Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Orthodoxy, Nationality, Autocracy (Again)


Having long lost out in his efforts to woo Russia’s liberals, and increasingly struggling with opposition in Russia’s metropolitan centers, Vladimir Putin has instead being appealing to Russia’s ‘silent majority’.

I wrote about this for National Review a week or two ago, noting how this latest pivot by Putin has been winning him some (mistaken) approval on the right over here too.

Meanwhile, the Washington Times has more on Vladimir Putin, conservative:

 “Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”

In his state of the nation address in mid-December, Mr. Putin also portrayed Russia as a staunch defender of “traditional values” against what he depicted as the morally bankrupt West. Social and religious conservatism, the former KGB officer insisted, is the only way to prevent the world from slipping into “chaotic darkness.”

…Mr. Putin’s views of the West were echoed this month by Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, the leader of the Orthodox Church, who accused Western countries of engaging in the “spiritual disarmament” of their people. In particular, Patriarch Kirill criticized laws in several European countries that prevent believers from displaying religious symbols, including crosses on necklaces, at work.

Well, Kirill may be a thoroughly disreputable figure but he is (broadly speaking) right about the stupidity of not allowing people to display religious symbols at work. That said, this claim, to put it mildly, is a stretch:

… Other figures within the Orthodox Church have gone further in criticizing the West. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a church spokesman, suggested that the modern-day West is no better for a Christian believer than the Soviet Union. Soviet authorities executed some 200,000 clergy and believers from 1917 to 1937, according to a 1995 presidential committee report. Thousands of churches were destroyed, and those that survived were turned into warehouses, garages or museums of atheism.

To argue that Christians in the West today are treated in a manner in any way comparable to that is to insult the memories of those murdered (not to speak of the countless others subjected to ‘lesser’ persecution) for their faith in the Soviet Union, and to trivialize their fate. 

Back to the Washington Times:

…The Kremlin’s encouragement of traditional values has sparked a rise in Orthodox vigilantism. Fringe groups such as the Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers, an ultraconservative movement whose slogan is “Orthodoxy or Death,” are gaining prominence.

Patriarch Kirill has honored the group’s leader, openly anti-Semitic monarchist Leonid Simonovich, for his services to the Orthodox Church. The Banner Bearers, who dress in black paramilitary uniforms festooned with skulls, regularly confront gay and liberal activists on the streets of Moscow.

Although Mr. Putin has never made a secret of what he says is his deep Christian faith, his first decade in power was largely free of overtly religious rhetoric. Little or no attempt was made to impose a set of values on Russians or lecture to the West on morals.

However, since his inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, the increasingly authoritarian leader has sought to reach out to Russia’s conservative, xenophobic heartland for support.

It has proved a rich hunting ground.

Indeed it has. 

There are 4 comments.

  1. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Creepy. Sounds like 1920s Munich.

    • #1
    • February 3, 2014, at 1:40 AM PST
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  2. George Coussmaker Inactive

    This is a cynical ruse on his part, I think. He’s made his country a kleptocracy, and people can’t move without paying off government official in one way or another. So now he’s put on the mantle of religiosity, knowing that a good number of people will want to believe he’s turned over a new leaf. Constantine the Great (who may have been the genuine article) pulled it off and united the failing Roman Empire in the early 300’s A.D.

    • #2
    • February 3, 2014, at 1:45 AM PST
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  3. Crow's Nest Inactive

    No one can take seriously any claim from him that as a former KGB officer he is anything other than an opportunistic atheist autocrat. His presumption in declaring himself a devout, pious Christian is laughable.

    Putin has the most extraordinary capacity for shamelessly adopting whatever posture is most conducive to his most immediate needs and managing to align it with Russian national interests.

    And yet so successful has this monstrously crafty cynical strategy been that he has proved more successful than almost any of his rivals, and has recently even been flexing his muscle abroad–good old Barry sure got his clock cleaned. And now it appears the Orthodox church in Russia has learned the lesson of Putin’s ruthless persecution of any threat to his power and is deferring to him at least in part.

    Meet the new Russia; same as the old Russia.

    • #3
    • February 3, 2014, at 2:58 AM PST
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  4. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

     In Romania during the Ceausescu regime the Orthodox church was thoroughly infiltrated. I am told the sermons from the pulpit read like briefings from the Party Office.

    I think Putin is seeing the benefits of this as apposed to the old regime. 

    • #4
    • February 3, 2014, at 6:16 AM PST
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