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  The State and Church in Russia: the Aquiline Siamese Twins

Vytautas Kinčinaitis
2007 07 03

The State and Church in Russia are related by natural family connections; the geopolitical goals of Russia coincide with the secular nature of the Orthodox Church. It is secular not in terms of Protestantism or „labor ethics“, but is quite a distinctive orthodox civilization.

A perfect illustration of merge of the Orthodox Church and political power is the case described by a journalist E. Tregubova, when metropolitan Vladimir congratulated, on the occasion of Easter, the newly elected president V. Putin in the Isaac Sobor and presented him with the golden souvenir egg with the crown on the top. The metropolitan asked to accept „this symbolic gift for long and happy dominance. This award might imply a natural merge of ecclesiastical and political power within the framework of the Russian czar and folk tradition.

The state and Church are inseparable in the Russian power pyramid as the two heads of the eagle in its coat of arms. We should also consider the Church and the State in Russia as one formation.

After the revolution of 1917 the Church in Russia was separated from the state; churches were destroyed and freedoms of the congregation restricted. However, when during the war it became necessary to mobilize the Russians for the fight to the death, in 1943 Stalin gave permission for construction of 20 thousand churches, 8 seminaries and several monasteries. Then it had a significant meaning, however, after the war restrictions of congregation were renewed.

The Church has again entered the Kremlin with „perestroika“ – on 7 June 1990, the enthronement of Aleksiy II, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, took place in the cathedral of Three Kings of the Kremlin.

After the fall of the communist ideology, the Orthodoxy started filling in the gap.  It might be said that the Orthodox Church in Russia has taken over the ideological role earlier performed by the Communist Party.

On 28 March the Russian Pride awards of the fund The Homeland‘s Pride were given in the conference hall of the Ministry of Interior of Russia.  They were awarded to the Orthodox Internet website  „Pravaja.ru“,  and among the ones who got this award was patriarch Aleksiy II, S. Baburin, S. Lavrov and J. Primakov.

On 13 April, „Pravaja.ru“ announced the statement of the patriotic-religious movement Narodnyj Sobor abusing one of the organizers of the march of the discontent – the movement The Other Russia. ,,Pravaja.ru" published articles, condemning the potential members of the march, and on 14 April the OMON dispersed the protesters in Moscow and arrested about 200 people.

Secretary on public relations of the Moscow patriarchy referred to actions of Estonia (removal of the monument of the Bronze Soldier and burial of the remains in the Military Cemetery) as „vandalism“.

According to A. Malashenko, an expert of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, the orthodoxy „plays in Russia a special role; its relationship with the state is exceptional, and its ambitions are in principle political“. For example, Smolensk and Kaliningrad’s metropolitan Kirill, the chairman for relations of church with foreign countries, while delivering a lecture on 19 April during the meeting, organized by the Higher Management school and movement „Nashi“, invited its participants to sacrifice for Russia, since „the state will take the road YOU take“.

On 26 May, the Union of the Orthodox Citizens is planning marches and pickets in fifteen Russian regions. Their key idea  is to incorporate the Cultural Essentials of the Orthodox into the federal education curriculum.

On 5 April metropolitan Kirill said that the Russian ordinands do not agree with the concept of „moral autonomy“ and they do not follow the Uniform Human Rights declaration of the United Nations. The Russian Orthodox Church does not agree also with the liberalism thesis that „human rights are more important than public interests“.  The Christian democracy cannot find the way to the Russian society, since it does not have ideological background in the orthodox Christianity.  On the other hand, the orthodox position (followed by the Moscow patriarchy), denying the principles of the liberal democracy, corresponds to the contraposition of the Euro-Asian land power against the Atlantic sea power. Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church consciously or unconsciously takes part in the geopolitical game.

During the meeting with the patriarch Aleksiy II, held in the Kremlin on 2 April 2007, V.Putin highlighted the importance of to be signed Act on the Merge of the Foreign Orthodox Church with the Moscow Patriarchy“. This would be an epochal event not only for the Church, but also for the society“.

And this is understandable, since Moscow and All Russia’s patriarchy is the biggest and most influential in the „orthodox civilization“ from Ethiopia to Murmansk.

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