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article from The Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk]

Orthodox Church unholy alliance with Putin
By Adrian Blomfield in Omsk
Last Updated: 1:54am GMT 23/02/2008

Russia's Orthodox Church, despite decades of brutal repression under Soviet rule, is putting its trust in the KGB to ensure that a remarkable religious revival does not fade with the departure of President Vladimir Putin.

In an unusual move, Alexei II, the Church's patriarch, has endorsed deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev ahead of next week's presidential election.

The influence of his support on Russia's estimated 100 million Orthodox worshippers is immense.

It also illustrates the unholy alliance the Church has forged with the Kremlin since Mr Putin came to power eight years ago.

The president, a proud adherent, has allowed the Orthodox Church to regain much of its Tsarist-era lustre and has won the enthusiastic support of religious leaders in return.

With his hand-picked successor almost guaranteed victory in the March 2 poll, Mr Putin is determined to maintain the arrangement by holding on to the reins of power as prime minister.

The relationship might seem odd. It was the KGB, after all, that led persecution of the Church in Soviet times, when priests were regularly jailed, tortured and executed. Neither this nor accusations that Mr Putin is restoring many of the attributes of Soviet rule seem to bother Alexei.

Although he has never confirmed it, the patriarch, like the president, is a former KGB agent codenamed Drozdov, according to Soviet archives opened to experts in the 1990s.

Many in the Orthodox hierarchy are also accused of working as KGB informers, a fact that critics say the Church has never fully acknowledged.

"Essentially, the Orthodox Church is one of the only Soviet institutions that has never been reformed," said one priest, who declined to be identified for fear that he could be defrocked. That fate already befell another colleague, Gleb Yakunin, in the 1990s when he called on Church leaders with KGB links to repent.

Yet it is not just the KGB that binds the Church and the Kremlin. In the Tsarist era, the Church was a committed supporter of the imperial rallying cry "orthodoxy, autocracy and nationhood." Critics say that Mr Putin, who draws as much of inspiration from imperial Russia as he does from the Soviet Union, has adopted the same mantra - making the president and the Church ideal bedfellows.

Both have blossomed from the relationship. The number of Russians who identify themselves as Orthodox has doubled in the past decade, with two-thirds of the 140 million population proclaiming the faith - quite a feat after seven decades of official atheism.

Yet most Russians say they follow Orthodoxy for national rather than moral reasons. Deeply patriotic and with a declared intention of making Russia great again, the Church has milked the sentiment.

Priests are regularly seen on television sprinkling holy water on bombers and even nuclear missiles, a blessing that reinforces Mr Putin's own militaristic philosophy.

The Church has even supported Mr Putin's repression of democracy, with a senior bishop last year comparing human rights activists to traitors.

When a prison chaplain suggested that the jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a personal enemy of the president, was a political prisoner, he was promptly defrocked.

Late last year, Sergei Taratukhin - who served five years in a Soviet gulag for defying the authorities - recanted, falling to his knees in front of television cameras and won a partial reprieve. He is now employed as a rubbish collector at the cathedral in the far-eastern city of Chita, near where Khodorkovsky is jailed.

In return, Mr Putin has worn his religious credentials very publicly and is regularly shown on state television kissing icons at Church services.

Given his popularity, Mr Putin's example has been emulated by many Russians. The business and political elite have assiduously followed instructions to fund the rebuilding of churches destroyed by the Soviets across the country.

Last year the magnificent Assumption cathedral in the Siberian city of Omsk, blown up by the Bolsheviks in 1935, was rebuilt with donations from the city mandarins.

The result is that Russia, at least in religious terms, is beginning to take on a Tsarist-era hue - and not just in terms of architecture.

Sister Varvara, who lived under a tree for many years before locals helped her to build a wooden church, is Omsk's local prophetess, healer and mind reader - a throwback to the wandering mystics such as Rasputin, who dominated religious rural life at the turn of the 19th century.

Dignitaries from across Siberia visit her to hear their fortune or just get advice. Sometimes, she gives Mr Putin a helping hand. A few years ago she told Tatyana Chertova, a retired actress with a shock of red hair, that she would become famous by writing a play about the president.

Mrs Chertova's play, Putin's Holiday, premiered last year.

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C^AVA ICYCY XPUCTY

I wish to bring you attention to an article appearing in the February 23 edition of AMERICA (Providence Fraternal out of Philadelphia) page 1; UKRAINE NOT RUSSIA, SUCCESSOR OF KIEVAN (sic.) RUS�. YUSHCHENKO ADVISORS SAY. By Paul Goble research director of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy.

In part I quote: ��Now, the authors of the report say, it is time to insist on the restoration of historical truth, to recognize and proclaim that Kievan Rus� was the forefather of Ukraine rather than the foundation stone of Russia and that Ukrainians are and have always been a special nation not an offshoot of the Russian one.,,�

(http://www.nr2.ru/koev/164124.html)

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This came up over on the Traditional Catholic forum of Angelqueen, and to my surprise they were almost all unanimously in favor of the Church-State alliance in Russia, and in a nutshell said such an article was to be expected from the modernist crazies writing for the Telegraph.

I find myself somewhere in the middle of the extremes of both the Telegraph article and the Traditional Catholics over on Angelqueen.

