The Belarusian government is in talks with the London-based Institute for State Ideologies on a deal that would see the latter provide advice on efforts to improve the country’s image abroad, Natalia Leshchenko, senior expert at the organization, told BelaPAN.
The talks are taking place weeks after the government’s one-year contract with British public-relations executive Lord Timothy Bell expired.
The Belarusian authorities are not seeking to sign a full-scale contract with the Institute as they are now more cautious about such deals with foreign public-relations firms, according to Ms. Leshchenko. "We offer not PR services, not the distribution of materials through the media but exactly what Lord Bell’s work lacked seriously: creating a model of Belarus’ image and a long-term strategy of the country’s promotion in the West," she said.
The Belarusian Presidential Administration is becoming increasingly aware of the need for cooperation with both domestic and foreign experts and creating a task force dealing with Belarus’ image abroad, said Ms. Leshchenko, who hails from Belarus Ms. Leshchenko claimed to be one of three Belarusian-born political analysts known in the West and described herself as the only expert in Belarusian nationalism.
"Experts inside the country also are necessary, but we will be useful not only because we are versed in questions of ideology. We know how Western society works, what can be achieved with the help of reputation management," Mr. Leshchenko said.