The American Right and Russian Right Connections

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The American Right and Russian Right Connections

Over several decades a strong alliance has been developing between the American and Russian right-wings based on alt-right, anti-abortion, anti-gay, and, to some extent, pro-gun issues. Ironically, it began with the International Republican Institute (IRI) eastablished by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  The IRI is "one of the components of the National Endowment for Democracy by which it seeks to influence political outcomes and civic society in lesser developed countries around the world. Its efforts are to channel politics and civic society to promote a neoliberal economic and political model; NED/IRI also engage in activities previously performed by the CIA. IRI is mainly funded by U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy. IRI is loosely affiliated to the Republican party – which doesn’t provide any of its funding." (

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the IRI opened an office in Moscow in 1993 with some of the Americans, including Paul Manafort, started developing extensive ties to Russian politicians and oligarchs.

Those ties continued to develop with Russian oligarchs, Christian conservatives, and pro-gun activists that helped Trump during the 2016 election and continue to support him today.




In September 2018, the World Congress of Families met in Moldova united by their support of anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ actions. 

Politicians and religious leaders met with die-hard anti-abortion and anti-LGBT rights activists in the Moldovan capital of Chișinău for the World Congress of Families (WCF) this month. Organised by US activists, it was heavily attended by Russian politicians, including members of President Putin’s inner circle.  The US-based International Organization for the Family (IOF) organised the event. It’s designated an anti-LGBT extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This was their 12th annual congress, the third consecutive year held in eastern Europe. ... This year’s theme was “East and West coming together around the beauty of the family.”

According to the SPLC, the WCF’s Russian representative Alexey Komov has “long networked with various extreme-right factions in Europe” and has brought the “Russian Orthodox oligarchs he is close to” into the WCF fold in recent years. ...

Panel sessions focused on how to roll back women’s reproductive rights; fight efforts for comprehensive sexual education (CSE) for young people; defeat ”gender ideology”; achieve success in political campaigns; and how to use social and online media to recruit and radicalise new audiences who can “stand for the natural family.”

Attendees’ idea of the ‘natural family’ was summed up by Dimitry Smirnov, a representative of Russian Orthodox Patriarch. “There must be a husband who is intelligent, hardworking, a teacher for his children, a wife that he carries in his arms, which helps him to nurture children,” he told Russian website Zairul de garda, promoting “as many [children] as God will give” and calling LGBT people “demonic” and “enemies of God”.

Sharing a stage with Smirnov was Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state and most senior official after the pope. 

Other speakers this year demonstrated how the event is “slipping ever more to the far right” according to the SPLC, which has followed the WCF for years. “Ideology is political – it is not cultural. We have to recognise that it's not about culture, it's about power – it's about political power, it’s not about equality and it’s not about freedom, it’s power”, said Stephen Baskerville to delegates at a panel session on 'gender ideology'. Baskerville is a professor at Patrick Henry College in the US, also previously addressed the white nationalist Mencken Club along with white supremacist and Donald Trump cheerleader Richard Spencer.



In June 2014, the Russian Parliament passed an anti-LGBTQ law that reflected the growing connections between the US and Russian religious right-wings that has also been seen in mutual support of anti-abortion laws. 

The statute, an amendment to the country’s Code of Administrative Offenses, bans “propaganda” regarding “nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” (In earlier versions of the bill, it was simply referred to as “homosexual propaganda.”) The bill’s language is so vague that it could include just about any kind of gay rights advocacy, from newspaper editorials and advertisements to public information campaigns and demonstrations. ...

The anti-gay measure is the product of a growing conservative movement in Russia spearheaded by the Orthodox Church and sympathetic lawmakers. Its goals are not only to criminalize homosexuality, but to limit access to abortion and reproductive healthcare and to aggressively promote the “traditional family” through state subsidies and other benefits. In 2011, the parliament passed a law restricting abortion access that pro-choice activists regard as the first volley in an effort to ban the procedure altogether. Clinics were required to list the potential negative side effects of an abortion—like the warning on a pack of cigarettes—in any advertisements. ...

This rising Russian social conservative movement frequently invokes the argument that pro-gay and women’s rights groups are puppets of the West, which is seeking to undermine Russian autonomy and interfere in the country’s internal affairs. At an annual meeting of journalists and academics presided over by Vladimir Putin in Valdai in September, the Russian president said that European countries had strayed from their roots by legalizing gay marriage. ...

The irony is that it is the new conservative vanguard—anti-gay, anti-abortion and pro–“traditional family”—that has most successfully cultivated the West’s financial and institutional support. Scott Lively, an extreme anti-gay campaigner, all but took credit for the new law, calling it “one of the proudest achievements of my career,” while Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, visited Moscow with much fanfare just before the new law was passed. But the language of Russia’s anti-gay and anti-abortion movement seems to borrow most heavily from mainstream evangelicals and conservative politicians in the United States and Europe. ... 

yubov Erofeeva, executive director of the Russian Association for Population and Development, a women’s advocacy group, said: “It was 100 percent clear that everything was copied from the experience of American fundamentalists and conservative circles of several European countries where abortion is forbidden or restricted severely.”

