Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia is a victim of “cancel culture” like Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

“They cancelled Joanne Rowling recently — the children’s author, her books are published all over the world — just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of ‘gender freedoms’,” Putin said on Friday, referencing the British writer’s ongoing clash with fellow leftists who regard her as “TERF” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) for insisting there are important differences between biological females and male-to-female transwomen.


The Russian leader insisted that the West was similarly “engaging in cancel culture” against Russia and Russian culture, referencing the cancellations of orchestral performances involving Russian composers and attempts to remove Russian writers and books from some academic courses in recent months, comparing this to the behaviour of the National Socialists in Germany around the time of the Second World War.

President Putin also struck what some right-leaning Westerners who have counted themselves among his admirers might see as an uncomfortably “woke” tone, claiming that Russia is “immune” to the book-burnings of National Socialist era Germany because it is a place “where there is no place for ethnic intolerance, where people of dozens of nationalities have been living, working, and raising their children side by side and where cultural diversity is the pride of society, the strength and advantage of our state.”

This characterisation of the “Russian homeland” is arguably very much at odds with the current censorship around the “special military operation” in Ukraine and is certainly at odds with the country’s history during the Soviet era, when censorship and the falsification of history were endemic.

While politics can make strange bedfellows, Rowling was quick to shut down President Putin for any imputation that they are engaged in a common struggle, highlighting his own “cancellation” of opposition figures in Russia.

“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” she wrote on microblogging platform Twitter, adding that hashtag #IStandWithUkraine and a link to a BBC article on Alexei Navalny, who was Russia’s leading opposition politician prior to being banned from standing for election, poisoned with a nerve agent, and imprisoned.

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