US Anti-Gay Catholic Activist Makes Russia Links

Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) has apparently recovered from his ordeal of having seen a lesbian couple on a cookery programme, and has now travelled to Russia, he says,

…to thank its government for its strong position on these issues at the United Nations, and to let them know American conservatives favor the recent homosexual law.

Ruse notes evidence of a gay scene in Moscow, and concludes that

We hear many things about Russia these days:  corruption, crackdown, authoritarianism – from Human Rights Watch, ACLU, Amnesty International. And from conservative folks, too. But, I wonder if things are so clear-cut as we are led to believe. 

Claims about a Russian war on gays is false. I wonder what else is false. What I know is a religious revival is going on in Russia. And the Orthodox Church is leading it.

…Russia is rightly criticized for some of its acts, but it may also be under attack for reasons we cannot wholly see. 

While he was there, Ruse met with two high-profile and powerful lay activists within the Orthodox Church:

Russian Railways czar Vladimir Yakunin, whom I met with, recently engineered a visit to Russia of the True Cross of St Andrew [more on that here – RB].   Five-hour lines in the rain awaited anyone wanting to venerate it. Happily, Yakunin arranged for me to cut the line. 

I met also with young tech billionaire Konstantin Malofeev whose office is festooned with religious icons. He is working to bring Russian Orthodox and U.S. Christians closer together. 

Malofeev and many other Russians see themselves as a Christian nation sent to help other Christians around the world. For them, at least, that’s why they support the Assad regime; he’s better for Syria’s Orthodox Christians. 

He wonders if some sort of grand global alliance between the Orthodox and Catholics can be achieved and what effect that might have on the global culture war advanced by the sexual left. I wonder, too.

Ruse also says that he attended “a Russian sponsored conference in Rhodes last year”; this would have been Yakunin’s most recent World Public Forum event, which I blogged on here; the Forums bring together various political, academic, and religious leaders in ways that create some rather weird line-ups.

Yakunin and Malofeev both already have links with western Protestants, particularly via the World Congress of Families. Malofeev recently addressed a WCF event in Sydney:

Konstantin’s presentation entitled “A New Global Pro-Family Alliance” contrasting the situation in the West with that of the USSR in the 1980s, or as his graphic illustrated, Christians vs Communism.

…Konstantin then contrasted the situation of the 1980s with that in 2010: In the West there were attacks on religious freedom, a “war” on Christmas, atheistic education curricula, political correctness censorship, radical LGBT ideology imposed, ll countries recognized same-sex “marriage” and others are expected to follow.

Malofeev then laid out plans for 2013-14: a “Safe Internet League” (maybe David Cameron should have a word), lobbying, and:

family friendly global social networks including news, conservative TV Channels in the EU, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States… Also aim for a conservastive “Wikipedia”, conservative “Facebook”, conservative search engine, a culture-wise family movie-guide launched globally, ratings of family-friendly businesses, a Christian content aggregation of thousands of websites ( and a political activism platform (CitizenGO).

Perhaps inevitably, though, there are also controversies around the two men’s wealth; the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny (who was infamously sentenced to prison just last week) has recently shone a spotlight on Yakunin’s complex off-shore business portfolio and alleged lifestyle (it is claimed – shades of John Lennon – that he has a “fur coat storage room”), and Malofeev was raided by police late last year as part of a fraud investigation involving a 2007 deal.

A report by Navalny’s  Foundation For Fighting Corruption and the Russia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society notes the following concerning Malofeev:

In 2007, VTB Bank and VTB Capital agreed to finance the sale of six Russian dairy farms by a company called Nutritek to a company called RAP. To that end, the bank granted RAP a loan of $225 million. RAP defaulted on the loan within a year in November  2009. A subsequent investigation revealed startling problems with the transaction. It is alleged by VTB Capital, though unproven, that both Nutritek and RAP were actually owned by the same person — Konstantin Malofeev— through separate subsidiaries of  his company, Marshall Capital Partners…It was also alleged that at the time of the sale, Nutritek had highly overinflated the value of the dairy plants. When all was said and done, the bank found itself in possession of a series of dairy facilities worth no more than $35 million though this figure is disputed. VTB has since been mired in years of unsuccessful litigation in the United Kingdom to try to get its money back. So not only had the bank extended nearly a quarter of billion dollars in credit on the basis of collateral worth less than one-fifth as much, it had allegedly financed a deal in which Malofeev had effectively sold his own company to himself, pocketing nearly $200 million in the process, based on VTB’s own calculations.

VTB alleges that it was misled throughout the process and that the civil liability rests solely in Malofeev’s hands. But it is apparent that there were many failures on the bank’s part, leading the Hon Justice Arnold of the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division in London to note in a November 2011 ruling that, “It is not clear from the evidence presently available what, if any, due diligence was carried out by or on behalf of either VTB Moscow or VTB to verify the assertions” made by the parties to the deal.

Malofeev’s business affairs and religious associations were discussed by the Russian edition of Forbes following the police raid, including his fund named for Saint Basil. The article includes the detail that he takes advice frequently from Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, who is also very close to Putin – the monk was the subject of a long Financial Times profile in January (“according to persistent rumour, Tikhon ushered the former KGB colonel into the Orthodox faith and became his dukhovnik, or godfather”).

Ruse’s views on Russia are shared by the American anti-gay monomaniac and Christian Right activist Scott Lively; just the other day, Lively published a “Letter to the Hungarian People” (H/T Ed Brayton) stating that:

I can’t point to any country of the world today that is a model for the rest of the world, except perhaps for Russia, which has just taken the very important and frankly necessary step of criminalizing homosexual propaganda to protect the society from being “homosexualzed.” This was one of my recommendation to Russian leaders in my 50-city tour of the former Soviet Union in 2006 and 2007.

More on Lively here.

3 Responses

  1. […] Furthermore. Watching the American religious right embrace Putin and hold Russia up as a model is fascinating and appalling. More here. […]

  2. […] Fund of Saint Basil the Great is headed by a billionaire businessman named Konstantin Malofeev; I blogged about him in July, after Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute wrote […]

  3. […] has featured on this blog previously: in July 2013, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute wrote about meeting him in Russia […]

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