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Anti-Western Rhetoric in Today’s Russia

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) and the Finnish publishing house, Into Kustannus, will hold a discussion on the rise of anti-Western rhetoric in today’s Russia on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 5-7pm at the Helsinki International Press Club (adjacent to the Pullman Bar on the second floor of the Helsinki Central Railway Station). Luke Harding, Moscow correspondent of The Guardian, will talk about his book, Mafia State, which has just been published in Finnish by Into Kustannus.

Vladimir Putin’s reign has seen a steady increase in the volume and ferocity of anti-Western rhetoric in Russian political discourse. The regime has ratcheted up tensions within and without Russia using language and logic that is eerily reminiscent of Soviet propaganda. This has coincided with public attacks and covert harassment of Western journalists, diplomats, and organisations operating in Russia. What is the purpose of this rhetoric and how does it serve the interests of Russia’s ruling clan? How should the West react to this rhetoric?

Taking part in the discussion:

* Luke Harding, Moscow correspondent of The Guardian, whose book on Putin’s Russia, Mafia State, has just been published in Finnish by Into Kustannus. In the book, Mr Harding describes episodes of harassment that he, his family, and his co-workers were subjected to in Russia. Mr Harding will talk about his experiences in Moscow.

* Masha Gessen, director of Radio Svoboda in Moscow. In 2012, she published a book, The Man Without a Face, which is a political biography of Vladimir Putin and has just been published in Finnish by Otava. As a dual Russian-US citizen, Ms Gessen possesses unique insight into Russia’s wrought relationship with the West.

* Heidi Hautala, Minister for International Development in the Finnish government. Previously, she served as chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights. Ms Hautala is former chair of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. In 2008, she published a pamphlet, Venäjä-teesit, on the future of democracy and civil society in Russia.

* Oksana Chelysheva, Russian journalist and human rights defender, who is a member of the board of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum and a member of the Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. She has been a target of increasingly vitriolic attacks by officials of the Russian government for her human rights work.

* Mikael Storsjö, board member of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum and free speech activist. In addition, Mr Storsjö is board member of the Finnish Refugee Council. Mr Storsjö has come under heavy criticism in both Russia and elsewhere for providing hosting services to the Swedish-registered website, Kavkaz Center.

* Jarmo Koponen, producer and journalist at one of Finland’s leading online newspapers, Uusi Suomi. Previously, he has served as Moscow correspondent of the Finnish public broadcaster, YLE, and Press Counselor at the Finnish Embassy in Moscow. Mr Koponen is one of Finland’s most active debaters on issues related to Russia.

* Mika Rönkkö, editor at the Finnish publishing house, Into Kustannus. He is editor-in-chief of the Finnish edition of Monde Diplomatique, which contains additional material translated from Russia’s independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta. Into Kustannus has published numerous books about Russia over the years.

Moderating the discussion will be Kerkko Paananen, chairman of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. The event will begin with short presentations from the panelists, after which there will be an opportunity for the public to pose questions. The discussion will be in English, with ad hoc translation to and from Finnish if needed.

Refreshments and appetisers are available for purchase at the Pullman Bar.




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