Category Archives: Religion

Russia Needs a Civil Society But Not a Liberal One, Rostov Analysts Argue

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 21, 2015) The West and Russia’s liberal intelligentsia equate civil society with the liberal opposition, but this is a serious error, two Russian analysts say. Instead, civil society need not be an opponent of the authorities but “yet another ‘branch of power’” that can take on itself things that “other branches for […]

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Ukraine conflict must not damage unity of Russian Orthodox Church – Patriarch

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, April 20, 2015) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill believes the Ukrainian crisis is a challenge to the unity of the Russian church and is opposed to attempts to lend the crisis a religious dimension. “The Ukrainian crisis and the desire of certain political forces to place it in the context of faith are a challenge […]

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Interfax: Great feast of Easter brings joy and hope to millions of Christians – Putin

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

Moscow, April 13, Interfax – President Vladimir Putin has greeted Orthodox Christians and all Russian citizens celebrating Easter, the Kremlin press service reports. “The great feast of Easter brings joy and hope to millions of believers, introduces them to the sources of spirituality and traditions of forefathers,” the presidential message says. “The Russian Orthodox Church plays an enormous constructive role […]

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Moscow Times: Kremlin Reliance on the Russian Orthodox Church May Backfire, Analysts Say

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 8, 2015) While the Russian federal government’s burgeoning reliance on the Russian Orthodox Church is a tool aimed at consolidating society, in using it the authorities risk giving the clergy too much power, an issue that may eventually backfire against the Kremlin, experts told The Moscow Times on Tuesday. Recent public […]

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New Orthodox Journal “The Wheel”

The Wheel magazine cover

Subject: new Orthodox journal The Wheel Date: Fri, 3 Apr 2015 From: Andrei Zolotov (andrei.zolotovrp@rian.ru) I would like to forward to you information about a pretty amazing new project – an English-language journal of Orthodox Christian thought, The Wheel, that has been put together by my friends. It seems to me The Wheel, and in particular its first issue on the […]

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Russian Church Leader Says Stalin Fans Need to ‘Sober Up’ to Realities

Joseph Stalin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 7, 2015) A Russian Orthodox Church leader has urged supporters of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to “sober up” by visiting the mass graves of political dissidents executed under his regime, news reports said. The comments by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk came in response to poll results that showed a growing number of Russians view […]

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Russian church denies filing complaint against controversial opera

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Interfax – April 1, 2015) The Novosibirsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church has denied having filed a claim against Tannhaeuser opera production at the Novosibirsk State Theatre of Opera and Ballet, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 1 April. In a statement to Interfax-Religion it said: “The Novosibirsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church points out that the […]

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The Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill

Patriarch Kirill file photo

Under Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church has become an integral element of the hegemonic narrative that has been created in Putin’s Russia, to inoculate the country from pernicious outside influences. (opendemocracy.net – Victoria Hudson – March 31, 2015) Victoria Hudson obtained her PhD from University of Birmingham in 2013 for a thesis on contemporary Russian soft power in Ukraine. […]

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The Russian politics of multiculturalism

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Anna Alekseveva – March 30, 2015) The relationship between religion and ethnicity on the one hand, and civic assimilation on the other, is far less harmonious than Putin’s magniloquence asserts. Much has been made in the last several years of Vladimir Putin’s close alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). With charges of corruption, laundering, and a now […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Russian Theater Director Fired for Offending Christians

St. Basil's Domes

In the latest skirmish between the Russian Orthodox Church and the cultural elite, the culture minister on Sunday fired the director of a Siberian theater who included a controversial interpretation of the life of Jesus in the Richard Wagner opera “Tannhauser.” The director, Boris Mezdrich, had failed to apologize and to take other steps to mitigate the outcry among the […]

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Wagner Opera Scandal Reflects Deep Divide in Russian Society

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 26, 2015) An avant-garde production of a Wagner opera in a Siberian city that has seen conservative Russian Orthodox activists declare war on the liberal intelligentsia is a sign of things to come, some in Russia fear. The production of “Tannhauser” at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater is accused of […]

