Putin delivered a nonsensical speech about Western "cancel culture" on Thursday in Moscow.
What began as commentary about Russian foreign policy quickly transitioned to a rant.
On the home front, Putin has jailed journalists and opposition figures who challenge his authority.
A major foreign policy speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin took a nosedive on Thursday as he went on a nonsensical tangent about "cancel culture" by Western countries.
Speaking at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, Putin ripped on what he referred to as "Western cancel culture" after blaming Western countries for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, provoking China over the self-ruling democratic island Taiwan, and "destabilizing" global energy and food markets.
The speech began as commentary regarding Russia's foreign policy, including some hints about the possibility of dialogue with the West, but quickly descended into a rant about history and cancel culture — even as dissidents on the home front are shut down and jailed.
"Back in their days, Nazis went as far as to burn books. Right now, the Western champions of liberalism and progress have slipped into banning [Fyodor] Dostoevsky and [Pyotr Ilyich] Tchaikovsky," Putin said via a live English translator, referring to a Russian novelist and composer, respectively.
"The so-called cancel culture is basically a cancellation of culture that annihilates everything that is alive and creative. It stunts the growth of free thought in economy, politics, and culture," Putin continued. "The very liberal ideology itself has today changed beyond recognition."
The Russian leader went on to blast Western liberals for what he claimed was their ability to strip freedoms of people who have an opposite view point, and said that attitude is reflected on Russia, too.
"Right now, they've bridged an absurd situation when any alternative point of view is declared to be a subversive propaganda and a threat to democracy," Putin said. "Whatever comes from Russia, well, it's all the Kremlin's doing, but they should look at themselves first."
This is not the first time Putin has railed against cancel culture throughout his eight-month-long unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
He previously compared Russia's treatment during the war to that of "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, saying that they are both victims of cancel culture. Furthermore, he also lashed out against cancel culture in a recent rant about gender fluidity.
Notably, Putin's commentary about cancel culture on Thursday comes after numerous documented cases where his critics and rivals have been jailed — or worse — for having opinions that differ from his own. One high-profile example of squandering dissenting thought is that of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
Russia also has recently tightened its censorship of social media and cracked down on independent news outlets, while the country's state-run TV media rarely criticizes the Kremlin for its war efforts in Ukraine.
"Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, almost all independent media have been banned, blocked and/or declared 'foreign agents.' All others are subject to military censorship," non-profit site Reporters Without Borders assessed of the country's media landscape. The organization ranked Russia 155th out of 180 countries in its 2022 freedom index.