Russia’s Putin aims to triumph in battle for ‘cultural supremacy’

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President Vladimir Putin sought to position Russia as leading the defense of “traditional cultural values against the liberal West” in a new Kremlin decree.

“The battle for cultural supremacy is growing on the world stage,” according to the statement Putin signed Monday on Russia’s “humanitarian policy abroad. “Centuries of history have given Russia a rich cultural heritage and spiritual potential that has put it in a unique position to successfully spread traditional Russian moral and religious values.”

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The decree calls for the country’s foreign policy to counter what it terms a campaign to discredit Russia and its goals.

It claims Russia is increasingly seen abroad as a guardian of traditional moral, social and family values against what it describes as “the aggressive imposition of neoliberal views by a number of states.”

Russia has long railed at the US and Europe for advancing the rights of sexual minorities, and asserted the priority of collective social interests against liberal individualism.

It outlawed same-sex marriage in the constitution last year and lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would tighten already stringent restrictions on the discussion of LGBTQ rights.

Putin has overseen sweeping domestic repression to crush political protest since his February 24 invasion of Ukraine sparked the biggest crisis in Europe since World War II, with thousands of people killed and millions forced to flee their homes.

Within weeks of starting the war, he threatened to cleanse Russian society of “scum and traitors.”

The president, who is divorced, has touted Russia as a bastion of conservative values. Last month, he revived a Soviet-era title of “Mother Heroine” for women who have had at least 10 children, an award first established under Josef Stalin.

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