With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin

April 28, 2015
Konstantin Malofeyev

Gazeta.ru has an exclusive interview today April 28 of Konstantin Malofeyev, the Russian Orthodox philanthropist and businessman associated with the cause of “Novorossiya” and supporting Russian-backed militants in Ukraine. The coverage confirms that far from having been thrown under the bus in any fashion in connection with “reining in” Russian-backed militants, Malofeyev continues to thrive and be useful to the Kremlin.

Malofeyev was recently in the news with reports that he had been allowed to pay off his debt to Rostelekom to settle a long-standing dispute.

Gazeta.ru notes that the conservative entrepreneur has recently spent tens of millions of dollars starting up a new TV channel called Tsargrad TV and has also purchased a popular Greek TV channel, projects he swears are merely “culturological” in nature in order to establish “traditional values” in Russia and Europe and strengthen ties among the Orthodox countries of Russia, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. (Tsargrad is the old Russian name for the Byzantine capital of Constantinopole, and also the name of Malofeyev’s real estate development.)

Malofeyev declined to reply whether he had met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos who recently visited Moscow, who is rumored to be his friend. (See Christo Grozev’s post, “A Big Fat Greek Russian Wedding” on relations between Malofeyev, Kammenos and other Greek officials.)

Asked about his ties to the notorious Col. Igor Strelkov and Aleksandr Boroday, the founders of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and instigators of war in southeast Ukraine, Malofeyev says it is all “political mythology” although his relationship was admitted last year as Oleg Kashin reported, and the figures have been spotted together. His involvement in the war is the reason why he is in Western sanctions lists, and Ukraine has opened a criminal case against him.

Gazeta.ru noted that Malofeyev had met with Putin, and that Malofeyev’s French business partner, presidential candidate Philippe de Villiers, had also met with Putin last year. Gazeta.ru asked Malofeyev how this meeting came about but he would only say that de Villiers was famous for building his own historic parks and that when he had learned about the sanctions against Russia he decided to invest in Russia. He met with Putin in Yalta in August 2014, and signed an agreement to build two public parks, outside Moscow and in the Crimea.

De Villiers told Putin that the EU commissioners in Brussels imposed sanctions because this was “dictated to them by their American partners.”

Despite his many business investments, Malofeyev has a theory of capitalism as an evil.

“We must spiritually, and then on cultural and spiritual levels, rid ourselves from the materialist, artificial teachings of the 20th century, to which I relegate Marxism, fascism and liberalism.”

Malofeyev believes his brand of pro-Orthodox and anti-Western ideology is backed by the same 85% of people who back Putin.

The following is an excerpt from the Gazeta.ru interview (translation by The Interpreter):

How does your philanthropic St. Vasily the Great Foundation work?

We are creating a network of formal as well as informal ties. I am for example a member of the Patriarchate’s Commission on Family Affairs. We take part in working groups of the Duma Committee on Family Affairs. This is lobbying for laws on the defense of morality and the protection of children from harmful information. As for our international activity, here we are always in communication with the relevant ministries and the international committee of the State Duma, with official diplomats. If we deliver humanitarian aid, for example, to Ukraine, then we cooperate with the Emergencies Ministry. But the most important thing is direct presence in countries where we work with our like-minded colleagues. For that, people are necessary who are involved in this because there are a fair number of countries.

And who are the Russian liberals in your opinion?

This is a civilizational divide of sorts: you are for Russia with its own path, its own mission in this world or you believe that Russia is a part of the global Western world, you are its province, its affiliate, its colony. I recall flying to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum with one influential official who is an ideologue of Westernization in Russia.

And we had a debate. I said to him, well, alright, who ‘we’ are is clear. Conservatives, imperialists, Black Hundreds, “obscurantists.” What we’re calling for is all clear. But what do you believe in? How should Russia be? And he replied that Russia should ‘strive to take up a worthy place in the process of world globalization.’ I immediately cross-examined him: first place? He said, no, first place is already taken. Worthy.  And in saying this, not reach for archaic concept of sovereignty. So that was it, there was nothing more to talk about. With people who reason in such a fashion, we have a gap in world views. For us, the concepts that for them are archaic and outdated, the concept of sovereignty and the concept of a self-existing Russia are sacred.

What compels you to believe that Russia is going along a “traditional” path?

Putin’s decision to annex the Crimea is hard to overestimate. Before that, we were losing, we were retreating. Of course, under Putin, this process has halted. But the uncertainty about the future has been preserved. The decision about the Crimea, in my view, says that a choice has been made in favor of our own interests. This became obvious to our foreign partners as well; hence such a harsh position from the United States. America — let’s call a spade a spade — is the hegemon of today’s world for a quarter of a century now. And it is the leadership of Russia that has throw down the gauntlet – this is a very important step for the Russian people. All of our history shows that we can effectively develop only in a state of victory.

