Staunton, April 6 – The Russian Orthodox Church’s promotion of patriotic youth groups has met its match in analogous groups that have been organized by neo-pagan organizations. Both groups are militarized and armed, and increasingly, Vladislav Maltsev says, these “’warriors of God’ are dividing up Moscow.”
In an article in today’s “NG-Religii,” Maltsev, who serves as an observer for that publication, argues that “under the conditions of the atomization of Russian society, such groups, which unite under brutal slogans dozens and hundreds of people in the future may acquire even more influence than now” (ng.ru/ng_religii/2016-04-06/4_warriors.html).
These groups, Maltsev says, often are on opposite sides of plans by the Russian Orthodox Church to build new churches and other religious structures in Moscow, with the church hierarchy backing the new buildings and the local population often very much opposed. Each side now has what one might call a “militant” wing.
The Orthodox Church has organized patriotic and quasi-military groups, often masked and sometimes armed, which it can deploy against its opponents. Now, the situation is complicated by the fact that neo-pagan groups have organized similar groups who can contest the church groups’ efforts.
That can lead to clashes of various kinds and even more seriously, Maltsev says, to a dividing up of the city between areas controlled by the church and its loyalists and the pagans and theirs, a division that the nominal authorities in the city seem either unwilling or unable to overcome.
The “NG-Religii” commentator points out that the Orthodox and neo-pagan groups not only are arrayed against each other over the issue of the construction of more Orthodox churches in the Russian capital but have gained support in each case from officials in the security agencies and among Russian nationalist extremist parties.
According to one pro-Orthodox writer, “we have achieved a mini-city, a city within a city … with its own mini-army” that is in a position to defend Orthodoxy against the neo-pagans. But Maltsev suggests that elsewhere, the neo-pagans have achieved the same time only on the opposite side.
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