(Weekly Column)

The staunchly conservative and moralizing Russian czar, Vladimir Putin, announced he and his wife of thirty years are divorcing.

watchpic224This was met with a strange silence from Kirill I, the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch, and a Putin bootlicker who allowed the state to co-opt his racket. Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Church, said in an interview with the Public Post that Putin’s decision to end his civil marriage was “between him and his spouse.”

How convenient.

Of course, this is a church whose corrupt leaders appear to care more about jewels than Jesus and comfort than Christ. Last year, the church apologized after bloggers noticed that a $30,000 gold Breguet watch worn by Patriarch Kirill was edited out of a picture on the church’s website. (They noticed there was no watch on his wrist, but a reflection of the fancy ornament on a shiny table remained)

It is stunning to watch a one-time superpower transform into a superstitious nation of ignorant fools. Whether it’s Putin making a parody of his manhood by posing shirtless on a horse, or the state’s persecution of the band Pussy Riot, it sometimes seems as if a bizarre cocktail of Vodka, vanity and vacuousness defines modern Russia.

To highlight the hypocrisy of Putin’s marriage charade, parliament’s committee on the family released its “Concept of State Policy on the Family.” This document urges Russian families to have several children, considers a tax on divorce, valadimirhorselimits abortion, offers a large role in family planning for the corrupt Russian Orthodox Church, and viciously attacks homosexuality.

Speaking of which, The State Duma passed an anti-gay bill this week for allegedly “protecting children from information that can bring harm to their health and wellbeing.” The new law essentially bans gay rights organizations and fines up to 1 million rubles to anyone who is accused of promoting gay “propaganda.” Interestingly, if one is accused of spreading Nazi propaganda, the fine is a mere 2,000 rubles. This discrepancy tells one much about today’s Russian values.

This fascist anti-gay law should be ignored, resisted, defied, and undermined at every opportunity until it is abolished. Performers should boycott Russia, and the country should be isolated culturally, economically, and diplomatically. This is a gross violation of human rights and Russia should be made to pay dearly for its ambitious descent into barbarism.

Furthermore, why should anyone respect this particular law, when Putin has eroded the very rule of law? In a show trial this week, the repressive regime is prosecuting young protesters in an effort the New York Times describes as a “sharp warning to other ordinary Russians, especially educated professionals, about taking part in street protestVlad-Fs.”

Putin has created a toxic climate of fear that is stifling free speech and abrogating liberty. On Facebook, the Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov wrote: “Putin is cracking down harder than ever and is showing he is willing to create a new generation of political prisoners unseen since the days of Stalin.” Kasparov, who is now in Switzerland, says that he has no plans to return home to live in Putin’s dictatorship.

The chess star is not alone in his decision to reject this ugly New Russia. The markets have also spoken and capital is not flowing into Moscow. Despite an effort to turn Moscow into a financial hub, the city competes with Warsaw – instead of industry leaders such as New York, Tokyo, or London. The Global Financial Center Index, published in March by Z/Yen, a consulting agency, placed Moscow 65th out of 79 cities studied. The ranking placed Moscow between Bahrain and Mumbai.

The reason the state is cracking down on homosexuality, punishing divorce, and demanding larger families is because they want to boost population. Indeed, 1.25 million Russians have emigrated from the nation in the past decade. Population experts say that the mass exodus is comparable in size to the migration following the Bolshevik Revolution.putin2

Unfortunately, Russia is trying to repopulate in the wrong way. Instead of attracting the best and the brightest by expanding freedom, openness, and ingenuity, it has opted to become a police state that has no future. The population will surely continue to decrease unless the Church, with state sanction, begins pressuring families into having kids they don’t want. After all, who would want to raise children in such a hopelessly glum environment?

It is heartbreaking to watch the totalitarian political class become insular and resort to a cold war mentality. Putin’s thugs are cracking down on the Internet, banning foreign adoptions, and erecting new walls – even if they are just legal barriers — to keep people inside its depressing borders.

Vaudeville Vladimir wants to be taken seriously, but he is just a street punk with no vision, and ultimately a ridiculous cartoon character who brought Russia from the brink of freedom to the bottomless pit of failure.