Public Diplomacy Development Index to be Ready by Autumn-2022
On June 7th Creative Diplomacy presented the preliminary results of research "Practicing Public Diplomacy in the Regions of the Russian Federation (2017 – 2021)" at scientific seminar "Theory and Practice of Public Diplomacy in the Russian Regions" in Ulyanovsk. The research had been launched in the winter of 2022 aiming to assess the Russian regions' potential in public diplomacy (PD).

The seminar welcomed representatives of NGOs engaged in PD projects, of local authorities and regional academic circles from Kirov, Volgograd, the Trans-Baikal Territory, the Chukotka Autonomous Region, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, as well as from Kostanay, Tiraspol and Istanbul.

Natalia Burlinova, President of Creative Diplomacy and the project's mastermind, stressed the importance of the project in the context of the contemporary foreign relations. She said it was time for Russia "to concentrate" on itself, to explore the potential of the Russian regions in the view of cross-border contacts, and bring out the regional advantages and ways to improve the country's image.

Vera Tabak, the research group coordinator and Director of the Institute of Social and Political Studies and Regional Development (Tiraspol) spoke of the methods and current results of the project. She drew attention to the complexity of the project and the use of many methods, such as documentation analysis, public opinion survey, expert survey, content analysis. Regional PD projects supported by the Fund of Presidential Grants in 2017-2021 served as the basis of the research.

The preliminary results of the research show that PD projects are frontmost in Saint Petersburg (1st place), the Volgograd and Sverdlovsk regions (2nd place), the Republic of Crimea and the Smolensk region (3rd place). The parameters of the rating are the number of grant applications, number of implemented projects, number of unique NGOs-competition winners, as well as media rating.

The main directions of regional PD projects are Kazakhstan, the Republic of Belarus, Germany, the Kyrgyz Republic and Armenia.
Alexander Konkov, Director of analytical center Rethinking Russia, assistant professor at the Moscow State University, supported the idea of exploring the regional PD potential and noted that governmental structures had not focused on this aspect of international cooperation lately. He further said that PD would have to reach out to the countries of the post-Soviet space and that the cooperation with other countries would have to be thoughtful and task-oriented and depend on the specificity of each country. Dr. Konkov also suggested that every region should develop a «package offer» that would incorporate the cultural specificity of a region, its own regional aims and the federal issues.

Among the representatives of Ulyanovsk who actively participated in the seminar was Diana Kovela, Programme Director of the Project Office of the Russia-BRICS International Youth Cooperation and Deputy Director of the Fund of Creative Technologies «Ulyanovsk – the Capital of Culture». Ms Kovela spoke of the large-scale activity of the Fund of Creative Technologies over the past decade. She noted that several countries (Japan, Italy, Israel) maintained cooperation with the Russian regions despite the sanctions and continued certain humanitarian projects.

Lyubov Savelyeva, Director of the Association of International Friendship Clubs, made a presentation of her organization that counted 6000 participants from 62 countries.

Igor Novitsky of the DipCamp (Diplomatic Camp, Krasnodar) spoke of his decennial experience in PD projects.

The organizers expect the PD Development Index of the Russian Regions to become the ultimate result of the research. They plan to complete it by autumn of 2022.