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Paul Grenier: “A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology)”

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

Subject: A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 From: Paul Grenier <psgrenier@gmail.com> A Conservative Russia? This Means War! (The Tragedy of American Ideology) By Paul R. Grenier Paul Grenier is an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues. After advanced study in Russian affairs, international relations and geography at […]

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Fire in Novodevichy Convent bell tower did not damage building

Novodevichy Convent file photo

(Interfax – March 16, 2015) It took firefighters almost three hours to extinguish the fire in the Moscow Novodevichy Convent bell tower. The fire, which affected an area of 300 square meters, did not do any damage to the historical building. “The internal premises were not damaged by the fire and external facing plaster fell off in the places affected […]

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NEWSLINK Fox News: Jews in Baltics fear creep of anti-Semitism

Torah Scrolls

Jews in the Baltics fear a series of disturbing events in the three-nation region of Eastern Europe may be signaling a revival of the Holocaust-era hatred that once nearly wiped out their numbers. Across the countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Jewish leaders say their communities are feeling increasingly uncomfortable as anti-Semitism once again appears to be on the rise. […]

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Religious Offense Charges Against Russian Opera Director Dropped

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – March 11, 2015) A Russian opera director who found himself mired in legal controversy after he provoked the ire of a local church leader was cleared of a charge of offending the sentiments of religious believers, the theater announced Tuesday via Twitter. Director Timofei Kulyabin had faced administrative charges for offending religious […]

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Can Ukraine’s divided church help heal the divided country

Ukraine Map and Flag

(opendemocracy.net – Iannis Carras – January 15, 2015) Iannis Carras is an economic and social historian of the 18th century Balkan and Russian worlds. He is active in Greek NGOs and has been a parliamentary candidate in the Athens region for the Greek Green Party. In hardship, people turn to religion for help. Ukraine today is no exception. But is […]

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Interfax: Making people choose between terror, blasphemy wrong – Russian church official

Archpriest Vsevolad Chaplin file photo

(Interfax – January 14, 2015) Forcing people to choose between terrorism and blasphemy is dangerous, public relations chief of the Russian Orthodox Church Vsevolod Chaplin has said. He was speaking on the Russian Orthodox Church TV channel Spas on 14 January, as reported by Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax. A week after the deadly attacks in Paris, today the French […]

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Putin, Patriarch Kirill Kick Off Orthodox Christmas Celebrations

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 7, 2015) The Russian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Kirill prayed for peace in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin attended mass at a village church in southern Russia, as Russia’s Orthodox believers celebrated Christmas on Wednesday. Russian Orthodox Church holidays are marked according to the old Julian calendar, with Christmas falling on Jan. 7, when it […]

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Russian Government Gives Church $40 Million to Set Up Spiritual Centers

Russian Orthodox Cathedral Moscow file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Shura Collinson – November 29, 2014) The Russian Orthodox Church is to get a total of 2 billion rubles ($40 million) from the federal budget for the creation of spiritual enlightenment centers, a news report said Friday. Deputy Culture Minister Vladimir Aristarkhov said earlier this month that 958 million rubles ($19.4 million) would be allocated […]

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Interfax: Russian church leader calls on people to join forces amid sanctions

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – November 4, 2014) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has criticized the West over attempts to play havoc with the minds of the Russian people through the sanctions it had imposed against Russia, Gazprom-owned Russian TV channel NTV reported on 4 November. “One should make the economic situation worse to play havoc with minds. We are now […]

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Tolstoy’s Canadian Doukhobors Return to Russia Over 100 Years After Fleeing

Leo Tolstoy file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – YASNAYA POLYANA, Tula Region – October 3, 2014) When they were in their 50s, Elaine and Alfred Podovinikoff packed up their lives in their native Canada and emigrated to a muddy, provincial Russian settlement with a single paved road and freely roaming chickens. The Podovinikoffs resettled just south of Tula – an […]

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RIA Novosti: Fears of Radicalization Among Muslim Youth Rising in Russia

