Orthodox Church in Political Gamble

Reuters has posted some interesting analysis today on the recent political shift taken by the Orthodox Church in very obviously backing Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency – despite the secular laws which govern the country.  Is this a bid to win financial backing from the government, an attempt to unite the church’s ‘moral authority and material needs’, or does this renewed hunger for a political platform have more sinister implications (for example, in relation to its persecution of the punk band Pussy Riot).

[The Orthodox Church’s] decision to stand firmly behind Putin before he starts a six-year presidential term is a gamble which some experts say could yet backfire and undermine its authority in a society that has been polarised by the protests which began over alleged fraud in a December parliamentary election.

Criticism that Russia’s longest-surviving institution is working hand-in-hand with the Kremlin to suppress dissent and lend legitimacy to Putin’s dominance has been further fuelled by Church hardliners’ uncompromising stance.

“When the Church stands on the side of one political force against another political force without the universal support of society, this is a reason for serious censure,” Andrei Zubov, a historian who has studied Russian church-state relations, said.

“I have heard a lot of unhappiness from the clergy over this recently.”

You can read the article here.