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Putin Confidant to Receive Award from “Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative”

From the website of “Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative“:

First Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) Award for Public Service in the Interests of the Common Good

The first GCGI Award is to be presented to Dr. Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin, Founding President of the World Public Forum, “Dialogue of Civilisations” (WPFDC).

The Award is given in recognition of Dr. Yakunin’s extraordinary and tireless work for peace and justice, and his selfless service in helping to build a better world. He exemplifies the great potential that the Dialogue of Civilisations has to offer towards peaceful co-existence for the common good. He continues to encourage and empower others to discover their own potential for change and to evoke their hidden strengths to bring more goodness into the world.

The award will be presented in Oxford in September. Yakunin runs Russia’s railways, and he is a confidant of Vladimir Putin; reports describe him variously as an “Orthodox Christian Chekist” (a phrase recently used by singer Mikhail Borzykin in a song refering to “the group of KGB officers who came to power in Russia after President Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999”) and as “the Kremlin’s model Orthodox businessman”. Last November, Yakunin arranged for the Mother of God’s belt to be brought from Mount Athos for a tour of Russia, in order to promote family values (by coincidence, the timing also allowed Putin to strike a religious pose shortly before elections), and in 2010 it was reported from Estonia that “Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar had secretly attempted to fund his political party and the building of a church in Savisaar’s electoral district in Lasnamäe through the deep pockets of Vladimir Yakunin.”

Yakunin also runs the Center of the National Glory of Russia and the Saint Andrew the First-Called Foundation, and these organisations are named as the “initiators” of the WPF. The organisation holds regular meetings on Rhodes, which brings together international religious leaders and academics. It also hands out awards; ahead of elections in Kazakhstan in 2011, Yakunin personally delivered “The Dialogue of Civilizations International Prize” to Nursultan Nazarbayev, who also hosts large-scale international inter-faith meetings (meanwhile, former Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer is a co-chairman of the WPF and a “consultant” to Nazarbayev). The WPF was co-founded by Nicholas Papanicolaou, who resides in the USA and who has close links with activists in the neo-Pentecostal Christian Right (in particular, with Rick Joyner and Gen “Jerry” Boykin).

GCGI, meanwhile, describes itself as follows:

Founded in 2002 at an international conference in Oxford, the GCGI is the UK’s leading progressive think tank, producing cutting-edge research and innovative policy ideas for a just, democratic and sustainable world.

This leading position will perhaps be news to people at Demos, which is a rather better-known “progressive think tank” in the UK. However, the GCGI does have an impressive advisory council of academics, religious figures, and other individuals (including Yakunin). The founder is a certain Kamran Mofid, who is also involved with the WPF.

“Progressive” is not a word that one would associate with Yakunin; back in January he denounced anti-Putin protestors as having “no connection with democracy”, and in his opening speech at the most recent WPF conference in Rhodes he noted “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”. Inevitably, he particularly rails against “homosexual propaganda” as a “social pollutant”; last summer, Yakunin and his wife (President of the Sanctity of Motherhood Program) joined Don Feder and Larry Jacobs at a World Congress of Families event in Moscow.