PUTIN A CONSERVATIVE? A COMMENT
"Vladimir Putin called on Russians to strengthen a new national identity based on conservative and traditional values such as the Orthodox church on Thursday, warning that the west was facing a moral crisis. “Sovereignty, independence, the integrity of Russia – those are red lines that no one is allowed to cross,” the Russian president warned. Mr Putin said Russia should avoid the example of European countries that were “going away from their roots”, by legalising gay marriage and excessive “political correctness”. “A policy is being conducted of putting on the same level multi-child families and single-sex partnerships, belief in God and belief in Satan. The excesses of political correctness are leading to the point where people are talking seriously about registering parties whose goal is legalising the propaganda of paedophilia,” Mr Putin claimed. “People in many European countries are ashamed, and are afraid of talking about their religious convictions. [Religious] holidays are being taken away or called something else, shamefully hiding the essence of the holiday,” the Russian president added. “We need to respect the rights of minorities to be different, but the rights of the majority should not be in question,” he said."Neil Buckley, "Putin urges Russians to return to values of religion." The Financial Times. 20 September 2013. in www.ft.com.
"Popularly labelled “Russia's anti-gay law” in the West, the bill has attracted fiery international criticism for its implications for the human rights of Russia's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities. Lyudmila Alexeyeva, former Soviet dissident and co-founder of the human-rights watchdog the Moscow Helsinki Group, has called the legislation "a step toward the Middle Ages." But Kirill Kobrin, journalist and historian at Radio Free Europe's Russia Service, has a different take: “it was unthinkable to even discuss these issues twenty years ago in Russia,” he says. Kobrin thinks there has been a major shift in public consciousness that now, under the Kremlin's lead, LGBT rights are the focus of public attention and debate in Russia — albeit [following the adoption of new law] censored debate. Elena Mizulina, the controversial deputy who co-authored the legislation and heads Russia's State Duma Committee on Family, Women, and Children, has said that the law aims to protect children from information that rejects "traditional family values”. Specifically, the bill prohibits “the spreading of information” which aims to: (1) create non-traditional sexual attitudes among children, (2) make non-traditional sexual relations seem attractive, (3) give “a distorted perception about the social equality between traditional and non-traditional sexual relations" or (4) enforce information about non-tradition sexual relations that evokes interest in such relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his support for the new law, saying its purpose is only to “protect children.” Putin has also said that homosexuals are “not being discriminated against in any way.” But how, critics wonder, is this legislation anything but discriminatory? To argue that homosexuality is somehow both shameful and not to be discussed and that homosexuals won't be discriminated against is something the West can't get its head around".Yaroslava Kiryukhina, "Is Russia's 'gay progaganda' law alienating it from the West?" Russia Beyond the Headlines. 10 September 2013, in www.rbth.ru
An Act to secure that local and other public authorities undertake certain activities only if they can do so competitively; to regulate certain functions of local and other public authorities in connection with public supply or works contracts; to authorise and regulate the provision of financial assistance by local authorities for certain housing purposes; to prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities; to make provision about local authorities’ publicity, local government administration, the powers of auditors, land held by public bodies, direct labour organisations, arrangements under the Employment and Training Act 1973, the Commission for Local Authority Accounts in Scotland, the auditing of accounts of local authorities in Scotland, and dog registration, dog licences and stray dogs; and for connected purposes.Local Government Act 1988, 1988 CHAPTER 9, Section 28 [24th March 1988], in www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/9
"To cut himself off from Europe, from enlightenment, from the revolution of which he had been frightened since the Fourteenth of December, 1825, Nicholas on his side raised the banner of Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationalism, embellished after the fashion of Prussian standard and supported by anything that came to hand---the barbaric novels of Zagoskin, barbaric icon-painting, barbaric architecture, Uvarov, the persecution of the Uniats, and the 'The Hand of the Most High saved the Fatherland'. The encounter of the Moscow Slavophils with the Petersburg Slavophilism of Nicholas was a great misfortune for the former. Nicholas was simply flying to nationalism and Orthodoxy from revolutionary ideas. The Slavophils had nothing in common with him but words."Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts. Volume II. Translated by Constance Garnett and revised by Humphrey Higgins. (1968), pp. 514-515. As someone who does not have a very high opinion of Grazhdanin Putin (at least not since 2008 if not earlier) or many of his policies, his stance on homosexual rights and his recent, oft-proclaimed endorsement of traditional values of leaves me both divided and skeptical. First, prior to his return to the Presidency in 2012, and in particular the rising tide of civil society opposition to his rule, it would be fair to say that Putin never made a strong point of endorsing 'traditional values'. With the possible exception of backing a return to the public and state sphere of the Orthodox Church. Viz: Russian television has never been known for being by any measure 'conservative' in its presentation of materials which would have been unthinkable to be presented in Sovietyskaya Vlast and indeed in the United States, twenty to thirty years ago. It seems fair to say that Putin's more recent 'conservative' turn on issues like homosexuality is more akin to a political tactic to garner support from the mostly conservative if passive Russian heartland outside of the major urban centers of Mosvka and Petersburg 1. A political tactic, which Herzen's comments on Tsar Nikolai Pavlovich policies quoted above, puts one in mind of. If there was as suitable amount of sincerity to Putin's conservative turn, one would perhaps be more supportive of his policies in this area. But of course, given the endemic corruption and at times overt criminality of the regime, it is indeed difficult to take on its own merits the policies that Putin is advocating. Which is not of course to agree with those like the British actor Stephen Fry who are arguing for boycotts of Russia and things Russian. That seems to me to be quite ridiculous and wrong-headed in turn. Per se, there is not much more in the recent Russian law on 'homosexual propaganda' then the UK's Section 28 dealing with the prohibiting 'the promotion of homosexuality' 2. And indeed, a speech (at the Conservative Party Conference in 1987) by then Premier Thatcher, broadcast on television, in which she argued that:
"Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay 3."More than bears a resemblance to Putin's own recent statements on the subject as quoted in the Financial Times. Au fond, of course the much of the Western reaction to the recent Russian law, is senseless and idiotic insofar as it forgets that not so many years ago, statements such at Thatcher's were the norm and not the exception. Whether or not Russia will undergo a similar change as the West has in the past twenty to thirty years or so, no one can foresee. I for one hope not: the destruction of the traditional fabric of society with the norms which have accumulated over the past several thousand years since both senseless and shameful. The stance on homosexual marriage and adoption being of course the most egregious of all. One can only hope that matushka Russia is able in a sincere fashion, and not as a sort of political football `a la Putin to embrace and hold firmly to traditional moral order which is buttressed by Christianity. So in response to Mr. Fry: do not look for me to boycott Russian vodka. In fact never drinking the stuff, I might conversely even go out and purchase ever more quantities of the same in response to Mr. Fry and his antics. 1. Mykola Siruk, Lilia Shevtsova, "On Russian Illusions." The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 6 December 2013, in www.carnegie.ru; Lilia Shevtsova,"Turkey and Russia: What Their Protest Waves Say." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 2 July 2013, in www.carnegie.ru. 2. Local Government Act 1988, 1988 CHAPTER 9, Section 28, op. cit. See also: Matthew Todd, Margaret Thatcher was no poster girl for gay rights: Feel free to admire her on the economy and Falklands. When it comes to LGBT issues, she threw gay kids like me to the wolves." The Guardian. 10 April 2013, in www.guardian.com. 3. Speech to the Conservative Party Conference. 9 October 1987, in http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106941