The state policy as regards religious confessions in the years of Boris Yeltsin's presidency underwent various metamorphoses. And Vladimir Putin, who headed the state in 2000, received a not too coherent heritage.
It is already a common phrase to say, that by that time the state had special relations with the Russian Orthodox Church (more precisely, with the Moscow Patriarchate and it dioceses). Of no less doubt was the fact, that the position of the new religious movements (NRMs) and some religious associations not so new, but weakly represented in Russia was somewhat restrained (in particular, by the Law of 1997 :On freedom of conscience and religious associations;). Islam, Orthodox Judaism and Buddhism in its traditional Kalmyk and Buryat versions enjoyed the state's :benevolent neutrality,; with the exception of some local cases of conflicts with the Orthodoxes (more often because of building some mosques in :traditionally Russian; cities). One should assume the state was ready to especially distinguish Islam, but that was prevented by the dissociation of the Moslem religious leaders, which was inconvenient for the officials and hardly understood by them.
Without dwelling here on the details concerning the 1990s, we would just note, that there was simply nobody to carry out a more clear and more structured policy toward the confessions, as the decisions in that area were made by various authority bodies independently from each other, while a single official body authorized to deal with the religious associations is long since gone.
The concepts of :an inventory making; and :a vertical of authority,; with which the new President began his rule, obviously implied a certain conceptualization and coordination of his confessional policy as well, but at first his hands were simply too busy to deal with that theme, far from being paramount in political importance. The events of early 2000 do not give any grounds to claim some directed policy existed. On the one hand, Head of the Department of External Church Relations (OVTzS) of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTz) Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev), responsible among other things for the relations of the Church with the state, was even engaged in the development of the concept of new governance, which took place under Herman Gref's leadership (although those works remained basically unused). Patriarch Alexis II turned out to be the sole figure present at the transfer of :the nuclear briefcase; from Yeltsin to Putin. On the other hand, :The Concepts of National Security; signed as early as on January 10, 2000, as different from the previous concept (1997), did not mention RPTz. Neither it mentioned :the totalitarian sects; (i.e. NRMs) giving it concern. The concept mentioned only :a cultural-religious expansion of neighboring states to the territory of Russia,; most likely referring to radical Moslem movements.
At the beginning of Putin's rule the disputes on his attitude to religions were very popular, and those continue even now in the Orthodox-patriotic circles. From time to time a rumor even is repeated that Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), known for his fundamentalist (or, at least, extremely conservative) views, is the President's confessor, but most frequently that rumor originates from Archimandrite Tikhon himself, who affords himself to make some ambiguous hints. Basically all disputes have been based on attempts to interpret Putin's separate phrases, but presently any Russian political scientists would confirm that this is an extremely fruitless business: as early as since the campaign of elections to the Duma in the autumn of 1999 Putin has been known for his ability to please listeners holding most different views. Therefore it is probably better to proceed not from Putin's personal religious attitudes, but from the analysis of the policy of the state machine as a whole.
All policy of Putin administration can be characterized as more or less accurate manipulation of political subjects with a support of powerful PR campaigns and a selective use of legal mechanisms. As regards the religious associations, the Kremlin also practices an obvious manipulation expressed in an informal PR support of various subjects. The purposes of such manipulation can be different, but the method in general is single - support to internal opponents of the basic religious leaders with the purpose of replacement or weakening of the latter.
A basic example of such manipulation is provided by the split in the Orthodox Judaism of Russia. Till 2000, despite the long tense relations between various groups within the national-religious Jewish movement, despite the existence of several competing associations, the Rabbinate of Russia kept a certain formal unity around of Chief Rabbi of Russia Adolf Shayevich. Such unity is not obligatory in Judaism, but it is very useful just to maintain working relations with the Then, on June 13, 2000 at the congress of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR) the FEOR head Berl Lazar was elected the Chief Rabbi by the votes of Hassidic rabbis. So there was a formal split into two main rabbinates. During all that process everybody saw that Shayevich was closely connected to prosecuted :oligarch; Vladimir Gusinsky (who was, by the way, arrested right on the day of Lazar's election), who headed then the Jewish Congress of Russia (REK), and thus the split in Russian Judaism was very much necessary for the authorities to get somehow rid of the growing accusations (though groundless) of reviving a state anti-Semitism. Since then Vladimir Putin has many times communicated with Berl Lasar, which in general probably benefited the Jewish public, but in parallel emphasizes that Adolf Shayevich is not the Chief Rabbi anymore in the eyes of the Kremlin.
