Event Date(s)
Tbilisi, Georgia
17 June 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

This conference focuses on Russia’s revisionist strategy and her quest at re-gaining political and economic control in the former POST-COMMUNIST republics. Long before Putin’s regime-initiated rapprochement with the West, the Kremlin conventionalized a foreign policy aimed at economically and politically re-gaining control within this vital sphere of influence, the so-called “near abroad.” Russian revisionist strategy aims to undermine the existing international order, as witnessed in its systematic and hostile foreign policy against the United States and Europe. As a revisionist power, Russia represents a threat and destabilizing power not only to western secular liberal democracies, but most noticeably for post-communist countries. Today, the Kremlin furtively applies an arsenal of methods of influence, including political intimidation, economic pressure, disinformation, and “hybrid” military activities that limit and impede the political, economic and institutional integration of the former POST-COMMUNIST republics with the West. Such stealth like tactics employed by the Kremlin have already damaged the confidence of legitimate institutions within established western democracies. Therefore, the causal relationship between the Russian “footprint” (in particular the economic one) and the nature of domestic political decision-making and influence in the post-communist countries, where deeply rooted and well-functioning democratic institutions are still in their embryonic forms, becomes a critical question. This conference provides an ideal academic platform for academics, NGO’s, think tanks, and civil society experts to present their research exposing and examining various destabilizing Russian provocations in the post-POST-COMMUNIST republics. Participants and contributors are invited to discuss and present all aspects of such malignant Russian infiltration – transparent and non-transparent – that further the Kremlin’s goal of solidifying and expanding a Russian “footprint” in the “near abroad.”

Panel I – Political-Economic Footprint

This panel will discuss the complexity of the various economic and political mechanisms used by Russia in her attempt to gain control over the political system in its so-called “near abroad.” In addition to sponsoring pro-Russian political parties and domestic civil society, the ever increasing Russian footprint in the respective national economies has also become a serious concern for western oriented governments and independent experts alike.

Panel II – Hybrid-Military Footprint
Blurring the borders between clear-cut military actions and close-to- military actions has become the modus operandi of revisionism in the so called “near abroad.” These apparently innocuous non-military actions are in fact an integral element of the Kremlin’s “hybrid” policies that in turn, may evolve into full-scale military operations. Therefore, disentangling and exposing such nefarious Russian hybrid-military operations signifies a high priority in post-Soviet countries and beyond.

Panel III – Culture Values Norms
Another approach used by the Kremlin to influence the political structures and centers of decision-making in the countries of interest focuses on the informational and psychological dimensions. Such stealth like strategies are deceptive in nature and used to penetrate the targeted societies with the intent of forcing these communities to question the compatibility of western values with their own national identities and way of life. The goal is to create a sense of insecurity and vulnerability and creates a space in which Russia can offer an alternative against western influences.

Panel IV – How to Respond ?
This panel will summarize the conclusions and findings discussed in the previous panels. Participants are invited to formulate and share the most effective methods to respond and minimize Russian malignant influence.

Invited Speakers

Shota Gvineria

In September 2017 Shota Gvineria joined the Economic Policy Research Center in the position of senior fellow. Before, since 2001 Shota Gvineria has been working on various positions in Georgia’s public sector. Among other positions Shota Gvineria served as the Deputy Secretary at the National Security Council of Georgia. Earlier, he covered NATO integration and security policy related issues as Ambassador at Large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. In his previous capacity, he held the position of the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Minister of Defence of Georgia untill August 2016.

Through 2010-14 he served as an Ambassador of Georgia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Alongside with strengthening political, economic and cultural relations between Georgia and the Netherlands, Ambassador was also representing his country in international organizations based in The Hague.

In 2010, Mr. Gvineria was promoted to the position of a Director of European Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. Prior to that mission, in 2008 – 2009, he served as a Head of NATO Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. In the period of April 2006 – October 2008, Mr. Gvineria was posted as a Councilor to the Georgian Mission to NATO.

In 2015 Mr. Gvineria obtained his Master’s degree in Strategic Security Studies at Washington’s National Defense University. He also earned his Master’s in International Relations from Diplomatic School of Madrid in 2005. Earlier he completed his Master’s in Public Administration at Georgian Technical University.

Andreas Umland

Andreas UmlandCertTransl (Leipzig), AM (Stanford), MPhil (Oxford), DipPolSci, DrPhil (FU Berlin), PhD (Cambridge) held fellow- or lectureships at the Hoover Institution, Harvard University, St. Antony’s College, Urals State University, Shevchenko University of Kyiv, Catholic University of Eichstaett, and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Since 2014, he has been Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, Kyiv. He is the general editor of the book series Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society (www.ibidem.eu/en/reihen/gesellschaft-politik/soviet-and-post-soviet-politics-and-society.html) and an editor of the webjournal Forum noveishei vostochnoevropeiskoi istorii i kul’tury (www1.ku-eichstaett.de/ZIMOS/forumruss.html). He is a member of the boards of directors/editors of the International Association for Comparative Fascist Studies (comfas.org/Governance/), NGO “Kyiv Dialogue” (www.kyiv-dialogue.org/de/ueber-uns/steuerungsgruppe.html), book series Explorations of the Far Right (www.ibidem.eu/en/reihen/gesellschaft-politik/explorations-of-the-far-right.html), Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies (www.brill.nl/fascism), Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society (spps-jspps.autorenbetreuung.de/de/jspps/herausgeber.html), and The Ideology and Politics Journal (ideopol.org/editorial-board/).