Gazeta.ru countered Malofeyev’s claim by saying that if they were to ask the average person in Moscow, they would prefer a “relaxed ‘European’ existence” rather than one of “constant victory,” but Malofeyev countered by saying that if 89% of the people believe Crimea should not be returned under any circumstances, that meant they were for his perspective. Gazeta.ru noted that Malofeyev was for the return of the monarchy, which it characterized as “utopian,” but Malofeyev said, “In Russia, anything is possible.”

“Today, 5% of the population go to church on Sunday. When this will be 30% or even 50% then the question of monarchy will appear on its own.”

In the last 20 years, 25,000 cathedrals and 800 monasteries have been restored, which Malofeyev characterized as a historical record. He cited a poll where 29% “do not rule out” the return of monarchy for his basis of believing this could increase, which was twice as many as had said this in the 1990s.

Malofeyev has also been working on Russia’s declining birth rate, and has promoted families with many children. One way to do this is to get people out of apartments, which are cramped and don’t allow for expanding families, into private homes, whose construction he is promoting in Belgorad Region, where news apartment complexes have been outlawed by Governor Savchenko who says “in captivity, even animals do not reproduce.”

When Gazeta.ru countered that women are unable to realize their own potential if they must produce many children, Malofeyev asked if there were very many women who were happy after making a career. He cited the Bible’s injunction that man must earn by the sweat of his brow and women must in torment give birth to children.

“Any woman is saved by maternity; much is forgiven her with her many offspring. Children are her pass to the kingdom of heaven. Feminists seemingly fight for women’s rights but in destryoing the institution of marriage, in fact they change the life of women in favor of men’s lust. In traditional society, access to a woman’s body is possible only after marriage. Feminism meanwhile propagates ‘free relations.’ As a result, a man instead of marrying has a mass of opportunities outside marriage, and the unhappy woman who now tries to get married can’t say — if you marry me, then you will have everything. Hence the high percentage of divorces. If it weren’t for relations outside of marriage, few would get divorced.”

Asked about his attitude toward capitalism, said to cause the problems in society he was trying to combat, Malofeyev made the distinction between “real” economy and the “financial” economy, i.e. the world of derivatives and securities and real estate bubbles, which he called “parasitic” and “normal economy” which of course he characterizes his own projects as. He praised Arab countries for not having the institution of interest. Christians should be forbidden to make interest from deposits or investments, he said.

“Arabs live somehow without interest. All of this parasitism began with interest in banks. Christians should be forbidden to give money for growth. As soon as this was abandoned in the 16th and 17th centuries — under the influence of Judaism, in Werner Sombart’s opinion, or under Protestantism in the opinion of Max Weber — the offensive of capitalism began. Today, without exaggeration, the world is ruled by banks. The banking system is an instrument of world rule penetrating all spheres of our life. The banks control all and earn money out of thin air, on interest. Do you know why interest was forbidden by the Church? It is a sin of blasphemy. What is a person who gives money as a loan selling? Time. And time belongs to God.”

Malofeyev cited Arab and Iranian banks as examples of systems that Russia should emulate, and stop giving loans at an interest charge. It was especially important for the government to provide interest-free mortgages to promote families with many children. Malofeyev explained that he believed the world was run by elites like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers who followed the theory of the American scientist Meadows about population reduction needed to preserve the planet’s resources, and that’s why in the West, Christian values were being eroded in favor of less children, sex outside of marriage, and homosexuality.

Asked if he realized this was a conspiracy theory, Malofeyev countered with further references to the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Club of Rome and noted the importance of conservatives in America.

“These people understand that anti-Russian propaganda comes from the same source as propaganda against traditional values in America.” This is why Malofeyev has spent efforts connecting with the “family values” organizations in the US and Europe and has made a special focus on Greece, even making a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. “If some of the people with whom I am acquainted end up in government, that is just a coincidence,” he said.

Thus Gazeta.ru was not able to get much in the way of admissions from Malofeyev about his role in the takeover of Crimea and the war in the Donbass, but it seems clear that he is in favor and not “dumped” like other figures from “Novorossiya” and that he is useful to the Kremlin in developing ties with Orthodox countries and particularly those such as Greece that can divide the unity of the EU in sanctioning Russia.

The “family values” ideology is a useful one to connect with far right parties in Europe and the US, but by also framing a critique of capitalism and banking, he can help the Kremlin reach leftist and Islamic groups as well. The new tendency of the 2000s for figures on the far left as well as far right to embrace Putin seems puzzling until the ideas of Malofeyev, drawn from centuries of anti-Western thought are understood.