Much more complex processes have been going on within the Islamic community and, accordingly, in its mutual relations with the state. Yet, one cannot but note that in second half of 1990s the press more often mentioned Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin, but with Putin's advent the media preferences gradually shifted in favor of his main opponent, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Directorate of the Moslems of Russia and the European Part of the CIS Talgat Tadjuddin. And such PR successes have by no means been achieved through Tadjuddin's efforts: simply the theme of Islam was somewhere in the third row of priorities in the Russian press till September 11 of the last year, and the intensity of reports was regulated most likely by the frequency of messages of RIA :Novosti,; the main, state-controlled, information agency.
Such policy of the authorities certainly was determined not by discords between the two muftis on faith-preaching or administrative matters, insignificant from the state's point of view, but by the fact that Gainutdin was close to Yuri Luzhkov, Putin's main political opponent in 1999. It was after September 11 that the ideological distinctions between the two muftis as well became important, but that will be discussed later on.
Russian Orthodox Church is too big and close to the authorities to be subjected to such rough treatment. Therefore cases of manipulation here are less obvious. But it is possible to point out at a rather strange confessional policy of Gleb Pavlosky's Foundation for Effective Policy (FEP) - the Kremlin's main contractor in the field of PR.
A religious section was functioning actively at :Strana.Ru,; FEP's main information and propaganda website, actually performing a role of an official site in the Internet, for several months of 2001. A straight, precisely directly stated orientation at above-mentioned Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) was a specific feature of that section. And that was manifested not only in a very ideologized presentation of news, but also in an insistent publication of ideological manifestos.
In particular, :Strana.Ru; published the following manifesto written by archpriest Vladislav (Sveshnikov), confessor of the Union of Orthodox Citizens, a wide Orthodox-nationalist coalition. It said, in particular:
:Never before the European West and America have held such an openly hostile attitude toward Russia, as they are now.
Search for true friends and faithful service to them for joint counteraction to the International of the co-called :new world order,; which for people who understand the matter spiritually is a ground for the beginning of the apocalyptic time, can be called one of the most necessary and difficult tasks of contemporary Russia.;
We presented this citation not because it is especially important Archpriest Vladislav's text, but because it gives some notion as to what end the state could need such radical and marginal from the big politics viewpoint figures as leaders of the Union of Orthodox Citizens. Let's remember that till September 11 Russia pursued actually still Primakov's policies as regards the West and planned only to consolidate them, by means of propaganda inside the country as well. By that time the anti-Western moods in Russia already noticeably decreased in comparison to 1999, so the state needed to make radical anti-Westerners more visible in order for the state policy to be more acceptable with them at the background..
On the other hand, the semi-official support of Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) was important to create an intra-Church counterbalance to the more liberal Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev), who became :too influential.; Maxim Meyer, a closest associate of Pavlovsky, shortly before his dismissal from the Presidential Administration gave a scandalously frank interview, in which, in particular, he called Metropolitan Kirill :an inconvenient customer; and noted Archimandrite Tikhon's bigger ideological acceptability for the Kremlin. It is difficult to tell how sincerely Meyer spoke about the ideological affinity to Archimandrite Tikhon, most likely that was not much so. But here of importance is the indirect confirmation of the fact (seriously challenged by few people) that the Kremlin really interferes with the internal relations in RPTz.
Religious section of :Strana.Ru; was closed with no explanations in late August, 2001: probably its necessity disappeared. FEP's new site :Religions in Russia; is much more balanced and versatile; the site has not been detected as a participant of PR campaigns yet. But it does not mean that the authorities totally renounced manipulations. Simply the initiative was intercepted by other Kremlin groups.
