JRL NEWSWATCH: “Spiritual capital: why Ukraine is breaking from Russia’s Orthodox Church; The Ukrainian government has promised its citizens a new, independent Orthodox Church that will unite Ukrainian believers. But bringing several denominations together is harder than you think. [Excerpt]” – OpenDemocracy/Andrii Fert

File Photo of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, adapted from image at cia.gov by Steven C. Welsh :: www.stevencwelsh.com :: www.stevencwelsh.info

(opendemocracy.net – Andrii Fert – September 17, 2018) Andrii Fert researches state-church relations in the late Soviet Union. He is a graduate student at Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and works for DVV International. “Over the last few months, the lexicon of many Ukrainians has been enriched by two new words: ‘Tomos’ and ‘autocephaly.’ These words, whose literal meanings are ‘religious decree’ […]

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NEWSLINK: “Grave Robbers, Nazi Collaborators and Official Apathy: How Ukraine Is Erasing the Holocaust” – Haaretz/Shmuel Herzfeld

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

“At Janovska, the Auschwitz of Ukraine, I saw skulls, hypodermic needles and tons of trash. Looters desecrate mass graves of Jews, searching for gold; the sites’ histories are ‘revised’, overwritten by Christian and nationalist symbolism. This is why we should still care”

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RUSSIALINK: “Anti-Semitism in Russia Falls Since USSR, Sociologists Say” – Moscow Times

Torah Scrolls

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 7, 2018) Anti-Semitism is on the decline in Russia, particularly since the Soviet period, according to a report by the independent Levada Center commissioned for the Russian Jewish Congress. Various estimates count the Jewish population in Russia anywhere from 180,000 to 1.5 million. During the Soviet Union, Jews in Russia were targeted by the […]

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“Sara’s Century” Podcast

Map of Former Soviet Union

Subject: “Sara’s Century” podcast Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2018 16:43:23 +0000 From: BARBARA T NORTON <btnorton@widener.edu> I wanted bring to your attention a fascinating new podcast serial, “Sara’s Century,” by a colleague at Rutgers U-Camden. The description below is from the website http://sarascentury.blogs.rutgers.edu/: “Sara’s Century” is a 12-episode podcast serial about Sara Mebel, a nearly 100-year-old Jewish woman who left […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: Sean Guillory: “WaPo publishes an op-ed about how McCain was a great champion for the ‘human rights community’ and uses a picture with McCain standing next to Oleh Tyahnybok … named … one of the top-ten anti-Semites in the world.”

Historic Washington Post Masthead, adapted from image at nlrb.gov

(Sean Guillory – Facebook – August 29, 2018 McCain and Oleh Tyahnybok) [embedded live feed of facebook post should appear below; core text also recopied further below in case loading delayed] “This is too funny. WaPo publishes an op-ed about how McCain was a great champion for the ‘human rights community’ and uses a picture with McCain standing next to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Buddhism flourishes in Siberia, opening window on its pre-Soviet past; Orthodox Christianity may be Russia’s most high-profile religion, but it is only one of the country’s four official ‘founding’ faiths. Another of the four, Buddhism, has been experiencing a rebirth in post-Soviet Russia.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

“… For ethnic Buryats, the resurgence of Buddhism is part of a more complex awakening, as local scholars explore the Buryats’ distinctly non-Russian historical and cultural heritage, and endeavor to reconcile it with their identity as modern-day Russians. Similar processes are unfolding in many of [Russia’s] 22 ‘ethnic republics’ …. Today, there are about 1.5 million Buddhists in Russia, concentrated […]

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Number of Believers in Russia Up, Role of Religion in Their Lives Often Remains Small, New Study Finds

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 2, 2018) Between 1998 and 2016, the share of Russians saying they are religious increased from 63 to 74 percent, with increases among young less and those among less educated more, according to a new study by Yana Roshina of the Higher School of Economics (hse.ru/data/2018/06/21/1152561475Вестник РМЭЗ НИУ ВШЭ 2018.pdf; summarized […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Orthodox Church a ‘national security threat’ to Ukraine, says president; Petro Poroshenko said the Russian church was separated from the state ‘only on paper.'” – PoliticoEU/KAIT BOLONGARO

Petro Poroshenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

“… At a ceremony marking [Ukraine’s] conversion to Christianity 1,030 years ago … [Poroshenko] said that the Russian [Orthodox] [C]hurch’s sway among Ukrainian believers is a ‘direct threat to the national security of Ukraine.’ … ‘this obliges us to act.’ There are two branches of the Orthodox Church active in Ukraine: the Russian church and its Ukrainian cousin. The former, […]

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RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “[Putin at] 1030th anniversary of Baptism of Rus celebrations” – KremlinRu

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

(Kremlin.ru – July 28, 2018) Vladimir Putin attended events to mark the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. A Patriarchal Liturgy was held for the first time in the open air on the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square. As the service was coming to a close, the President joined the religious procession and walked with the believers to the monument to […]

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Putin Advisers Question Legality Of Prosecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 21, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-calls-us-senator-mccain-old-world-but-admires-his-patriotism/28537171.html) Advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin have questioned the legality of criminal cases opened against members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying law enforcement is misinterpreting a ruling last year by jailing people for collective bible reading and praying. “It cannot but be […]

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Russia’s Strange Obsession with Sobibór

File Photo of Reel of Film

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Izabella Tabarovsky, Senior Associate, Manager for Regional Engagement at The Kennan Institute – May 9, 2018) [Text with links kennan-russiafile.org/2018/05/09/russias-strange-obsession-with-sobibor/] A new Russian movie, Sobibór, is making its way into Russian theaters and European capitals. The big-budget, highly promoted film tells the story of a prisoner escape from the Nazi death camp Sobibór in October […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Communism as the Unhappy Coming” – World Bank Policy Research Working Paper/By Simeon Djankov, Elena Nikolova

