Governments of Abkhazia, South Ossetia Hire US PR Firm

By Roman Kupchinsky

The governments of the break-away Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have hired the Pasadena, California – based public relations firm of Mark Saylor LLC to promote their image in the West. The two governments will pay Saylor $30,000 a month for their services.

News of this was first reported on the website of the Russian newspaper Kommersant on August 14.

In documents filed with the US Department of Justice’s Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) on July 28, 2009 Saylor stated that it will aim to: “Underscore the importance of maintaining a close relationship with Russia (by their client), including the need for a Russian military presence within its borders, to protect Abkhazia from military aggression by Georgia.”

In the filing for South Ossetia, Saylor included a letter sent on June 17, 2009 to David Sanakoev, the human rights ombudsman for the republic, outlining the services which Saylor was prepared to offer to their client. Among others, Saylor wrote:

“Explain how the Russian military saved the civilian population of South Ossetia from Georgian military forces, and the necessity of continued Russian military support to protect the Republic of South Ossetia from another attack by Georgia.”

Yet, on the FARA website the Saylor filing is found under “Georgia” as the “country or location being represented”! In effect, Saylor will, with the go-ahead by FARA, help protect Georgia from military aggression by Georgia and show that Russian troops stationed in Georgia are vital to accomplish this mission!

The United States, as most of the world community, does not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states; therefore they are not listed on the FARA website as countries or locations.

It might be useful to convince the U.S. Justice Department to create new categories of locations for FARA: “Countries invaded by the Russian Federation,” “Break Away Regions”, “Islamic Militant Organizations” and so on. This would help clarify who is being represented by U.S. public relations firms and to what end.