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Cheap price for Georgia’s new image2009-03-31 12:47
Georgia has hired new PR experts from America to work on the country's image. The million dollars spent on them is already bearing fruit. While Russia's big spending on Western political strategists is not paid off well.
The Hill newspaper (USA) was interested in the contract between Georgian government and Publiс Strategies PR-agency. Under the US laws political strategists must publish reports on lobbying in favor of foreign companies twice per year. This is how the information on services provided to Mikheil Saakashvili became public. According to the $300,000 agreement American specialists shall work on enhancement of "the reputation of the Republic of Georgia government". Among the company lobbyists there are influential members of the US Democratic Party, Civil Georgia specifies with reference to the Hill.
Another pair of PR consultants from Washington, Gregory Maniatis and Daniel Kunin, shall provide "strategic and communications advice to the Government of Georgia in its international relations, specifically with the United States" for a year. They will get $ 470,000 for that.
Besides since August 2008 Glover Park Group PR-company has been working for Saakashvili and his team. It established over 50 contacts with the offices members of US Congress and senators and provided for Mikheil Saakashvili's promotion in the press. The fee amounted to $ 320,000. In Europe there is Aspect Consulting Company (Brussels) that renders services of the kind.
On having paid over a million dollars Tbilisi is not at a loss. There is a good pay-off in the form of gratuitous humanitarian aid, cheap loans and foreign investments.
It is noteworthy there was another lobby company - Orion Strategies - that worked for Georgia. According to xPressa.ru since 2004 its owner Randy Scheunemann was advocating Saakashvili and other state leaders willing to accede into NATO in the Congress. This PR expert's role in preparation of the attack on Tskhinval is not completely clear. It is known though that following the military defeat his contract with Georgia was cancelled. When Moscow recognized Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence Scheunemann started active lobbying for alienation of North Caucasian republics from Russia. In the meantime his VIP customer John McCain lost the presidential race. The reputation of the US Republican Party's "special PR consultant" was finally ruined.
As specified by Sergey Mikheev, Vice President of Center for Political Technologies, in his interview with Georgia Times, almost all ex-Soviet republics have to refer to Western political advisers. PR technologies form the image of countries that used to be associated with a unified whole within the USSR in average minds. "The degree of success of Western specialists working for Georgia is in the image of a small Caucasian democracy innocently suffering from evil totalitarian Russia they created", - the politologist noted. According to him the information war with Georgia is not over yet and the northern empire will have to make amends for the losses.
Russia has a chance to take revenge using the same methods of self-promotion. In mid March Russian oppositional magazine The New Times reported that over two years and a half Moscow had spent at least 10 million dollars on the services of foreign PR-agencies.
According to the magazine the contracts were signed with the following companies: Ketchum, Washington Group and GPlus. All of them are subsidiaries of Omnicom Group international giant.