be incorrect to compare the results,” Kosachev continued.
Speaking of Russia’s image in the world he gave “three explanations why Russia is imposed a negative image on.”
“First, this is purely historical reason. Many people perceive Russia as a re-edition of the Soviet Union expecting the same behavioral model from us. Such people are confident that Russia by definition is unpredictable and aggressive,” Kosachev said.
“Second, this is Russia’s current really independent domestic and foreign policy. Really, for the past several years we have not been yielding to the opinion of the majority, when we consider ourselves right. This independent line of ours easily overlaps the existing phobias that I’ve just mentioned. In the eyes of the deeply rooted public opinion any modern actions taken by Russia can be easily (and invitingly) discredited from the point of view of the burden of our past,” he said.
“Third, this is unfair competition and deliberate discredit, when we speak of the implementation of large and strategically important projects, whether it pertains to the laying of a gas pipeline or the creation of integration unions. Let’s say it is very easy and again tempting not simply to attract Ukraine with the European Union’s advantages, but also to scare it with Russia. This is a factor of unfair competition,” he added.
Speaking of an opportunity for Russia to change its image on the global scene, he said, “initially, Russia as a strong global player acts in very unfavorable information conditions” and “this creates additional problems for our country.” “Therefore we should act, having a safety margin, if we want to be rightly understood and get support.”
“We need to invest much more effort into this work and the main thing - we need to organise it much more effectively,” Kosachev said.