Head of the Administration of the International Social Movement “Eurasian Movement“, Editor-in-chief of the magazine ‘Geopolitika’ and web-portal Geopolitica.ru, director of the social-political research programs in the Institute of Economics and Legislation, author of several books on geopolitics, conflicts and international relations, Moscow, Russian Federation.
In this article we will analyze two important tools of Russian soft power that have geopolitical significance and international attention.
Language and culture are the foundation of any society and their means of expression, communication, and the transmission of knowledge and traditions. Culture is the basic foundation of society, but language especially separates humans from the rest of the animal world.
Not by chance, an etymological connection between the basic terms that express the idea of the word can be found in many languages: Logos (λόγος) is a Greek word, meaning, and statement at the same time, and in the Church Slavonic and Old Russian languages, the word “language” is synonymous with “the people” (or nation). i.e. “God is with us! Understand this, O nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us. “ (Isaiah 8, 9).
The image of the house is used in various sciences as representing the state, nation, ethnic group, geographic area, etc. Eminent German philosopher Martin Heidegger used this metaphor when dealing with language, calling it the House of the Being (das Haus des Seins). Language is not only a means of expression and communication, but it is a kind of distillation of ethnic psychology, culture, spatial images, religion, and ideology from the ancient times. Incorporating foreign terminology in the pursuit of modernizing a language often undermines the ontological foundations of the people. If globalization eliminates differences, then linguistic adoptions gradually squeeze them out. They borrow cultural idioms from a certain historical context and replace them with simulacras, which have no connection with the native landscape (not only geographically, but also in the broader sense – social, philological, ethnic, philosophical).
Languages were previously divided along racial and ethnic lines, but in the second half of the twentieth century, the impact of languages on people as political subjects (i.e. the study of ethno-national factors associated with linguistics) began to be talked about. As noted by Ferguson, the nation is an object that usually does not attract the attention of linguists, although it is ultimately a normal base for “communication networks, systems of education and language planning”. In addition to the utilitarian value of language, one should also note its mythopoetical, semiotic, and archetypal features that affect people’s perception of the world. Spatio-temporal categories are directly related to the place of development and the linguistic basics of the language of the people. “Nature, among which the people grows and makes its own history, is the first and obvious that determines a person’s national integrity. It is a permanent factor. The landmass: forests / … /, mountains, sea, deserts, grasslands, tundra, permafrost or jungle, whether the climate is temperate or subject to catastrophic fractures / … /, wildlife, vegetation — all of this predetermines the generation of work and life / … / and the model of the world …
Thus, each people (nation) has its own particular view of the world, a matrix according to which reality is structured.
For Russian speakers, it must be said that over the centuries, the Slavs partook in extensive production and, more importantly, were the only people who began the expansion to the East, breaking the resistance of the Asian nomads. Prior to that, beginning from the invasions of the Huns in the VII century (which led to the Great Migration) and ending with the campaigns of the Horde in the XIII-XV centuries, the European part of the Eurasian continent faced massive pressure from the East. This forced the people to leave the European peninsula and venture out into the Atlantic.
It is obvious that this, together with the natural landscape and seasonal patterns, influenced the formation of the Russian mentality and the codes of the Russian language. In Russia, space is more important than time. Distance, breadth, the steppe, and the horizon, qualitatively, are more important than speed and the accuracy of time.
In modern political science, language pertains to soft power in world politics, where language is used to influence the political process of a state or group of countries, as well as colonies.
In history, there are a number of examples where a language-based people, which was a state, formed a dialect of imperial education or language that was imposed on the occupied and conquered countries, which over time eventually became their mother language. The example of the Roman Empire shows how the Latin language in its time, together with the conquests of the Roman Legions, transformed the Celtic language and formed modern French. Another example is how the transformed Spanish language spread far beyond Europe to Latin America, and the use of English in the British Empire as the language of administration, lead to the fact that it became the state language (or one of them) in many of its colonies – the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, etc.
As for the development of the Russian language, it is necessary here to draw attention to the role of the Byzantine Empire, which by transferring its knowledge and skills, contributed to the emergence of a writing system for the Western and Eastern Slavs (before the reform of Cyril and Methodius, who were originally Thessalonica Slavs, a different runic alphabet had been extended throughout the territory of contemporary Russia). The Cyrillic alphabet was not sustainable for the Western Slavs, who were Catholics, but it became entrenched in the Eastern Slavs and some of the Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples. “At the same time, the blueprint of the Christian Greek rationality was superimposed on the pre-existing field of the ancient Slavic rationality, which has its own structure, semantics, rules, and laws. The new way of thinking was not created out of nothing, but rather it build upon the elements of the old existing one. Therefore, Old Russian culture after the Baptism of Russia should be interpreted as a two-layer rationality, which must provide at least the pre-Christian, pre-Greek layer together with another one which was projected on it and on whose basis it is decorated.”
It should be noted that along with language, religion is also the second foundation of national identity and often a “cramp” for statehood. Together with language, religion and tradition create a so-called strategic culture that is an imperative for action (or inaction) for any nation in the sense of the state or for any empire in the sense of providing a unifying basis for its many constituent peoples.
In Russia and ancient Muscovy, Church Slavonic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity were a complex identity matrix for the Slavic population, affecting all classes from the highest political elite to the lowest level individuals. The dual function of language and religion formed the core of identity, which further contributed to the analysis and synthesis of public policy. This included the examples of war with European countries, relationships with fellow co-religionists, “Slavic brothers”, and the development of new lands in the eastern borders of the state.
