Expert discussion on public diplomacy
of Russian regions
On 9 February 2023, RIAC hosted presentation of Report "Practicing Public Diplomacy in the Regions of the Russian Federation (2017 – 2021)", which was the result of many months of research, analysis and drafting done by Creative Diplomacy team: Natalia Burlinova, Vera Tabak, Daria Bozhko, Anastasia Tolokonina and Ekaterina Melnikova.

From February through September, 2022, they gathered and analyzed data on 84 regions of Russia, including over 1000 public diplomacy (PD) projects. As a result, they were able to make a unique Rating of the regions' PD potential.

The Report and the Rating were represented by Natalia Burlinova, President of Creative Diplomacy and a RIAC expert, Elena Karpinskaya, RIAC Deputy Director of Programmes, and Vera Tabak, Head of Research group of Creative Diplomacy.

The following experts participated in the ensued discussion:

  • Tatiana V. Shlychkova, Deputy Director of Department for Humanitarian Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out the variability of terminology: "social diplomacy", "public diplomacy", "people's diplomacy", and the topicality of the Research. She added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also gathered data on PD projects and that the Concept of Humanitarian Policy of the Russian Federation Abroad (September 2022) set certain tasks in the international sphere for both Russian regions and NGOs.
See Natalia Burlinova's comment on the Concept «Foreign Policy Statement About Russian Values».
  • Alexander Konkov, Assistant Professor at the Moscow State University, drew the attention of the audience to the legislative aspects of international activity in the work of the regions and the necessity to coordinate interregional efforts. He suggested further lines of research work: specific study of Moscow's experience, study of the network of sister cities, cooperation of municipal authorities, as well as the experience of NGOs' councils in governors offices.
  • Anna Velikaya, Lecturer at RANEPA (the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration), proposed to analyze the influence of regions on the country's national brand. She also suggested further lines of research work: studying the ratings of cities with a million-plus population, as well as the 27 polyethnic regions of Russia and their relations with the Islamic /Buddhist world.
  • Diana Kovela, Deputy Director and Head of the International Office of the Fund of Creative Technologies «Ulyanovsk – the cultural capital», stressed how important it was to systematize the information on public diplomacy. As a specialist of rich practical experience she highlighted the necessity of bringing the data to the regional authorities. She also spoke of certain legal risks in the work of NGOs in the regions.
  • Alexey Efremov, Professor of International and Eurasian Law at the Voronezh State University, complimented on the methodology of the Research. Professor Efremov spoke in the name of the academia and his region, and highlighted certain aspects of interagency cooperation on PD projects.
  • Alexander Marchukov, Senior lecturer at the Russian State Agrarian University - Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, spoke of international academic activity as one of the Research factors, and called upon the experts to continue with the PD projects. As for further lines of research work, he suggested analyzing the "cooperation geography" of some regions.

The representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, experts from the Moscow, Chelyabinsk and Tambov regions also contributed to the discussion. Over 60 experts joined the discussion online from the following bodies: the Department of External Relations of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, the Ministry of Municipal Development and Internal Affairs of the Kaliningrad region, the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Ethnic Affairs of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), etc.