When Vladimir Yakunin was sacked from his position as Chief of Russian Railways last year, it was hailed as this great anti-corruption victory. But I argued at the time that what had happened in fact was not as it was portrayed.
Earlier this year rumors started that Yakunin was planning on opening a think tank connected to his Dialogue of Civilizations forum. Kommersant reported:
“The key focus of Putin will now be building a new architecture of international relations… Now there is no think tank [analytical center], which deals with international themes, the demand is there.”
“Most likely, Putin gave Yakunin carte blanche for the formation of the analytical center. Yakunin will be quite satisfied with the role of curator of the new center and the ability to report regularly to the President on the implementation of Russia’s foreign policy.”
It is now pretty clear that the newly launched think tank had been in the works for quite some time. Likely since last year, when Yakunin was “ousted” from Russian Railways. It is likely that the Regime leaked the information in January, setting the stage for the opening that happened in Berlin last week.
However, the organization itself is not new. The Dialogue of Civilizations has been around since 2001. It came out of a speech from Iranian leader Khatami as a response to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”.
According to the article on the Berlin launch:
But its ambitions appear to be growing. Though the DOC’s funding is not spelled out on its website (and the institute did not respond to a request for comment), “FAZ” reported that Yakunin himself is investing 25 million euros ($27.8 million) over the next five years, and plans to employ some 20 people. Its own stated aim is to be among the world’s “top 20 think tanks within five years.
The DOC’s own website explains that the organization is transforming itself, and that soon their website will be shut down, and merged with the new Institute’s website.
In the meantime, the DOC still plans to hold their annual Rhodes Forum in late September. The theme is: “The Choas of Multiplicity: an Urgent Call for Dialogue”.