The schism in the second half of the XVII century demonstrated the important role of language and religion in the Russian state. Beginning with the reform of the liturgical books and disputes affecting the etymological meaning of terms, it led to serious geopolitical consequences. As the authorities took the side of the group that supported the innovations against the opponents from the conservative camp, massive repression occurred. All adherents of the pre-reform strand of Orthodoxy (the Old Believers) were expelled, regardless of their social and class status. Many times, these individuals were executed, as was the case with the siege of the Solovetskiy Monastery’s monks who did not accept the new changes, as well as with a number of individual people. Some examples of the latter are priest Habakkuk and others who continued to denounce the New Believers, chiefly Patriarch Nikon and Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov. Large groups of Old Believers moved deep into the woods and to the outskirts of the Russian state. In a way, this promoted the development of new lands (Cossack Old Believers moved to the Caucasus and Siberia) and the development of mining, metallurgy, and so on (the Old Believers’ closely adhered to a vigorous labor discipline).
The Russian language was also affected by modernization. Together with the other reforms in the era of Peter the Great, the fields of diplomacy and science were also affected (e.g. Peter the Great founded the first European-style university, whose successor is the Moscow State University). The first reform of the Russian language was undertaken during Peter’s government, the second one was carried out by Mikhail Lomonosov, and the third and last one occurred in 1918.
But the Russian language has some problematic aspects associated with its foreign and domestic policies. The Russification of the Empire faced challenges from the remote areas and new territorial additions. This was due to two reasons. On the one hand, a clear political culture was still not developed and sufficiently formed in a number of places, and many ethnic groups were still in a state of transition. Some of them had a common history with Muscovy and had a quite familiar patois (home language), as was the case with the residents of Ukraine and Belarus, while others laid claim to a unique culture, such as the peoples of the Caucasus. On the other hand, a number of regions already pass through the process of nation-building, such as the cases of Finland (attached in 1909 after the Treaty of Hamina ended the war with Sweden) and Poland (which joined six years later). In order to differentiate between the various peoples of the Russian Empire, it was necessary to develop a specific legal term to separate the state-forming Russian (Slavic) people from other ethnic groups. Realizing the futility of rapid Russification for the people on the western outskirts of the empire, the word “foreigner” (inorodets), previously used in relation to Asians, began to be used in the early XX century. In a broader sense, the Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron defined them as “Russian citizens” of non-Slavic tribes.
However, the Slavic component also had a potential problem. It once more raised the question of religious identification – the majority of Poles are Roman Catholic, and in Ukraine and Belarus, there are also numerous Catholics, as well as the strong influence of the Greek-Catholics.
The wave of political nationalism sweeping Western Europe at the time eventually approached the borders of the Russian Empire.
Ukraine has a particular specificity with regard to the Russian language. Since the right-bank territory of the Dnepr River was under the control of Poland and Austria-Hungary for many years, there were repeated attempts to eradicate both Orthodoxy and the Russian language. Despite five centuries of violence committed by Poland and Austria up until the late XIX century, Little Russian (Malorussia – a special term for Ukraine) culture in general did not show any anti-Russian tendencies, even in the Galicia and Carpathian regions. This is evidenced by the 100,000 inhabitants of Galicia who petitioned the parliament in Vienna in 1880 for the right to learn the Russian language. However, the efforts of Austria-Hungary to create a new Ukrainian identity had both political and scientific aspects, and the “Galician project” at the beginning of the 20th century began to exercise significant influence on affairs.
In 1914, Deputy A. Savenko, speaking at the State Duma, said: “The Ukrainian movement is a serious political movement that represents a threat to the unity and integrity of the Russian Empire”. This was due not only to the common roots of the Velikorussians (a term for the inhabitants of Russia itself) and Malorussians (the inhabitants of Ukraine), but also to the fact that for centuries the Russian Empire had elites that immigrated from Ukraine and there was a large flow of inhabitants from Little Russia to the deep outskirts of Siberia and the Far East. At the same time, Savenko pointed out that the loss of the non-Russian periphery (the Caucasus and Central Asia) would not be as much of a threat to Russia as a split within the Russian nation itself. Peter Struve, the author of the idea of “Greater Russia”, refers to both groups collectively as the ‘national Russian state’. He also believed that if the Ukrainian intelligentsia’s idea of separate nationality became a working ideal and the people’s will united behind it, then this would be fraught with “the greatest and unprecedented split in the Russian nation, which would be a real state … and national disaster.” On the other hand, even in the same Ukraine, Russian identity is much more prevalent than Ukrainian identity. For example, in 1917, only 11% of Kiev students considered themselves as Ukrainians. The next peak of Ukrainization occurred during the 1920s and the period of the New Economic Policy. The ideas of communism were often distributed together with cultural and linguistic national projects, which in turn led to paradoxical changes inside of Russia. The project was only abandoned in 1932.
The next stage of Ukrainization took place during World War II and was carried out by the German occupational authorities (who also promoted similar policies of national separatism in other conquered areas under the tutelage of the Third Reich). The success of Hitler’s army led to almost all of Ukraine falling under German occupation by the end of 1942, which in turn gave new opportunities to the radical supporters of Ukrainization. With the help of the Germans, they banned the use of the Russian language in the press and introduced exclusively Ukrainian ones. Changes were also made in the educational system, and only those who knew the Ukrainian language were allowed to work. Those who did not know it were fired. Such discriminatory actions were financed by Germany and partaken with the active participation of German experts.