In late April, 2002 a draft law was proposed and already in July came into force :On countering extremist activities"? as well as accompanying amendments to other laws< including those on press and freedom of conscience. This law describes :extremist activities" as broadly as possible, actually including even street-level breaches of :political correctness". In particular, propaganda (including a preaching) of :supremacy on religious grounds" is equalled to extremism, that the things almost all religious preachers do. And the sanctions for so widely interpreted :extremism" are such that any organisation, including a religious one, may be liquidated without a slightest problem.
It is easy to suppose that the new legislation will be, as time goes by, against the so called :totalitarian sects", that is the most unpopular new religious movements. But on principle all religious (and not only those) organisations have found themselves in a suspended posit. And that fully correlates to the principle of total manipulation.
An important role in the state-religious relations, as well as in every other relations, is played by the expert environment. In this case its role is especially high, as the state here does not carry out any centrally planned policy and in general does not pay too much attention to the state-religious relations.
Emergence of two alternative concepts of the state-religious relations became an important event. June 5, 2001 saw the publication and wide enough advertisement of a draft concept of state policy in religious sphere, its authors being the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation for Moscow and the Institute of state-confessional relations (respectively the main authors are Vladimir Zhbankov and Igor Ponkin). Our task is not to analyze the document as a whole, but some moments are noteworthy.
The declared purpose of the Concept is to develop provisions of the current law :On freedom of conscience and religious associations; about division of the religions into :traditional; ones and the others, which in the Law remained at the level of declarations in the preamble. The Concept proposes to legalize and regulate the privileges of :traditional; religions and the practice of state cooperation with them. As for the question what religions will be referred to as :traditional,; the Concept gives an essentially illegal and discriminatory answer: religious associations should be sorted out under three criteria - its number of adepts, its historical contribution to the development of the country and its actions :as a creative and uniting spiritual force of the Russian society, aimed on maintenance of peace and stability in the Russian Federation.; It is clear that none of these criteria (in the Russian reality even the number of adepts) does not yield to any objective evaluation.
Of much importance also is the motivation of the proposed reform, its general conservative-xenophobic orientation. Here are some problems noted in the draft (in its first version):
- :manifestations of spiritual crisis of the modern Russian society in all spheres of its life, devaluation of the system of traditional moral values, world-outlook disorientation of a part of the society, loss of moral guidelines in many areas of the modern culture, weakening of spiritual-moral of bases of the institute of family and other negative social consequences;
- existence of threats to preservation and development of cultural identity and spiritual originality of the peoples of Russia;
- aggravation of problems connected to displays of religious enmity and activation of religious extremism in the society;
- foreign religious expansion in Russia as an element of foreign policy of a number of foreign states;
These formulations, despite all their streamlined nature, remind in general the rhetoric of not even the Church leaders, but of the leaders of Communist-patriotic opposition of 1990s.
Later on the text of the Concept underwent changes. Some things were softened, also an essentially important replacement of :traditional religions; with :traditional religious organizations; took place. In the preamble of the Law of 1997 Christianity (with a special emphasis on Orthodoxy), Islam, Judaism and Buddhism were called traditional religions, but not all Islamic and even more so not all Christian associations (taking into account the width of the use of concept of :Christian; for self-identification) may be recognized as :traditional organizations.; After the publication of the Concept, it was unanimously supported on the part of the leaders of the main :traditional; religious associations - Moscow Patriarchate, both above-mentioned muftis, Judaistic, Buddhist and some Protestant leaders.
Within three days after the publication of the Concept an alternative draft appeared, which was prepared by the department of religion studies of the Russian Academy of Civil Service (RAGS) headed by Professor Nikolai Trofimchuk (presently dead), a member of the above-mentioned Council on interaction with religious associations under the President. The text prepared at the RAGS is certainly much more professional, it does not contain obvious propaganda designs. That draft directly affirms that observance of religious equality is more important than a probable practical usefulness of preferential cooperation of the state with the Russian Orthodox Church or other religious associations.
