State-Backed Agency Charged With Spinning Russia's Image

An agency within the state-owned Development Bank will counter the flow of negative political news out of the country and lure foreign investors with positive information, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Wednesday.

"We face a significant discrepancy between Russia's investment image abroad and the real investment climate inside the country," Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina said in remarks published on the ministry's web site.

"We are now inclined to set up a noncommercial organization within the Development Bank," Nabiullina said, referring to one of the institutions created this year to help diversify the economy from the oil and gas sectors.

Nabiullina said the government had ditched the idea of creating a state-run agency because it could not quickly react to changing markets and pay sufficient salaries to "professionals with experience, knowledge of foreign languages and laws."

The draft program of improving the country's image abroad, an 80-page document prepared by Nabiullina's ministry, calls for closer cooperation with international media and promotion of nonenergy sectors through international fairs and exhibitions.

The agency will also promote Russian exports, particularly those related to small and medium-sized businesses, the ministry said.

Currently several ministries and agencies are charged with the functions that will be assigned to the agency, and the creation of a single agency would streamline them and make them more effective, Nabiullina said.

Nabiullina added that the government had studied the experiences in attracting investments from more than 30 countries.

The ministry hopes the agency will be created in the first quarter of next year, said Svetlana Suleimanova, a ministry spokeswoman.