One Year On, Media War Continues
Over a year after the Georgia-Russia war, there’s still no sign of a ceasefire in the media battle for moral supremacy. It’s just emerged that the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (which are claimed by Georgia but have been recognised as independent states by Russia) have hired an American PR firm to try to change the Western perception that they are no more than Kremlin puppet enclaves.
The media-savvy Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, has of course long understood the power of PR, and has several Western companies promoting his case to the international press – as does Russia, which was slow to launch a PR offensive during last year’s conflict but has since pressed home its case with vigour. Intriguingly, some Georgian opposition leaders have also hired British publicists in an attempt to advance their cause after losing the power struggle on the streets earlier this year, and they’ve also launched their own multimedia website, offering video clips and blogs – a kind of answer to the Georgian government’s own propaganda site (sorry, information service). Economically, Georgia may be going through hard times, but the spin trade, it seems, continues to thrive.