OSAKA – Russian President Vladimir Putin fired a broadside against Western liberalism on Saturday, saying that policies such as welcoming migrants have hurt people’s interests.
Speaking after the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Putin said Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US election and a drop in the popularity of traditional parties in Europe were rooted in growing public dismay with mainstream liberal policies.
“The liberal idea has started devouring itself,” Putin said. “Millions of people live their lives, and those who propagate those ideas are separate from them.”
He also charged that the influx of migrants to Europe has infringed on people’s rights. “People live in their own country, according to their own traditions, why should it happen to them?”
The Russian leader added that while “liberal ideas remain attractive as a whole”, election results show that people want change”.
He also responded to criticism from singer Elton John, who accused Putin of duplicity after he offered a critical view of the Western emphasis on LGBT rights, which he said amounted to “overreach” in some cases.
“I deeply respect him, he is a musical genius and we all love his performance, but I believe he’s mistaken,” Putin said.
He argued that Russia’s ban on “propaganda” of LGBT culture among children is aimed at protecting them from aggressive proselytising by the LGBT community.
“Let a person grow up first before making a choice,” he said. “Let the children in peace.”
He said that “our attitude to the LGBT community is absolutely calm and unbiased,” but added that “this part of community aggressively enforces its point of view on others.”
“In some European countries parents are told that girls can no longer wear skirts to school? What is this?” Putin said in a rambling monologue blasting policies meant to encourage tolerance.
“There are all kinds of things now — they came up with six or five genders: transformers, trans… I don’t even understand what it is.
“Representatives of the liberal idea impose certain sexual education in schools, parents don’t want it and are practically jailed … people are fed up,” he said.
“This may explain the Trump phenomenon, his victory, this is why unhappy people take to streets in Western Europe.”
He hailed his meeting with Trump on Friday on the sidelines of the G20 summit as “businesslike and pragmatic.”
“We addressed almost the entire list of issues of mutual concern,” Putin said. “Of course, we talked about the situation in various parts of the world. Overall, these consultations were useful.”
He said the claims of Russian meddling in the US election were part of the agenda of his talk with Trump.
At the start of Friday’s meeting, the Russian leader laughed when a reporter shouted about Trump warning Putin “not to meddle” in the 2020 US presidential election.
Asked Saturday whether the issue was discussed during the meeting, Putin said that “we talked about it”, but didn’t elaborate.
He noted that he believes it’s necessary to “turn the page” in relations with the US, which have plunged to the lowest level since the Cold War era.
Putin said he and Trump agreed that the nations’ top diplomats should continue discussions on a possible extension of the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty that expires in 2021.