Georgia's PR agency lashes out at Russian 'propaganda'

GPlus comes under fire for promoting Russia's side in the conflict with Georgia.

The Brussels PR agency promoting Russia's side in the dispute with Georgia has been criticised for being part of Russia's 'propaganda' machine.

GPlus has been advising the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation since April 2006. Meanwhile, rival agency Aspect Consulting was hired by Georgia late last year to reach out to Western audiences.

Aspect Consulting founding partner James Hunt told PRWeek: 'There are agencies that work for Russia but I don't know how they can be comfortable about that. I feel I'm on the side of the angels.' He added that part of Aspect's strategy was appealing to 'journalists' sense of right and wrong'.

Hunt also accused Russia's operation of misleading foreign journalists and relying on 'three Russian newswires that are vehicles of the government, all communicating propaganda'.

GPlus partner Tim Price was unavailable for comment, but said in a statement: 'We largely provide logistical support to assist spokespeople with handling the European media. This includes facilitating communication between journalists and Russian officials, and providing monitoring and general advice on things such as the Western news cycle.'

GPlus is advising the Russians as part of an international consortium led by Ketchum.

Aspect was appointed by Georgia in November 2007 to help the country in its quest to become part of the EU and Nato. Aspect is stressing that Georgia did not start the war, pointing to its military forces' clear inferiority. The agency is also pushing out a wider message that the war is 'about punishing Georgia for wanting to pursue an Euro-Atlantic future'.

COLUMNIST OPINION

'The war will reduce rather than increase Russia's stature abroad' - Richard Beeston, The Times, 13 August

'Georgia ... has been treated by Russia to a brutal lesson in power politics' - Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 13 August

'Several times ... the course of history has been changed by an escalation from the sort of opportunistic bullying we have seen in Georgia' - Simon Heffer, Telegraph.co.uk, 13 August.

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