Is Russian culture its weapon against America?
The Kremlin is preparing a new culture policy for Russia focusing on its distinctive civilisation and traditional values, which observers say has political ends amid Moscow’s standoff with the West.
At the end of four hours of questions Thursday in his annual call-in, President Vladimir Putin waxed philosophical on what it means to be Russian.
Russians not only have their own “cultural code,” he said, they also have a unique moral outlook — unlike Westerners, Russians are selfless and prone to self-sacrifice.
“These are the deep roots of our patriotism,” Putin said.
Tapping into perceived “traditional cultural values” of Russian civilisation, the culture ministry is drawing up a government strategy that observers say has all the trappings of a new state ideology, echoing Soviet legacy.
The authors preparing the document, who are kept secret, believe that such a policy must be based on the thesis that “Russia is not Europe” and generously quote from Putin’s speeches.
The policy states Russia is at a historical crossroads and must make a choice between cultural extinction or the preservation of its unique “moral and spiritual foundations,” which can only be done with a “state culture policy.”
An early version of the document has been leaked to the press and is currently being examined by a Kremlin working group chaired by one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB agent recently blacklisted by the United States.
“Russia is an ancient, independent, distinctive civilisation,” culture minister Vladimir Medinsky said at a press conference Wednesday.
In an interview with the Kommersant daily, Medinsky further added that Russia “is forced to culturally protect itself” from the what he sees as the depravities of Europe’s contemporary culture.
“Perhaps Russia will be the last keeper of European culture, Christian values and truly European civilisation,” said Medinsky.