Russian profs to lecture West on democracy
A Russian foundation devoted to democracy and human rights is setting up shop in the United States. The Moscow based Institute for Democracy and Co-operation has registered a New York branch along with one in Paris. But what is the organization all about? Is Russia trying to teach the West a lesson in democracy?
With very little information on the actual goals, the Institute for Democracy and Co-operation enjoys much scepticism among foreign experts and media who see it as just a propaganda tool.
The President of the Historical Perspective Foundation, Natalya Narochnitskaya, says the project will bring benefits.
“On the one hand it will help us to get a lot of useful information from the West so we can analyse the problems Russia faces. The Western experience in the field of human rights deserves respect, on the other hand we can also point out that it's not perfect,” Narochnitskaya said.
A number of programmes aimed at promoting democracy and civil society in Russia are sponsored by American non-governmental organizations. Some Russian experts as well as political officials doubt their good intentions.
“There are hundreds and thousands of organizations in the world, some famous others not, which study the human rights situation in every country other than their own. Russia should take equal part in discussing human rights and civil society problems and development trends,” Narochnitskaya added.
The idea of such a think-tank was first voiced by the Russian president at the EU-Russia summit in Portugal last year. And some saw it as an answer to criticisms coming from the West.
Edward Lozansky, President of the American University in Moscow, says the institute should focus less on democracy and more on co-operation.
“If they want it to be efficient they should present new ideas, trying to find out why the relations are not so good,” Lozansky said.
Andranik Migranyan will head the think-tank in New York. He wants the institute to present an alternative view of Russia.