A U.S. NGO Made in Moscow
Plans are in the works to set up a Washington-based
think tank that would be funded with Russian money and combat
the U.S. perception of Russia "as a bad pupil," Kremlin-connected
consultant Gleb Pavlovsky said Monday.
Among possible participants in the project
are metals mogul Oleg Deripaska and Dimitri Simes, president
of the Washington-based Nixon Center, Pavlovsky said.
The nongovernmental organization would correct
"an increasingly ideological and propagandistic approach"
to Russia on the part of American scholars and commentators,
said Pavlovsky, who heads the Fund for Effective Politics, a
think tank, and hosts the NTV talk show "Big Politics."
"I think the level of intellectual competency
in American programs related to Russia is dropping," he
said by telephone. Scholarly and research institutions "are
spending their money the way it's easiest to do so: on educational
programs teaching bad Russia the right way to behave."
A think tank in Washington would help create
"the real debates we need on the most complex, controversial
issues" as Russia assumes the chair of the Group of Eight
industrialized nations in 2006, he said. "When you're being
taught, there's no dialogue."
Pavlovsky said one possible sponsor for the
project was Deripaska, who was in Washington on Tuesday to speak
at the Carnegie Center for International Peace on restructuring
Soviet enterprises. Deripaska has been aggressively acquiring
assets in the industrial and natural resources spheres as other
oligarchs have turned cautious after the imprisonment of Mikhail
Khodorkovsky and effective renationalization of his Yukos oil
Georgy Oganov, a spokesman for Deripaska's
Basic Element holding company, said "this issue was discussed
... on many occasions among Mr. Deripaska and people living
in the States, including people at the Nixon Center."
"We understand that it will be helpful
for the Russian Federation as well as for us as a private company
operating in this country to increase understanding of the processes
that are taking place in this country, both politically and
economically," Oganov said.
Simes said the Nixon Center, a conservative
think tank, had paid for Pavlovsky and several other Russian
political analysts to visit Washington in November for a research
project on American influence in former Soviet republics. But
he said he had not discussed plans for a Russian-funded think
tank with them or with Deripaska.
"There's clearly a background for this"
think tank idea, Simes said, citing plans for Russia Today --
a 24-hour, English-language news channel funded by the Kremlin
-- and increased activity by state-controlled RIA-Novosti as
signs of Moscow's increasing concern about foreign perceptions.
But Simes said that after the Yukos affair,
"any think tank that would take money from Russian tycoons
-- there would be a perception that this was arranged by the
Russian government. This think tank would have no credibility