The next wave of Ukrainization occurred with Nikita Khrushchev, but by the time Leonid Brezhnev came to power, it had already passed. Without support from the state, the Ukrainian language was experiencing a “natural death”.
The last wave of Ukrainization in Little Russia came after Ukraine’s declaration of independence as a “democratic” state. It is not just the fact that Ukraine was left without Russia, but that the beliefs of this “new” nation had a clear anti-Russian tinge.
Returning to the policy of the Russian Empire, it should be noted that because of the threat of separatism in the early XX century, the leadership of the Empire became more interested in the policy of economic integration for the outskirts and the harmonization of its legal and administration systems to the Great Russian core. This continued to increase after the 1906 colonization of the easternmost remote areas of the Russian Empire and the spread of the Russian language and culture to its “foreign” outskirts. However, the social and national mobilization of this period covered not only Russians, but also the different “nations” of Russia, especially in the western regions (Poland, Finland, the Baltic States, etc.). It was earlier mentioned that these people had previously and gradually created their own modern nations with new elites, including their own literary language and highly developed professional cultures. “These counterclaims, the opposing tendencies of homogenization, and diversification strengthened unity and intensified the differences in political and social tension in the multinational Empire of the late monarch period.”
The Russian language was thus considered as the most reliable tool for the unification of the imperial space, including the Russian-speaking elite (as the nobility was not ethnically Russian). It must be said that the Russian nation itself, until the fall of the monarchy, had a much inferior standard of living and education when compared to the German, Polies, Jewish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarussian, and even Tatar and Bashkir inhabitants. The non-Russian native people of the Empire were actively involved in the local administration, sometimes even having significant influence and becoming the highest ranking government officials and senior military commanders. By fitting into the single state hierarchy, they became “Russian authorities”. “Loris Medikov is not an Armenian General – exclaimed the publicist – but a Russian General of Armenian origin.” On the other hand, the term Russian and Rossiyskiy (it is the same word in English – L.S.) have been synonymous for centuries, which introduced some confusion in their definitions in relation to linguistic, ethnic, political, and administrative issues. Until the beginning of the October Revolution of 1917, the terms were not accurately used in the “national” context, whereas in the Soviet times, they came to refer to ethnic origin.
An important milestone in the role of the Russian language was the major state legislation that was passed. The legislative act approved on April 23, 1906 summed up the reform of the political system of Russia throughout the period of 1905-1906. It secured the state system of the Russian Empire, decreed the official language, created a supreme governing power, refined the order of law, laid out the principles of organizations and the operation of central government agencies, described the rights and obligations of Russian citizens and the Orthodox church, etc.
The Russian language was recognized as nationally encompassing in the Army, Navy, and “public and social institutions”. The use of local languages and dialects within these establishments were regulated by special laws.
After the outbreak of the First World War, the debate about the role of language in policy intensified. The emergence of new rightwing parties and movements and the increased tendencies of Russian (imperial) nationalism among moderates and liberals displayed a new phase of public policy. The imperial identity was eroded by a typically European bourgeois nationalism in a new “Russian” form because it betted on a conglomerate of languages and cultures.
The government set itself the goal of achieving complete unification of the empire after the war. It was required that what the government viewed as separatism (the control of differentiated supply networks by the outskirt areas) be relinquished. A further condition for national unity was that the state language was to be exclusively Russian.
These plans were implemented by the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, and the revolutionary government was far more radical and far-sighted than the Tsarist regime. Under the Soviet Minister of People’s Education Anatoliy Lunacharsky, the Russian language was reformed in 1918, which resulted in the removal of some letters. A general education program was launched along with this project, which made it so that all citizens of the new Soviet state, regardless of gender or age, would be able to read and write. In the new Soviet republics where the primary language was not Russian (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia), it was still necessary for the regional elites to learn it in order to facilitate political communication with the center.
The national press, the main newspapers of the Communist Party, and the radio were also agents of spreading the Russian language in the regions. The beginning of the industrial area in the Soviet Union also necessitated a standard language to conduct technical documentation, and Russian was selected for this role.
The post-revolutionary situation also had another important factor – large migration flows from Russia to the countries of Europe, Asia, Latin American, and the US. White immigration included the Army Corps, the nobility, and the aristocracy who did not wish to remain in Soviet Russia. Together with their migration, their native language itself also migrated and surged abroad. These individuals also took with them various cultural artifacts (e.g. a wide variety of rare editions of manuscripts and liturgical books, as well as fictional works from the Russian Empire that were owned by Russian migrants, can be found in the Slavic Department of the Czech National Library in Prague). In sum, this led to the emergence of a Russian diaspora that has multiple levels. Along with the monarchists, liberals, religious fundamentalists, and various experts and professionals who were not accepted into the new Soviet government also traveled abroad. This unique phenomenon not only contributed to the spread of the foci of Russian culture, but it also had an opposite effect sui generis. Part of the migrants became actively involved in the political struggle against the Soviet state, broadcasting propaganda through the Russian language. On the other hand, groups of Russian-speaking migrants also promoted ethnic separatism (Ukrainians, Armenians, etc.).
