Interfax: “Russian world” not political, wider than Russia, includes Ukraine – church head

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, July 20, 2015)

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has expressed concern over attempts to politicize the notion of the Russian world.

“Unfortunately, our opponents use the words ‘Russian world’ as a kind of bogey, as a scarecrow, as they allege that it is a kind of doctrine which serves exclusively the interests of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy,” the patriarch told a reception in the Troitse-Sergiyeva [Trinity-Sergius] Lavra on a remembrance day in honour of St Sergiy of Radonezh, the patriarchal press service said on Monday [20 July].

As the primate underlined, nothing “could be further from the truth than to identify the Russian world exclusively with the Russian Federation”.

“The Russian world is at the same time both the Ukrainian world and the Belarusian world. This is the world of all Rus. It is a world created through the Baptism of the Dnieper, it is the world of Prince Vladimir, it is a system of values that has penetrated into the culture, into the life of our people,” he said.

“Despite the fact that the mere mention of the Russian world has become in Ukraine under the current political doctrine almost a crime, we will continue – quietly, calmly, but firmly – to bear witness to this truth, the truth of Kiev as that baptismal font, the creation by our ancestors of the entire East Slavic civilization which we conventionally call the Russian world,” the patriarch said.

He mentioned the “Tale of Bygone Years”, at the beginning of which are the words: “Which is where the Russian land came from.”

“There is no mention of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus there – there is ‘Russian land’. What right do we have in the interests of the political mood to abandon history, our ideals, our saints, our monasteries, our worship of God, our common language?” the patriarch said.

He noted that if the Russian role is weakened, “communication will become multiply more complicated” between Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians and many other nations “because language is a natural way to maintain relations between people of the same cultural and spiritual community”.