The HJS Virtual Event Series: “Russian ‘Black PR’: The Practice of Ruining Reputations”

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The HJS Virtual Event Series: “Russian ‘Black PR’: The Practice of Ruining Reputations”

14th January 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Anybody familiar with Russia will recognise the constancy of campaigns launched by state, quasi-state, and non-state actors – from law enforcement officers to so-called journalists and internet trolls – to discredit out-of-favour figures by the spreading of damaging information about them and their alleged activities.

This phenomenon — “black PR” (chernyi piar) — emerged in the 1990s and has over time become a centralised and systematised feature of the authoritarian kleptocracy that Vladimir Putin has built since his rise to power in 2000. But, in contrast to the 1990s, when it was largely used in politics, since 2000 black PR has been used across all aspects of life, most notably in business.

Accordingly, “black PR” has spread to wherever there are Russian financial and business interests, including London, with sometimes devastating consequences.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to a discussion with Bob Seely MP, David Satter, and Dr Jade McGlynn to discuss the deeply troubling ramifications of the spread of this form of ‘dezinformatisya’ into our national discourse, and what can be done to ensure that Russian disinformation can be resisted before it causes serious damage.

Bob Seely is the Member of Parliament for the isle of Wight. He sits on the House of Commons Foreign affairs Select Committee. Mr Seely writes academically and journalistically on foreign affairs as well as more generally on non-conventional and new forms of conflict.

Prior to his election in June 2017, Mr Seely served on the Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and ISIS campaigns as a member of the Armed Forces. From 1990 to 1994, Mr Seely lived in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet states.

He reluctantly uses Social Media. He sometimes tweets at: @iowbobseely, is on Instagram: @BobSeelyMP, and is on Facebook at: ioWBobSeely. His web address is:

His academic and foreign affairs writing is available online at: Mr Seely has written one of the few peer-reviewed definitions of Contemporary Russian Conflict Strategy available in the West (

David Satter is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. His most recent book, Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union, an anthology of his writing from 1976 to 2019, was published in 2020 by ibidem-Verlag/Columbia University Press. It is available here.

David Satter’s other books are available here or via the links below and his film is viewable online. David’s background and career are described here. His recent articles, op-eds, interviews, and book reviews are collected here (as well as via Muck Rack.) C-Span appearances, including book discussions, are available here.

Dr Jade McGlynn is a Research Fellow specialising in Russian political culture and foreign relations at the Henry Jackson Society. She lived in Russia for five years and has worked across the broader post-Soviet space, from Ukraine to Kazakhstan.

Jade holds a DPhil in Russian from the University of Oxford, where she also gained her BA in Russian and Spanish. She also has a Masters by Research from the University of Birmingham. Her DPhil examined how the Russian government have used the politics of memory and national identity to legitimise Russian foreign and domestic policy. She is currently preparing a manuscript based on this research for publication in 2021, entitled Making History Great Again: The Politics of Memory and Belonging in Contemporary Russia. Jade has also published her research as articles, chapters, and reports in leading academic journals, collected volumes, and think tanks.

Prior to joining HJS, Jade worked as a Lecturer and Research Assistant at the University of Oxford, teaching papers in Russian language and literature, as well as courses on History as part of Oxford University’s new access outreach programme (Opportunity Oxford). She has also held fellowships and research positions at the University of Birmingham, University of Voronezh (Russia), and Middlebury Institute of International Relations in Monterrey.






HJS were thrilled to host three excellent speakers and sources of knowledge on the panel to discuss the dark Russian practice of ‘Black PR’, its historical role in Russian foreign policy and it’s implications for the UK.

Chaired by HJS Director of Communications, Sam Armstrong, the panellists discussed ‘Black PR’ its evolution across Russian history and its development over the Putin era.

Finally, the panel reviewed the implications of ‘Black PR’s existence in British media discourse, and what more can be done to increase institutional resilience to a pervasive security threat in the aftermath of Brexit.

Of particular note was the analysis from MP Bob Seely, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who reminded the panel and audience of the Russian practice of ‘dezinformatisya’ and how ‘Black PR’ was an effective and potent method of destroying the reputations of the rivals of the Russian state.


14th January 2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


United Kingdom


Bob Seely MP, David Satter, Dr Jade McGlynn


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