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‘Crisis of masculinity’: The American Right’s bromance with Vladimir Putin

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This article was originally posted on National Journal by Cristina Masa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stage-managed an election to cement his control over his country, facilitated the death of political opponents, wrongfully detained American citizens, launched an unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and most recently failed to protect his citizens from a brutal terrorist attack that multiple countries—including the U.S.—warned would take place.

Nevertheless, a growing number of right-wing Americans view Putin as an attractive leader and a symbol of moral purity. And some are even converting to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, known as ROCOR. This phenomenon was on display when popular right-wing media personality Tucker Carlson traveled to Russia in February to conduct a fawning interview with Putin, allowing the Russian leader to pontificate about Moscow’s imperial ambitions for hours. Carlson’s interview might be the most high-profile example of the Right’s adoration of Putin. But a growing body of research suggests that admiration for the Russian leader’s brand of authoritarian Christian nationalism is proliferating among the American Right.

“The Russian church has become this instrument of soft power for Russia around the world. It really sought to position itself as a global moral leader,” said Katherine Kelaidis, a research fellow at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge who focuses on Western approaches to Eastern Christianity. “It’s meant as this tool to bring conservative people and traditionalists, particularly on the issues of gender and sexuality, in North America and Western Europe onto the Russian side. And it’s been super effective….

Still, Sarah Riccardi-Swartz—an anthropologist at Northeastern University in Boston who spent a year with a group of far-right converts to the Russian Orthodox Church in the Appalachian region—noted that converts are worth paying attention to because ROCOR is a satellite of the Russian Orthodox Church. ROCOR has deep financial and spiritual ties to the Moscow Patriarchate, which itself is inextricably linked to the Kremlin.

Continue reading at National Journal.

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