World Bank Building

“Abstract: This paper shows that Eastern Orthodox believers are less happy compared with Catholics and Protestants using data covering more than 100 countries around the world. Consistent with the happiness results, the paper also finds that relative to Catholics, Protestants, and non-believers, those of Eastern Orthodox religion have less social capital and prefer old ideas and safe jobs. In addition, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Is it a crime to worship God? According to Russia, yes.” – Washington Post

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Dennis Christensen … of Denmark, has been held [in Russia] in pretrial detention for 11 months … about to be tried on charges of organizing … activities of an ‘extremist organization,’ the Jehovah’s Witnesses. … [potentially] fac[ing] 10 years in prison. … the Russian Supreme Court declared the group ‘extremist’ and banned it from operating [in Russia]; there were […]

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Russian Reformers Failed to Take into Consideration Russian Nationalism and Orthodoxy, Chubais Says

Anatoly Chubais file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 19, 2018) Anatoly Chubais, one of the main architects of Russia’s radical economic reforms in the 1990s, says that he now considers that one of the main errors he and his like-minded reformers may was “to a significant degree” their failure to take into consideration “the special features of Russian culture.” […]

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Four out of Five Russians Find “Gay Sex” ‘Reprehensible’ – Poll

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 11, 2018) An overwhelming majority of Russians believe it is ‘reprehensible’ for people of the same gender to have sex, a new poll says, charting growing intolerance towards same-sex relationships in the past 20 years. The independent Levada Center survey released on Thursday serves as the latest sociological evidence of increasing homophobia in the […]

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Putin Hails ‘Eternal Christian Values’ Amid Orthodox Christmas Celebrations

Russian Orthodox Believers Holding Candles at Cathedral at Christmas

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – January 7, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-christmas-russia-belarus-georgia-kazakhstan-macedonia-moldova-serbia-ukraine-armenia/28959952.html) [Photos: http://www.mk.ru/photo/gallery/13772-232315.html] Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered greetings to Orthodox Christians and all Russians on Christmas celebrated according to the Julian calendar on January 7. A Kremlin press service statement quoted Putin as saying that Christmas “gives millions of believers joy […]

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Moscow Times: Putin, Jesus And Elon Musk Are Young Russians’ Top Role Models

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 3, 2017) Young Russians have named President Vladimir Putin, business magnate Elon Musk and Jesus Christ as their main role models – after their parents. Russia’s most popular social networking site VK in July asked 10,000 14-25 year-olds who had the most positive influence in their life. The majority said their parents were their […]

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NEWSWATCH: “No pomp as Russia revolution centenary nears” – AFP

Kremlin and River

“… Russia strives to strike an odd balance … remembering the uprising that brought about the Soviet Union … stopping short of romanticising regime change. … 1917 saw Tsar Nicholas II abdicate in March and the Bolsheviks … seize power in October. Civil war erupted … followed by the creation in 1922 of the USSR, built on the ruins of the Russian empire. … Russia still […]

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U.S. Religious Freedom Report Names Russia ‘Country of Concern’

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 16, 2017) A U.S. report on religious freedoms puts Russia on a par with countries like North Korea and Sudan in its treatment of religious minorities. The annual report produced by the state United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Russian authorities’ policy towards minorities ranged from “administrative harassment to arbitrary imprisonment […]

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NEWSWATCH VIDEO: “Pride, patriotism and how Putin helped redefine what it means to be a ‘true Russian'” – PBS Newshour

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(PBS Newshour (public television) – July 10, 2017 – also appeared at pbs.org/newshour/bb/pride-patriotism-putin-helped-redefine-means-true-russian/) The new Russian identity is a combination of religion, old Russian traditions and rediscovered patriotism. It helps explain how today’s Russians think, how President Putin acts and why he remains popular. As part of our week-long series Inside Putin’s Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach […]

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NEWSLINK: “EDELSTEIN IN MOSCOW” – Jerusalem Post

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“… Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein made history in Moscow yesterday. For one of the former USSR’s most famous refuseniks – Prisoners of Zion – to address Russia’s parliament 30 years after his release from the Siberian gulag is nothing less than another Russian Revolution vis-a-vis world Jewry. …”

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Thirty Percent of Russians Now Identify as Muslims, New Survey Finds

Russian Mosque file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 20, 2017) Thirty percent of Russians now identify as Muslims, according to a new survey by the ZoomMarket marketing agency, just 12 percent fewer than the 42 percent who say they are Orthodox Christians. Some 18 percent say they are atheists, with all other denominations in the single digits. Thus, three […]

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NEWSLINK: “Saint’s Relics Are a Miraculous Must-See in Secular Russia” – AP

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

“In the three weeks since St. Nicholas came to Moscow, more than 300,000 people have stood in huge lines for up to 10 hours to visit a gilded ark thought to carry his bone fragments. Yet the queues stretching down the Moscow River embankment from Christ the Savior Cathedral are something of their own marvel. …”

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Bridging the Red-White Divide Is a Home Run for Putin

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

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – May 30, 2017) Maxim Trudolyubov, Senior Fellow with the Kennan Institute and editor-at-large with Vedomosti, has been following Russian economy and politics since the late 1990s. He has served as an opinion page editor for Vedomosti and editor and correspondent for the newspaper Kapita In an event infused with historical and moral […]

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Russia’s Muslims Are as Diverse as Their Experiences

Russian Mosque file photo

(The Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Liliya Karimova – May 25, 2017) Professorial Lecturer at Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, the George Washington University Russia’s current Muslim population is estimated at about 15 million, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s total population. These numbers do not include about 4-5 million migrant workers, predominantly from Central Asia. A […]

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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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