Washington, D.C.—Amid growing alarm over the Kremlin’s influence in European politics, European political leaders joined their U.S. counterparts to tackle this problem at a series of events in Washington this week. Co-hosted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES), the sessions highlighted the work of the Beacon Project, an IRI initiative that exposes and counters Russian disinformation in Europe.
“It’s not that Moscow seeks to take over the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, but rather to undermine their democratic and economic success,” said IRI President Ambassador Mark Green. “Through the Beacon Project, the community of democracies can push back, shining a light on disinformation and media manipulation, and crafting strategies to strengthen voices of liberty and democracy.”
IRI and WMCES brought together European parliamentarians and U.S. members of Congress, including Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), to explore legislative and diplomatic responses to this challenge. With the help of the Beacon Project’s new ICT tool, decision-makers will have access to quantitative and qualitative data on the origins and dissemination of narratives that distort information and seek to undermine democratic institutions.
Since launching the Beacon Project in April, IRI has hosted four roundtable conferences for political leaders and civil society representatives from Central and Eastern Europe. The National Endowment for Democracy supports the Beacon Project, which will include a multinational polling initiative to be rolled out in early 2017.