Russia is beginning to fulfill the task – set by President Vladimir Putin – to use "soft power" to improve its image abroad and promote its interests. The Kommersant learnt provisions of the action plan by the Russian government, to be fulfilled by the Rossotrudnichestvo Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, the key implementer of the "soft power" concept. The plan largely relies on Soviet experience. The main efforts will focus on increasing the number of Russian science and culture centers and work with compatriots and foreign youth. In 2017, Russia will host the World Festival of Youth and Students, as the USSR did in 1957 and 1985.
Several projects named in the plan have top priority. In the first place, Russia intends to expand the geography and activity of Russian centers of science and culture abroad /RTsNK/. It has 59 such centers /and eight branches/ whereas China has almost 900. The plan envisions an increase in the number of RTsNKs "while taking into account Russian geopolitical interests" and the modernization of the existing centers, many of which are in lamentable condition.
It is planned to set up branches of Russia's largest museums at certain RTsNK, and their virtual offices in others. Also, visitors to RTsNKs will be able to watch direct broadcasts of the first shows at Russian theatres and new Russian films with subtitles.
Another guideline for the government's work abroad is the promotion of the Russian language. It is planned to make RTsNKs test centers for foreigners to check their Russian language skills, and open Russian language courses for labor migrants in a number of former Soviet republics.
Thirdly, Russia will step up work with compatriots and foreign youth. It follows from the document that Russia plans to host the World Festival of Youth and Students in 2017. The USSR held such events twice, both time with a powerful propaganda effect.
The work to make Russia attractive to foreigners will run on a regular basis. The plan envisions an increase in the quota of foreigners in Russian colleges. It also suggests increasing the number of the participants in the program of brief familiarization trips to Russia for young representatives of political, public, research and business circles of foreign states, adopted in 2011.
The Kommersant notes that experts warn that the "soft power" effect might take years to manifest itself, while Russia's image is influenced by many other factors, such as domestic events. As last year's Pussy Riot story showed, a dramatic worsening of a country's image can occur within a week.