UPDATE: Constantin Malofeev’s group has posted photos of one of today’s panels on Facebook, which show that Brian Brown did indeed present at the event.
As Buzzfeed and Mother Jones have reported over the past several days, a planned conference at the Kremlin organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, which was supposedly cancelled after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, is in fact going ahead this week with only nominal changes to its sponsorship line-up.
In fact, World Congress of Families officials Don Feder and Larry Jacobs were on hand at the event’s opening today to take questions from reporters…being careful to give their affiliations as their personal consulting operations rather than WCF.
Last year, Brown travelled to Moscow with a group of French anti-gay activists to speak to members of the Russian Parliament in support of a spate of anti-gay laws. He then travelled back to Moscow to help organize what was then supposed to be the World Congress of Families summit. Brown is scheduled to be in France this weekend to lead a training for activists with the anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous. We’ll keep an eye on news reports to see if Brown does in fact speak at the Kremlin conference tomorrow. [see update]
The Americans were in the company of several leading Russian political figures.
According to Russian news reports, the conference kicked off today with the reading of a personal message from Russian President Vladimir Putin about the importance of large families, the conference’s theme. “With large-scale demographic challenges in many countries eroded moral values, the real crisis is going through the institution of family,” Putin wrote, according to a (rough) Google translation of his statement.
The opening session of the conference reportedly also featured a speech from oligarch Konstanin Malofeev, an ally of anti-gay activists throughout the world, who especially thanked foreign attendees for coming to witness the “unprecedented triumph of Orthodoxy” in today’s Russia.
Also greeting guests was Natalia Yakunina, an organizer and funder of the forum who is also the wife of close Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin.
And, of course, the author of Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” ban and current target of U.S. economic sanctions Yelena Mizulina was also on hand to speak about the breakdown of “Christian civilization.”
Far-right French politician Aymeric Chauprade also tweeted a picture of himself speaking to the event.
Intervention à Moscou sur les thèmes du monde multipolaire et de la famille aux côtés de hauts responsables russes. pic.twitter.com/twaiBM12ik
— Aymeric Chauprade (@a_chauprade) September 10, 2014