Sokolovsky charges of God denial “absurd” – Federation of Jewish communities

Yekaterinburg file photo

MOSCOW. May 11 (Interfax) – The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) backed the court ruling in the case against the “Pokemon catcher” Ruslan Sokolovsky, but called some of the charges against him absurd. “That the judge chose a penalty not involving incarceration is, in my view, a positive fact because prison has not yet made anyone better. Whenever […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Easter’s East-West divide: What are the differences?”

File Image of Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, adapted from image at loc.gov

This year, Western and Eastern Christians are celebrating Easter on the same day, on April 16, and it won’t happen again until 2025. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ROMAN LUNKIN, FOR RBTH – April 14, 2017) Nikolai Gogol, the famous 19th century Russian author who preferred living in Italy, wrote that Russia celebrates Easter unlike anywhere else. He […]

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Patriarch Kirill blames 1917 revolution on intelligentsia

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at state.gov

MOSCOW. March 29 (Interfax) – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has put the main blame for the 1917 revolution on the intelligentsia. “What happened in the 20th century, that meat-grinder, which ground the entire intelligentsia, is it not an organic consequences of the horrible crimes that the intelligentsia committed against faith, against God, against their people, against their […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “St. Patrick’s Day in Russia: Why the Orthodox Church recognizes it”

A cartload of beer from the Patriarch’s press secretary, “as long as it’s not Halloween” and impeccable saints: How St. Patrick’s Day officially came to Russia and why it has only happened now. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – March 15, 2017) The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has recognized Ireland’s St. Patrick and will now […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Should Muscovites fear Muslims?”

Russian Mosque file photo

Over the past decade the Russian capital’s Muslim population has swelled to almost 2 million, or about 15 percent of the total population. This has led to tensions with locals who are increasingly suspicious of the newcomers’ intentions, brash behavior and strict religious traditions. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEVGENY LEVKOVICH, RBTH – March 13, 2017) [Text with […]

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Defeat of Russian Civic Nation Law Shows Putin Isn’t All-Powerful, Krasheninnikov Says

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 7, 2017) “The most interesting aspect” of Moscow’s retreat from its efforts to promote a civic Russian nation is not that it shows “society isn’t very prepared” for that as Valery Tishkov says (kommersant.ru/doc/3235995), but rather the way in which it represents “a personal defeat for Vladimir Putin,” according to Fyodor […]

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What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991 – jackmatlock.com – January 31, 2017) The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That […]

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NEWSLINK: “What Evangelicals Living Under Putin Think of Trump. Protestants and #Orthodox alike are mostly hopeful about America’s new president.” -Christianity Today/Kate Shellnutt

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

“‘The hope for a new understanding between Russia and the USA is very strong, especially for evangelicals,’ said Wiliam Yoder, spokesman for the Russia Evangelical Alliance. Russia’s evangelical minority, roughly 1 percent of its population of 143 million, finds itself living and serving in the East-West tension between its nationalistic government and the outside evangelical groups that support its gospel […]

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RUSSIALINK RT: “Moscow celebrates despite coldest Christmas night ‘in 120 years.'”

Russian Orthodox Believers Holding Candles at Cathedral at Christmas

“Bitterly cold temperatures haven’t stopped worshipers from celebrating Epiphany and Orthodox Christmas. Christian believers across the globe joined in celebrations. Those who attended midnight liturgy at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior had to bundle up for the bitter cold as temperatures in the capital dropped to about -30C on Christmas night. In Moscow Region, temperatures dropped below -32C. …”

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RBTH: Russians rediscover their Jewish identity

File Photo of Torah Scrolls

After decades of Jewish emigration from Russia, today a new generation of young Russians is learning about their past with the help of a number of cultural organizations. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXANDER CHERNYSHEV, SPECIAL TO RBTH – November 18, 2016) Starting in the late 1980s, a flood of Russian Jews left the country for new homes […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/Gazeta.ru: “Kremlin turns to Jewish diaspora in bid to build ties with Donald Trump”

Donald Trump

“Seeking contacts with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the Russian leadership has turned to its connections in Jewish business circles, Gazeta.ru has learned. Despite accusations of xenophobia, Trump maintains good relations with the Jewish community and intends to involve his son-in-law Jared Kushner in his administration.”

