Religious Right’s Billionaire Russian Ally Wants To Make Putin A Tsar — Literally

Konstantin Malofeev, a billionaire known as “God’s Oligarch” and one of the Religious Right’s most important allies in Russia, is trying to move the country back to a formal monarchy, perhaps with Vladimir Putin officially installed as a Tsar.

The Guardian’s Shaun Walker writes about Malofeev’s latest project, a school for Moscow’s elite that is meant to lead to a restoration of the Russian monarchy. “The mission of our school is to ensure that our graduates will be Orthodox patriots who will carry the thousand-year traditions of Russia, not just those of the last 20 or 100 years,” he says. “For me it’s very important to restore the traditions that were broken off in 1917.” [Note: the Guardian uses an alternate spelling of his name, Malofeyev].

Malofeev hopes the school’s graduates will “provide the backbone of the ‘inevitable’ future tsarist order in Russia.” And he says he “believes it to be quite possible that Putin could be crowned tsar.”

Malofeev told the Guardian that he became a fan of the monarchy as a teenager, saying he was inspired in part by the Lord of the Rings and “the image of Aragorn returning to Gondor.”

Journalist Joshua Keating pointed out Malofeev’s monarchical yearnings in an October 2014 profile for Slate, which reported that Malofeev seemed untroubled by being the subject of sanctions from the EU for his financing of rebels in Ukraine. Keating reported at the time that Malofeev was developing two “Tsargrad” theme parks in Crimea designed to “present a family-friendly recounting of Russian history” as well as Tsargrad TV, meant to be an Orthodox Fox News.

U.S. Religious Right leaders and groups have been closely allied with Malofeev and his associate Alexey Komov. At the 2013 World Congress of Families in Sydney, Malofeev reportedly said that “Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma.”

That same year, American anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown joined a delegation of French anti-equality activists on a trip to Moscow, where they took part in a roundtable discussion on “Traditional Values: The Future of the European Peoples,” sponsored by Maloveev’s St. Basil the Great Foundation. At the roundtable, Malofeev called the passage of the country’s  gay “propaganda” ban “a great success and a big step forward for Russia.”

As the World Congress of Families planned for its fall 2014 summit to be held in Moscow, Mother Jones noted that Malofeev was one of two Russian Orthodox billionaires “footing many of the WCF’s Russian bills.” The WCF dropped its formal sponsorship of the September 2014 gathering after Russia’s invasion of Crimea, but the event went forward essentially as planned, with the participation of WCF officials supposedly attending in their personal capacities. The event ended with a call for Russian-style “propaganda” bans to be passed around the world.

Malofeev’s associate, Alexey Komov, has long been the World Congress of Families’ man in Moscow, and recently traveled to South Africa to help anti-gay activist Brian Brown launch the International Organization for the Family, the new global version of the National Organization for Marriage.

Komov sounds like American Religious Right leaders—or maybe it’s that they sound like Komov—complaining that LGBT activists are promoting a “new totalitarianism” and warning that “political correctness is used and will be further used to oppress religious freedoms and to destroy the family.”

As we have noted, U.S. Religious Right leaders’ crush on Vladimir Putin suggests that their commitment to promoting “traditional” views of family, sexuality, and gender is more important to them than democratic values like freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, and religious liberty.