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In deciding on the 'special military operation' in Ukraine, the Russian government must have known that it was renouncing one of the lines of possible future development that was still just about open to it - the collaboration with Europe, and particularly with Germany, that was implicit in the Nord Stream 2 project. Nothing in politics is ever totally predictable and there is still a possibility that Germany will change its mind. The opening of Nord Stream 2 and resolution of the problems of Nord Stream 1 (problems imposed as a result of the US/EU/UK/Canada sanctions régime) would at a stroke resolve the problems of gas supply that are likely to weigh so heavily in Winter. (*) But Germany is faced with a choice that is now very stark between an orientation towards Russia or an orientation towards the US - the possibility of balancing the two is not available to it (and 'Europe' still has no existence as a political unity). Germany could theoretically reckon that an alliance with Russia has more to offer than alliance with the US but it also has the problem of the new 'hinterland' - the territory that used to make up the Austro-Hungarian Empire - that has opened up since the fall of the Soviet Union. With the exception of Hungary this whole area is viscerally anti-Russian.

(*) This of course was written before the Nord Stream pipelines were destroyed.

So we can for the moment assume that Russia must seek its destiny elsewhere than in the West and, by the same token, in the adoption of so-called 'Western values.' But what might be the alternative? In this article I want to look at the website 'Katehon' ( which is proposing a more or less coherent political philosophy which it regards as consistent with a specifically Russian spiritual and intellectual tradition. I'm not in a position to say how important or influential Katehon actually is in Russia, but one thing can be said with certainty - with the intervention in Ukraine and consequent proxy war with Europe, the Katehon writers arguing for an Eastward, 'Eurasian' turn in Russian foreign policy, as well as for a religiously - Russian Orthodox - based political philosophy feel at present that they have the ball at their feet.

This is how they themselves define their project (machine translation):

'The Center aims to develop a worldview, political, diplomatic, economic and military strategy for Russia of the future, based on the principles of greatness, deep civilizational sovereignty, a revived identity and all-encompassing social justice.

'The figure of Katechon in political philosophy and theological ideas is the intersection point of the main themes of human history: religion and politics, spirit and power, ideas and matter, internal and external, time and its end. Katechon is the one who keeps humanity from the death of extinction, absorption into chaos and a whirlwind of irreversible catastrophes. This is the task of the Church, religion and faith; this is the highest goal of the state and power, this is the vocation of the Empire, which combines the spirit and power.

'It is this figure, both in the Christian context and in the field of political science, that is the main semantic moment: the legitimacy of the political system, the criteria of justice and the source of law are associated with it.'

At least that is how they define it in the Russian language website. The version on the English language website is a little different:

'We, at Katehon, view the world as being a global space in which there will always be permanent and distinct civilizations or "civilizational spheres." These polylogue spheres of influence are not going to disappear in the near or even distant future, nor should they. We follow the realist school of international relations with its varying forms - e.g. defensive, offensive, neo, hyper - and so we are obliged to recognize the great diversity of values, traditions, interests and visions which exist among all of the world's distinct civilizations. In particular, we are engaged in studying the following "great spaces" which comprise the majority of all world civilizations - North America, South (or Latin) America, Europe, Russia-Eurasia, China, India, the Islamic world, Africa, and the Pacific. We consider all of the preceding global-regional "poles" to be different civilizational entities, all possessing certain commonalities and yet also differences which should neither be ignored nor denied. This demands a new multipolar approach to studying each civilization and the many subtle distinctions that exist within them.

'We, at Katehon, understand our mission to be one that seeks to assist in the creation and defense of a secure, democratic and just international system, free from hegemony, violence, terrorism, persecution, slavery and extremism of any kind.'

The Russian language statement is signed by Konstantin Valerievich Malofeev: Alexander Gelievich Dugin; Sergey Yurievich Glazyev; Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov; Andrey Arkadievich Klimov; Zurab Mikhailovich Chavchavadze.

The same names, with the exception of Dugin and the addition of Alexandr Makarov, appear on the English language site.

In a 'Special Report' by the US State Department on 'Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem' (August 2020) Katehon is described as 'Konstantin Malofeyev's mouthpiece.' The Report goes on to say:

'Often referred to as the “Orthodox oligarch,” [he made his fortune as an investment fund manager - PB] Malofeyev runs one of Russia’s largest private foundations, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. He is also the deputy head of the World Russia People’s Council, an international organization led by the Russian Patriarch Kirill. Malofeyev is also the head of the “pro-Putin monarchist society” the Double-Headed Eagle; and serves on the Advisory Board of the Safe Internet League, a state-linked organization ostensibly dedicated to “fighting dangerous Web content” but accused by independent Russian media of “frequently blacklisting socio-political content.”'

It goes on to give a brief account of the other names listed on the English language site:

'Sergey Glazyev, President Vladimir Putin’s former economic advisor and currently a Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics at the Eurasian Economic Commission. Glazyev is under U.S. sanctions related to Russia’s hostile actions in Ukraine. 

'Andrey Klimov, Deputy Chair of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs and Head of the Council’s Interim Committee for the Defense of State Sovereignty and the Prevention of Interference in the Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. 

'Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired Lieutenant-General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), where he led the Analysis and Information Department. Until 2017, Reshetnikov was the head of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a Moscow-based think-tank that used to be a part of the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service - PB] and now conducts research for the Kremlin. According to press reports, RISS research has included plans for Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and proposals for the Bulgarian Socialist Party to “plant fake news and promote exaggerated polling data” in advance of that country’s presidential elections the same year. In 2016, RISS and Katehon co-authored a report allegedly analyzing U.S. ideology.

'Alexander Makarov, a retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).' 

Chavchavadze goes unmentioned. He is a Georgian Prince, direct descendant of Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907), described in his Wikipedia entry as 'a Georgian public figure, journalist, publisher, writer and poet who spearheaded the revival of Georgian nationalism during the second half of the 19th century and ensured the survival of the Georgian language, literature, and culture during the last decades of Tsarist rule.' In 1987 Ilia Chavchavadze was recognised as a saint by the 'Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia' for his efforts to free the church from control by the Russian Holy Synod. The independence of the Georgian Orthodox Church (which is actually one of the oldest Christian churches) was finally recognised by the Russian Orthodox Church on 31 October 1943 on the orders of Stalin.

Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European politics in the University of Kent, in his book The Putin Paradox gives the following brief account of the main influences on Russian policy making: 

'the economic liberals shape macroeconomic policy, the neo-traditionalists the cultural sphere, the security agencies foreign policy (although not unchallenged) and the Eurasianists Eastern policy …' (Richard Sakwa: The Putin Paradox, I.B.Tauris, 2020, p.31 (in the Kindle edition)

On the Katehon website Malofeev represents the 'neo-traditionalists' in their more Orthodox monarchist orientation, Dugin and Glazyev are leading figures in the Eurasian movement, Reshetnikov and Makarov represent the powerful security, 'silovki' bloc. Glazyev is also a leading figure among the economists proposing an alternative to economic liberalism. A frequent contributor to the site is Alexandr Prokhanov who represents the 'neo-traditionalists' in their more pro-Soviet orientation. Thus all the tendencies are represented except of course the liberals whose position has been seriously undermined by the Ukrainian war and consequent sanctions imposed by the West. One assumes that the elements represented in Katehon will be only too happy to take their place.