But one should not forget that Nikolai Trofimchuk is not a stranger to the authors of the first draft: he drafted a whole section on their site :State-confessional relations.; There also his book :Expansion; was published, devoted to the theme of political expansion of the West by means of religious missionary efforts. One of the presumptions of the book: :and there was a time when the word :Soviet; sounded in the world as a synonym of humanism, good and readiness for sacrifice.; And one of its basic conclusions: :in its relations with the West Russia should in every possible way emphasize its civilizational identity and defend itself by means of special kind of :socio-cultural filters; transparent for information concerning new technologies, but non-transparent or semi-transparent for information capable to directly affect the system based on traditional religious values and in general on the whole axiologic sphere.;
It is clear, that the alternative project turned out to bee just slightly less xenophobic than the first. Trofimchuk and his colleagues also proposed to fix the status of :traditional religions; legislatively. Differences with the first draft here concerned only some particulars.
And yet the religious leaders unanimously preferred the version of Zhbankov and Ponkin. First, the RAGS draft was perceived by many, first of all within the RPTz, as :an atheistic one,; because it emphasized putting a distance between the state and the Church and clearly stipulated the impossibility of a restitution of the Church property and introduction of Orthodoxy (and other religions) at schools. Secondly, the RAGS draft proposed to restore a single coordinating body on confessional policy, which caused fears of an increased control. And the large religious associations, starting with the RPTz, prefer, besides, themselves to search for contacts with the top-rank officials and to do without intermediaries. And, thirdly, the RAGS draft spoke about :traditional religions; instead of :traditional organizations,; and that did not solve problems of many such organizations with their competitors within the frameworks of the same confession.
So it's no wonder that it was the concept of Zhbankov and Ponkin that Talgat Tadjuddin handed on September 24, 2001 to Putin (together with approving responses from the religious leaders).
In parallel to the preparation of the above-mentioned draft by the Justice Ministry and discussion on the concepts also preparations began for entering amendments to the Law on freedom of conscience. November 6, 2001 saw the first session of the restored working group on introduction of amendments and additions in the Law, which was headed by vice-president of the Commission on religious associations under the Government of the Russian Federation Andrey Sebentsov. And the very figure of liberal Sebentsov became an obstacle on the path toward a further deterioration of the legislation. As early as in late November Sebentsov declared that the working group headed by him was considering about 300 amendments introduced, but it would not propose any radical changes to the Law of 1997. Sebentsov himself would like in general to exclude the known formulations of the preamble about :traditional religions,; but the working group would refrain from such proposals as well.
But on the other hand it is possible what exactly Sebentsov initiated revival the idea to restore a centralized state body supervising confessional policy.
So far that centralized body has existed only potentially - in the form of the Ministry of ethnic policy restored in December, 2001. A decree of December 6 made Vladimir Zorin its head. Before that he dealt both with ethnic and confessional policies in the Volga federal district (under Sergey Kirienko's leadership). The new ministry formally has nothing to do with religious associations, but Zorin is expect to make some steps in that direction too. So far he has only described his position in most general terms:
:Certainly, when there is no nation-wide ideological doctrine, religion tries to fill that vacuum, but Russia is a multi-confessional state, and no religion can apply for the role of a state one. That's not our tradition, especially in the 20th century. It's another matter, that some spiritual values can be adopted.
<...> The scheme of political stability of the society is a triangle, preferably an equally sided one, wherein one side represents ethnic-confessional relations, another side is the state and third one - the civil society. Remove one of its sides, and you get a corner, against which you'll always tear wholes in your pants.
<...> A struggle of two inconsistent tendencies is seen today. There is a desire to return to the scheme wherein exclusively the state dealt with the problems of cultural development... And also there is an urge to discharge the state from ethnic-confessional issues. The truth is that the triangle described should be constructed.;
And finally let us note that the Government is not the :profile" officials only. Some decisions quite sensitive to religious organisations are taken at a higher level. A sad example here is the systemic denial of entry visa to Dalai Lama to come to Russia, where thousands of Buddhists wait for him.
5. Draft Law on :Traditional Religions;
Andrey Sebentsov's position induced the Patriarchate to reconsider its attitude to the idea of updating the Law of 1997. On November 21, 2001 Metropolitan Kirill spoke against a revision of the Law. Similar to Sebentsov, Metropolitan Kirill motivated that by an undesirability of destruction of the compromise achieved in 1997.
But certainly that did not mean that the Patriarchate abandoned hopes to obtain privileges via legislative way. Instead of making amendments blocked by Sebentsov, it seemed easier to adopt a separate law to that end. Precisely that idea became the central one at a conference titled :State and religious associations. Conceptual bases of mutual relation, as exemplified by the subjects of the Russian Federation of the Central federal district,; held on January 25, 2002. Metropolitan Kirill and especially mufti Talgat Tadjuddin spoke against foreign preachers, in favor of a special status and a special role in the state (first of all - in the sphere of education) for :traditional religious organizations,; unequivocally meaning the RPTz and some major organizations Moslems, Buddhists and Judaists. Also one should say that Presidential representative in the Central district Georgy Poltavchenko and Chairman of the State Duma Committee on public associations and religious organizations Viktor Zorkaltsev, a Communist party member, unanimously supported the religious leaders. The Communist party is known for its imperial-nationalist ideology, so it was not strange to hear the following as well from Zorkaltsev:
:In our Committee the work is already being done on creation of a normative act ensuring the protection of Russia's spiritual security.
<...> Spiritual security is crucial in the system of national security, it is a shield against :the fifth column,; and it is the main protection of our multinational culture, our original centuries-old civilization and a guarantee of stable identity.
<...> To solve the problem of spiritual security in legislative terms means to put up a protection on the path of not only religious extremism, but also the muddy flows of spiritless vulgarity that has captured the mass media.
<...> All mass media reaching out to a multimillion audience must have public supervisory boards capable to influence the information policy of mass editions and broadcasting TV and radio channels: It's not a censorship, it's a state information policy.;
The idea of the supervisory boards was promptly supported by Tadjuddin.
Zorkaltsev's assistant Alexander Chuev (a politician traditional lobbying the Patriarchate's interests and the leader of a very small Christian-Democratic party of Russia) reported on a draft law on :traditional religious organizations; he prepared.
Chuev is against new restrictions on :non-traditional; religions, but he in favor of privileges to :traditional; ones - concerning an access to schools, to social work, free-of-charge access to mass media, restoration of tax privileges etc.
:We believe that the traditional religious organizations should be exempt from taxes, and not only they but also the institutions created by them, enterprises and non-commercial organizations.;
Chuev proposed a complex division of :traditional; religions into federal, regional and :historical; (to which he included, for example, the Orthodox Church of the Old Rites). :In case of a recognition of an organization as traditional for the whole of Russia it is necessary to have one million believers or followers, not less than 50 years of existence of that organization, and, most importantly, - a recognition is necessary that the religious organization is an integral part of the spiritual, historical and cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia. As for, let's say, a historical traditional organization, there the number is not important; of importance is its time of existence. Let's say, over 80 years. In case of an organization traditional for individual peoples of Russia, the criterion of number is 100 thousand persons. ;
The statuses should be defined by a Federal commission originally formed on the parity basis by the President, both chambers of the Federal Assembly and organizations of :traditional religions,; already listed in the preamble to the Law of 1997, and the seat was reserved not for all Christians, but only the Orthodox ones. The commission would, in particular, check, whether the number of adept has been correctly counted, but the method is unknown: the matter is that large Russian religious organizations have no fixed membership. The religious organizations that will later receive the status of :traditional,; are to have there delegates in the Commission too.
