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Russia: Foreign-Policy Elite Launches New Journal

  • Gregory Feifer

Some of the biggest guns in Russia's foreign-policy establishment have launched an international-affairs journal they say they hope will help finally plug Russia into the international community. Published in cooperation with the prestigious U.S. "Foreign Affairs" journal, the magazine is aimed at educating Russia's political elite in foreign affairs. But it is also aimed at publicizing Russian points of view abroad and may be used to float controversial ideas in the West.

Moscow, 29 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Members of Russia's foreign-policy elite have unveiled the first issue of a new international-affairs journal they say will help Russian decision makers better understand the world they live in.

Published in cooperation with the leading U.S. "Foreign Affairs" journal -- from which some material will be printed -- the new magazine, called "Russia in Global Affairs," has both official backing and financial support from some of the country's most powerful businessmen.

Sergei Karaganov is head of Moscow's influential Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and chairs the journal's editorial board. During a news conference on 26 November to launch the periodical, he said the publication is unprecedented because of its "educational character." "Its idea and main task is to educate the Russian elite -- both current and future -- regarding what's really happening in the outside world. The main reason for its appearance is the growing gap in the last decade between our dependence on the outside world and our understanding of that outside world. This gap is simply becoming dangerous, and that's precisely why we're launching this journal."

Karaganov said up to half the journal's contents will consist of "the best" articles from the Western press translated into Russian to augment originally commissioned work.

Besides leading scholars, editors, and businessmen, the editorial board includes several Duma deputies and Kremlin and government officials. Among them are Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and top Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii, both of whom represent themselves as individuals and not the administration.

The board also includes a number of foreign-policy experts from Europe and the United States. One of them is "Foreign Affairs" editor James Hoge, another is Harvard University's Graham Allison, who contributed an article to the first issue on the threat of terrorism.

The journal's "political board" includes metals magnate Vladimir Potanin and oil-pipeline-monopoly chief Semen Vainshtok, among other big players. A letter from President Vladimir Putin graces the new periodical's first page.

The editors will produce an additional English-language edition to be sent to Western academic institutions, libraries, and other organizations. Karaganov said the English version will have its own original articles as well as reprints of material previously published by Russian authors who would not otherwise see their work read abroad. The journal will be published quarterly, although its editors say they hope to increase the number to six times a year.

The magazine is not expected to turn a profit; many issues will be sent free to Russian universities, libraries, and other institutions. Access to the journal's website (http://www.globalaffairs.ru) will also be free of charge.

Mikhail Ozerov, the editor of the English-language edition, said the publication will also be used to publicize Russian opinion abroad. He said ideas will be floated as "trial balloons" to gauge opinion among leaders in other countries. "We'll see how they react to these trial balloons -- including ones tied to Chechnya, to the war on terrorism, disarmament, and so on."

The journal's editor, Fedor Lukyanov, meanwhile said the journal's title reflects recent changes in international relations. "'World politics' has always existed -- it's been around since ancient times and for the duration of all the centuries of human existence. But it has only now become -- or is becoming -- 'global.' Because for the first time, we live in a world in which not one country, no matter what its own policies, is in a position to shield itself from what's going on in the world."

Vyacheslav Nikonov, director of Moscow's Politika Foundation, is another of the journal's guiding luminaries and editorial board deputy chair. He backs the opinion that a large gap divides Russia from the West. "For the past 80-plus years, a very serious cultural and intellectual rift has occurred between Russia and the rest of the world. A situation has developed in which the Russian elite and the elite of other countries practically speak in different languages and understand each other badly even on a linguistic level."

But Nikonov said another development is that Russian ideas are mostly unknown outside the country. "The rest of the world doesn't know about Russian intellectual discussions, even though our intellectual life, in my opinion, is much richer than the intellectual life in many European countries."

In an article in the first issue of "Russia in Global Affairs," Nikonov writes that there are two major concepts of global politics. One claims the United States will dominate international affairs for the foreseeable future; the other that Washington will botch the job, leading to global anarchy.

Nikonov proposes a third 21st-century scenario: a 19th-century balance-of-power in which the United States is the only superpower, but one that must contend with other so-called indispensable powers, not least of which is Russia.

Karaganov, meanwhile, said he's happy with the journal. "It came out, in my opinion, really well. We're very happy about that -- although of course we can't congratulate ourselves -- but we're nonetheless satisfied. Let's see what happens after the fifth, sixth, 10th, and 20th issues."

Stressing the periodical's "educational" character, Karaganov said its editors will encourage other publications to reprint their articles.

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