Russian Mosque File Photo

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) – There is an increasing risk of radicalization among Muslim youth in Russia, Russian News Paper Kommersant reported on Wednesday. A large group of Muslim youth attacked a police bus on September 26, as the police arrested a man, who drove into an officer, after being told to move his car, parked in a no-parking […]

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Russian Orthodox Church Risks Schism Over Conflict in Ukraine

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – September 3, 2014) On the last day of summer, a Russian Orthodox priest imposed against his parishioners who had fought in Ukraine’s “fratricidal war” a 20-year ban on receiving communion. Those deemed to have only promoted the conflict raging in Ukraine’s east, either verbally or in writing, will be hit with an […]

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Interfax: Far-right groups threaten Kyiv region priest with reprisals

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 15 (Interfax) – Members of far-right groups disrupted a religious service being conducted by Priest Volodymyr Navozenko at the Church of the Holy Intercession in the village of Chervona Motovylivka outside of Kyiv. A video posted on YouTube shows several dozen people entering the church holding Ukrainian flags and symbols of the far-right party Svoboda (Freedom) and the […]

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Interfax: Election of Metropolitan Onurfy head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church indicates pro-Moscow tendencies among bishops – “Kyiv Patriarchate”

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

MOSCOW. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The election of Metropolitan Onufry as head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church indicates that the majority of the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate adhere to “Russian world” ideas and puts an end to the idea of creating a local Church of Ukraine, the self-proclaimed “Kyiv Patriarchate” said. “Despite the hopes for the furthering, especially in […]

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Ferapontov Monastery

Ferapontov Monastery file photo, adapted from wikimedia commons image at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ferapontov_Monastery_020509.jpg, posted by Enotovidnii

Subject: Ferapontov Monastery Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2014 From: William Brumfield <william.brumfield@gmail.com> My current article for Russia beyond the Headlines is devoted to the radiant frescoes created at  in 1502 by the artist Dionisy and his two sons. The monastery and its frescoes are on the UNESCO World Heritage list: rbth.com/travel/2014/08/08/ferapontov_monastery_sublime _beauty_in_the_russian_north_38893.html For best results with the slide show (full […]

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Interfax: Ukrainian military are pressuring Donbas Orthodox Christians – Metropolitan Onufry

Ukraine Map and Flag

MOSCOW. Aug 1 (Interfax) – Metropolitan of Chernivtsi and Bukovina Onufry, the locum of the Kyiv Metropolia, has accused the Ukrainian military of pressuring Orthodox Christians in Donbas. “I have to state violations of the rights and freedoms of believers and interference in the work of parishes of the Donetsk diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the militant contingent […]

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Mass Grave in Moscow Suburbs is Among Russia’s Holiest Sites

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Annin – May 7, 2014) On May 10, the Russian Orthodox Church will hold its annual special service in the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors in Butovo, a little-known site that is home to Russia’s largest collection of holy relics. In the forest near old Butovo, about 5 kilometers south of the Moscow […]

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RIA Novosti: Anti-Semitism at a minimum level in Russia, says report

File Photo of Torah Scrolls

(RIA Novosti – April 28, 2014) Russia remains one of a group of countries with a minimum level of anti-Semitism, said the head of the European Jewish Congress, Vyacheslav Moshe Kantor, commenting on the results of the annual report on the level of anti-Semitism in the world for 2013. Russia remains one of a group of countries with a minimum […]

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An Easter Tale Of Two Orthodox Babushkas In Ukraine

Ukraine Map and Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – KYIV – April 20, 2014) Lyudmila, 60, a newspaper copy editor, and Yelena Andreyevna, 75, a pensioner, have a lot in common. They have lived most their lives in Kyiv. They are both ethnic Russian. And they are both practicing Orthodox Christians. On Easter Sunday they both prayed for peace and understanding in Ukraine amid fears of […]

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NEWSLINK: Russians Return to Religion, But Not to Church

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

[“Russians Return to Religion, But Not to Church” – Pew Research – pewforum.org  – February 10, 2014 – http://www.pewforum.org/2014/02/10/russians-return-to-religion-but-not-to-church/] The Pew Forum examines data on Russian religious trends.  The number of Russians declaring an affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church and other faiths has risen, but church attendance is low. Over the past two decades, since the collapse of the […]