Chuev's draft caused a heated debate. Chuev himself claimed that the President at a personal meeting supported the idea of adoption of this draft law. But it is known that many people get the impression of support after their conversations with Putin. On the other hand, it is necessary to note that the report on Chuev's press conference was distributed via the OVTzS line. But the President still has not commented, while in the Government the draft is persistently opposed by Andrey Sebentsev, and Vladimir Zorin also does not approve it.
Meanwhile, from the staff of metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev) and Mitropolite Mefodiy (Nemtsov0 mostly involved in the problems of relations with the state also criticism of Chuev's draft came, but from the opposite direction. The believed, that the draft did not stipulate clearly enought the provileges of the :traditional confessions" and was not clear enough as regards the grounds for recognition of such status (in the Patriarchate they evidently are afraid of a too broad interpretation), and also established a far too short time to establish the traditional status (Baptists as well could be embraced by it).
As a result Chyev re-elaborated the draft several times. The last (May, 2002) version abolished the criteria of membership, the criteria of time was established as 85 years and a the Federal Commission with a complicated structure disappeared. The status of a :traditional confession" shall be given by a separate law. Tax bonuses are not mentioned, but free-of-charge access to broadcasting and privileged access to schools remained.
Certainly, there is still a long time before such or at least similar draft law is adopted, but it is necessary to note that so far the political process has been slowly, but surely moving precisely toward that.
6. Ideology of the Patriarchate
The leading religious associations, on their part, have for a long time and actively offered their cooperation to the state in such areas as education, public morals and social work, and they most urgently ask not to let the new religious movements and in general all "non-traditional; ones into those areas. And the ambition of the RPTz are naturally most serious.
They were voiced in a maximalist key by Metropolitan Methodiy at a conference titled :The role of the Orthodox Church in creation and development of the Russian state; held on December 10-11 (beside the RPTz, the organizers included the Presidential Administration, the Institute of Russian History of the Academy of Sciences and other well-established institutions). Metropolitan reasoned that the Russian civil society, as different from the Western one, should be based not on individualism, but on moral unification, and that requires a special role of the Church, which he proposed to define according to the decisions of the RPTz General Congress of 1917-1918. Those decisions essentially separated the Church from the state, as compared to the situation that existed in the Russian empire, but for a modern society they sound rather radically (we quote them selectively):
:The Orthodox Russian Church, being a component part of the Universal Christ's Church, occupies in the Russian state the first among others confessions public-legal position appropriate to her as to the greatest shrine of the huge majority of the population and as to the great historical force that has been building the Russian state;
The state laws concerning the Orthodox Church are issued in no other way, but upon agreements with the church authorities;
The Head of the Russian state, the Minister of Confessions and the Minister of National Education and their Deputies must be Orthodox;
In all cases of state life, in which the state turns to religion, the Orthodox Church enjoys preference;
Lowest, medium and higher schools, both theological and general education, founded by the Orthodox Church, enjoy in the state all rights of governmental education institutions on the common basis;.
That was, we'll repeat, the maximum program, but it correctly indicates the direction, in which more moderate Patriarch Alexis II or Metropolitan Kirill urge to move.
Besides, the RPTz as the largest religious association, which in addition in the past centuries played a more or less significant state role in Russia, has also got its own strategic concept in the field of state (and public) ideology. We refer to the concept constantly developed by Metropolitan Kirill, shared by the Patriarch and included into the Bases of the Social Concept of the RPTz at the Bishops' Congress of 2000. In order not quote a whole number of articles and documents of the Congress, we'll limited ourselves with a brief summary.
The Church condemns the liberal (Western) world-outlook as non-religious and individualistic, but admits its right to existence in the modern fell world. The Church insists that such world-outlook in no way can be accepted as norm, especially a worldwide, global one. :Traditional; world-outlooks - Islamic, Orthodox and others, more or less implanted in the life of other (non-Western) peoples, also exist and have no less right to exist. That is the reference is not just to the religions, but to the cultural complexes determining all life of various peoples. The world order should in an equal measure be oriented at all these world-outlooks. Thus, the process of globalization, besides its technical component, is defined as a wrongful expansion of the liberal civilization against all others. It is necessary not only to stop this process, but also to turn it back by modifying the international law and the international institutions. The process of mixture of civilizations is assessed rather negatively, and it is opposed by the preservation of religious, national and civilizational identity. It can be said that there is an original international version of multi-culturalism before us.
