I’m a few days late with this one; Reuters has the latest from Vladimir Yakunin:
A confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Thursday of trying to impose decadent values on the rest of the world, saying the bearded drag queen who won the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend symbolized its “ethno-fascism.”
…He said the United States spoke about fighting for democracy but wanted to impose its values on others. He cited sanctions slapped on the initiator of a Russian law against homosexual “propaganda” and Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision win last weekend.
“A vulgar ethno-fascism from the distant past has once again become part of our lives,” said Yakunin at the German-Russia Forum in the German capital.
The conference was called “Europe: Lost in Translation”, and it was jointly organised by the Deutsch-Russisches Forum E. V. and Yakunin’s World Public Forum. The event ended with a pious “Berlin Declaration”:
…[Participants] agree that the current crisis over Ukraine requires a profound rethink of the wider European space. Isolation, confrontation and conflict will only lead to losers on all sides. What is needed is a renewed commitment to the shared Europe, common ground rules and values, as well as novel forms of cooperation that can break down barriers old and new.
The past two decades have seen the rise of a hegemonic ideology and unipolar power that have the effect of undermining both the unity and diversity of the wider Europe. Conventional categories such as ‘globalisation’, ‘post-industrial society’ or ‘values-based foreign policy’ cannot address the twin crisis of increasing inequality and atomised identity.
…The cooperation between the World Public Forum and the German-Russian Forum is based on the principle of mutual respect and reciprocity, recognising the ‘other’ – or the counterpart – as an equal interlocutor with his unique cultural specificities. Grounded in the continual conversation of civil society actors, only such a dialogical approach can open up the “value highways of civilisations” (Vladimir Yakunin).
Sounds nice enough, although the subtext would have been obvious even if Yakunin had managed to restrain his urge to fulminate against the Eurovision winner: Russia’s clampdown on sexual minorities and turn to religious nationalism is a “unique cultural specificity” that should be respected from the “hegemonic ideology” of liberalism, which is conflated with American power.
Yakunin was particularly explicit in a previous speech, made at the end of 2011, in which he opined that there is an “incompatibility between the neo-liberal interpretation of the system of human rights and the system of human values”, and that “the universal urge to have the ‘freedom’ to say ‘anything and in any form’ has a temporary character and is beginning to fade away”. The WPF is also very supportive of the World Congress of Families, which supports and promotes religious right activists around the world.
The conference schedule can be seen here; Yakunin’s speech kicked off the proceedings. The list of participants includes company presidents, media professionals, and emeritus politicians, several of whom have long-standing associations with the WPF and recently signed a letter criticising US sanctions against Yakunin. Yakunin’s patronage of academics serves the interests of Russian power and his own vanity: in 2013, the New York University Press published a book that lists Yakunin among “the world’s foremost thinkers”.
I looked at a previous WPF event in Berlin in 2011.