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Although Mr. Putin has never made a secret of what he says is his deep Christian faith, his first decade in power was largely free of overtly religious rhetoric. Little or no attempt was made to impose a set of values on Russians or lecture to the West on morals.

However, since his inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, the increasingly authoritarian leader has sought to reach out to Russia’s conservative, xenophobic heartland for support.

It has proved a rich hunting ground.

“Western values, from liberalism to the recognition of the rights of sexual minorities, from Catholicism and Protestantism to comfortable jails for murderers, provoke in us suspicion, astonishment and alienation,” Yevgeny Bazhanov, rector of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic academy, wrote in a recent essay.

Analysts suggest that Mr. Putin’s shift to ultraconservatism and anti-West rhetoric was triggered by mass protests against his rule that rocked Russia in 2011 and 2012. The unprecedented show of dissent was led mainly by educated, urban Muscovites — many with undisguised pro-Western sympathies.

“This is the government’s response to modernized Russians becoming more defiant and independent,” said Maria Lipman, an analyst with the Moscow-based Carnegie Center. “The government is pitting the conservative majority against the liberal minority. As a result, raging anti-Western ideology has now turned into something that is almost a state ideology.”

Ms. Lipman, however, suggested that Mr. Putin may be wary of expressing too much support for the Orthodox Church — “a symbol of Russian statehood” — lest it someday challenge his authority.

Some 70 percent of Russians define themselves as Orthodox Christians in opinion polls, and opposition figures in the past have called on the church to play a mediating role between the Kremlin and protesters.

“Because of Putin’s shift to conservatism, the church may feel more emboldened,” Ms. Lipman said. “So Putin does not overemphasize the church in speeches, preferring to concentrate on talk of traditional values. He is wary of boosting its support even higher.”