Narratives and Realities: Russia and the West in a competition for the hearts and minds?
Daniel Mitov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior fellow, Legatum Institute (UK)
Jovan Teokarevic, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade (Serbia)
Kancho Stoychev, Sociologist, Gallup International (Bulgaria)
Ivan Bedrov, Senior editor, Club Z (Bulgaria)
Vessela Tcherneva, Programmes Director and Head of Sofia Office
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Whenever big-scale disruptions in international affairs catch us by surprise, analysts and politicians alike start talking of a new world order in the making. The end of the bipolarity of the world after the Cold War is an example of this pattern. It was followed by the establishment of new and strengthening of old international institutions. Their rules served to ensure security and predictability in the otherwise chaotic and rather Hobbesian global environment.
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 there is talk of yet another world order in the making The Russian military aggression against Ukraine and the de facto breaking of international law on part of Russia caught the West by surprise. The Western states needed months to assess the situation. The reaction was unanimous imposition of sanctions and making their lifting conditional on the implementation of the Minsk agreement. Russia, in turn, responded with countersanctions and increasingly anti-Western political discourse. In the midst of the resulting disagreements and mistrust, a battle for the hearts and minds of people in Europe and Russia began to unfold with variations of truth, narratives and information becoming key weapons of choice.
In panel discussions we will outline with the help of experts ways in which information is disseminated and popular narratives are formed in Russia and the West, underlining the role of states, political leaders, experts and the media.Ways of countering propaganda will be discussed as well as the impact of coherent storytelling and popular instruments of information dissemination.
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