A Tool in Geopolitical Turbulence
Throughout the history of both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, the Russian language was more than a tool for communication and interaction between the elites and a means of relations with the masses of the Russian population. It served as a link between the non-Russian people in both political entities. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian language remains the language of dialogue between politicians, businessmen, and the average townsfolk in all post-Soviet states. Its status is regulated differently in the republics of the former Soviet Union, but in fact, even in the states that preach a Russophobe policy, its leaders used Russian, not English, to communicate with each other (e.g. the odious former presidents of Georgia and Ukraine – Mikhail Saakashvili and Viktor Yushcheko – privately communicated with each other in Russian).
The Russian language is not solely connected with the contemporary Russian and Russian-speaking population of some of the former Soviet republics and the Russian diaspora. The peoples of Northern Eurasia are united by history, culture, a common fate, their work ethic, similar moral and religious structures, and importantly, the Russian language. Central Asia and the Caucasus are also automatically included in this area, where there is still an historical memory of the Russian language and the imperial culture. In general, there are still 275 million people who speak Russian throughout the world, placing it in 4th place for the most popular language behind Chinese, English, and Spanish languages.
The Russian language might play a significant role amidst the contemporary geopolitical turbulence.
One of the latest examples is Ukraine. The crisis started because of many reasons, but the revolt of the Ukrainian Southeast began after the junta’s attempts to implement a discriminative law against the Russian-speaking population there. Any reverses that Kiev attempted were not able to save the situation, and the conflict was quickly polarized. A branching tree of intentions, reflections, and political ambitions arose from the language question: federalism, the call for justice, self-representation, the question of a different identity than the Ukrainian one, a turn to Russia, etc.
As the Russian philosopher and geopolitican Alexander Dugin wrote in his book “The Fourth Political Theory”: “Our language expresses meaning, beauty, truth, and correctness. But this is not just a gift, it gave us a debt that we must return. And therefore, we must carefully keep learning how to speak the sacred Russian language. This is the meaning of the Eurasian philosophy (not coincidentally, the first leader of the Eurasians was a linguist, Prince Trubutskoy), and this is not only a love for the language, it is a cult, a holy reverence to what is said in Russian.”
Religion as a shared value and interest
Religion itself had a major impact on the formation of political systems in the territory of the Eurasian continent. Even in Western Europe, which now is an example of secular states, until recently, public institutions have a solid background in the face of so-called Christian Democrats. It is recognized not only by supporters of the Conservatives, but even the most liberal approaches to international relations. Recently, in the article issued in CFR’s “Foreign Affairs” author pointed to the fact the EU crisis as the decline of ideas and culture of the Christian Democrats, rose from Protestant and Catholic European communities. And this, in turn, threatens to change the political map of Europe. He argues that “Christian Democrat” is a designation that sounds peculiar to anyone accustomed to a strict separation of church and state. The term first appeared in the wake of the French Revolution and in the midst of fierce battles about the fate of the Catholic Church in a democracy. For most of the nineteenth century, the Vatican viewed modern political ideas — including liberal democracy — as a direct threat to its core doctrines. But there were also Catholic thinkers who agreed with the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville’s insight that, like it or not, democracy’s triumph in the modern world was inevitable. So-called Catholic liberals sought to make democracy safe for religion by properly Christianizing the masses: after all, the reasoning went, a democracy of God-fearing citizens would have a much better chance of succeeding than one whose subjects were secular. Other Catholic intellectuals hoped to keep the people in line through Christian institutions, especially the papacy, which the French thinker Joseph de Maistre envisaged as part of a Europe-wide system of checks and balances“.
Confession is primarily a social institution that produces, distributes and supports in society a certain worldview. The lesson of Western Europe showed that the accelerated reform in the church life, together with the state policy in the spirit of multiculturalism primarily threaten the integrity of societies, erode its structure, dilute the cultural traditions for centuries were spiritual braces in states and regions. Migration from former colonies in Africa and Asia makes modern political processes difficult to predict. Jan-Werner Muller notes, that “yet both as a set of ideas and as a political movement, Christian democracy has become less influential and less coherent in recent years. This decline is due not only to the continent’s secular turn. At least as important are the facts that nationalism — one of Christian Democrats’ prime ideological enemies — is on the rise and that the movement’s core electoral constituency, a coalition of middle-class and rural voters, is shrinking. As the larger project of European integration faces new risks, then, its most important backer may soon prove incapable of defending it”. But nationalism is also a form of self-defense connected with ethnocentrism. So in the case of EU we see a paradoxical process: migrants have provoked the rise of nationalism that is hostile to Christian Democrats and they need to adopt an immigration policy to maintain power. We will see how this battle will be solved in near future.
Therefore, in Russia the preservation of the foundations of traditional religions and support of church institutions from the government is directly related to the interests of political and social stability.
Russian Orthodox Church
Now we will analyze the interaction of church institutions that belong to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the state government and the masses. Recently, the relationship of state authorities in Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church are the subject of much debate among political scientists, religious scholars and experts in the field of international relations. Often this theme is also used for a variety of speculations and distortions of information, sometimes intentionally and sometimes due to lack of reliable information or unwillingness to understand this complex issue. It is obvious that there is a relationship and interaction of church and state (ROC of the Moscow Patriarchy), including historical, cultural, geopolitical and social factors.
