Only ‘Traditional’ Arts and Culture Allowed in Russia

Activists around the world have been calling for a boycott of Russian culture for months as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s relentless aggression in Ukraine’s war. But there seems to be no need to take any drastic steps anytime soon: Russia is destroying its arts and cultural programs on its own.

Since the start of the war, state censors and so-called long live patriots have joined forces to ban popular Russian theatre, art and films they deem “pro-Western”.

In a video posted to YouTube this week, the head of Moscow’s culture ministry, Aleksandr Kibovsky, declared that a recent agreement signed by Vladimir Putin “strengthens Russian traditions, and Moral Values” decree for the Russian authorities to cleanse the country of all “Western-influenced” cultural scenes.

“The presidential decree provides guidelines for our cultural authorities to only give state support to eligible projects,” Kibowski said on Monday. “We’re feeling the hangover from all this mashing [the West] has been feeding us for years…it’s a pity we need the regime of special operations to do this. “We’re not your monkeys anymore,” Kibowski added of West. “

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Citizens across Russia have already taken steps to avoid angering Russian authorities under the new policy.

Alexandra Vakhrusheva, former head of Moscow’s Turgenev Library, told The Daily Beast: “Some libraries and bookstores are running ahead of the state censorship train. , remove books that have not yet been banned.” “The names of banned theater directors have been removed from theater billboards, and schools have received ‘recommended letters’ from the Ministry of Culture and Education advising children to wear costumes from Russian fairy tales , not the costumes of Western animated characters.”

Earlier this month, Fathers’ Council – a Russian children’s rights organization based in Khabarovsk – bought all copies Summer of Pioneer Tiesa book about a romantic relationship between two Soviet boys so they don’t end up in a Russian family.

A member of Fathers’ Council has posted a video of himself tearing up books. “I’m happy to be part of saving our youth, our Russian civilization, from the horrors and dark pseudo-values ​​of the West,” he said, tearing the pages to shreds. “We are not the West, we are a country with a 1,000-year-old history.”

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Russian children traditionally attend the “Elochka” carnival during the holidays, but this year’s event guide is a little different for some families. The Russian city of Chita has censored children’s clothing for the carnival, telling parents to only wear clothes “in the style of Russian culture” for their children.

This is the end of culture as we know it.

One of the costumes they took issue with was Huggy Wuggy, a teddy bear character from the American survival horror game “Poppy Playtime.” “The personality of Huggie Waggie negatively impacted how children viewed the outside world,” the Chita Board of Education said in a statement.

Until recently, cultural freedom in Russia was protected by law. The collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago saw a creative boom in Russian ballet, film and literature. New forms, ideas and international artists were welcomed, and Russian art swept the world’s leading exhibits and won international awards.

Legislation passed in 1992 obliged the authorities to help finance arts and cultural projects across the country. But today, officials insist malign Western infiltration is at work. “Western neocolonialism doesn’t have to occupy us, they influence us to create a pro-Western indigenous elite,” Kibowski insists in his video.

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So, what alternatives can the Kremlin offer to reinforce traditional values?

The head of the Federation Council of Russia, Valentina Motviyenko, suggested that the authorities buy traditional musical instruments such as the Russian balalaika and distribute them to regional clubs and houses of culture in Russia. “Let’s calculate how much this will cost so that the program can be realized in 2 to 3 years,” Motviyenko said.

The push for a more “traditional” Russia has angered many across the country.

“Kibowski is now talking about ‘artistic committees’ that will decide what plays are shown on the stage or what films are allowed to be screened in cinemas – these committees will include members of the Military Patriotic Association,” said Ksenia La Ksenia Larina, one of Russia’s leading cultural critics, told The Daily Beast. “It’s the end of culture as we know it, because culture cannot be divided into pro-Western or anti-Western.”


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