A decree approving the foundations of a state cultural policy in Russia was signed today by President Vladimir Putin at a joint meeting of the State Council and the Presidential Council for Culture. The meeting was devoted to the implementation of a state cultural policy, which has been in the works since April after the Ministry of Culture issued a document centred on the maxim “Russia is not Europe”.
Published on pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia, the document details Russia’s “rejection of the principles of tolerance and multiculturalism”, while quoting Putin’s condemnation of European multicuturalism as “neutered and barren”. Underscoring the importance of Russia’s “traditional values”, the documents cautions against culture and art which diverges from those values, noting that “no experiments with form can justify the substance that contradicts the values traditional for our society”.
Russia has increasingly distanced itself from the west since the start of the Ukraine crisis, with cultural figures who oppose the government’s position on Ukraine and Crimea having found themselves victims of smear campaigns. A series of concerts by rock musician Andrei Makarevich were unexpectedly cancelled in recent months, fuelling suspicions that his vocal anti-Kremlin position and his performance to a Ukrainian refugee camp in eastern Ukraine this summer has caused the authorities to launch an official campaign to destroy his career.
Some have argued that the attempt to make an official culture in Russia will damage the quality of art being produced, sparking fears that the country will return to the cultural binary of Soviet times. “There will be an official culture, which will operate at a really low level”, opposition politician Leonid Gozman told The Calvert Journal earlier this year, “and there will be an unofficial one, which will see talented people [in the arts] either leave or go underground.”
According to kremlin.ru, the decree comes into effect on the day of its signing.