Primarily, this interaction is quite different from the Western experience, as well as from Muslim countries. Although Russia has a plurality of beliefs, it should be noted that among the traditional religions (which include Islam, Buddhism, shamanism and Judaism), Orthodox (Eastern Christianity) is the most powerful and plentiful, although in general, based on the percentage of people who identify themselves as followers of the Moscow Patriarchy we can not to say that now Russia is an Orthodox country because of the separation of church and state. But because in ancient Russia, and later the Russian Empire Orthodoxy was the main religion, it has a certain effect on the perception of Orthodoxy.
In addition, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy has a zone of influence around the world — directly on the territory of the former Soviet Union parishes (temple, infrastructure, as well as parishioners, ie citizens) are widespread in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the Baltic countries and Kazakhstan. There are numerous parishes in Western Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.
Historically the close relationship between church and state is associated with the Byzantine Empire, and was taken from the idea of the symphony of authorities.
This principle was formulated in the 6th novel of St. Justinian: “The greatest blessings granted to men of high goodness to God, the essence of the priesthood and the kingdom, of which the first (priesthood, church authority) is in taking care of divine affairs, while the latter (kingdom, government) directs in taking care of human affairs, and both starting from the same source, embellishing human life. Therefore, nothing is so much to the heart of kings as the honor of priests, who for their part serve them, praying continuously for them to God. And if priesthood will be well and pleasing to God, and government will manage the state entrusted to it with truth, there will be complete agreement between them in all that is the good and benefit of the human race. And so we make the greatest possible effort to guard the true dogmas of God and honor priesthood, hoping to get through it great blessings from God, and hold fast to those that have. “
Following this rule, the Emperor Justinian in his novels recognized the power of state laws for these canons.
The classic Byzantine formula of relationships between state and church power is in “Epanagoge” (second half of the IX century): “temporal power and the priesthood relate to each other as body and soul, are necessary for public order just as body and soul in a living person . Due to their agreement and connection consists the welfare of a state.”
In Russia, not all Byzantine doctrines and ideas have been unconditionally accepted. Especially after the signing of the Union of Florence in 1439 with the Pope and the fall of Constantinople in 1453 in Moscow strengthened the opinion that the Greeks (Byzantines) were punished by God for deviation from the faith, and only in Russia preserved the true faith.
In the early 16th century, monk Philofei from Pskov city in his letters to the Grand Duke of Moscow Vasily III expounds the idea of the religious-political mission of Russia, known as the doctrine of the Third Rome. Phiilofei argued that the historical successor to the Roman and Byzantine empires, which had fallen because of deviations from the “true faith” is Muscovy — “the third Rome” (“Two Romes fallen, and the third stands and a fourth will not to be”). This idea resonated among the nobility, and among the commoners. Later this idea was constantly mentioned in the works of Russian philosophers, politicians and thinkers. With particular vigour it was picked up first by Slavophiles and Eurasians, who criticized the Western European culture and offered to reconsider the value of the Mongolian Horde (something by and large true, Eurasians noticed that during the Russian principalities, depending on the Horde, Orthodoxy was not depressed, as in Europe, where people were religious wars, in Russia occurred dawn of religious art, and a number of political technologies were taken from the Mongols and applied in the context of local conditions).
However, interpretation of the symphony of powers led to serious problems, in particular to the schism in 1654-1667 in the Russian Orthodox Church. It started with a general reform of the Church, which is affected by changes in the canons and in an attempt to unify ritual on Greek charter. In addition, Patriarch Nikon was trying to assert his authority over the tsar Alexei Mihayovich that led to a quarrel between the king and the patriarch. As later wrote Catherine the Great — “Nikon wanted to become Pope … Nikon introduced confusion and division in the domestic peaceful and holistic unified church. To use three fingers during praying forced upon us by the Greeks using curses, torture and executions … Nikon did Tsar-father Alexei as tyrant and torturer of his own people. “
This schism itself led to the rejection of reforms by the majority of the population of Russia, which has been subjected to repression and persecution. A situation where the power was of New Believers, whereas the basic people at the bottom were supporters of the old rite.
However, when Peter First role of the church itself significantly detracted. Near decrees in the late 17th century monastic property was taken under state control, stopped payment of subsidies. After the death of Patriarch Adrian in 1700 new one was not selected and for his role was appointed locum tenens (Exarch). After some time, was a collegial body, called the Synod. As Peter sympathized with the Protestant religion, it caused a corresponding reaction in the people, and Peter was called the Antichrist.
Interestingly, the attempt to assert the ideal symphony in the new situation when the empire collapsed was made by Local Sobor (Council) in 1917-1918. In the declaration that preceded the relation of Church and State, the requirement for separation of church and state is compared with the wish that “the sun is not shining, and the fire is not warmed. Church by the internal law of its being can not give up calling to enlighten, to transform the whole life of mankind, imbue it with its rays.” In the definition of the Council on the legal status of the Russian Orthodox Church, the State, in particular, encourage the following provisions: “The Russian Orthodox Church, being part of the one Universal Church of Christ, in the Russian State reserves among other confessions predominant public and legal status, as its rightful greatest shrine huge majority of the population and as a great historical power that built the Russian State… Terms and legitimation issued for themselves Orthodox Church established in its order, since the publication of their ecclesiastical authority, power and acts of church government and the court recognized the State of legally binding and value since they not violate state laws … state laws relating to the Orthodox Church, shall be issued except by agreement with the church authorities. “
Follow Local Sobors (Councils) held in situations when history made it impossible to return to the pre-revolutionary principles of church-state relations. Nevertheless, it was possible to return to the Patriarchy. The actual restoration of the Patriarchy happened in September 1943 by the decision of Joseph Stalin. Patriarch Sergius was elected by Council of Bishops. And Stalin targeting Russian Orthodox Church on the leading role in the acquisition of universal Orthodoxy (ie among other Orthodox churches).
