The president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, is one of the apparently most contradictory figures in European politics and that generates the most erroneous impressions among many people.
The Putin who a part of the right admires as a champion of Christianity
For years, Putin his rejection of gender ideology and same-sex marriage. A few days ago, the Russian president announced his intention for the Russian Constitution to mention God and consecrate marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Thus, before the western right Putin seems to present himself as a champion of Christianity and the defense of the family against the attacks of the left against both. In fact, the Russian Orthodox Church has experienced a surprising revitalization during its tenure. This has encouraged many Western conservatives to see in him an international reference.
An ally of dictatorships that persecute Christians
However, Putin’s figure is much more complex than some people believe. The Russian president has priorities that are more geopolitical than ideological, priorities that have led him to establish friendships with socialist and communist dictatorships such as Cuba, Venezuela, China, Vietnam, Laos and even North Korea. He has also supported Islamic regimes such as Iran, Algeria, Sudan, Turkmenistan, the West Bank and even Hamas terrorists who dominate the Gaza Strip. Perhaps many western admirers of Putin do not know it, but among those mentioned are 8 of the countries that most persecute Christians in the world.
Putin’s party rejected European condemnations of the crimes of communism
Putin’s party is called United Russia, and it is presented as a conservative and nationalist party, but its approaches are far from western conservatism. On January 25, 2006, when the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed Resolution 1481 condemning the crimes of communist dictatorships, the delegates of United Russia voted against, with the delegates of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. When in September 2019 the European Parliament condemned the crimes of communism and criticized Russia for continuing to “whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime,” Putin said that equating communism with national-socialism is “the height of cynicism.”
Putin equated Christianity with communism and Lenin’s mummy with the relics of saints
That statement by the Russian president defending that totalitarian ideology was nothing new. In June 2017, Putin said that demonizing Stalin is “a way of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.” In November 2017, the Russian president hosted a congress of young communists in Sochi. In January 2018, Putin equated Christianity with communism, matching Lenin’s mummy with the relics of saints and stating that “communist ideology is very similar to Christianity. Freedom, brotherhood, fraternity, justice … all this appears in the Holy Scripture.” In March 2018, when asked what Russian historical event would like to change, Putin said: “The fall of the Soviet Union.”
The Russian official media support for the radical left in the West
On the other hand, the official Russian government media such as Sputnik News and Russia Today (RT) are standing out for their favorable treatment of radical left parties in several European countries, such as Die Linke in Germany (the heirs of the former single party of the communist dictatorship of East Germany), La France insoumise by Jean-Luc Melenchon, the Movimento 5 Stelle in Italy, the Syriza communists in Greece and the phylocommunists Podemos in Spain. Recall that, in November 2014 the Russian communist newspaper Pravda defined Podemos as “Pro-Russian party”; In September 2014, in an interview on Sputnik News, the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, labeled the government of Ukraine as “neo-Nazi” and criticized the European sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Crimea; and in June 2015 Putin invited Pablo Iglesias to a meeting in Moscow as part of a strategy to seek support from the western left. It is, in all cases, these are parties that openly oppose that conservative discourse with which some identify Putin.
Attacking the prolifers, the Spanish party Vox and Jair Bolsonaro
In the same line of support for leftism, RT has defended abortion positions in the USA and has labeled “ultra-Catholics” those who oppose abortion in Spain, in a line very similar to that maintained by the leftist newspapers related to tycoon George Soros. According to RT, the Spanish political map goes “from the far-right to the left,” calling the liberal-conservative Vox party “far-rightist” and referring to the Unidas Podemos alliance (of the far-left party Podemos and the communists of Izquierda Unida) as “Progressive coalition”. RT’s attacks on Vox calling it “far-right” have been constant, and the same in Sputnik News. In that biased treatment the left-wing RT collaborators in Spain have a notable influence, but even more influential is the alliance between Vox and the conservatives of the PiS party that governs Poland – a country that Putin hates -, his good attunement with the United States and his opposition to the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Russian official media also attack Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, probably for his good relationship with Donald Trump.
A geopolitical strategy to weaken western countries
In contrast, the treatment of Russian media to other parties, such as the Independent Greeks (ANEL) anti-Semite party, has been friendlier, perhaps because they signed a government pact with the Syriza communists. They also don’t attack Marine Le Pen, which criticized European sanctions against Russia and has openly defended Putin. As I indicated above, the Russian president has more geopolitical than ideological priorities. Putin knows that the extreme left is more effective in destabilizing and weakening his western rivals, but does not refuse to capture other support in its attempt to revive the old Soviet international power. Beyond his speeches, Putin is very similar to the speculator George Soros: a man with a lot of power and willing to ally with anyone who benefits him, not a champion of Christianity.
Photo: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters.