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media and information in the caspian region in the age of covid-19

Media And Information In The Caspian Region In The Age Of Covid-19

Author:Caspian Policy Center

May 15, 2020

Introduction

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the eight countries of the Greater Caspian Region – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – focused intently on establishing their sovereignty and independence. Initially, some in the West expected these countries would naturally – and quickly – become free-market democracies, but that “irrational exuberance” did not take into account their deeply ingrained Soviet heritage and their historic lack of Western contact and experience. Access to accurate information for citizens of the region has always been a challenge because the countries themselves have
decidedly mixed reputations for allowing freedom of information and access to the internet. However, given the current global Covid-19 pandemic, it has become essential – almost literally a matter of life and death – for people in the region to have access to the most accurate information possible.


It’s a given that the Greater Caspian Region is a strategic crossroad for Russia, China, and the West, and that is true for news and information. In this report, we take a detailed look at the foreign news sources available to the people of the region, looking specifically at Russian, Chinese, U.S., and European information sources. We then look in detail at how the United States organizes and implements its media efforts in the region. This section of the report includes interviews with senior officials in the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center as well as at U.S. embassies in the region. Finally, this report suggests recommendations for both the United States and for the Caspian Region countries themselves to consider.


As always, the Caspian Policy Center welcomes your views and comments. Please contact us at [email protected].


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