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On Mark Adomanis in JRL #28 [re: Russian Religiosity, Pussy Riot

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

Subject: On Mark Adomanis in JRL #28 Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 12:48:37 -0600 From: David Stone <stone@ksu.edu> Mark Adomanis’ piece from Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/02/09/why-pussy-riot-failed-in-one-chart/) that you included in JRL 28 uses Russia’s increasing religiosity to explain Pussy Riot’s failure. I don’t buy it. Adomanis refers to a study from the Levada Center (http://www.levada.ru/24-12-2013/rossiyane-o-religii) which measures Russians’ REPORTED religiosity. As should […]

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What is it like to be a Muslim in Russia?

Russian Mosque File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – February 3, 2014) RBTH talks to Muslims in Russia and searches for the reasons behind the country’s apprehensive attitude toward Islam. Muslims are the second largest religious denomination in Russia, and they have peacefully coexisted with Orthodox believers over many centuries. However, in recent decades, Russians have started behaving […]

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Russian Orthodox Deacon Fears Defrocking After Outing Church’s ‘Gay Lobby’

Russian-Orthodox-Cathedral-Moscow

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Andrei Shary and Claire Bigg – January 9, 2014) A prominent theologian who claims to have outed a powerful “gay lobby” within the Russian Orthodox Church says he now fears being defrocked over his allegations. The allegations by Deacon Andrei Kurayev, a firebrand missionary who taught at the Orthodox Moscow Theological Academy, are potentially damaging and […]

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Moscow Police Hunt Quran Burners

Russian Mosque File Photo

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Police in Moscow are investigating a video that shows alleged football fans burning a Quran and attacking Muslims in retribution for recent suicide bombings in Volgograd. The video, uploaded on YouTube on January 5, depicts a group of young men in the dark, burning a Russian translation of the Quran with several lighters. No […]

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Fury Over Biographical Stalin Calendar Published by Orthodox Church

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 8, 2014) A publishing house run by the Russian Orthodox Church has released a 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin, unleashing a flurry of indignation among Russian bloggers and a discussion about the Church’s ties to the former Soviet dictator. The calendar, published by the Moscow-based patriarchal printing house of the […]

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Moscow Celebrates Russian Orthodox Christmas With Giant Apple Pie

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 7, 2014) This year’s warm temperatures meant believers in Moscow celebrated a red and gold, rather than white, Orthodox Christmas. Moscow confectioners baked a giant apple and cherry pie in celebration of Russian Orthodox Christmas, which is marked on Jan. 7, based on the old Julian calendar. The 100 kilogram, 1.5-meter by 2.5-meter pie […]

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Interfax: Patriarch Kirill finds commercialization of Christmas in West dangerous

Patriarch Kirill file photo

Moscow, January 7, Interfax – Ousting the true sense of Christmas from public space, including its substitution with other names, can have dangerous consequences, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has said. “This is a political action, a purposeful act to oust Christian values, including Christian holidays from the lives of people. This is spiritual disarmament of the masses. […]

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Interfax: Medvedev greets Patriarch Kirill on Christmas, thanks for spiritual patronage

Patriarch Kirill file photo

Moscow, January 7, Interfax – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has greeted Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Christmas, the government website reported on Tuesday. “This holiday presents the light of faith, the warmth of love and the happiness of hope. It consolidates the moral foundations of our society helping people to learn Christian values of kindness, mercy and […]

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Interfax: Putin: Christmas serves to unite millions on the basis of common spiritual values and traditions

Russian Orthodox Believers Holding Candles at Cathedral at Christmas

Moscow, January 7, Interfax – President Vladimir Putin has greeted Orthodox Christians, all Russian citizens celebrating Christmas, the Kremlin press service reported on Tuesday. “This lightsome holiday nourishes the kindest of feelings and intensions and serves to unite millions of people on the basis of common spiritual values and historical traditions of which mutual respect and accord, mercy and care […]