Currently, there are 15 local churches, the number and role of which is significantly different from each other. Nevertheless, the value is the Russian Orthodox Church is really great.
Church in contemporary postmodern Russia
Russian Orthodox Church as an influential social institution has a special role in the formation and development of modern social change in our country. Modern scholars of church-state relations, we have witnessed two counter processes – desecularization of politics and politicization of religion. Power has turned its attention to the positive, unifying role of the Russian Orthodox Church as a vehicle of global values, and the Church has viewed politics as a means to achieve specific social, educational and religious purposes.
After the collapse of the USSR the political situation has changed, and with it, the role of religious organizations. Some time various sects who were alien to traditional Russian culture tried to fill the spiritual vacuum. However, in the process of restructuring of the ROC from times of Yeltsin to Putin’s era by efforts of the different figures of the Moscow Patriarchy were resolved many public, social and political problems.
Today the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy has offices at the United Nations and other international organizations. In Brussels was established office of the Moscow Patriarchy at the European international organizations whose goal is to dialogue with the European Union and other international organizations located in Brussels. In 2004, for the systematic work of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Council of Europe special representative of the ROC in Strasbourg was established. In October 2007 was the official visit of Patriarch Alexy II in PACE, where he addressed the European parliamentarians and outlined in his report the ROC’s stance on the issue of human rights awareness, issues of peace and globalization.
ROC actively seek to maintain a dialogue with international organizations as well as the political elite of national states, where there are parishes. Maintaining a dialogue with the outside world is one of the main tasks of the Moscow Patriarchy and the execution of this and the role claimed by the ROC is not possible without the support and close cooperation with the State.
February 29, 2007 President of Russia Vladimir Putin had approved a law giving religious institutions of higher education the opportunity to state accreditation and the right to issue state diplomas. In fact, theological education in Russia was approved at the state level.
November 30, 2010 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the Federal Law «On the transfer of property to religious organizations for religious purposes under state or municipal ownership.» After the signing of the law, Patriarch Kirill said that “in the area of church-state relations in Russia there was not a matter of principle, which would contain a kind of conflict between Church and State.”
The Church as social institution
At the Council of Bishops in 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a document entitled The Basic Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church. The preamble states that because of the change of political and social life, emergence of significant new problems for the Church in this area, the basis of its social concepts can be developed and improved. Range of topics covered is quite broad — it questions the relationship of the church and the nation, the secular law of the state, labor and property, personal and national, family values and morals, as well as issues of war and crime, the environment, globalization and secularization.
In the section devoted to the nation’s noted that “Patriotism of the Orthodox Christian should be active. It manifests itself in defense of the fatherland from the enemy, work for the good of the fatherland, the care order of people’s lives, including through participation in the affairs of government. A Christian is called to preserve and develop national culture and national identity… Orthodox ethics is contradict to divide nations into the best and worst and to belittle any ethnic or civic nation. “
The chapter devoted to the relationship between church and state also clarifies the position in relation to the secular authorities.
There it is stated that “the Church as a divine-human organism is not just a mysterious nature to the elements of the world, but also a historical component, comes in touch with the outside world, including the state.”
With reference to the teachings of the apostles notes that “Bible calls the authorities of the state to use power for restricting evil and supporting good, in which it sees the moral sense of the existence of the state.” The Church not only instructs to its children to obey state authorities, regardless of belief and worship of its carriers, but also to pray for it.
At the same time, Christians should avoid absolutization, to recognize the limits of its purely earthly, temporal and transient value conditioned by the presence of sin in the world and the need to restrain it. According to the teachings of the Church, the government itself shall not be entitled absolutes itself, expanding its borders to complete autonomy from God and established order of things by Him, which can lead to abuse of power, and even to the deification of rulers. The state, like other human institutions, even if aimed at the good, may have a tendency to become self-sufficient institution. Numerous historical examples of this transformation show that in this case the state loses its true purpose.
The Church should not assume the functions of state-owned resistance to sin by means of violence, use of temporal power, taking on the functions of the government, involving coercion or constraint. At the same time, the Church can approach the government with a request or appeal to exercise power in certain cases, yet the decision rests with the state.
The state should not interfere in the life of the Church, its government, doctrine, liturgical life, counseling, and so on, as well as all the activities of the canonical church institutions, except those parties is supposed to operate as a legal entity, to enter into certain relationship with the state, its legislation and governmental agencies. The Church expects that the state will respect her canonical norms and other internal statutes.
Legal sovereignty over the territory of the state belongs to its authorities. Consequently, they determine the legal status of a local church or its part, giving them the opportunity unhampered fulfillment of church mission or restricting such a possibility. State power thus in front of Eternal Truth makes judgment on itself and eventually foretells own fate. Church remains loyal to the state, but above this loyalty is God’s commandment to do the work of salvation in any situation and under any circumstances.
