Vladimir Putin has accused the West of undermining “traditional values” in service to “Satanism,” prompting some to compare the Russian president’s remarks to rhetoric from MAGA Republicans.
Putin said that “Western elites” were pushing a “radical denial of moral norms, religion and family” during a speech on Russia’s claimed annexation of four regions of Ukraine on Friday. He said that residents of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were becoming Russian citizens “forever” before setting his sights on the “challenge” of values held in the U.S. and allied countries.
“The dictatorship of the Western elites is directed against all societies, including the peoples of the Western countries themselves,” Putin said, according to a translation from Reuters. “This is a challenge to all. This is a complete denial of humanity, the overthrow of faith and traditional values. Indeed, the suppression of freedom itself has taken on the features of a religion: outright Satanism.”
The Russian president also spoke about the West’s supposedly “insane” recognition of LGBTQ people during the speech, while echoing recent rhetoric from Republicans opposed to transgender rights.
“Do we really want, here, in our country, in Russia, instead of ‘mum’ and ‘dad,’ to have ‘parent No. 1,’ ‘parent No. 2,’ ‘No. 3’?” Putin said. “Have they gone completely insane? Do we really want … it drilled into children in our schools … that there are supposedly genders besides women and men, and [children to be] offered the chance to undergo sex change operations?”
In response to Putin’s speech, comparisons to the GOP arrived on social media, with some pointing out similarities in the rhetoric of prominent allies of former President Donald Trump, such as his former adviser Steve Bannon and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
“You know who else talks about Satanism besides Putin? Our American werewolf,” writer Nina Burleigh tweeted, alongside a photo of Bannon.
“Putin has accused the Biden administration of ‘Satanism,” tweeted John Schwartz, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Who does he think he is, Marjorie Taylor Greene?”
“Putin is now repeating the exact same anti-LGBT propaganda that Republicans spew,” progressive political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen tweeted.
Linguist and lawyer Paula Chertok referred to the speech as “Putin’s death to irony speech,” tweeting that it was “full of wild hypocrisy, logic & fascist propaganda demonizing the West & glorifying Russia, w/ something for everyone (incl shoutouts to Satanism & transgender so Tucker Carlson, the far-right can praise Putin for something tonight).”
“Putin has the same talking points about the U.S. as MAGA the circle is complete,” tweeted user @Cederflame. “#Satanism”
University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, author of the book White Evangelical Racism, said during a Yale University conference on Christian nationalism that “Putin’s rhetoric about the West abandoning religion and embracing Satanism echoes U.S. religious right figures (who have long admired Putin),” according to a tweet from writer Peter Montgomery.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan also weighed in on Putin’s rhetoric during a press conference at the White House on Friday.
“The fact that he’s using words like ‘Satanism’ is to me precisely the kind of over the top rhetoric and ranting that you hear from someone who has no basis to justify what is a colonial and imperial land grab,” said Sullivan.
“Rather than fill in any kind of logic or moral defense of what he has done, he has to resort to these kinds of absurd arguments,” he added. “And I think that can be plain for the world to see.”
This month, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Putin, led a group of volunteer soldiers to fight Ukrainians he referred to as “Satanists” in two of the regions that Putin declared annexed this week.
Newsweek has reached out to the Republican National Committee for comment.
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