The dictate of “traditional values” faced unexpected opposition

At the beginning of February 2022, the promotion of “traditional values” in Russia faced obstacles. Firstly, a court in St. Petersburg suspended the liquidation of the Sphere Charitable Foundation, accused by the Ministry of Justice in threatening “traditional family values” by “supporting the LGBT movement.” Secondly, faced with criticism, the Ministry of Culture suspended discussion on the draft presidential decree on “traditional values”.

On February 8, the Ministry of Justice of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region applied to the court for the liquidation of the Sphere Charitable Foundation associated with the Russian LGBT Network. The claimed grounds for the liquidation were “gross and multiple violations of an irremediable nature,” namely, “support for the LGBT movement,” which “runs counter to state policy,” and “carries out activities that do not correspond…basic traditional family values”.

Igor Kochetkov, director of the Sphere, called the Ministry of Justice’s lawsuit “pure political persecution”: the reasons for the liquidation were not specific violations of the law, but ideological discrepancies with the state line.

Against the background of a new wave of persecution of the LGBT movement in Russia, it appeared to be unexpected that the Kuibyshev District Court left the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice without movement. Judge Irina Vorobyova pointed out the absence of specific legal grounds for liquidation (i.e. evidence of repeated reveal of violations). The Ministry of Justice had to warn the organization in writing so that it could eliminate or appeal violations. To resume the claim, the Ministry of Justice must complete the necessary formalities by the end of February.

In the field of cultural policy, “traditional values” also met unexpected opposition. At the end of January 2022, the Ministry of Culture opened a public discussion on a draft presidential decree “Fundamentals of state policy for the preservation and strengthening of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.”

The project describes the concept of “traditional spiritual and moral values” (in short, “traditional values”), goals and objectives to strengthen these values, as well as ways to assess the effectiveness of this policy. The authors of the document emphasized that it became part of the practical implementation of the National Security Strategy approved by the president in the summer of 2021.

As traditional values, the document mentions an eclectic set of ideas: “dignity, human rights and freedoms”, “service to the Fatherland”, “strong family”, “priority of the spiritual over the material”, “moral guidelines of the multinational people of Russia”. On the contrary, as a threat to these values, the planting of a “destructive system of ideas” is called, including “the cult of egoism, permissiveness, immorality, denial of the ideals of patriotism, service to the Fatherland, procreation, creative work, the positive contribution of Russia to world history and culture.” Responsibility for the spread of this “destructive ideology” in the document was assigned to “extremist and terrorist organizations, the actions of the United States and its allies, transnational corporations, foreign non-profit organizations.”

The project caused active discussion and rejection, including among representatives of cultural institutions, who saw in the project the danger of censorship and other obstacles to professional activity (and its financing from the budget). Thus, the leaders of the Bolshoi Theatre, “Satyricon”, “Sovremennik”, the Moscow Art Theatre, and other theatres (criticized the document (see their letter addressed to the head of the Union of Theatrical Figures Alexander Kalyagin, who also criticized the project earlier). Cinematographers also opposed the project:

“Additional control based on formal signs will lead Russian cinema and TV series to maximum simplification, which means it will turn away from them the modern viewers… the institutes of state support of cinematography have the expertise and full decision-making skills necessary for the implementation of state control over the financing of Russian cinema.”

Conservative figures also criticized the project; however, for not being conservative enough: the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir Legoyda, suggested to include faith in God to the list of “traditional values”. The Internet Security League, headed by Ekaterina Mizulina, criticized the document for the lack of indication of the priority role of the traditional family in raising children.

As a result, on February 14, the Ministry of Culture suspended public discussion of the project and promised to improve it. It is expected that in mid-March the project will be included into the agenda of the meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture.

For the photo collage we used a photo from the site of parniplus.com