Plenary Session of the World Russian People's Council: Speeches by Putin, Patriarch Kirill, Pavel Tolstoy, and Maria Popova
I thought the above photo better than the one below which reminds me of 1984.
The central theme of the forum dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of the World Russian People's Council, "The Present and Future of the Russian of the world." Clearly, there were a few years when the forum wasn’t held, thus the XXVs you see. If you’ve already read Lavrov’s Primakov Readings remarks, then it will be easy to see how the two speeches complement each other, with Putin’s being more forceful and direct in several respects. Putin delivers a thunderous opening aimed at the internal and external. That Russia is a fact, not an exception, makes a crucial distinction. Putin expands on the declaration of 2024 being the Year of the Family. For years, I’ve characterized Russia’s fundamental policy as increasing Russian’s wellbeing; Putin explicitly says that then describes its facets. Putin’s followed by Patriarch Kirill who reviews the past 30 years and talks more directly to the forum’s topic. It’s good to hear a different voice in describing past and present events as you’ll discover. Pavel Tolstoy follows Kirill and expands on the Family theme. Few know Russia has an abortion problem that differs greatly from the one used in the West to Divide and Rule; both Kirill and Tolstoy talk about it and a measure to try and drastically reduce its frequency. Tolstoy also notes the problem related to migrant workers that I commented about in an earlier thread. Russia needs a strong Russian as a Second Language program for these workers as Russia needs such workers but not any potential angle to cause social problems. Maria Popova tells us her ideas as the mother of ten children and her own experiences on her path. All the presenters provide a great deal of information to those just learning about Russia, while deepening the understanding of Russia by those who have followed it over the years. And now, the speeches:
Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, Dear friends!
I welcome all participants of the World Russian People's Council.
It was established in 1993. We remember what a difficult time it was – a turning point for the country. Then the council was able to unite around common goals representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, other religious organizations, political parties and movements, cultural figures, scientists, entrepreneurs, people of different views, beliefs, and nationalities, but united in the main thing – in their firm patriotic position.
First of all, I would like to thank you for your support, for your contribution to the strengthening of Russian statehood, civil peace and harmony, to the consolidation of society, and for the help that you always provide to our compatriots, to all those who are united by the great Russian world.
I know that many representatives of the World Russian People's Council are now in the Donbas and Novorossiya among volunteers and volunteers, in the ranks of military units, together with their comrades-in-arms defending our brothers and sisters, millions of people in the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhya regions. I am sincerely grateful to the participants of the World Russian People's Council for the help you provide to the front, to the families of our fallen heroes. They fought for us, for our homeland. Eternal memory to them. [A] minute of silence is announced.
(Minute of silence.)
Dear friends, our battle for sovereignty and justice is, without any exaggeration, of a national liberation nature, because we are defending the security and wellbeing of our people, the supreme, historical right to be Russia-a strong, independent power, a country-civilization. It is our country, the Russian world, as has happened more than once in history, that has blocked the path of those who claim world domination, their exclusivity.
We are now fighting for the freedom not only of Russia, but of the whole world. We openly say that the dictatorship of one hegemon-we can see it, everyone can see it now-is getting old. She went, as they say, peddling and just dangerous to others. This is already clear to the entire world majority. But, I repeat, it is our country that is now at the forefront of creating a more just world order. And I want to emphasize: without a sovereign, strong Russia, no lasting, stable world order is possible.
We know what kind of threat we are facing. Today, Russophobia, other forms of racism and neo-Nazism have become almost the official ideology of the Western ruling elites. They are directed not only against the Russian people, but against all the peoples of Russia: Tatars, Chechens, Avars, Tuvans, Bashkirs, Buryats, Yakuts, Ossetians, Jews, Ingush, Mari, Altaians. There are many of us, I won't name all of them now, but I repeat, it is directed against all the peoples of Russia.
In principle, the West does not need such a large and multi-ethnic country as Russia. Our diversity and unity of cultures, traditions, languages, ethnic groups simply do not fit into the logic of Western racists and colonialists, in their cruel scheme of total depersonalization, separation, suppression and exploitation. Therefore, the old hurdy-gurdy was re-launched: they say that Russia is a "prison of peoples", and the Russians themselves are a "people of slaves". We've heard this many times over the centuries. We also heard that Russia, it turns out, needs to be "de-colonized" today. But what do they really need? In fact, it is necessary to dismember and plunder Russia. It doesn't work by force – then sow confusion.
I would like to emphasize that any external interference, provocations aimed at causing interethnic or inter-religious conflicts, we regard as aggressive actions against our country, as an attempt to challenge Russia once again with terrorism and extremism as a tool to fight us, and we will respond accordingly.
We have a big, diverse country. And this diversity of cultures, traditions, and customs is our strength, a huge competitive advantage, and potential. We must constantly strengthen it, protect this diverse harmony, our common heritage. I draw the attention of the heads of all the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to this and count on the authority of the pastors of our traditional religions, on the responsibility of all political forces and public organizations.
I think that we all remember, we should remember the lessons of the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War, the collapse of the USSR in 1991. It would seem that so many years have passed, but people of all nationalities living now, even those born in the twenty-first century, are still paying the price, even decades later, for the mistakes made at that time, for indulging separatist illusions and ambitions, for the weakness of the central government, for the policy of artificial, violent division of the great Russian nation, the triune people – Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians. The bloody hotbeds that emerged after the collapse of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union are not only still smoldering, but sometimes flare up with renewed vigor. And these wounds will not heal for a long time.
We will never forget these mistakes and should not repeat them. I would like to emphasize once again that any attempt to sow interethnic and inter – religious discord, to split our society, is a betrayal, a crime against the whole of Russia. We will not allow anyone to divide Russia, which we have alone. For her, for our Fatherland, are our prayers, which are spoken in different languages.
In this audience, I would like to recall the words of St. Gregory the Theologian: "To honor the mother is a sacred thing. But everyone has their own mother, and the common mother is the Motherland."
Your Holiness, Dear colleagues!