The church’s close ties with American evangelicals reflect a shift in policy. For much of the post-Soviet period, the Russian Orthodox Church held evangelical denominations at arm’s length, fearing that they would compete for influence within Russia. But as the church has consolidated its power, it has come to view the evangelical community as a partner. “The ROC realizes that the evangelical denominations are not their opponents but rather their allies in the relations between the church and the secular population,” says Olga Kazmina, a professor of ethnology at Moscow State University.  ...

“We want to promote the idea of the unity between the West and Russia on the basis of common Christian roots,” Sevastianov told Inside the Vaticanmagazine in 2009. “We believe in this alliance among traditional Christian countries…and we believe that, with a united voice, we can be a strong force against the radical secular world which has become dominant in our societies.” ...

In 2011, the World Congress of Families held its first Demographic Summit in Moscow. Established in 1997 by Dr. Allan Carlson, the WCF is an interfaith, international movement whose mission is to “restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit.” Back in 1995, Carlson was invited to speak at Moscow State University by two professors of sociology who admired his book Family Questions: Reflections on the American Social Crisis. According to Jennifer Butler in Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized, “The professors and Carlson, joined by a lay leader in the Russian Orthodox Church, came to the conclusion that what they needed was to bring together scholars and leaders from ‘newly free Europe and Russia’ to meet with leaders from the West.” The first global conference was held in Prague in 1997 and drew more than 700 participants.




Franklin Graham has been one of the biggest advocates of building connections between the Russian and American religious right.

Advocates of closer ties include American evangelicals who insist that the two countries’ leaders should be working together against common foes, ranging from secular liberalism to jihadist terrorism. Perhaps the most vocal supporter of this line is Franklin Graham, a hugely influential evangelical preacher who prayed at Mr Trump’s inauguration. Ahead of the meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin at the recent G20 summit, Mr Graham declared on Facebook: "The media and enemies of President Trump have tried to drive a wedge between Russia and the United States. Our country needs Russia as an ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism. Join me in praying for President Trump and for President Vladimir Putin as they have this very strategic meeting."

Mr Graham was the main organiser of a conference on the global persecution of Christians that was held in May in Washington, DC, and brought together senior figures from Russia and America. On the sidelines Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the external relations arm of the Russian Orthodox church, had a short but cordial meeting with Vice-president Mike Pence, a religious conservative who was raised Catholic but later became evangelical. ...

On a note that would have been familiar to his American evangelical listeners (but perhaps bewildering to people outside that camp), the Russian cleric used the gathering to make a link between violence in the Middle East and secularist trends in Western countries: "The manifestations of aggression in relation to Christians in the modern world has acquired the forms not only of physical violence, but also the curtailment of peoples’ right to a public expression of their faith, to following their values and openly wearing religious symbols…Certain things are happening in society which are more and more often recognised as the norm…We are seriously alarmed by the striving of a number of countries to allow the practice of euthanasia…In many European countries and America, the ideology aimed at supporting sexual minorities and the propaganda of the homosexual way of life is actively imposed, often with the help of the media and the educational system." ...

Yet another arena for American-Russian cooperation in the cause of old-time religion is the World Congress of Families, an American-based association that convenes international gatherings to lobby for conservative social polices, most recently in Budapest and Tbilisi.

Larry Jacobs, the managing director of the Congress, once told a meeting in Moscow that “Russian [and] Eastern European leadership is necessary to counter the secular post-modern anti-family agenda and replace what I’m calling the cultural-Marxist philosophy that is destroying human society and in particular the family”. For a Rip van Winkle who had fallen asleep during the cold war, it might be surprising to hear an American calling on Russia to save his country from Marxism. But Mr Jacobs is by no means alone in his view.




voice of the damned

Mr Graham declared on Facebook: "The media and enemies of President Trump have tried to drive a wedge between Russia and the United States. Our country needs Russia as an ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

It certainly is the case that the anti-"terrorist" rhetoric you hear from Russian state-media and its acolytes is almost indistinguishable from what you hear from American right-wingers, right down to the use of "jihad" as an unqualified pejorative.


Fascists of a feather flock together.


voice of the damned wrote:

Mr Graham declared on Facebook: "The media and enemies of President Trump have tried to drive a wedge between Russia and the United States. Our country needs Russia as an ally in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

It certainly is the case that the anti-"terrorist" rhetoric you hear from Russian state-media and its acolytes is almost indistinguishable from what you hear from American right-wingers, right down to the use of "jihad" as an unqualified pejorative.

The US and Russian right and Islamic jihadists all agree on the religious necessity of persecuting gays.