The issue is gathering two types of articles, answering two complementary questions: What means soft power today in Russia, and, what examples illustrate this soft power?
Prof. Gella from Orel State University presented an article titled «The Role of the Soft Power in the formation of Image of Modern Russia» which is an excellent introductory text to shed light to this topic. Prof. Gella’s paper approaches the question of Russia’s image from various angles, carefully analyzing the reasons of the current “not so positive” image of Russia abroad and commenting positive trends that appear.
Prof. Mizobata, from the Tokyo University, presents a clear example of correlation between soft power and innovation, analyzing the barriers remaining in Russia to build an innovative society. This well-researched article titled «Innovation Policy and Market Quality in Russia» shows the consequences of soft power governmental measures to overcome those barriers. In an article that pairs well with Prof. Mizobata’s, Associate Prof. Kovaleva from St Petersburg State University of Economics measures in her article «Soft power in innovation environment» the innovative environment of Russia and links it to the displayed soft power of the country through the means of academic and educational activities. Associate Professor Hong-li Lien, from the Department of Diplomacy of the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, attempts to draw a stimulating parallel between the use of soft and hard power by Russia during the Crimean crisis and the relationship of Russia with its southeastern neighbour, China. This geopolitical paper, titled «Does Crimean Event Become the Excuse of Closer Relationship between Russia and China?» reviews many areas of cooperation of the two countries and places soft power among them. Cross-cultural specialists Prof. Robert Crane and Prof. Ruth Alas from the Estonian Business School in Tallinn, together with the editor of this special issue, Phd Candidate Jerome Dumetz form REU Plekhanov, analyze the recent conflicts involving Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States using tools originally designed to explain cross-cultural management. The result of their analysis in the article «Paving the Path to Peace in the CEE: Is Culture a way to Peace?» is that Russia’s cultural profile is practically opposite to the one of European Union as an organization hence explaining the ongoing misunderstanding between the two powers.
Based in Taiwan, Associate Professor Chang Ching-Gwo, from the department of Russian Language and literature of the Tamkang Univeristy, exhibits in «Russian Language and Russian Literature in Taiwan» the history of Russian language teaching in Taiwan. In this detailed account, one of the keys of soft power, the spread of a language in a foreign land, is described from the perspective of an Asian neighbour of Russia enjoyed modest but growing cooperation. Finally, Prof. Aladin from the St Petersburg Zoological Institute of RAS and his colleagues researchers Philip Micklin, Phd, from Western Michigan University in the USA; and, Igor Plotnikov also from the St Petersburg Zoological Institute of RAS, display in a fascinating article the state of affair of the «The Partial Restoration of the Aral Sea». The famous lake in middle Asia has been the center of attention from a multinational team of experts under the active leadership of enthusiastic Prof. Aladin. This partial restoration of the Aral Sea is one of the too little known examples of successful Russian display of soft power abroad.
Those seven articles each present Russia’s soft power in a unique perspective, be it Education, Science or language. Those areas, core elements of Russia’s «Human Capital» are also instrumental in shedding an uncommon light on Russia’s image internally and abroad. Regardless of the area of expertise of the readers, the articles gathered in this special issue should generate stimulating food for thought and hopefully healthy discussion.