Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to portray the United States and the West in general as a threat to Russian culture and values amid near-universal condemnation of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking in Moscow last Friday, Putin criticized the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for opposing Russia’s military expansion. Specifically, he claimed the West is pushing ideas and concepts that social conservatives — not to mention the influential Russian Orthodox Church — oppose.
“[Western countries] spit on the natural right of billions of people, most of humanity, to freedom and justice, to determine their own future for themselves. Now they have completely moved on to a radical denial of moral standards, religion and family,” Putin said, using well-worn homophobic and transphobic tropes that liken same-sex marriage to polygamy and attack the very concept of gender identity, reports LGBTQ Nation.
Addressing “all citizens of Russia,” he said: “Do we want to have, here in our country, in Russia, parent number one, number two, number three instead of mom and dad? Did they go crazy there? Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed on children in our elementary schools? Being fooled that there are different supposed genders besides women and men, and being offered sex reassignment surgery? Do we want all this for our country and our children?
Putin’s remarks were a timely attempt to blunt Western criticism of elections, held in pro-Russian territories in eastern Ukraine, in which voters reportedly opted out of the election. Ukraine and join Russia. The United States has since called the election a “sham” intended to justify Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian land.
Putin, a staunch opponent of LGBTQ rights, has in recent years sought to portray anti-LGBTQ views and positions as a distinctive and inherent part of Russian culture, pushing policies like expanding law enforcement. the country’s 2013 anti-“propaganda” law – which prohibits the dissemination of information concerning homosexuality and gender non-conformity to children – to apply to all media, even when the content is specifically aimed at or limited to adults.
The law, even in its original form, has been used to suppress free speech and silence LGBTQ activists, censor positive or neutral media portrayals of LGBTQ people, break up families headed by same-sex couples, and harass Russian citizens.
Putin – and the Russian government – have also turned a blind eye as Chechnya, an autonomous Russian republic with a majority Muslim population, carries out an ongoing “purge” of LGBTQ citizens. Since December 2016, the police and military have arrested people suspected of being gay, detained, tortured and placed them under surveillance, often claiming that those detained were engaged in illicit activities such as drug trafficking or “terrorism”.
Critics of the Russian government believe that a few dozen people have been killed in the ongoing campaign, in which detainees are tortured and ill-treated until they name other alleged “gays”.
As The Washington Post noted in his coverage of Putin’s speech, the Russian president asserted that the country would never give up its attempt to annex Ukraine, and that the West, especially the United States, poses a greater threat to the country. world than the authoritarian Russian government – not just culturally, but militarily.
Putin has sought to exploit the West’s historic treatment of Asian, African, and Native American populations and its seizure of natural or economic resources during colonialism to claim that Russia is defending itself against a greater threat, and invoked the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as “creation[ing] precedent” for the large-scale use of nuclear weapons by the countries that possess them.
“Let me also remind you that the United States, together with the British, turned Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne and many other German cities into ruins without any military necessity during World War II. And it was done defiantly. , without any, I repeat, military necessity,” he said. “There was only one objective, just like in the case of the nuclear bombings in Japan: to intimidate both our country and the whole world.”