The Kremlin's new anti-Americanism

At the same time, opportunists can use the moment to demonstrate their loyalty or to advance long-harboured ambitions. The United Russia deputy says this was case with the adoption ban, for example. Those “who have proposed such a ban many times before,” the deputy says, used heightened anti-American sentiment “to simply propose it one more time.”

Lastly, once started, any purge, of real people or of ideas and cultural products, quickly takes on a kind of self-perpetuating momentum. As Nikolai Zlobin of the Center on Global Interests explains, today’s Russian bureaucrats and legislators suffer from an “old illness,” in which “you cannot be wrong in proposing something too extreme”. Better to be on the safe side, then, and be more anti-American and anti-Western than is required, Mr Zlobin says.

Mr Putin appears to have settled on the formation of a new ideology. It is a blend of the church, patriotism, and adulation of the province, which serves to consolidate his rule and defend it against those social and political forces opposed to him. But precisely articulating this new Russian idea and why it is different than the Western one is difficult: after all, Russia is nominally democratic, capitalist, and nearly everything else that defines the West. That leaves one obvious move. “If you don’t have it your own idea, take somebody else’s idea and trash it,” says Mr Zlobin. “And then there’s your idea.”