Thursday, February 22, 2024

Moscow and Minsk Seek to Destroy Radically Conservative Orthodox Group whose Views are Spreading within ROC MP

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 19 -- More than 700 of the 10,000 followers of a dissident Russian Orthodox sect have been arrested in recent weeks by the Russian and Belarusian authorities because officials and official churchmen fear the views of the group are spreading too rapidly among conservative elements in the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

            These actions have received little attention, journalist Lera Furman says, because the group, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Tsarist Empire (ROC-TE) is extreme in its doctrines and its members are concentrated in rural areas of the Russian Federation and Belarus (

            She reports that hierarchs of the ROC MP “have approved this pogrom of their confessional opponents” because they see the sect as “a real threat to the monopoly of the Moscow Patriarchate” and are quite willing to have the state do their dirty work for the officially sanctioned church.

            The clergy and laity of the ROC-TE focuses on the last tsar and awaits the return of monarchy in Russia. The community meets in house churches and uses social networks to keep in touch with one another. And its members seek to live separately, refusing official documents like passports or money, lest they be contaminated by the current regime.

            While few other Orthodox accept all of the tenets of the ROC-TE, many agree with the dissident church’s focus on the tsarist past, its anti-globalism and its commitment to live apart in what both they and the ROC-TE view as the last days before the Apocalypse. The attractiveness for many Russians of these views helps explain what the authorities are doing to the group.

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