Russian Christians remain sceptical of Family Party


Eastern Europe

Kathryn Idema, CNE.news

Andrei Kormukhin, the leader of the Family Party. Photo VK, ПАРТИЯ «ЗА СЕМЬЮ!»

After the punk-rock band Pussy Riot desecrated a Russian Orthodox church in 2012, Andrei Kormukhin believed that something had to be done. “Westernised” punk bands were considered threats against his Orthodox faith. Years later, Kormukhin still saw a need to revive Russia’s religious foundation. That was when the father of nine created the Family Party.

After the punk-rock band Pussy Riot desecrated a Russian Orthodox church in 2012, Andrei Kormukhin believed that something had to be done. “Westernised” punk bands were considered threats against his Orthodox faith. Years later, Kormukhin still saw a need to revive Russia’s religious foundation. That was when the father of nine created the Family Party.

The application to register it is still pending at the Minister of Justice and has yet to receive the support of the ROC. Yet, Russian Christians remain sceptical and believe the party’s message may do more harm than good.

“Over 70 percent of the Russian people are Orthodox but that doesn’t mean that everyone stands up to his traditionalistic views,” Ekaterina Smyslova said about Kormukhin. Smyslova is an attorney at law and Orthodox Christian.


Before his political party, Kormukhin created the “Forty Forties” (Sorok Sorokov) movement in 2013 to preserve the “the crisis of consciousness” of the Orthodox faith. His movement backed the construction of 200 Orthodox churches amid anti-church protests. He also got the youth involved through sports clubs. His ambitions received the green light from many Orthodox leaders, including Patriarch Kirill.

“When Volodya Nosov and I decided to create the Forty Forties Movement, for me there was an understanding of what it means to lay down one’s soul for the Faith, for the Fatherland, for the family,” he said to KSTE.

Ballerina dancer

In a previous AFP report published by France 24, Kormukhin announced that “we need a monarchy to save Russia” after the release of a controversial biopic of Tsar Nicholas II. Released in 2017, the film explores the intimate relationship between ballerina dancer Matilda Kshesinskaya and Nicholas II. It was denounced by Kormukhin and other monarchist groups as a distortion of the tsar’s life.

“The film insults the feelings of Russians for whom the tsar is like their father,” he said.


Then, in 2023, he announced another aspiration- the creation of a political party.

Translated as the “Political party of Russian Traditionalists, “For The Family,” its platform aims to maintain and strengthen Russia’s spiritual values. Many believe that these virtues can be found within their history and as well as their faith in God.

Ekaterina Smyslova, who represents several religious organisations, says Kormukhin’s political party can be seen as a “people’s party for Vladimir Putin”. And one could only guess what it means to revive and promote “traditional” values if there is no commonly accepted definition of the term,” she also said.

“Why defend something when we don’t know anything about it?” Smyslova asked. “Nobody knows how everything worked one-hundred years ago,” she said in reference to Kormukhin’s party platform.


As Smyslova dug deeper, she found Kormukhin’s ideas to be largely archaic. Some concepts can be traced to the works of a Medieval Orthodox priest named Sylvester, later known as Spiridon who lived in the sixteenth century. During his life, he published a playbook of patriarchal rules for family life entitled “Domostroy.” One of the book’s main themes involves viewing the father as the family’s head and the country’s “tsar,” as a supreme leader, where everyone is obliged to obey his orders. It was Kormukhin that decided to cherry-pick those themes from his writings and apply them to his political pursuits.

When he incorporated those ideas in his Forty Forties movement, more than thousands joined his cause. Most are men who belong to a “brotherhood” along with some women joining the party’s “sisterhood”.


“In our sublimated consumer society, when we are all chasing money, personal growth, career, fame, power, “highs,” we completely forget what a real man should be. And a real man in Russia, if he is Russian, must be, firstly, an Orthodox Christian, secondly, a defender of the Faith, the Fatherland, the weak, thirdly, he must be a responsible, loving and caring son, husband and father of his families , fourthly, a responsible and conscientious citizen, thinking about the future of his Fatherland and doing everything for its greatness,” Kormukhin said to KTSTIE in a call to recruit male members in his movement.

Despite Kormukhin’s male-dominated campaign, Roman Lunkin, Ph.D, sees hope in the new political party. In the past, Lunkin invited Kormukhin to a conference that discussed Christian conservative values.

“There was a lack of a good conservative movement in Russia. My hope is that it becomes a social, grassroots movement for Orthodox believers. It has the opportunity to be an enlivened movement in the future,” Lunkin said. Lunkin is the Deputy Director for the Institute of Europe’s Russian Academy of Sciences and Head of the Centre for Religious Studies.


However, Lunkin is aware that Kormukhin’s current views may not bring his new political party in the right direction. When he interviewed Kormukhin in 2013, he was a monarchist but stayed sceptical of the State. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he began to swing to more radicalised fronts. He clashed with prominent Orthodox figures on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and was later labelled as an “anti-vaxxer,” according to Lunkin.

He also began to embrace Soviet ideology while peddling older political messages of promoting family values. Not long after, Kormukhin received online criticism from followers when he wrote a Facebook post about his support for Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Political party

Despite these recent diversions, it is important to keep Kormukhin’s ventures separate, says Lunkin. Forty Forties still functions as a significant, pro-life Christian movement that exists apart from his political party.

While Kormukhin continues to preach the scripts from Sylvester’s playbook, Smyslova says that old ideas should not be looked at with blind excitement. If Russian Christians want to embrace traditional values, the love of neighbours must be emphasised, she says.

“People should look to the Bible, and they will understand that love of neighbours must be emphasised first of all as it is one of the greatest commandments, she said.


Instead of fighting against gender equality and promoting centuries-old roles, she also believes that Christians should accept His promise from the Word of God- that we are all made equally in His image.

“Both genders are equally valuable but are created differently. We are equally valuable,” she said.

Personalised thinking

In addition, Smyslova says that encouraging open dialogue is essential for Russia’s political future.

“We should go forward. To do this, we have to be educated, to have independent, personalised thinking,” she said.

In writing this report, Andrei Kormukhin could not be reached for comment.



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