If the authority forces Orthodox believers to turn away from Christ and His Church, and to commit sinful and spiritually harmful actions, the Church should refuse to obey the state.
Areas of church-state cooperation in the present historical period are:
a) peacemaking on international, inter-ethnic and civic levels and promoting mutual understanding and cooperation between people, nations and states;
b) concern for the preservation of morality in society;
c) spiritual, cultural, moral and patriotic education and training;
d) charity and the development of joint social programs;
e) preservation, restoration and development of the historical and cultural heritage, including concern for the preservation of monuments of history and culture;
f) dialogue with the public authorities of all branches and levels on issues important for the Church and society, including the development of appropriate laws, regulations, orders and decisions;
g) care of the military and law-enforcement agencies and their spiritual and moral education;
h) works on crime prevention, care of persons in detention;
i) science and research;
k) culture and arts;
l) work of ecclesiastical and secular media;
m) preservation of the environment;
n) economic activity for the benefit of the Church, the state and society;
o) support for the family, motherhood and childhood;
p) opposition to the activities of pseudo-religious structures that pose a threat to individuals and society.
As we can see, the scope of the church is quite broad and it helps to the state to cover a variety of social strata and play the role of facilitator and regulator on various issues. As says themselves representatives of the Church, «today there are opportunities for cooperation between church and state to improve the social situation of different categories of the population through coordinated work of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including religious ones. This family support, healthy lifestyle, preservation and development of the system of values, which ensures the continuity of generations and the social world. «
Church as civil society
Church can also be seen as civil society, because its parishioners — people who are citizens of different states. And since Moscow is the headquarters of the Patriarchy, Russia is also associated as the keeper of spiritual traditions. Naturally Russian citizens are actively involved in the activities of their communities and the various structures under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchy.
Article 18 of the Federal Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations” gives the Church the right to carry out charitable activities, both directly and through the establishment of charitable organizations. The main feature of such organizations should be non-profit nature of the activity, which is consistent with the spirit of sacrificial love.
Thus, the Church can carry out social activities as completely independently and in partnership with government agencies and institutions.
Because civil society is often perceived as protection of rights and freedoms, we should to analyze this topic carefully.
Specific areas of cooperation between the Church and the State in ensuring human rights outlined in the Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity adopted by X World Russian People’s Sobor (Council). It notes: “this cooperation should be the preservation of the rights of nations and ethnic groups in their religion, language and culture, defending religious freedom and the rights of believers to their lifestyle, confrontation to crimes on ethnic and religion issues, protection of the individual from the tyranny of the authorities and employers, care of the rights of military, protection of the rights of the child, taking care of people who are in prison and social institutions, the protection of victims of destructive cults, preventing total control over the privacy and human beliefs, opposition to the involvement of people in the crime, corruption, slave trade, prostitution, drug abuse and gambling. “
In recent years, their readiness to cooperate with NGOs government agencies, local authorities and commercial companies increased. “The number of tenders and proposals to address the financing of social projects in Russia is growing from year to year, they are becoming more sophisticated, not only focused on a particular aspect of social life, but also on the selection of the best partners in terms of effectiveness and efficiency of resource use. For example, Moscow Charity Council for several years using such criteria for the selection of recipients of budget funds as achievable and measurable planned results, the economic efficiency of projects, etc. Organizations that can not imagine having a successful experience, describe the expected result, offer a reliable measuring instruments to assess the impact on the situation in the society and the economic efficiency of the chosen approach, can hardly expect to receive funds from budget of state. “
Institutions of civil society in Russia enjoy the greatest confidence is the Church — 43% committed to it versus 4% of Russians skeptics. Human rights, charity (humanitarian), environmental, women’s organizations, trade unions and political parties rely only 17%, 16%, 12%, 10%, 8% and 3% of respondents, and do not trust — 4%, 5%, 5%, 5 %, 13% and 23% respectively. Young people who are involved in their activities are more loyal to institutions of civil society.”
Assuming that the church is the civil society that actively defends its position, it is necessary to note a number of areas in which work Orthodox organization. Based on the tenets, as well as oral and written traditions of Russian Orthodoxy, you can call this catechetical activity, responding to the challenges of globalization. In Russia, there are some basic movements that wary perceive the innovations. Attempts to implement e-government and related services are treated as a seal of the Antichrist. Hence arose the resistance of obtaining an individual tax identification number (TIN), and everything that is connected with the electronic document. Juvenile justice is also perceived as a destructive process, aimed at the destruction of traditional family relationships. In Russia on the basis of Orthodox organizations also emerged a powerful movement against the gay lobby in Russia. Under public pressure, attempts to hold a gay parade in Moscow were banned by the authorities. GMO products — another aspect that is under scrutiny of the Orthodox community. In Russia, there are also alternative food production, which are the target group of the Orthodox population (the focus is not only on the type of organic food production, but also the relation of this product with any monastery or charities).
Some major civic associations although in form are not Orthodox, but in essence have a strong connection with the Church and the Russian Orthodox tradition. The most striking example is the Russian Cossacks, which is active in a variety of activities (from the protection of temples and monasteries to educational institutions and folk ensembles).
