From Russia With PR Several opinion columns praising Russia and published in the last two years on CNBCs web site and the Huffington Post were written by seemingly independent professionals but were placed on behalf of the Russian government by its public-relations firm, Ketchum. The columns, written by two businessmen, a lawyer, and an academic, heap praise on the Russian government for its ambitious modernization strategy and enforcement of laws designed to better protect business and reduce corruption. One of the CNBC opinion pieces, authored by an executive at a Moscow-based investment bank, concludes that Russia may well be the most dynamic place on the continent. Theres nothing unusual about Ketchums work on behalf of Russia. Public relations firms constantly peddle op-eds on behalf of politicians, corporations, and governments. Rarely if ever do publications disclose the role of a PR firm in placing an op-ed, so its unusual to get a glimpse behind the scenes and see how an op-ed was generated. What readers of the CNBC and Huffington Post pieces did not know but Justice Department foreign agent registration filings by Ketchum show is that the columns were placed by the public-relations firm working on a contract with the Russian government to, among other things, promote the country as a place favorable for foreign investments.