What is Russian Cultural Diplomacy?

Ukrainian institute
What is Russian Cultural Diplomacy?

Many of you know about Goethe institute in Germany, Institut Français in France, and British Council in the UK. But what about Russia? 

Russia has three main organizations that claim to be “cultural diplomacy agencies”

These are: 

  • Rossotrudnichestvo
  • The “Russian World” Fund
  • The Gorchakov Fund

Find out more about these organizations.

Rossotrudnichestvo, so-called “Russian Houses”

the largest and best-funded Russian cultural diplomacy institution. 

Rossotrudnichestvo inherited from its Soviet predecessors a vast network of offices abroad that spans the globe from South Korea to Chile. There are currently at least 97 such offices.

Main areas of activity: 

  • Russian presence in the world through cultural exchanges and promotion of the Russian language abroad, 
  • Spreading russian propaganda narratives worldwide
  • so-called “humanitarian aid” to former USSR allies including temporary occupied Ukrainian territories 

As a federal government agency, Rossotrudnichestvo is completely subordinate to the Russian authoritarian regime. 

The organization launched several campaigns aimed at spreading Russian militarist propaganda. Some examples:

The “Russian World” Fund

Though legally established as a non-governmental organisation, the “Russkiy Mir” Foundation is directly and tightly under the control of the Russian regime. Moreover, since 2021, the Foundation’s management staff is directly appointed by presidential decree.

From 2015 to 2020, the Foundation’s annual budget ranged between 460 and 580 million Russian roubles, almost all of which came from the federal budget.  

The Gorchakov Fund

Despite its legal status as a non-governmental organisation, the Fund is strictly controlled by the Russian government.

The Fund’s foremost and long-term goal has been to ensure that future international relations researchers as well as political elites of foreign countries share pro-Kremlin narratives and visions of Russia’s foreign policy.

Since 2015 the Gorchakov Fund organised Potsdam Meetings (suspended in March 2022) twice a year in Moscow and Berlin.