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin and Patriarch Kirill at] Monument to Vladimir the Great opened in Moscow on Unity Day

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Kremlin.ru – November 4, 2016) Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia opened a monument to the Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles, and Christianiser of Russia, on Borovitskaya Square. The monument was erected at the initiative of the Russian Military-Historical Society and the Moscow City Government. It was sculpted by Salavat Shcherbakov, People’s Artist […]

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Russia’s Abortion Debate Is Back

Ultrasound and Photo of Prenatal Child file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – September 29, 2016) Abortion rights are on the minds of citizens and officials across Europe this week. In Ireland, protesters marched through the streets of Dublin in the thousands demanding their government hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws. The same week, the Polish parliament shocked Europe by voting through a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Restoring Old Churches Inspires a New Philanthropy in Russia” – New York Times

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

In a country where the state has traditionally maintained extensive control, private charity is still in relative infancy. Foundations and groups that receive funds from abroad usually must register as foreign actors. Restoring churches is one area where Russians have seized the volunteer spirit, however. Both churches in Tarusa have been restored with a mixture of state, church and private […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Exploiting Five American Vulnerabilities, Kirillova Says

Satellite Dishes

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 13, 2016) Lenin said that Marxism was powerful because it was true; his successors in the Kremlin have been as successful with their propaganda as they have been because they carefully tailor their messages and techniques to whatever audiences they hope to influence. One of the most damning indications of this […]

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Ukrainian Question Divides Orthodox World

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – July 1, 2016) It took over 1,000 years to gather the religious leaders of the many Eastern Orthodox churches in one place, and still, when it happened, not everyone was in attendance. The week-long Holy Great Council, in the pipeline for 55 years, was supposed to bring together all the congregations of […]

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Life Through a Different Lens: Moscow’s Jewish Film Festival

File Photo of Reel of Film

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ruth Moore – June 13, 2016) Tomorrow is opening night of the Moscow Jewish Film Festival, a cultural event offering Muscovites the chance to become acquainted with the world of Jewish professional cinematography. Over the course of the week, more than 35 films with a focus on Jewish culture will show at leading cultural venues […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Chechnya: Russia’s Islamic State? Troubled republic in secular Russia has been thoroughly ‘Islamized’ by staunch Putin ally” – Wall Street Journal/YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

In theory, Chechnya – though overwhelmingly Muslim – is an integral part of the secular Russian Federation, governed by the same laws as Moscow. In practice, however, this North Caucasus republic of 1.4 million people, ravaged by two wars of secession, lives under very different rules. Under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who has become a fervent ally of […]

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Russia’s Atheists Organize to Fight Clericalization

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 18, 2016) Russia’s atheists who in Soviet times enjoyed the active support of the government now face a situation in which the Russian regime is both supporting Orthodox Christianity and heavily influenced by it. As a result, this newly embattled minority has organize to fight the clericalization of Russia. Last Friday, […]

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Poll: Russians now hope for God’s help more

(Russia Beyond the Headlines/Interfax – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH, INTERFAX – April 28, 2016) Russians have begun to hope for God’s help, and/or have begun to speak about the predestination of people’s fate by God, twice as often in the past 25 years, sociologists said, citing a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM). The poll, […]

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Where does the Russian Orthodox Church get its money from?

Patriarch Kirill file photo

The Russian Orthodox Church is not only a religious organization, but also a large corporation that does business. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ANNA KUCHMA, RBTH – March 9, 2016) In 2014, the Russian Orthodox Church received $75.7 million of revenues from ceremonies, sales of religious literature and donations, according to the Federal Tax Service. All of this […]

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Russians consider meeting between Pope, Patriarch useful, support their further contacts – poll

Saint Peter's Basilica

MOSCOW. March 9 (Interfax) – Russians consider further meetings between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to be necessary, and support the idea of closer relations between the two churches without their unification, sociologists said, citing the results of a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research center (VTsIOM). In accordance with the poll results, […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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

NEWSWATCH: “Ukrainian Jews Flee To Israel Amid Anti-Semitic Attacks in War-Torn Ukraine” – The Jewish Press (New York)/Tazpit News Agency

Torah Scrolls

Over 100 Ukrainian Jews fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Israel on Tuesday, February 23. Many Ukrainian Jews have been leaving their country of birth due to violence and frequent anti-Semitic attacks. They were assisted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has been spearheading a project of bringing Jews to Israel from countries engulfed by war. […]

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Chechen Separatist Leader: Kadyrov Is Here To Stay

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Natalya Golitsyna – February 19, 2016) One of Ramzan Kadyrov’s staunchest critics says the Chechen leader remains one of the most powerful men in Russia despite mounting criticism over his ruthless tactics. According to Akhmed Zakayev, the exiled head of the Chechen separatist government, Kadyrov has accumulated so much clout that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself […]

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Putin Pulls Levers As Russian Patriarch, PM Head Abroad

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(RFE/RL News Analysis – rferl.org – Steve Gutterman – February 11, 2016) With the Russian patriarch and prime minister both holding big meetings abroad, this weekend presents a chance for President Vladimir Putin to soothe a world still stunned by Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine and dismayed by its bombing campaign in Syria. Russian Orthodox Church chief Kirill holds historic talks […]

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Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis agree upon joint declaration

Pope Francis file photo, adapted from image (c) VIS

(Interfax – February 11, 2016) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis have agreed upon the text of their joint declaration, which they will sign at their historic meeting in Havana on Feb. 12. “The text of the declaration was negotiated by the sides until late last night. The final amendments were introduced. It is necessary to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Muslims in Russia See Putin’s Antiterrorism Efforts at Home as Backfiring. North Caucasus residents say crackdown often leads to new recruits for Islamic State.” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Area Spanning Portions of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, highlighting military engagements against ISIL