The theme of the current council is "The Present and Future of the Russian World". The Russian world is all the generations of our ancestors and our descendants who will live after us. The Russian world is Ancient Russia, the Moscow Tsardom, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, it is modern Russia, which returns, strengthens and multiplies its sovereignty as a world power. The Russian world unites all those who feel a spiritual connection with our Motherland, who consider themselves native speakers of the Russian language, history, and culture, regardless of their national or religious affiliation.
But I want to emphasize: without Russians as an ethnic group, without the Russian people, there is not and cannot be the Russian world and Russia itself. In this statement, there is no claim to superiority, to exclusivity, to being chosen. This is just a fact, as well as the fact that our Constitution clearly establishes the status of the Russian language as the language of the state-forming people.
Russian is more than a nationality. This has always been the case, by the way, in the history of our country. This includes cultural, spiritual, and historical identity. Being Russian is primarily a responsibility. I repeat, it is a huge responsibility to save Russia, and this is what true patriotism is all about. And as a Russian person, I want to say that only a united, strong, sovereign Russia can guarantee the future and original development of the Russian people and all other peoples who have lived and are still living in our country for centuries, united by a common historical destiny.
What does sovereignty mean for our state, for every family, for every person? What is its meaning, value, and real content? This is first and foremost freedom. Freedom for Russia and for our people, and therefore for each of us. Because in our tradition, a person cannot feel free if his relatives, children, and Homeland are not free. This is the true freedom that our boys, our men, soldiers and officers, and the daughters of the Fatherland are now defending.
A free people who understand their responsibility to the present day and future generations is the only source of power, a sovereign power that is designed to serve all people, the whole nation, and not, of course, to serve someone's private, corporate, estate, and even more foreign interests.
A truly free person is always a creator. We will support everyone's desire to benefit the country, society, and people. This is what makes up sovereign development in the national interest.
We will have to solve colossal tasks in the development of vast areas from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Our economy, industry, agriculture, new industries, creative industries, and national businesses should multiply their potential.
I am also addressing entrepreneurs, of whom I know there are also many in this hall. I would like to thank you separately, dear friends, for your well-coordinated work. It was by combining the efforts of the state and business that we thwarted the unprecedented economic aggression of the West, and its sanctions blitzkrieg failed.
Russia will increase its support for sovereign national entrepreneurship. To do this, we now have fundamentally new tools. Invest in Russia, create jobs, develop production, and participate in training-and then the growth of the national economy will translate into new successes and opportunities for your companies. National businesses, working to strengthen their sovereignty, are becoming stronger and more sovereign, becoming less dependent on all the components of today's world order.
The sovereign development of the country, economy, business, and social sphere should bring prosperity to all citizens and all Russian families, and therefore be fair. We are not talking about primitive equalization, of course not. Justice means, first of all, decent living conditions, modern cultural, health and sports facilities in all regions of the country. This is a skilled, well-paid job. High social prestige of a worker, engineer, teacher, doctor, artist, cultural worker, entrepreneur, every conscientious specialist, master. Justice also means equal and broad opportunities for studying, for starting a life, and for self-realization of young people.
In the West, they are now practicing not only the policy of a "culture of abolition" [Cancel Culture], but also the de facto abolition of liberal arts education. As a result, both culture and education become primitive. Many classical subjects are simply thrown out of Western educational programs, replaced by some kind of gender and similar sciences – pseudosciences, of course. On the contrary, we need a real breakthrough in cultural life. And here we have a lot to learn from our ancestors, who both in traditional and, by the way, in avant-garde art set models for the whole world. I am convinced that the sovereignty of the country and the strengthening of its role in the world are impossible without the flourishing of an original culture in all its manifestations.
And of course, it is important for us to take all the best that the national and global classical education system has accumulated. At the same time, our schools, universities, and colleges should be modern and open to all advanced technologies.
We need a holistic sphere of education, in which the family, the education system, national culture, the work of children's, youth, sports, military-patriotic organizations, a broad mentoring movement and, I would add, the wise word of spiritual pastors complement each other, it is simply necessary.
Yes, the church is separated from the state, and Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly told me that despite this, we have a unique relationship between the church and the state. What would you like to point out in this regard? But the church cannot be separated from society and from the individual. I totally agree with that. This is why I once again emphasize the importance of the participation of representatives of all Russian traditional religions in the education and upbringing of our youth and, of course, in strengthening spiritual, moral and family values. This is of lasting importance, the participation of our pastors of all our traditional religions.
Your Holiness, Dear friends!
You know that a decree has already been signed to declare the next year, 2024, the Year of the Family in Russia. And I want to emphasize that this decision is really based on the position of the absolute majority of our society. I am sure that the World Russian People's Council also unanimously supports it.
And what do I want to say and emphasize here? It is impossible to overcome the most difficult demographic challenges that we face only with the help of money, social payments, allowances, benefits, and individual programs. Yes, of course, the figures of budget "demographic" expenditures are extremely significant, but this is not all. Much more important are the life guidelines of a person. At the heart of the family, in the birth of a child are love, trust, strong moral support. We should never forget about this.
Many of our peoples, thank God, still have the tradition of a strong, multi-generational family, where four, five or more children are brought up. Let us recall that in Russian families, many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had children of seven, eight, and even more.
Let us preserve and revive these wonderful traditions. Having many children and a large family should become the norm and a way of life for all the peoples of Russia. And the family is not just the foundation of the state and society, it is a spiritual phenomenon, a source of morality.
Support for the family, motherhood, and childhood should cover the work of all spheres of public administration, without exception, our economic, social, and infrastructure policies, education and education, and healthcare, of course. The activities of all public associations and our traditional religions are also necessary for strengthening the family. Saving and multiplying the people of Russia is our task for the coming decades, and I will say more at once: for generations to come. This is the future of the Russian world, the millennial, eternal Russia.
Your Holiness, Dear friends!
We have many large-scale tasks ahead of us, and their solution requires really hard work, and we are ready for it. We have become stronger. Our historical regions have returned to Russia. Society rejects everything superficial, appeals to true, authentic values.
Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin at one time emphasized that above all is the right based on popular power. And together we have shown such a national strength, such a national will, determination to defend our own, fundamental interests, the fundamental interests of the peoples of Russia, to be guided not by someone else's, borrowed from someone else, but by our own sovereign worldviews, our understanding of how the family and the entire state should develop, to build Russia for ourselves and for others. our children.
I would like to thank you again for your support, for your patriotic spirit and, of course, to congratulate you on the 30th anniversary of the World Russian People's Council.
But I would like to say special words of gratitude to its head, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
I know that Your Holiness is working tirelessly for the spiritual revival of Russia. I want to emphasize how significant and weighty your position is. How much the Russian Orthodox Church, clergy and laity are doing under your leadership to implement social, charitable and voluntary projects. What kind of support is given to our soldiers and their families. How our soldiers and officers on the front line are waiting for the Patriarch's word.
Today, at the World Russian People's Council, I am pleased to congratulate you on being awarded the Presidential Prize 2023 for your contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation. I bow low to you. I wish the cathedral successful work.
Patriarch Kirill: I sincerely thank you, dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, for this wonderful speech addressed to the Council. And, of course, I am very touched by your words addressed to me.
I would like to emphasize that from the very beginning of your activity as head of state, we, especially the older generation, who remember different periods of the post-war life of our country, paid special attention to the very fact of the appearance of such a person as you at the head of state. And from the very beginning, I remember this time very well, the absolute majority of our citizens began to associate with you the changes in the life of the people, society and the state that were so overdue at that time and which, unfortunately, could not be changed in any way [Second Chechen War].
A lot has happened in our country over the years. Russia has become a truly modern, scientifically and technically developed, spiritually rich multinational state, where the interests of individual peoples and ethnic groups are so harmoniously combined with the national interests.
This unity of our people, the unity of our society, I know, causes confusion first of all to our detractors, because not always the experience of multinational state entities is as successful and so giving an example to others as the experience of Russia.
But it doesn't just happen like that. Not, as we have said and say in the people, using the fairy tale "At the behest of the pike". All this is done, of course, by the efforts of people and with the wise, patriotic, open leadership of the head of state.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to you, and may the Lord strengthen your strength, the strength of your closest employees who form this united team, so that you can continue your work for the benefit of our Russian Fatherland and the entire Russian people.
Thank you very much for your words and for your good deeds.
And now let me address you with the words that will be presented in my report, and in which I will try to share with you my thoughts on the main topic – "The present and future of our Russian world".
I am heartily glad to welcome all of you who have gathered at the meeting of the World Russian People's Council, for its current, XXV session, anniversary session. Our Cathedral was not promised a long life when it was being built. Many considered it an unfortunate experience, which will undoubtedly fail in the conditions of a multinational state or degrade, which will unite marginal forces of a quasi-patriotic direction. And then this irony was present in the minds of some politicians and public figures. But then everything began to change gradually, because from the very first Council it became clear that the World Russian People's Council has a potential that justifies and will justify its name.
The creation of the Council, as well as today's XXV session, certainly draws a certain line under this quarter of a century, and, undoubtedly, many of us present here also have certain thoughts, hopes and aspirations. Maybe some people have some concerns, because everything is not so simple in our world, but on the other hand, they are confident in the absolute necessity and importance of such a meeting as the World Russian People's Council.
Of course, a lot has passed in 25 years: we have seen both good and bad things, and therefore, I think that summing up this story, this work, we should have an honest conversation about what has happened, what still needs to be worked on, which requires some adjustment when it comes to the first stage. The turn was devoted to issues of great strategic importance for the life of our society and the spiritual development of the people, strengthening all aspects of the life of our Fatherland.
The theme of the current jubilee Council – "The Present and Future of the Russian World" - also encourages us to think about it
I remember how this public forum was created 30 years ago, back in 1993. In the conditions of general confusion, the request to search for certain unifying principles was extremely popular and relevant. Only those who tried to create a certain community that could accumulate the necessary ideas and thoughts that would help people build their understanding of the future-this was not always crowned with success. Although there were such attempts. But the topic was so important, and the drama surrounding the Russian World, the future of Russia, was so intense, and so full of creative potential at the same time, that it could not but be resolved as a result of many public discussions.
And so, gradually, the idea of establishing a public forum arose, where everyone who felt involved in the Russian people and Russian culture, who was not indifferent to what was happening in society, could discuss emerging issues and share their ideas. It was important to create a space for a free and honest dialogue about the fate of the Fatherland, in order to consolidate healthy social forces that are ready to work for the revival of the Motherland, formulating answers to the difficult challenges of the time, acceptable even for citizens who are not Russian by nationality. This was originally the task of the World Russian People's Council – without renouncing their Russianness, and without detracting from Russianness, to do everything to serve the entire multinational people of our country.
At that time, the topics of the spiritual origins of our identity became more and more vivid and persistent, and the combination of "Russian World" to express a special cultural phenomenon of Russia became more and more common.
Speaking back in 2004, I noted that the use of this concept almost 10 years after the establishment of the World Russian People's Council is also due to the fact that over the past years, Russia has finally defined itself axiologically and has begun to recognize itself as a country that inherits a rich tradition, an Orthodox tradition that has key meanings for the formation of relations, phenomena in the socio-political, economic, spiritual and cultural fields, it turned out to be able to start seriously, including within the framework of the World Russian People's Council, to study these problems and openly discuss them.
At the same time, it would be wrong, and we said this right away, when creating the World Russian People's Council, it would be wrong to understand the Russian world in a narrow national and ethnic sense and to limit this concept to the existing political borders, meaning by the Russian World exclusively the Russian Federation. That is why people living far beyond the borders of the Russian Federation began to take an active part in our cathedrals.
Let me remind you of the important words spoken almost 20 years ago, which still remain relevant today. I quote: "For us, the Russian World is not an ethnic concept, the Russian world includes all peoples belonging to other religions, but sharing the same values of public life together with the Russian people. It is Russia, which recognizes itself as Orthodox, that is able to support various cultures in unity. Over the centuries, Russia has developed a mechanism for the coexistence of different cultures and religions that accept the same social values, but retain their religious identity." End of quote.
The use of the term "Russian World" in Russian public discourse has caused a lot of strong emotions both within the country, among supporters of the liberal model of development, and among our Western partners, as it is now commonly expressed, who saw in this concept clear signs of the revival of Russian identity.
At the same time, the very idea of a spiritual and cultural world is not an innovation. This is not an invention of the mind, but a common phenomenon that characterizes the development of a certain type of culture that has created a unique value paradigm in the course of successful existence. I would like to say a few words about this today.
So, about the formula of the "Russian World" itself. And the formula is: cultural diversity from the Roman to the Russian world.
The flourishing complexity of human civilization revealed in history is, of course, the effect of God's wise providence, it is the richness of the historical "garden of God", as Ilyin wrote about it, who emphasized that Russia is called upon to show the diversity of gifts that the Most High Creator has endowed our people with. It is true that the peoples used to dispose of these talents, and they do, and perhaps will continue to dispose of them, unfortunately, not always according to their conscience, as we see many examples of today. And of course, these examples have been used in the past.
Some cultures tend to go beyond their natural national boundaries and, overcoming ethnic isolation, become a source for the development of other peoples and influence their social structure and spiritual life. This expansion of culture, which often took place in the past with the use of military and political methods, led to the creation of entire cultural areas, cultural worlds.
History remembers many such examples. So, the famous Pax Romana became a symbol of the highest power of the Roman Empire, Pax Hispanica – the heyday of Spain, which spread its influence to the South American lands, and Pax Britannica became a symbol of the period of world domination of the British order and colonialism.
Today we are talking about Pax Americana, an established cultural and geopolitical alliance around the United States of America, which is the core of a special economic, political and ideological system.
Let's not forget that there is also a huge Arab world that unites the countries of Arab culture. Moreover, even entire organizations are created on the basis of a sociocultural community. For example, the Arab League. Or the Union of South American Nations, which unites Latin American countries. The list of these cultural worlds can go on for a long time. After all, our Greek Orthodox brothers have been proclaiming the existence of the Greek world for many centuries and singing about the great values of Hellenism. And it doesn't bother anyone. But it is only necessary to state the obvious – about the existence of the area of Russian culture, about the Russian world… How much noise was made when we formulated this idea and began to develop it, how many of the most ridiculous and far-fetched accusations were made by our imaginary friends and detractors.
According to popular wisdom, a thief's hat also burns. Was the concept of the "axis of evil" or the idea of a "world policeman" born in the depths of the Russian world? Have we come up with a cynical and spiritually barbaric theme of the abolition of culture? Do we impose hegemony on the rest of the world, presenting it as a universal good without alternative for the rest of the world? I think the answer is obvious.
I would like to note that contrary to popular opinion, the concept of "Russian World" did not appear, of course, at all in the 2000s. Many prominent writers and philosophers have reflected on the civilizational identity of Russia. This is a truly impressive series of titans of Russian culture: Nikolai Danilevsky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Vladimir Solovyov, Nikolai Lossky, Father Sergiy Bulgakov, Lev Karsavin, Father Pavel Florensky, Semyon Frank, Ivan Ilyin, and finally Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, who owns the authorship of the term "Russian Idea". These are just a few names from a long list of thinkers who were inspired in their work by the idea of the Russian World.
Not everyone can agree with their reasoning. Each of them placed their own accents, describing the phenomena of Russia and Russian identity. However, based on their intuition and insight, we can learn something very valuable, adding to it what we have experienced and understood from our own spiritual and cultural experience of the past decades.
And what are the key features of the Russian idea, which are, in fact, the value foundation of the Russian world as a special spiritual and cultural space? What is the formula of the Russian world? When the term "nation" is used, it usually refers to a community of people who speak the same language. But in the case of the Russian people, there is an interesting nuance: Russian migrants, for example, in the second or third generation may hardly speak Russian, but nevertheless consider themselves real Russians, and they remember their historical homeland with spiritual longing. I can speak about this from my own experience, because I had to live in Western Europe for a long time in my line of duty.
In addition, not everyone who speaks and writes Russian as their native language declares that they belong to the Russian people. Even more, some openly renounce their national roots, indicating their rejection of the Russian cultural code. Well, God is their judge. The rejection of the memory of our ancestors is a phenomenon that is clearly condemned in our spiritual tradition.
So, the question of language is certainly important, but it is not decisive. What does it have? Of decisive importance is the unity of culture, which consists in the people's awareness of the common historical fate and the common spiritual and moral values, which in turn results in the unity of the worldview. I emphasize that it is worldviews, not ideologies. These things should never be mixed. Ideologies can change depending on the political situation, so unity on such a basis is fragile, unreliable and can crumble under unfavorable conditions, and our country knows this well from the sad historical experience of the past century. Taking into account the negative, but still valuable experience, the current Russian Constitution stipulates a ban on establishing a common state ideology that is mandatory for all.
In response to a question from a number of social forces that want to have a certain national idea, I can only repeat once again: we already have one. What could be better if you want to motivate a person more effectively for creative work, for the benefit of society, than sincere love and devotion to the Motherland? Those who truly love the country, its people and culture, do not need any ideology, do not need to invent and invent anything.
We already have all the most important things: a rich spiritual culture, traditions of Orthodoxy, a unique and valuable experience of peaceful living together and respectful interaction with representatives of other nationalities and religions. We only need to be worthy heirs of our ancestors and live in accordance with our beliefs, so that the matter does not diverge from words.
Returning to the definition of the formula of the "Russian World", we can say that the Russian world is a community of shrines. Using this word not only in its religious meaning, although this dimension is undoubtedly very important, the commonality of worldview ideas and moral values unites people of different ethnic origins, different faiths and cultural traditions. There is something irrational in this, as Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev noted, however, just as irrational, apparently, is the hatred of opponents of the Russian world.
And what connects us? What is sacred to us? The key concept, the common denominator in the formula of the "Russian World" is tradition. Tradition (this follows from the innermost form of the word, because in Latin it literally means "tradition", "transmission") primarily ensures the connection of generations, preserves and transmits valuable spiritual and cultural experience to people. Without this experience, neither the existence of the people, nor a strong, stable statehood, which is, in fact, a visible expression of the nation's will to social self-organization, is possible.
The break with tradition has always been painfully experienced by the Russian people, who tried to heal these wounds later. This was also the case in the 18th century, during the era of uncontrolled cultural influences of the West, its absolute dominance in Russian public life. And in the next century, let me remind you, a great contribution to the restoration of the integrity of Russian culture was made by Russian writers, and perhaps, first of all, Alexander Pushkin. It can be said that with this restoration, a powerful flowering of Russian culture began, which gave the world many outstanding writers, artists and composers.
However, an even more tragic break occurred in the twentieth century, when the new authorities decided to resolutely abandon the legacy of the past, declaring that they would destroy the old world to the ground and build a new one on its ruins. The Orthodox tradition, which from time immemorial determined the existence of the Russian people and brought up the best moral qualities in them, was rejected, just as all religiosity was rejected. Unprecedented persecutions against the Church and believers, brutal repressions against clergymen of various religions, not just the Orthodox clergy – these were the sad fruits of the activities of the then authorities.
We know what happened in the end. A house built on sand cannot stand, as the Gospel tells us, and the country, for all its military and political strength and powerful ideological propaganda, was not strong enough.
This is a visible lesson for all of us, because we were involved in all this: some of us were already actively involved in public life, while others were still at an age when they could not actively participate. But we all remember that time, from which we also need to learn the right lesson.
If you destroy the spiritual foundation of a nation's life, then disaster occurs, first of all, in the hearts of people, where, as Dostoevsky put it, "the main battle of good and evil is being waged, where the devil is fighting God." Thank God, three decades after the rejection of the policy of state atheism, the situation has gradually been leveled.
Today, Orthodox churches and monasteries are being actively built in Russia and in other countries of the canonical responsibility of the Russian Church. This fact is always impressive and causes undisguised surprise among many believers in the West, where Christian churches, on the contrary, are being closed, converted at best into concert halls, and there are cases when they are used as cafes and even as night clubs.
I would like to express my special gratitude to the state leadership of Russia and personally to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for his constant attention to the spiritual component of the life of the people, for understanding the special historical role of the Orthodox tradition in the formation and development of Russian culture and statehood.
I have said it many times before, and I will repeat it again, we are indeed living in a very favorable time, and it is rare for the Lord to give us such a unique chance. We can build constructive and friendly relations between the Orthodox Church and other religious associations and the state authorities. This is probably the first time in the history of Russia. Even at the time when the country called itself an Orthodox empire, there was no such mutual understanding and unanimity in solving important issues related to strengthening the traditional spiritual and moral foundations of the people's life.
I've already given an example before. When Prince Golitsyn was asked by Alexander I to become chief prosecutor of the Holy Governing Synod, he was confused, surprised, and then quietly says to the emperor:: "Sire, you know that I am a Freemason and an atheist, but how can I be the chief prosecutor of the Synod?" That's how they coped.
Talking about crisis phenomena always encourages us to think about the etymology of the word "crisis" itself. "Crisis" literally translates from Greek as "judgment". How we respond, how we react to some serious problem – this will be the real quality of our spiritual life, the judgment of our faith.
As already mentioned, tradition is a common spiritual and cultural denominator of the Russian world. Today, the tradition is under intense pressure, and attempts are being made to undermine it both internally and externally. Now let's try to fill this word – "tradition" - with specific concepts.
The family is the foundation of Russian national life and the inner bulwark of the tradition of the Russian world, which is of key importance for all religious cultures. Being the most important school of personal education, the family not only helps a person to learn about the world around them, but also teaches them love, kindness and compassion, gives them the most important moral idea and relevant guidelines.
The traditional family was considered a few decades ago something as natural as air, no one thought to call for creating families and having children. However, not least thanks to external influences broadcast in the public space of our country, it is possible to convince a certain part of people that the traditional family is an outdated relic.
I am saddened to learn that today in the Russian film industry there are films promoting surrogacy and justifying this method in overcoming childlessness, including through the emotion of sympathy for infertile couples. It would seem, at first glance, how good it is to empathize with suffering people who cannot have a child. However, we know very well where the road is often laid out with good intentions.
Our country once set out to uncover the secret of the nuclear core in order to protect itself. No resources were spared to solve this task, considering that without this, our people will not preserve freedom and the very right to life.
I am sure that today it is the preservation of the people, the revival of the traditional family that is the condition for the survival of the country and the goal to achieve which no resources should be spared: neither material, nor intellectual, nor organizational.
You can not spare, including material resources for the development of the family. It is necessary to create full-fledged conditions of high-quality life for large families, in particular, by helping them get housing, education, and so on.
My particular heartache is the unresolved issue of abortion, which I often raise in conversations with state authorities at various levels. This is, without exaggeration, a real national disaster, destroying the future of our society, destroying the idea of the value of human life. However, the solution to the problem of abortion lies not only in the plane of legislative prohibitions. It is very important to carry out educational work, including at school, instilling in children respect for human life, love for their parents, for their native country, for our moral values and ideals. Without love, acting in a free moral choice, no prohibitions can radically change the situation. Without love, all this becomes a soulless system of punishment, which a person will always try to circumvent with cunning.
Opposition to abortion is certainly not the only measure to change the demographic situation. I know that the presidential decree declared 2024 the Year of the Family. First of all, I thank Vladimir Vladimirovich for this initiative, and I hope that the planned state support for the institute of traditional family will be extended to the following years.
Now a few words about migration. Migration situation as a pain point. Yes, indeed, the topic of the migration situation in Russia is acute and not pleasant for everyone. But in fact, this question is extremely important in the light of what has been said about preserving Russian culture. Modern migration processes and their current nature pose a serious external challenge to our cultural tradition.
An erroneous migration policy can lead to the most sad consequences for the Russian world and for Russia as its cultural and spiritual core. Now the idea that migrants are a competitive labor force is popular in the public space, and therefore society must accept the consequences that the practically unlimited import of foreign labor brings with it.
Of course, I do not know all aspects of this problem, and I admit that it is really quite difficult to do without migration flows in economic terms today, but this does not mean that these flows should not be regulated and restricted in any way.
The massive influx of emigrants who do not speak the Russian language, do not have a proper understanding of Russian history and culture, our traditions and customs, and therefore are not able and often do not want to integrate into Russian society, changes the appearance of Russian cities and leads to a deformation of the unified legal, cultural and linguistic space of the country.
In some of the largest cities, closed ethnic enclaves are emerging and actively developing, which are hotbeds of corruption and organized ethnic crime and illegal migration. Don't keep it quiet. We do not offend anyone, among the people who came to work in Russia, there are a lot of decent people, by the way, who respect the Russian people, our traditions, the Orthodox Church, and the faith. But there are also people with different interests and goals.
Unfortunately, news reports are full of reports about the aggressive behavior of emigrants towards our citizens. Cases of violence against women and insults addressed to them, disrespect for the elderly-all this causes a fair indignation of many of our compatriots, who want to see a more strict and attentive attitude to this problem on the part of law enforcement agencies and state authorities.
The fact that Russian citizenship is increasingly obtained by migrants from countries whose cultural and civilizational characteristics seriously differ from those that exist in our country also contributes to social tension and growing distrust. At the same time, the procedure for obtaining a passport for Russian-speaking and culturally close people in Russia remains bureaucratically complex. And the question arises: why is it quite simple for some, but in connection with the influx of such migrants, the problem that was mentioned arises, and for some reason it is very difficult for others. I am in no way against those people who want to work honestly in our country. But they should clearly understand that neither the profit they bring to Russian entrepreneurs, nor the presence of a Russian passport does not exempt them from respect for Russian society, the Russian people and our traditions.
I would like to emphasize that in addition to economic benefits, there are the most important strategic issues of the state and society, our traditions, language, laws, culture and customs. The value of profit cannot be higher than the value of the state, which is ready to defend the interests of the state-forming people.
I would like to emphasize that the point here is not that the majority of migrant workers are not Christians, no. If they were Christians, for example, of a different denomination, who came from another region with their own customs, traditions and cultures, this could also create certain problems.
I am sure that the Orthodox, as well as the Muslims of our country, with whom we have lived side by side for centuries, want to preserve Russia in the form in which it has developed over the centuries of its existence. If we replace a significant part of the Russian multinational people with other nations that follow their own historical path and do not accept our identity, then our country will become different, very different, not much like Russia.
In these circumstances, I am convinced that Russia needs a significant adjustment of its migration policy. The practice of life has shown the ineffectiveness of solving problems with migrants through attempts to negotiate with national diasporas and clans, which are ready not only to stand up for their representative in order to save him from fair punishment under the law, but also to take revenge in every possible way on those who dared to contact law enforcement agencies, reporting crimes.
What can be the solution to the migration problem – we need to think and seriously analyze, including the experience of other countries that have faced similar challenges. But, most importantly, we need a process of studying this problem. In any case, you should not push it into a corner and say that nothing is happening, or simply answer: "Otherwise, we can't, we don't have enough labor reserves." This problem should be on the table for public discussion, and, of course, when making government decisions.
Returning to the words I said 20 years ago, I would like to emphasize once again that Russia is able to support various cultures in unity if and only if it recognizes itself as Orthodox.
These words should not create a sense of discomfort among non-Orthodox people. And here's why: being the core of Russian culture, the Orthodox faith has brought up in the Russian people all the moral qualities that make up our identity today, and thanks to which we can speak about the Russian identity and the Russian world, a multinational community.
The guardian of Orthodoxy, the mainstay and bulwark of the spiritual tradition of the Russian people is our church, which not only raised and instructed its faithful children, but also always shared with them all the hardships and trials.
Russian culture, as Ivan Ilyin aptly put it, is a long-suffering child of historical catastrophes and national disasters that have repeatedly befallen our country. Overcoming these harsh trials with the spiritual support of the church helped to create a sense of solidarity among the people – the most important component of Russian culture, which even today determines the actions of many of our compatriots who strive to help even unfamiliar people in difficult situations.
The assimilation of the high Christian ideal of brotherhood has developed in our people the same universal responsiveness, the universal humanity of the Russian spirit and the desire for unity that both Dostoevsky and Vladimir Solovyov wrote about.
The natural kindness of the Russian people, tolerance and the ability to get along peacefully with other peoples, not to impose their beliefs, formed a unique model of state and social structure based on polyethnicity and multiculturalism, mutual respect for representatives of different religious traditions.
The feeling of high moral responsibility inherent in the Russian people also gave rise to the awareness of the inseparability of the fate of Russia from the fate of the whole world, and hence the desire to harmonize and, as far as possible, settle conflicts outside the Fatherland. Therefore, if trouble came, both Syria, which was suffering from terrorists, and Italy, which was having a hard time experiencing the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, turned out to be close to us, and we helped them in any way we could. And the starving countries of Africa are not strangers at all. This is the "cultural type of global rooting for everyone," as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote.
All these important components, multiplied by loyalty to tradition, give the final formula of the Russian world, cultural space, and high spiritual and moral values. It is not enough just to be proud of the history, victories and achievements of our ancestors, to admire the culture and rich heritage of the past. If such feelings are not supported by the experience of experiencing tradition, immersion in culture and specific deeds, then this is a dangerous fake of traditions.
The time has come for the church to assume a special responsibility for our people and our country. Today, when many forces have risen up against us, it is my duty to call on them to pray for our church, for our President Vladimir Vladimirovich, for the Motherland, which is going through very difficult life circumstances, as well as for the fraternal peoples of historical Russia.
We pray for the support of those forces that today are at the forefront of the struggle for the freedom of our Fatherland, no less than for the freedom of our Fatherland.
And if there is no free Russia, then there will be no Russian Church, and there will be those who betray from within and those who devour from without.
Yes, there will be no such thing.
Thank you for your attention.
Pavel Tolstoy: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, Your Holiness, Dear participants of the Council,
The Russian People's Council is taking place today at a turning point in history. There is a war going on against us: economic, ideological, informational-and a war on the territory of the former Soviet Ukraine.
You know, I've been thinking about where to start. And I want to say that I am sure that I have several chats on my phone, just like many people sitting in this hall, where literally every minute, every hour ordinary Russian people, residents of villages, towns, abbots of churches, municipal employees collect 100 or 300 rubles to help our fighters, to help them military doctors, to help those who were left homeless. This is the Russian world today, this is the Russian idea of helping others, solidarity and unity in the face of the challenges that Russia is currently undergoing. Rally around the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, around the Army, our defenders, for the sake of freedom and sovereignty of our Fatherland, for the sake of preserving our faith and history, for the sake of winning the battle for the survival and development of our unique Russian civilization.
Russia has always won. He will win this time too. Moreover, we will only become stronger. Just as a person's previously dormant powers are activated at the moment of danger, so it is with the people.
In 1945, our country was in ruins after the bloodiest war in the history of mankind and in Russian history, and just 12 years later the world learned the Russian word "Sputnik".
What will we do after the victory? Where should we direct our energy? Where will the country be in 10-15 years? These questions, of course, need to be answered today. I would like to draw your attention to what I think is impossible for the country to develop without.
Today, both the head of state and the head of our Church spoke about the family as the foundation of life, the foundation of the state. The Russian Orthodox Church does not call the family a small church for nothing. Everything-both good and bad-is laid down in each of us, in a person in the family. And it is very important that the President suggested making next year the Year of the Family. It is good when the family is friendly, loving, and has many children. But, unfortunately, it is increasingly rare to meet families with three or more children. But sometimes you can't dream of more than that. People do not want to give birth, doubt, and often do not have time. There are a lot of reasons, and we all need to urgently correct the current demographic situation. Many measures have already been taken to support families with children, as discussed today. But we need more, we need to qualitatively change the state approach to supporting motherhood with many children and, importantly, fatherhood.
His Holiness the Patriarch took the initiative in the Duma to introduce maternity leave for women not from the 30th week of pregnancy, as it is now, but from the moment of registration in the antenatal clinic, that is, from the first day when the expectant mother found out about her future child. This initiative can be very effective.
Thank you for your applause, and I can count on you to support it. In fact, this is a really effective measure to increase the birth rate in the country, because all abortions, which His Holiness just spoke about as a terrible phenomenon, a terrible sin, are performed precisely during the period that is currently not covered by either maternity leave or state support. Last but not least, a woman's decision to have an abortion is related to the fear of losing her job. The state needs children today. Why don't we start paying mothers-to-be benefits at this very difficult time, at the moment when she is making a decision: to give birth or go and have an abortion?
Another initiative may raise the status of fathers with many children in society. Recently, the President spoke about fathers with many children. In our country, employers pay contributions to the Social Fund for their employees, which will use these funds to pay pensions to these employees in the future. Contributions from bachelors and fathers with many children are the same here. After all, in the future, it is the grown-up children of these large parents who will feed their taxes to an elderly bachelor. A person who has raised three or more children has already more than compensated for their pension contributions. And if we exempt employers from payments to the Social Fund for an employee with many children, everyone will need such fathers with many children. They will be guaranteed a job, and employers will find it much more profitable to hire a father with many children than any other employee by 30 percent. And having many children should become synonymous with well-being and public respect in Russia.
Of course, dear friends, all these measures should be carefully considered and discussed. For this purpose, with the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch, an inter-factional deputy group for the protection of Christian values was established in the State Duma. There is an interfactional group on family issues. We're working on it. Many heads of regions have already started working on saving people. This is one of the most important criteria of the main capital of the government-the trust of our citizens.
We must do everything possible to ensure that each new child is not a new problem for the family, but a new opportunity. It so happens that for many, having many children is synonymous with poverty. It's time to make having many children a synonym for affluence.
I am sure that large families need a single federal status.
There is another important issue that His Holiness the Patriarch has just mentioned. Effective protection of Russian families is impossible without changing the current migration policy. The uncontrolled mass influx of foreign labor leads to underestimation of wages for Russian citizens and their subsequent replacement by migrants in certain sectors of the economy, because there is no control from employers. The relocation of migrant families creates an additional burden on the social sphere and provokes domestic conflicts.
The influx of people who do not speak Russian and do not want to integrate into Russian society creates ethnic enclaves in our cities, which are a breeding ground for extremism and corruption, and create tension among people.
We need a new migration policy. Perhaps we should adopt the state demographic policy framework, which will set out the basic principles of family support, measures to increase the number of people and our priorities in the field of migration.
Now I'd like to go back to where I started. It has so happened for centuries that in the face of the enemy, Russian people forget their differences, stand up for their Homeland. This is the twenty-first century - nothing has changed, and like our ancestors, today we are fighting for our future, for the lives of our children, for the right to be Russian and live in Russia. As Suvorov said: "We are Russians, God is with us."
The idea of victory, which unites the country under the slogans "We are together" and " Everything for victory!", should become the work of every citizen of Russia, regardless of their social status, nationality or religion. Only then, I am sure, will the victory be ours!
Thank you for your attention.
Maria Popova: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, Your Holiness, Your Eminence and Eminence, Dear Fathers, brothers and sisters!
I am grateful for the honor of being here.
My name is Maria and I have ten children.
2024 has been declared the Year of the Family, and I strongly support this decision. The main pillar of Russia is the family, and we want everything possible to be done this year so that we can have more Russian families with many children. And I will say this as a simple mother with many children who does not make state decisions, but feels their consequences.
When a beautiful flower grows in a suitable place, it is supported, watered and weeds that interfere are removed. The experience of our family and others shows that a good life for a large family is impossible in the cramped conditions of urban apartments. A normal large family needs its own comfortable home on its own land.
This is not a whim, but a basic need. Otherwise, where do these "flowers" grow? My husband and I, university-educated Muscovites, have moved to the Yaroslavl region and cannot stay in the capital with our ten children, because this is unthinkable in a city apartment. And all our familiar large families either live in their own homes, or dream of moving into them.
For a real revival of Russia with many children, we need individual housing construction, and not" human houses", but low-rise suburban settlements with all the infrastructure: schools, clinics, playgrounds, and the like. And install preferential mortgages on houses, much cheaper than on city apartments. After the birth of, for example, a third child in a family, the state can write off half of the mortgage, after the fourth – two – thirds, after the fifth-already pay off this debt in full.
In general, you should support your family as a model. Of course, in order to change social stereotypes, since images are formed by the mass media, so on the radio, on the Internet, on TV – from everywhere people should see a good, happy, big family. You can't do without good propaganda. And it is important that reasonable censorship removes unnecessary and harmful things, like weeds.
Separately, about the anti-human problem of abortion. The Church equates this grave sin with murder, and we ask the Government to protect us from the abortion killing of children.
A terrible situation: I, a healthy, socially prosperous, married young mother, was told by doctors that so many pregnancies were bad and advised to stop when I was pregnant in a commercial clinic. Although it is profitable for them to provide paid pregnancy services, they prefer a monstrous tendency to abortion and to have few children. And this activity cannot be counted or controlled.
Therefore, the state must: first-introduce a ban on propaganda and inducement to abortion; and second-legally prohibit the conduct of surgical, medical, and all types of abortions to start in commercial clinics. And encourage in every possible way all doctors who refuse to perform abortions, that is, save the lives of children.
Further. It is unfortunate that government payments depend on family income. As a result, the majority of large families who are allocated these funds cannot receive them. And parents seem to be faced with a choice: either be below the poverty line in order to receive subsidies and benefits, or do it yourself. That is, you get a choice: children or money. It's unfair. Only the state can provide financial assistance to large families, regardless of the financial security of the family, and protect us from juvenile laws. And so it should be.
It will be good, as it already sounded, to approve the unified status of large families. This is expected, of course, by the majority of Russian large families. And we must support young student families so that our students are not afraid to give birth to children and be left without money, without education, and without a place of residence.
And mothers are busy with very hard but noble work, creating future generations. If a mother received a decent child care allowance, which increases with the number of children, then instead of being forced to go to work, many women could devote themselves to their husband and children.
A large family is a creative freedom to be yourself, an image of paradise on Earth. It's a little forgotten, but we don't need new values, it's time for us to get back to ourselves. I wish there were more of us, because we have the best people in the world and the best country.
Thanks for attention.
Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, Dear friends!
If I may just say a few words about what has just been said.
First, I agree that we still have a lot to do to improve the living conditions of large families and families with children in general. As you can probably see, the state is constantly paying attention to this. It is no coincidence that we are declaring next year the Year of the Family: in order to look for the most effective, necessary, important and possible measures for the state to support families with children at events such as today, and during discussions with deputies of the State Duma, representatives of various factions in the State Duma, and public organizations.
Here, of course, is the continuation of preferential mortgages – and not only, here is unification or focusing on the most effective ways to support in the form of various benefits, allowances, and so on, combining something with something. But I won't repeat it now, we have a whole big program built up – one that probably never existed in the history of our country. But, of course, there is something to work on, I understand perfectly well what my colleague who is speaking just said.
Of course, for a large family with a large number of people, we need separate houses, and we need to develop this housing construction. That's what we do. The question is that all this, everything that is being done, should be accessible, more accessible than today. This is an obvious thing. This also applies to various family support options.
But I repeat once again, I am very grateful to His Holiness the Patriarch for organizing such events as today, because it gives us an opportunity to talk, discuss, hear each other, and so on. We will certainly work on this.
Now about the fact that 12 years after the end of the Great Patriotic War, the whole world learned the Russian word "sputnik", because it speaks about the progress that the country has achieved even in very difficult times for it. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this was possible because even at the most critical moments of the Great Patriotic War, our nuclear and missile specialists continued to work on these topics, on what was then, at that time, strategically important and necessary-although at that moment nothing was more important than, for example, hold the front or win another victory on the battlefield. Nevertheless, the country has always thought about the future.
And of course, we should do exactly this: always, under any circumstances, think about the future of the people and our state. This is what we are doing and will continue to do in the future.
Thank you for your applause.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to some of the things that His Holiness the Patriarch said. He remembered a Soviet song: we will destroy the old world, and then-and so on, here on the rubble, as His Holiness said, we will build a new building. This was the plan of the Soviet authorities after the socialist Revolution of 1917. And it all seemed to be on the wreckage. In fact, it seems to me that these were not wreckage, they were seeds on which the new Russian Soviet statehood grew at that time. Because in 24 years, despite all attempts to uproot our religious consciousness, to uproot our cultural roots, it is still 24 years away… Just to remind you: the Great Patriotic War began, and what happened? Molotov, you remember, addressed how, informing the Soviet people that the war had begun? How did he apply? "Citizenry and citizens" [Граждане и гражданки]. And Stalin, a few days later, in a different way: "Brothers and sisters." We immediately remembered God, the Church, and our eternal traditions.
And today it all continues. This is not subject to" uprooting". This is the foundation, the essence of Russia and the essence of our people. We will always look forward, move forward, but we will always rely on our centuries-old traditions and our spiritual roots.
Thank you for doing just that. Thank you. All the best! [My Emphasis]
I’ve highlighted Russia’s demographic problem for over 10 years during which it’s improved some but not much. My observations reveal most women want to work while they’re pregnant, although that’s likely the result of the economic necessity for the household’s reliance on the mother’s income that in the West began in the 1970s with the War on Labor that has yet to cease. In today’s Russia, working women are vital for the national economy and its security. Russia’s migrant labor issues have solutions, but they are complex and costly. It’s wise of Putin to frame this issue as multi-generational as it won’t be solved for many more years.
Like what you’ve been reading at Karlof1’s Substack? Then please consider subscribing and choosing to make a monthly/yearly pledge to enable my efforts in this challenging realm. Thank You!