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More Ethnic Russians are Converting to Islam and a Few are Becoming Terrorists

Russian Mosque File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 2, 2013) Official identification of one of the terrorist bombers in Volgograd as an ethnic Russian from Mari El who converted to Islam and fought on the side of the militants in Daghestan has attracted attention to a trend that most Russians have been reluctant to discuss: the growing number of […]

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Investigators asked to look into Moscow Art Theater production of An Ideal Husband

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 28 (Interfax) – Requests to conduct an inquiry into the production of the play An Ideal Husband at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater (MAT) have been forwarded to the Russian Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch, the city police department said on its Twitter page. “Twenty-three requests demanding an inquiry into the Chekhov MAT’s production of An Ideal Husband, which […]

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Topless FEMEN activist climbs altar in Cologne cathedral during Christmas Mass

EU Map

KYIV. Dec 25 (Interfax) – An activist of the feminist movement FEMEN has disrupted a Christmas mass in Kolner Dom, the main cathedral of Cologne, Germany. “The activist climbed the altar of the cathedral in the presence of thousands of people to protest the Vatican propaganda for the criminalization of abortion. The words ‘I AM GOD!’ were painted on the […]

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Number of Orthodox Christians, Muslims grows in Russia, 19% are nonbelievers – poll

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

Moscow, December 24, Interfax – Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Russia (68%) and 7% of the country’s population is Muslim. No more than 1% of residents define themselves as Catholics, Protestants, Judaists and others, Levada Center said. There were 50% of Orthodox Christians and 4% of Muslims in the country a decade ago, Levada Center told Interfax, referring […]

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Interfax: Russian Orthodox Church is open to dialogue with Pussy Riot, but without provocations

File Photo of Pussy Riot Members in Courtroom Enclosure, With Man Showing Papers to One While Female Guard Looks On

Moscow/Krasnoyarsk, December 23, Interfax – The Moscow Patriarchate is hoping that the members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot who have been released from prison today after being amnestied will improve. “Every person has a right to make public statements, honest debates, and competition of ideas. However, when political manipulations and dangerous provocations happen, it’s unacceptable,” Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, […]

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‘Vladimir Putin as a Religious Type’

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Speaking At All-Russia Popular Front Gathering

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 18, 2013) A century ago, the Russian religious thinker Sergey Bulgakov wrote a seminal essay entitled “Karl Marx as a Religious Type” in which he outlined the ways in which that self-proclaimed atheist was in fact someone profoundly affected in his thinking by the religious tradition of which he was a […]

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Interfax: Conflicts on former Soviet soil should be settled peacefully – Russian Orthodox Church

Archpriest Vsevolad Chaplin file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 3 (Interfax) – Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Vsevolod Chaplin has said that peaceful solutions should be found for conflicts in former Soviet states. “People are predetermined to live side-by-side in peace. Enmity, wars and total conflicts, whether they be controllable or uncontrollable, are always bad. We can see this in many events […]

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Interfax: Russians still trust president, church the most – poll

Russian-Orthodox-Cathedral-Moscow

MOSCOW. Dec 3 (Interfax) – The president and the Orthodox Church are still the most trusted institutions and structures in Russia. Over 60% of the respondents surveyed in an express poll conducted by Romir in November said they “fully trust” or “tend to trust” the rating leaders. The poll surveyed 500 respondents aged from 18 to sixty who live in […]

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Orthodox countries joining EU should not change values – Russian church

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, November 28, 2013) The Moscow Patriarchate has called on Orthodox countries, including Russia, not to allow EU influence to change them as they conduct dialogue, but to suggest the EU itself change. “Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, as members of a strong and self-sufficient civilization, have a right, when they gain accession to the […]

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Interfax: Too early to discuss time, place of meeting of Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis – Russian Orthodox Church

Saint Peter's Basilica

MOSCOW. Nov 27 (Interfax) – Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis could meet but only after issues in the relations between the two churches are resolved, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations said on Wednesday. The unresolved conflict between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Ukraine remains the main obstacle – almost all churches were taken from the Moscow […]

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