Friday, November 1, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Putin and Kirill 'Bid Farewell’ to Democracy in Russia, Lunkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 1 – President Vladimir Putin at Valdai and Patriarch Kirill at the  more recent World Russian Popular Assembly chose exactly the same themes: “isolationism and the opposition of Russia to the West, Russia’s moral supremacy over other countries and especially ‘rotten’ Western democracy, and Russia’s special path as a great power.”

            Taken together, Roman Lunkin, a leading Russian specialist on religious affairs at the Institute of Europe of the Academy of Sciences, says, these constitute “a farewell to democracy,” something that Kirill has been promoting since long before he became patriarch but that until now Russian leaders would not have permitted themselves to say so explicitly.

                Kirill has been using the Russian Popular Assembly to promote these ideas since 1993, and he and other representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church have “openly and secretly proclaimed a direct struggle with democracy and other Western values, Lunkin says in a blog post today (

In speech after speech to this group, Kirill has spoken about the unique qualities of the Russian people and about “the need to build a corporate Orthodox state on the basis of the concept of ‘Russian civilization.’” Earlier, he spoke about democracy only as “the harmonization of the interests of the authorities and the people.” Now, he has dispensed with that.

Moreover, this year as he has in the recent past, the patriarch rejected the notion of universal human rights and said that “the observance of traditional moral values and way of live” must have “primacy,” even if that requires the use of force by the state itself, views that have attracted many Russian nationalists to his side, even if they are not especially religious.

And, Lunkin continues, “it is no accident that the patriarch cited the philosopher Ivan Ilin who spoke for the establishment of a corporate-social strata national-orthodox state” and who infamously but consistently “greeted at the outset national socialism in Germany” under Adolf Hitler.

“The Russian Orthodox solidarist state, which in the speech of Patriarch Kirill is declared to be the highest goal, on the one hand, [is intended to] provoke the authorities to solve the nationality question,” Lunkin adds. “But on the other hand, the empire is becoming a farce” as is the declaration of the Russian political system as “the most moral” regime.

That is because today “abortions, suicide, and drug use flourish more [in Russia] than in the ‘rotten’ West,” because “the most peaceful ‘symphony of ethnoses’ is directly contradicted by the Caucasian wars and the destruction of the peoples of the Far North,” and because few in Tatarstan or other non-Russian republics “would agree with the conception of Holy Russia.”

                But what is most worrisome at least in the short term is that the Russian president has accepted the ideas of the Russian patriarch, a convergence of state and church likely to entail the most terrible consequences not only for the two men but for the community they lead and for the rest of the world that must deal with them and it.  

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