The Wall Street Journal covers concerns that Russian government policies will fuel more terrorist recruits for the so-called Islamic State. President Vladimir Putin justifies his military action in Syria in part as a way to head off the terrorist threat at home, especially here in the mostly Muslim north Caucasus. But residents say the government’s often heavy-handed measures are instead […]

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Moscow Patriarchate Church in Ukraine headed toward the dustbin of history, Chapnin says

File Photo of Historic Ukrainian Orthodox Monastery Grounds

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – January 7, 2016) The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is headed toward disintegration, and the only question is whether Moscow will simply watch as this happens or take the lead in organizing this change, according to Sergey Chapnin, who was recently fired as editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.” […]

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Russian bombing of Syria “defensive” and just, top cleric says

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 7, 2016) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has expressed support for the Russian military operation in Syria. “What is happening today in Syria, which appears to be far away but is in actual fact literally our neighbour [as received], is what the defence of the Fatherland is about,” the patriarch said in the interview […]

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Patriarch Kirill sees no tragedy in current economic crisis

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – January 7, 2016) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia has called on people not to despair over the economic problems in Russia. “Problems are now generally relative: people earn a little more or a little less (only God forbid that the economic situation should worsen), but generally there is currently no tragedy in the country,” the patriarch said […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: “Czarist echo? Russian Orthodox Church drives to restore its political clout. The Russian Orthodox Church sees itself as the spiritual generator of public policy and the ideological bulwark of the state. Under Putin, priests have become fixtures in the military, schools, and other public institutions”

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State vs Art: Russia’s 2015 Crackdown on Contemporary Culture

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Eva Hartog – December 31, 2015) “It’s theater. We were just playing.” That’s how Boris Mezdrich, his tone simultaneously apologetic and defiant, described the avant-garde production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser that got him fired. “Blasphemy!” – was what the Russian Orthodox activists shouted as they protested outside the State Opera and Ballet Theater in Novosibirsk, […]

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Orthodox Church Receives Majority of Russian Government Grants

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 21, 2015) The Orthodox Church has been the biggest beneficiary of presidential grants given to non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, in Russia over the past several years, a study published Monday revealed. According to the report prepared by the Center for Economic and Political Reforms, the organizations controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate or close to […]

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Russian business falls in love with “Western” Christmas

Russian Christmas – celebrated in January – is still a noncommercial family occasion. December is now the main month for holiday shopping. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEI LOSSAN, RBTH – December 21, 2015) According to the city’s press services, festivals and fairs, such as the Journey to Christmas, are engines of development for tourism, business activities and […]

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Reclusive Russian Family’s Last Survivor Toughs It Out In The Taiga

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

(RFE/RL – Nick Holdsworth – October 28, 2015) SIBERIAN TAIGA, Russia — Agafia Lykova emerges from the thick forest on the banks of the Abakan River like an image from Russian folklore. Dressed in ragged black sackcloth with a tattered head scarf and a triangular prayer amulet hanging from a beaded cord around her neck, she greets visitors arriving by […]

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Ummah: Islam in the post-Soviet world

Russian Mosque file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Editors of OpenDemocracy Russia – October 19, 2015) oDR introduces a new series devoted to reporting and comment on Islamic life in the post-Soviet space. The Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims, comprises millions of members across the post-Soviet space. The inhabitants of five republics in Central Asia-Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan-have enthusiastically embraced their ancestral faith […]

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Five facts about Moscow’s new central mosque

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

Ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on September 23, a new central mosque was thrown open to the public after a special ceremony in Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galina Babich, special to RBTH – September 23, 2015) [Photos here asia.rbth.com/society/2015/09/23/five_facts_about_moscows_new_central_mosque_49461.html] 1. One of the largest mosques in Russia The central Moscow […]

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Russian Orthodox Church condemns participation by Ukrainian police in conflicts between religious organizations

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

MOSCOW. Sept 23 (Interfax) – Vladimir Legoida, head of the synodal information department, has condemned the takeover by schismatics in Ukraine of the Church of St. George and called on the administration of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to investigate police involvement in violence against believers. On September 21, the Day of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, representatives of the Kyiv […]

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Pope Francis Says Russia Is Needed to Solve World Problems

Saint Peter's Basilica

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 23, 2015) Pope Francis has said Russia plays a crucial role in solving the world’s problems, a TASS news agency report said. “Without Russia, not one of today’s most pressing global problems can be solved,” the pontiff was cited Tuesday as telling a TASS reporter aboard a flight to Cuba. The pontiff continued his […]

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Russian Orthodox Activists Who Vandalized Manezh Face Criminal Charges

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – September 15, 2015) Investigators have opened a criminal case against a group of radical Orthodox activists who attacked Moscow’s Manezh exhibition center last month. The suspected attackers from the ultra-conservative group “God’s Will” could face criminal prosecution for the “destruction or damage of cultural property,” Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Galiakberov was cited […]

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