Alexis


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Really this is a matter left to the Russian Federation. It isn't the USA's business how the Government in the Russian Federation runs itself.

I find it amusing almost that stories like this are still being made up. It smells uber-protestant-anti-Orthodox with a hint of soviet area styled reporting. So at the end of the article did they have little tabs to pull off with the phone number of the local minister that will send you to Russia to convert them?

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Some of my closest friends are Ukrainian Catholics, but in all honesty, as things currently stand, Ukraine's stated aims are to join NATO and the EU. Russia's stated aim is to stand by the Serbian Christian population of Kosovo. So as a force for good in the world, Russia is currently ahead of Ukraine, as well the United States, I'm sorry to say.

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Really this is a matter left to the Russian Federation. It isn't the USA's business how the Government in the Russian Federation runs itself.

OP:

I have to agree with you. What business is it of Western governments or news organizations or even common people that have promoted a "separation of Church and State" and become secular in the process to stick their noses into the business of a nation and people that want to return to their roots? The thrust of this restoration, it seems to me from the limited information I have, is that the Church is there to restore the national moral foundation nearly destroyed under communism. Would that a strong Church were able to lead our own nation to a restoration of some kind of moral order.

Maybe it's me, but I find it rather odd--crazy is perhaps the better word--that we Westerners think we should export our dreams and ideas to the whole world by one way or another--even by military force--while our own house is crumbling at home. At least the Orthodox Church in Russia still has her moral compass intact after suffering for it under 70 years of cruel persecution. Would that our own United States could come together in some common understanding of where we should be and where we want to go instead of being so divided that we can hardly have a civil discussion about anything related to our civic life.

Who knows what is going on in the hearts of His Holiness and President Putin? God knows. And from forgiveness Sunday--God forgives. May God bless the Russian people as they attempt to restore their land and their culture with the blessings of God coming through the Orthodox Church. Meanwhile I hope they pray for us to have the same blessings they are rediscovering.

BOB

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This UK opinion piece does not make the most rational analysis.

Terry

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C^AVA ICYCY XPUCTY

The article appearing in the weekly paper AMERICA: �UKRAINE NOT RUSSIA, SUCCESSOR OF KIEVAN RUS�. (Ukrainian president) YUSHCHENKO ADVISORS SAY� by Paul Goble is dealing with the effects of disinformation. It states �� it is time to insist on the restoration of historical truth, to recognize and proclaim that Kievan Rus� was the forefather of Ukraine rather than the foundation stone of Russia��.

This is a BIG deal in American academia who for generations disregarded the geographical fact that Kyiv (Kiev) sits within Ukraine and has never been transported elsewhere, its not Brigadoon.

Historically mother Russia promotes it's church, whose protective omophor is mandamus as an agent of disinformation. It was Russians who plundered the cradle of Slavic Christianity Kyiv in 1169 and again in 1203 (note: Orthodoxy perpetuates as scandal Venice sacking Constantinople in 1204) leaving Kyiv to the deathblow of the Mongols. The Khan boasted �I will tie Kyiv between the back legs of my horse� after which he gave Russian Alexander Nevsky the title Grand Prince of Kyiv and the Russian church glorified him as a saint. Nevsky expelled the Knights Templar and rejected treaties with European Christendom preferring to pay for Mongol's friendship while the Christians of Kyiv migrated westward into Volyn.

In 1988 while the Russian Church in the USSR usurped the Millennium of the baptism of Kyiv Rus� into European Christendom Ukrainians in the free world took matters into their own hands. There was, due to the squabbling amongst the Ukrainian bishops in the west a grassroots� effort from the people to reclaim their legacy. Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox faithful joined as one with commemorations in various free world capitals, cities and hamlets so much so that the free press took note and began reporting accordingly. Due to this new truth of historical information the persecution of Ukrainian Christendom was highlighted, allowing the Church of the catacombs to emerge into the light. In !991 Ukraine declared independence by a referendum of over 90%.

Today Moscow both president and patriarch is again reclaiming the legacy of Princely Kyiv and their influence over independent Ukraine as �canonical territory�. Beyond religious governing this incorporates language usage and historic perspective. The 10 million famine victims of 1933 can no longer be ignored but can become a tragedy of a natural disaster rather than Russian orchestrated genocide. How soon have you forgot the lessons of the Soviet satellites.


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It is odd that the deaths resulting from forced collectivization under Stalin and Mao are practically ignored or dismissed by some academics. Is class warfare somehow more just than racial genocide? Was Stalin more justified to purge the kulaks than Hitler was to purge non-Arians?

I don't mean to say that Stalin was 'worse', by whatever measure, than Hitler. I just don't understand why we hear so little of the abuses of Marxist-Leminist ideology.

Terry

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C^ABA ICYCY XPUCTY !

Terry,

Remember during the big one Uncle Joe (Stalin) was our alley, the USA and USSR saved the world. Russia is an aristocracy like England, the rest of us are peasants. If it gets complicated use London for Moscow and the others call Irish, Scottish or Welsch. Its race there class here.

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For whatever it's worth, I support Ukraine's right to be an independent nation 100 percent. However let's not be so naive as to ignore who financed the Orange Revolution.

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C^ABA ICYCY XPUCTY !

The US? I don't mean the US - UGCC. At least it got an American UGC first lady in Kyiv.


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