Staunton, November 1 – In a move that recalls the ending of Costa-Gavras’ 1969 classic film “Z” about the Greek junta, a group of Putin loyalists from his United Russia Party are calling for dispensing with the word “democracy” in Russia, closing the independent Higher School of Economics and Ekho Moskvy, and restoring choral singing in Russian schools.
Irina Yarova, the head of the Duma anti-corruption committee, chaired the session and set the tone. She declared that “the most important event in the entire world” was the recent Valdai Forum in Sochi and the speech that Vladimir Putin gave there, and she said that speech provides guidance for all.
The most important theme of Putin’s speech, Yarova said, was that “the western partners of Russia” had used democratic phraseology to justify and cover their invasions of other countries and the overthrow of constitutional governments as, she said, “had taken place in Ukraine.”
The only defense against this Western “aggression,” she said, is Russia. “We as a multi-national people never swallowed another culture; we have no experience with colonization. Russia has always followed the path of unification, honor and faith!”
A second speaker, Yury Zhukov, a researcher at the Moscow Institute of Russian History, called for raising the consciousness of Russian society on this point by “immediately publishing in enormous print runs a brochure containing Putin’s Munich and Valdai speeches and distributing them free on the streets of [Russian] cities.”
In addition, he called for taking action against “the fifth column” in Russia to block it from continuing the kind of destructive work it already achieved in Ukraine. Specifically, Zhukov called for taking “measures” against Ekho Moskvy and Memorial because “everyone knows that they are part of the fifth column.”
“Our policy must be aggressive,” the Russian historian said. “It is time to go into battle.”
A third speaker, Gadzhimet Safaraliyev, the head of the Duma nationalities committee, called for two measures likely to create problems among the country’s non-Russians: he said Russian must be taught as a native language in the non-Russian republics and that there must be a required examination about Russian history so that people there will “know the branch from which they fell.”
Yarova supported him, noting that attacks on language are how everything began in Ukraine.
Yury Alekseyev, the deputy chairman of the central council of United Russia supporters, said that “democracy and democratic values” have “become the justification for the most odious actions of the West against Russia” and consequently Russia must drop any reference to democracy “in our documents” because for the Americans it simply means “the right to bomb” whomever Washington wants to.
Zinovy Kogan of the Congress of Jewish Organizations and Unions of Russia (KEROOR), told the meeting that in his view, “Russia had too quickly moved away from Soviet ideology” and too rapidly “borrowed” Western values. “Patriotism is the basis of the unity of the country.”
Konstantin Semin, a host on Russia-24, said that a war had been declared against Russia and “we have no partners.” As a result, he continued, “we need a State Defense Committee,” because as of now Russians have not heard a speech like the one Stalin addressed to the Soviet people on July 3, 1941.
Another participant in the meeting, historian Yevgeny Spitsyn, called for closing the Russian State Humanities University and the Higher School of Economics because these institutions have for 20 years taught students to hate their own country.
And still another, Pavel Pozhigaylov, the head of the All-Russian Choral Society, said Russia had to take extraordinary measures to defend traditional values against what he described as “the liberal Babylon” of the West, a place which he said would move from approving homosexuality to backing sex with animals. Restoring choral singing in the schools and purging literature textbooks of suggestive materials, he suggested, could limit the impact of such ideas in Russia.