“Pussy Riot’s” heavy-handed, unfunny and unoriginal swipe at Donald Trump 2016:
The shock troops of the leftist NGO network are attacking the last bastions of conservatism all over the world – Brazil, Hungary, India. This week “Extinction Rebellion” attacked the Parliament in Canberra, Australia, to date one of the last remaining bastions of sanity in the world. And even Russia, which banned Open Society and other foreign NGOs 2015, is under attack for “white supremacy”, “racism” and “colonialism”, writes
As a journalist of a large Russian publication, I often interview Western politicians. Technically, though, most of these people are marginal, political outsiders, and have zero access to mainstream media due to their “right-wing” views.
When I talk to them, one thing always amazes me – How many of my Western friends see Russia as a conservative paradise, a wonderful land with ultraconservative values, happy heterosexual families like out of a ’50s TV commericial, and pure unadulterated Orthodox Christianity. It reminds me of the way European adventurers used to believe there was an El Dorado somewhere in Peru, where the streets were paved in gold.
Perhaps this perception of Russia should be attributed to Western media and the way it depicts Russia and its authorities as aggressive, toxic-masculine, and anti-liberal — thereby making Russia attractive to conservatives. But the truth is more complex. Here are just some recent facts.
For Russia, the greatest international musical spectacle is the Eurovision Song Contest. Every year, Russia tries to put forth its best singer (the selection process is an event in and of itself as it draws nationwide attention). In 2021, Russia was represented by a girl named Manizha. She is openly feminist, openly pro-LGBT, defends the rights of migrants, and derides the Russian ethnic majority for its chauvinism.
Manizha was sent to Eurovision by its national sponsor, Pervy Channel (the main Russian TV channel). Formally, Pervy is an independent company, but de facto, like many other media outlets, it is controlled by the Kremlin.
On July 13, 2021, a gay Russian couple visited Sevkabel, a large art cluster in St. Petersburg (think NYC’s DUMBO art center). These two men started caressing and kissing each other. The guards of Sevkabel kicked the pair out, with threats and homophobic curses. The Sevkabel supervisors immediately made their full apologies, fired the guards, and promised employee workshops on the topic of tolerance.
St. Petersburg is home to the headquarters of VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, a social network with over 500 million users. In mid-July, a group of Russian conservative activists attempted to promote a petition against surrogate motherhood on this social media platform. Its executives shut down this campaign due to a violation of its rules and guidelines. Moreover, VKontakte bans Western conservative activists like Tommy Robinson, just like Facebook and many other global platforms do.
What about the universities?
At the Higher School of Economy (HSE), a top Russian university with over 45,000 students, gender, queer, and identity politics have become part of the curriculum. The HSE Student Council officially launched a project called The Higher School of Equality, dedicated to feminism, queer culture, and gender studies. HSE was founded by the Russian Government and granted the rare status of a National Research University.
Even critical race theory has reached Russia, home of the Caucasians. Modern CRT preachers focus on how the Russian ethnic majority oppressed ethnic minorities during the Tsarist and Soviet Empires, so now they owe reparations. Last year the administration of Olympic resort Sochi in the South of Russia, demolished the monument to Russian soldiers who founded the city in 1838. The dismantling was ordered after a petition launched by local ethnic minorities, who considered themselves victims of Russian “colonialism”.
This year, the new airport terminal in Tobolsk was completed. Tobolsk is the historical center of Siberia, conquered by Russian commander Yermak in the 16th century. In the past, he was revered as one of the main national heroes in Russia, so the first impulse was to name the airport after Yermak. However, the local administration declined in the name of “racial justice and to avoid promoting “Russian colonialism”.
Another famous Russian — perhaps the most famous and praised in the 18th century — was Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov. This year, a huge banner with Suvorov’s face appeared on the streets of Cherkessk, a city in the South of Russia (not far from Sochi, also conquered by the Russian Empire). Local activists and authorities immediately dismantled the banner, criticizing it for “white supremacy” and “colonialism”.
Nonetheless, my Western friends are still convinced Russia would never welcome LGBTQ+ or BLM-type movements, due to its alleged conservatism. Actually, the only difference left between the West and Russia is that Russia has legally banned same-sex marriages. So? Washington and Brussels maintain relations with countries like Hungary, Poland, and Turkey — all of which are NATO members — where similar laws exist. So when the mainstream media calls Russia ‘nationalist’, I wish it were so.
Edvard Chesnokov is special correspondent for the largest Russian newspaper, Komsomoskaya Pravda.