The latest political developments tremendously influenced cultural activity in Russia.
The Duma keeps creating new and new laws, forbidding different aspects of culture. Following the outlawing of the “homosexual propaganda” and then “blasphemy”, came a law forbidding use of profanities in movies. Even one of the old classic Soviet films was censored to get rid of “profanities” to the great surprise of the audience and its 86 years old director.
All these new laws are often presented as defense of Russian culture from evil Western influence. Some who demand starting a war against Ukraine justify it by the need to save Ukrainians from joining sinful, decadent, homosexual Europe. “Multiculturalism”, “tolerance”, “modernism” are curses in today Russia. “Patriotism” is the highest moral value.
Last week the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation sent a letter to the Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Tolstoy, with suggestions to draft an official national cultural policy frameworks. The proposals on the draft covered eighteen pages.
The proposal urges for the “rejection of the views typical mostly for the ‘liberal pro-Western’ trends, views, which postulate the equality of the development of all races, nations and other social organisms.”
“It seems appropriate to create a document renouncing the principles of multiculturalism and tolerance.
“In the framework of this approach Russia should be considered a unique and distinctive civilization, which cannot be reduced either to ‘the West (Europe’) nor to ‘the East.’ ” The brief summary of this position is the thesis that Russia is not Europe.
The proposal states that Russia now 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 cultural policy.”
The proposal promotes perception of Russian history as a continuous consistent process – from the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union, the process that was built on so called “traditional Russian values”, opposite to the “decadent” and immoral Western values. It states that no references to “creative freedom” or “ethnic identity” can justify the behavior that is considered unacceptable from the standpoint of traditional Russian values. The purpose of the proposal is creating of the “single cultural code”, a strict cultural guideline for all kinds of Russian culture.
It is impossible in today’s Russia to produce a movie without the financial support of the Ministry of Culture. Almost all theaters and museums also need its support.
The proposal states: “Preserving a single cultural code requires the rejection of state support for cultural projects, imposing alien values to society norms.”
The proposal includes a very popular Russian quote from a speech of the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: “Let a hundred flowers bloom, but we will be watering only those that are useful to us”. It means the subsequent development of only those cultural trends, “which correspond to the State system of highest values.”
“Russia is an ancient, independent, distinctive civilization,” the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said at a press conference Wednesday April 16. Medinsky further added in his interview with the paper Kommersant daily that Russia “is forced to protect itself” from 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 civilization,” said Medinsky.
“The main idea is that the West is evil, that we have to defend ourselves from the West,” commented political analyst Alexei Makarkin.
Thursday April 17 President Vladimir Putin, at the end of his four hours of Q & A in his annual TV call-in, formulated his understanding of the Russian identity. His thoughts were very close to the position of the Ministry of Culture.
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.
But the most striking statement was made lately by a Doctor of Historical Sciences Vyacheslav Nikonov, the Chairman of the Education Committee of the State Duma, the dean of the Faculty of Public Administration of Moscow State University, a grand son of Vyacheslav Molotov. He also is known as an initiator of the law forbidding Americans to adopt Russian children.
In his widely reposted Duma speech, Nikonov revealed his vision of what should be written in the history textbooks about Russia:
“We must always remember in what kind of country we live and work, we must know its traditions. Our Fatherland has a great past. The Great Russian branch of the Aryan tribe descended from the Carpathian Mountains and peacefully populated plains, Siberia, the coldest parts of the planet. Then they came to the Pacific, established Fort Ross, absorbed juices from the richest cultures of Byzantium, Europe, Asia, defeated the worst enemy of humanity – Nazism, and paved the way to the outer space.
” If we divide humanity into three groups:
1) Founders of Culture,
2) Deliverers and savers of Culture and
3) Destroyers of culture,
The civilization of this world was created by Aryans and only Aryans, other peoples (non-Aryans) only decorated and painted what the Aryans had built, but they hadn’t touched the substance of the civilization built by Aryans”.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?