Kremlin Comrades Crave Kinder Coverage

In May, the Russian government "created a high-level commission to overhaul its image on the world stage as the first anniversary of Russia's war with Georgia approaches." The commission is chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshikin, "underscoring how serious the Kremlin considers the problem, which it often blames on shadowy external enemies and ill-wishers," reports the Wall Street Journal. "Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also sit on the panel." A Kremlin official declined to discuss the commission, saying, "This isn't something we're keen to advertise." Over the past few years, Russia has increasingly sought to improve its international image. "In 2005, it set up an international English-language TV channel, Russia Today, to broadcast its views. Since 2006, Moscow has retained U.S. public-relations company, Ketchum, mostly to help it deal with foreign media." The Russian government has also hired the lobbying firm of Alston & Bird, and set up the "Institute of Democracy and Cooperation," a think tank critical of the U.S. and European governments.