Importantly, the active actions of the U.S. and its satellites, in any way affect the interests of Russia are positioned as an attempt of Antichrist to destroy the last bastion of Christianity and the sign of the final times. A problem occurring within the United States and the EU is uniquely evaluated as a punishment for the Lord to the people of these countries. Supranational institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, IMF, NATO, Bilderberg club and others are called not only Masonic but frankly satanic projects that are created for the destruction of nations and states, and their activities bring Armageddon. Meanwhile, Russia is seen as a country Katekhon which holds away the coming of the Antichrist. And in the final battle at the Second Coming of Christ Russia will be the bastion for forces of good against the forces of evil, by which often refers to the United States, Great Britain, Israel, globalism, Zionism and the West in general. Interestingly, that position of Muslims in Russia on this point is similar. And often the prominent figures of Islam outside Russia also claim that true Muslims should support Russia and to unite with it against Dajjal.
Church as the cultural matrix
The Russian Orthodox Church can also be regarded as a treasure trove of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Many temple complexes in Russia are protected as heritage under the UNESCO. There are funds of icons, books and church items that are assessed as cultural relics. Singing traditions and spiritual verses (especially among the Old Believers) are also unique spiritual monuments of Orthodox culture, which is transmitted from generation to generation.
Domestically, organized tours to famous historical sites associated with Church activities. From abroad come a lot of pilgrims to visit the holy places. You can also note the special missions related to bringing religious shrines to Moscow and other Russian cities from other countries (mostly from Greece). During these ceremonies of shrine visitation, they always have large numbers of people who come to worship from different cities. Festivals are also held on Orthodox commemorative dates or related (eg, family traditions). In July 2014 in Sergiev Posad city near Moscow was a festival dedicated to the 700th anniversary of the birth of Russian saint Sergius of Radonezh. This saint is known for having blessed Dmitry Donskoy and his army into battle with an army of Mamaia in September 1380 (Kulikovo Field, now a district of the Tula region). It is believed that this battle has begun strengthening Russian statehood, and previously scattered principalities began to unite under the Moscow principality, to stand together against external aggression.
These events may also be regarded as a political mobilization of citizens, since they are aimed at maintaining intragroup solidarity, promote information exchange among members of the Russian Orthodox Church and the common positions on various issues, including related to the state’s domestic and foreign policy.
In schools, the young are taught the basics of theology, which will create at an early age a positive attitude towards religious cultures and traditions of Russia.
Political conflicts into religious dimension
Recently, with the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, it has been associated with a number of conflicts and scandals.
February 21, 2012 members of the libertarian band Pussy Riot, known of provocations, committed performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow in front of the altar. Church leaders saw this act as a shame with elements of blasphemy (according to church regulations women are forbidden to climb on the platform in front of the altar), and by the secular authorities qualified as hooliganism. After the arrest of two suspects and investigative procedures, the Western media began to accuse Russia of violating human rights, the pursuit of creative artists, concluding that the Kremlin is to blame for everything, and the tandem of church and state is nothing short of a symbiosis of totalitarianism. Parallel to this, there were articles criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill directly. Known and no less radical actions of the Ukrainian group “Femen” (they were mostly on the territory of Ukraine and Western Europe) against the Russian Orthodox Church and Christianity in general.
These incidents have caused a debate in the community of experts and prompted a number of church activists to lobby for the introduction of a bill to ban anti-religious actions (which included not only Christians but also Muslims and members of other religions).
The law was passed by the State Duma, which caused another criticism from domestic and Western liberals.
Another type of conflict is linked to the coup d’etat in February 2014 in Ukraine and subsequent pressure on the representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church there with the new authorities and Ukrainian nationalist organizations. Ukraine is the second largest number of parishes after Russia. Naturally, the Ukrainian nationalists are interested in capturing the property or transfer clergy of the Moscow Patriarchy into Kiev Patriarchy (Kiev Patriarchy is not legally recognized by the World Orthodoxy, consisting of 15 local churches, but in fact there are temples in Ukraine, called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church).
In 2011 in Ukraine there were 12,043 parishes, 186 monasteries and 9680 clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church. For example — in Russian there is 17,042 parishes, 499 monasteries and 18,732 clergy (statistics for 2013). Now Ukraine representatives of the Moscow Patriarchy are under intense political pressure, and the Patriarch was forced to cancel several trips even in this country. It should be noted that in Western Europe there is a dichotomy seen in the political activity: among Ukrainians who want temples of the Greek Catholic Church pronounced anti-Russian in a propaganda campaign and, while in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church, they are not trying to affect policy issues with respect to Ukraine and have limited themselves to calls to establish a peaceful dialogue, to stop the fratricidal war and conduct prayers for the bringing of peace.
Recently, the Russian Orthodox Church is an important subject of informational, social, cultural and economic policy in Russia and abroad. On the other hand — is an object of attention, and often criticized by the liberal institutions, many of which are openly anti-clerical. Among many such institutions and foreign actors — from the media to prominent politicians. Obviously, strengthening the position of the Russian Orthodox Church is always a fierce (and often unjustified) criticism from its side.
At the same time the relationship between church and state in the country, a number of reforms and laws aimed at strengthening the Russian identity and contribute to the consolidation of the part of civil society, which does not accept the liberal pseudo-values and aggressive influence of foreign actors. The Russian Orthodox Church supported by a certain constant segment of civil society, which can be called conservative, various media, representatives of science, culture and art.
The church also has been active in the international arena, and its members are closely watching world politics and helping to develop a position on certain issues, which is both an internal cross-cultural factor, and an important element of public diplomacy.