The International Republican Institute strengthens citizen voices and helps make their leaders more accountable and responsive. To put it simply, IRI encourages democracy in places where it is absent, helps democracy become more effective where it is in danger and shares best practices where democracy is flourishing.
Vladimir Putin is actively trying to sway public opinion throughout Europe using hostile propaganda, disinformation, and political subversion as a way to destabilize its neighbors. It’s not just in places like eastern Ukraine. It’s in places that were once seen as stable democracies, such as the Visegrad 4 and the Baltic States, and extends to much of the Balkans.
In 2015, IRI launched the Beacon Project to counteract this misinformation.
There isn’t anything new about the Kremlin’s use of disinformation. However, the difference today is in the quality of tools available. Digital communications technology allows for the rapid spread of all information, creating opportunities for manipulation that can be so impactful as to constitute a severe danger to democracy.
Purveyors of disinformation, either the Kremlin or another state or non-state actor, will continuously be adjusting their tactics, changing the messages they use, and retargeting their audience. A response to disinformation that focuses solely on yesterday’s tactics will not be able to respond when tactics shift.
For that reason, the Beacon Project focuses on building resilient democracies. Nations with strong democratic institutions and an informed public can resist attempted intimidation by malign actors. This approach ensures that nations are better prepared to respond not only to today’s disinformation threat but future threats to come.
In furtherance of this goal, all of the Beacon Project’s strategic actions fall into one of three categories: