Staunton, Dec. 27 – Like the legislators of many countries, Duma deputies in the Russian Federation have established a variety of groups to promote various interests. Deputy Duma Speaker Petr Tolstoy has now taken the lead in forming an inter-party group for the defense of Christian values (interfax.ru/russia/813033).
There are at least three reasons why what may strike many as a simple house-keeping measure in fact is someting else. First, such a group is intended as part of the broader Kremlin-sponsored effort to promote what Vladimir Putin calls “traditional values.” Second, it is intended to blur the lines still further between United Russia and the other systemic parties.
And third – and this is beyond doubt the most important – it gives Moscow yet another device to insert itself in meetings abroad committed to the same thing, particularly in countries like the United States where “the defense of Christian values” now believed to be under threat by many groups is a growing concern and involves meetings of various kinds.
With its own group committed to that now coming into existence, Russia will certainly seek to claim a place at these tables and use its participation far more to spread Moscow’s influence than to defend Christianity.