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Carl Bildt & Russian Disinformation

There’s a Russian news agency story rocketing around the Orthodox web alleging this:

Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and one of the architects of the EU Eastern policy, thinks Russia has changed for the worse in the past several years. While it demonstrated attachment to western values in the first decade after the Soviet Union fell apart and tried to impose them on its citizens, Russia’s current leadership takes a firm stand against the West, the Russian agency REX reported.

In the words of Mr Bildt, Vladimir Putin demonstrates attachment not to world but to Eastern Orthodox values, which becomes clear from a Twitter post of his [Bildt’s].

”The new anti-west and anti-decadent line [of conduct] of Putin is based on the deep conservatism of Eastern Orthodox ideas,” Carl Bildt is convinced.

The Swedish minister explains the striving to destroy the Ukrainian church and bring the Ukrainian autocephaly back into the fold of the Moscow Patriarchate with Putin’s striving to gain control over Ukraine. But precisely Eastern Orthodoxy, according to Bildt, is the main threat to western civilisation.

The Swedish foreign minister thinks that Eastern Orthodoxy is “the main threat to Western civilization”? That would be frightening if it were true. But it’s not true. Here’s the original Bildt tweet:

That’s significantly different from what the Russian news agency claims Bildt said. In fact, what Bildt says in his actual tweet (not the exaggerated propaganda version) is substantially true, and it has been celebrated by Pat Buchanan (though many critics have argued that Putin is exploiting Orthodoxy’s conservatism for the sake of Russian nationalism). In any case, we have to be very careful not to be naive about what comes out of Russia these days from Russian “news” sources. Don’t trust until you’ve verified.

UPDATE: I agree with some of the commenters below that American news reporting out of Russia and the region should be viewed with skepticism too. I will also say that I don’t find the EU to be a friend of Christianity, Orthodox or not. That said, propaganda is propaganda.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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