Websites: https://andreasumland.academia.edu , https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreasumland/ , https://www.facebook.com/andreas.umland.1

Krassen Stanchev

Dr. Krassen Stanchev teaches Public Choice and Macroeconomic Analysis of Politics at Sofia University,

plus history of economic ideas to humanitarian post-graduates; he is also CEO of KC 2 Ltd and Board

Chairman, founder and former Executive Director of IME (www.ime.bg) - the first Bulgaria’s independent

and free market think thank (1993), former member and committee chairman of the Constitutional

Assembly (1990-1991), one of the most quoted Bulgarian observers. He was a principle drafter and

leader of reforms from central planning to market economy and is one of the leaders of those reforms in

Bulgaria and new Europe.

Krassen Stanchev has MA degree in philosophy from the St. Petersburg University (1980) and PhD from

the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1988). For his research, consulting and other activities he has been

awarded Best Country Analyst by EuroMoney (in 1996), For Overall Contribution to Democracy and

Reforms, by the Government of Bulgaria (in 2001) and For Contribution to the Climate of Liberty (in

2006, by the Georgy Vassilev Fund).

After leaving IME in 2006, he worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Central Asia (Kazakhstan,

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), and Russia and Egypt, leading

teams and/or being a subcontractor of EU, UN, USAID or the World Bank programs. Currently, he is a

short term consultant in Ukraine, and similar assignment is scheduled for early 2019, in Bosnia and

Herzegovina. Some of these organizations have been clients of KC2 Ltd, along with major foreign

investors in Bulgarian energy, mining and food-processing sectors.

Krassen Stanchev is a member of Mont Pelerin Society, of the Network for Constitutional Economics and

Social Philosophy (NOUS: http://nous.network/en/ ), of other national and international and regular

participant in the annual meetings of the Trans-Atlantic Law Forum (of GMU and the Bucelius Law School

of Hamburg).

Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff

Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the U.S. National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies and a Non-Resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). His research focuses on Russian foreign policy, Eurasian geopolitics, and the role of history and memory in international relations. He is the author of the books Empires of Eurasia: How Imperial Legacies Shape International Security (Yale, 2022) and Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, 2012). He also writes frequently for Foreign Affairs, War on the Rocks and other outlets.

Dr. Mankoff was previously a senior fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at CSIS and served as an adviser on U.S.-Russia relations at the U.S. Department of State as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. From 2008 to 2010, he was associate director of International Security Studies at Yale University and an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He also held the John M. Olin National Security Fellowship at Harvard University (2006-07) and the Henry Chauncey Fellowship at Yale University (2007-08). Dr. Mankoff received undergraduate degrees in international studies and Russian from the University of Oklahoma, and an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in diplomatic history from Yale University. He is a Truman National Security Fellow and a past Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tamar Kintsurashvili

Tamar Kintsurashvili is executive director of Media Development Foundation - MDF since 2017. Priorly she served as a chairperson of the MDF’s board. Tamar is an author and co-author of numerous researches and publications on hate speechanti-Western propagandaKremlin Influence Indexmedia literacy, freedom of expression, media transparency and accountability and media self-regulation.

She is an editor-in-chief of fact-checking online portal Myth Detector and runs Deutsche Welle Akademie youth project Myth Detector Lab for Media Literacy in Georgia aimed at enhancing youth critical thinking and capacity to establish reliability of news sources and content. Tamar is a member of Deutsche Welle Akademie Media and Information Literacy Experts Network (MILEN).

Tamar Kintsurashvili is associated professor at lia State University where she teaches media ethics and propaganda research methods. She received MSc in policy studies from Edinburgh University and MA in journalism from Tbilisi State University.

Prior to joining MDF, she served as a deputy secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia in 2010-2013. She was responsible for civil integration policy development. Previously, Kintsurashvili was the first elected general director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (2005-2009) and deputy director of the CSO Liberty Institute (2002-2005).

Temuri Yakobashvili

Ambassador Temuri Yakobashvili has distinguished himself as a senior leader in government, international diplomacy, crisis management and negotiations, institution building, and leadership development.

Currently founder and President of the TY Strategies LLC, boutique consultancy company and Executive Vice President of PASS LLC, a global social-impact consultancy, Yakobashvili also founded and remains president of the New International Leadership Institute, an NGO dedicated to fighting corruption and promoting good governance.

From 2011-13 Yakobashvili served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the United States. From 2008-11, Yakobashvili served as Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister of Reintegration in the Republic of Georgia. In those positions, he led the transformation of the failed state into a functioning democracy. The World Bank has credited Georgia as the country with the most effective government reforms in the world, including the most successful anti-corruption efforts.

Ambassador Yakobashvili put his diplomatic and negotiating expertise to use in crisis management during the Russo-Georgian war. After Russia occupied Georgian territories, he developed the internationally recognized Engagement Strategy for dealing with Russia occupied territories of Georgia. He has led negotiations with international organizations and individual states on conflict resolution matters.

Prior to working as Deputy Prime Minister, Ambassador Yakobashvili served as a career diplomat. He holds diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. In 2012, he was decorated with Presidential Medal of Excellence.

To develop the next generation of leaders, in 1998 Ambassador Yakobashvili co-founded the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS, currently Rondeli Foundation), the leading think tank in the Caucasus region. Graduates of its leadership development program now populate the senior ranks of the Georgian and other governments.

Ambassador Yakobashvili holds a degree in physics from Tbilisi State University. In 1998, while at the Foreign Ministry, he pursued mid-career training at the Center for Political and Diplomatic Studies at Oxford University. In addition, he is a Yale World Fellow (2002) and in 2004 participated in the Executive Security Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2006 he was a visiting researcher at the Silk Road Study Center of Uppsala University, Sweden. During 2013-14, held the post of the resident Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. Fluent in Georgian, English, Russian and Hebrew, Ambassador Yakobashvili frequently contributes to local and international media on regional security and government reform.

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