February 02, 2023

In Search of "Cultural Sovereignty"


In Search of "Cultural Sovereignty"
An orthodox procession in St.Petersburg Kora27, Wikimedia Commons

On January 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin amended the Decree on the Fundamentals of State Cultural Policy. The new version of this decree introduces the idea of "cultural sovereignty," and it states that Russia must "avoid dependence on external influences," while adhering to traditional "spiritual and moral values." 

According to the decree, Russia must combat the "excessive use of foreign vocabulary," "protect and support the Russian language," protect the "institution of marriage as a union of men and women," and educate children based on traditional values, while supporting various cultural initiatives aimed at the "spiritual and moral" education of citizens.

The documents also list threats that can destroy Russian "spiritual and moral values" and weaken the "unity of its multinational polity." Among these are "unfriendly states," transnational corporations, foreign NGOs, extremists, and terrorists.

But this is not all. According to the decree, the idea that "Russia is developing as a country uniting two worlds, East and West" has disappeared. Instead, the decree says that Russia's historical path has determined its cultural identity, the peculiarities of its national mentality, and the society's value foundations.

In addition, the tasks of economic and social modernization of Russia have disappeared from the amended decree. Now, instead of modernization, the aim is to preserve the "fundamental values and principles on which the unity of Russian society is based." 

The Decree on the Fundamentals of State Cultural Policy of Russia was first approved in 2014 and has not previously been revised. But it is far from the first change in Russian cultural policy in the past few months: in October 2022 the State Duma decided to review a law to restrict the use of foreign loan words in official Russian communications.

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