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The information battle: How governments in the former Soviet Union promote their agendas & attack their opponents abroad

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The Information Battle examines the ways in which the governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their worldview and challenge the people, institutions and ideas that oppose them. The information battle examines the influence of Russian media content in the former Soviet Union and the wider world. This is delivered through Russian domestic TV channels reaching Russian-speaking audiences in the region, the developing role of the news agency Sputnik and the international broadcaster RT. The publication examines how these outlets are used not only to promote Russian political narratives but to challenge Western approaches and sow confusion about what is going on in the world. It offers ideas for how independent broadcasters and international outlets can provide effective alternatives.

Despite cracking down on Western-backed NGOs at home, the governments of the former Soviet Union are seeking to directly influence the European and US political debate through NGOs, think tanks and lobbying organisations. This publication looks at how to improve the transparency and accountability of such actions. Repressive regimes that use advertising and the hosting of international events to promote themselves, are increasingly being challenged by human rights defenders through the publicity such activities bring. It also looks at the way social media is used by regimes to target opposition activists and other critics. The publication argues that, in what is increasingly becoming a battle involving the use of soft power and information, Western institutions have been losing ground and must take action in order to meet the challenge.

The publication contains contributions by regional and international experts: Natalia Antelava, Coda Story; Ana Divali and Revaz Koiava, Caucasian House; Arzu Geybulla; Richard Giragosian, Regional Studies Center; Melissa Hooper, Human Rights First; Adam Hug (ed.), Foreign Policy Centre; Rasto Kuzel, Memo 98; Dr David Lewis, University of Exeter; Ben Nimmo, Atlantic Council; and Dr Justin Schlosberg, Birkbeck, University of London. Kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations as part of the FPC’s Exporting Repression project.

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