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Xenia Dennen • 7 years ago

The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Russia today encompasses many different viewpoints, which do not all support the current church-state relationship. It is unfair to confuse with the official position of the church leadership the views of many lay people and parish clergy, some of whom supported or at least sympathised with the demonstrations earlier this year against the manipulation of the elections and in support of reform. There is a great difference between those at the top of the ROC’s tree and those working near its roots; the latter, I have found in my travels round the Russian Federation, are often impressive and deeply concerned about the ills of their society.

Xenia Dennen, Chairman, Keston Institute

johndowdle • 7 years ago

I think one point is being missed among the commentators: the fact is that the Church has used the State to impose itself and its values on the Society, even though the Society shows little real enthusiasm for the Church. As in the days of the Czar, the Church has become the uncritical supporter of the the State, regardless of the nature of the state, i.e.whether or not it is fascist or democratic. Regrettably, the Church is acting like any other greedy business corporation. Incidentally, the 2-year sentences handed down to Pussy Riot were ridiculous. Is the Church & State combination so insecure that they have to resort to this kind of stupidity? Having been kept in custody for 5 months, they should have been told not to engage in such childish and poor taste behaviour in future, and then let go.

blarg • 7 years ago

so trespassing, vandalism, assault, etc are not crimes where you live?

Why do you think these left wing communists/feminists should be coddled?

johndowdle • 6 years ago

You need to lighten up a little. These young women were being a little provocative with their punk-like behaviour but they were hardly guilty of physical vandalism or assault. The worst they could be charged with is having poor taste and a poor grasp of music. Is that now a crime in Russia?
Even Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev have expressed concern over the heavy handed behaviour of the Russian courts in sentencing these young women to two years in prison for the "crime" of hooliganism. You may like to know that the abusive term 'hooliganism' was derived from British attempts to undermine Irish nationalists from seeking their independence. It is bizarre to see such a "crime" being employed by the modern Russian State.
I don't think the ideology of these young women has anything to do with communism or feminism. They might be considered to be anarchistic but not party or gender activists.
Overall, in my country - the UK - they would have been charged with something like breaching the peace and fined, then let go.
At least one of them has small child to look after. Why should the child suffer because of the silly antics of its mother?

Mark Yoffe • 7 years ago

Excellent analysis!

William MacDougall • 7 years ago

Of course the Russian Orthodox Church has been restored to its rightful place of importance in Russian society, with much of its property restored too; its suppression was one of the greatest crimes of Communism. But you exaggerate; the leaders of the Jewish and Muslim religions in Russia also expressed support for Putin, and have legal equality with Orthodoxy.

And the Pussy riot trial was simply about "respect for religious space"; a civilised society does support freedom of worship.

europhile • 7 years ago

The author uses 'society' in a peculiar way. Society should include all groups including the Orthodox Church, other religious groups and agnostics. The Russian Orthodox Church is unique in being made up mostly of converts as all youth in the soviet era was taught to be atheistic. Russian Orthodoxy has a lot to teach society with its emphasis on not being judgemental. In this instance where a group of freaks marched into a space set aside for quiet worship and yelled out a political message, they deserved to be disciplined but the penalty should not be excessive.
Russian antipathy to American sects, funded with American money and with possible CIA penetration is understandable,
I have great sympathy with the Russian Orthodox but I think it is foolish to try to restore the pre Soviet establishment and even the pre Soviet Church realised that it needed to change and the Church Council of 1919 which looked to a more democratic and independent Church should be re- examined and brought into operation.
Russia stands at a time for change and I hope that it will follow the humanitarian European social democratic model rather than the American oligagarchic system.

William Wallace • 7 years ago

Wake up everyone. These women are
directly funded by the arch oligarch of them all Boris Berezovsky and I suspect have about as much
interest in a open and free society in Russia as he does - ie. none at all.
The Hypocrisy of western commentators about all this rubbish has really hard to
listen too – how about reporting the truth about Russia for once. P.S In most nations
if you rubbish people religious beliefs you do so at your own risk – nothing changes.

AprilHare • 7 years ago

I am Russian Orthodox and I feel that the Church deserves more credit for a stabilizing effect on Russia and Russians than you are giving credit. The Russian Orthodoxy supports and prays for the leaders, government and military of the country it is located in. How is that wrong?
Are you suggesting it is wrong for a church to not want to rebuild itself? Preposterous! Are you suggesting that Russians do not have a right to the desire to link themselves to an identity that involves the Church, whether or not they have come to truly believe yet? Ridiculous! As you pointed out, the Russian (democratic) society did not object.
If a democratic opposition arises that offers the same unyielding support that Putin has offered the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia then I am sure the Church would enthusiastically support such a leader should they obtain high office.

Ancient Londoner • 7 years ago

Reaction always requires religion; whether the authority of God (a reflection of the State) or the State itself, for example in the form of Stalin as God.
Freedom of thought requires freedom of belief or unbelief. Debate is necessary, not unreasoning assertion.

Guest • 7 years ago
alshaw • 7 years ago

Actually, it's the iniquity of a church-state union. Many forms of Christian faith do not embrace such a settlement, but affirm the need for a pluralistic society.

Guest • 7 years ago

and in the case of Russian Orthodoxy, prostrate yourself on the floor and so keep silent in the face of injustice and abuse of legal process.