Russia doesn't have the most positive reputation abroad. Many people, especially in the West, see it as an authoritarian state where riot police batter protesters and powerful forces repress homosexuals and other minorities. But now Russia is following the U.S.'s lead in a charm offensive.
Since Vladimir Putin first became a president in 2000, Russia has launched various projects to improve its image—a multilanguage TV channel, Russia Today, is one of the most visible endeavors—but they have not improved the nation's image as much as hoped, said Alexey Dolinskiy, a partner at consulting firm Capstone Connections.
"Numerous efforts to bolster its reputation abroad with foreign audiences have thus far not had the intended effect, especially in comparison to the amount of resources and attention invested by the Russian government," Dolinskiy said in a report, "Russia Direct."
Dolinskiy told CNBC that, for example, Russia Today has managed to build a viewership but has not done much to materially change the country's image. Global attitudes toward Russia are more negative than positive, according to the 2013 GlobeScan poll. Among countries included in the survey, only a handful—Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran—did worse.