In application to Russia the Church asserts that the Russian people in this system must be defined not as a Western, but an Orthodox one. But that means not a categorical rejection of the liberalism, but a demand to shift the balance in favor of traditional values and public mechanisms (in the sense of the pre-revolutionary tradition).
Metropolitan Kirill always uses diplomatic wordings, but perceives the situation as critical and requiring urgent actions:
:The process going nowadays on a global scale of assertion of the liberal values as ostensibly crowning the centuries-old history of development of the human civilization represents today even a greater danger, than the Communist atheism.;
Such version of :an Orthodox anti-globalism; is just a moderate variant of a more radical fundamentalist anti-globalism growing stronger inside the RPTz. There is a version that the position of the Patriarchate is a forced one and it is put forward only for the sake of reconciliation with fundamentalists attacking the liberal values much more radically. Indeed, the fundamentalists in recent years advance ever more seriously against the Patriarchate, and the scope of their activity in many respects has been achieved precisely due to the campaign against globalization, and in particular - against the means of electronic control and introduction of taxpayer's individual number. It is not appropriate to describe the campaign here, but it is necessary to note that since 1999 the Patriarchate has repeatedly suffered defeats in its attempts to pacify the radical anti-globalists. For the Church - and for the state! - it is important that the radical elements become ever more active. Since the summer of 2002 a movement even has started against the change of domestic passports and participation in the census.
And yet we not see reasons to deny the sincerity of the position of the Patriarch and Metropolitan Kirill. That's even more so, considering the fact that the first articles with its rendition appeared as early as in the beginning of 1999, when the radical anti-globalist movement within the Church was just taking shape.
7. Themes of 2002
It's doubtful that the Presidential Administration is ready to dwell deep into the confrontation between the Patriarchate and the Orthodox fundamentalists. The problem of religious fundamentalism gives concerns to the Kremlin only as applied to Islam, as in this case the situation already turns into the armed confrontation. But the Administration and the state as a whole is not indifferent as concerns what political ideas the Church supports.
In 1999-2000 the above-rendered concept of the Patriarchate was very well combined with Primakov's foreign policy doctrine of :a multipolar world; and with again Primakov's domestic policy anti-liberal rhetoric. The advent of Putin originally did not make radical changes either in foreign, or internal policies. Controversial ideological signals were coming (and continue to come) from the President. In particular, the idea of inclusion of the Orthodoxy and other :traditional religions,; first of all Islam, into a certain official :national idea,; that existed in the form of semi-official publicism, was in no way rejected. But after September 11, 2001 everything changed - Vladimir Putin took a decision to unequivocally support USA and actually proclaimed a new pro-Western course (although not so consistent, as the one in the beginning of the 1990s).
Certainly, first of all September 11 should have had an effect on the relations of the state and the Moslem organizations. The state propaganda from the experience of the war in Chechnya already learned to repeat that the war against terrorism has no religious dimension. All state figures of Russia consistently avoided slightest anti-Islamic statements in connection to the Chechen war, so it was not difficult not to make them in the new situation. But Moslem leaders responded with a whole series of anti-American (and at the same time anti-Israeli) statements. Only by December the muftis stopped to contradict publicly the official foreign policy. The state did not make comments on those statements, but could not miss them either.
The RPTz showed itself more loyally. And it was Metropolitan Kirill, so actively advocating :a multipolar world,; who directly declared, that from the Christian point of view the USA have the right to armed resistance to the terrorists. The Patriarch did not make such definite statements. He rather stated fears concerning the forthcoming retaliatory military operation and spoke about a possibility of a new world) war and an infinite escalation of terrorism, :the way it occurs in Palestine.;
A more obvious contradiction between the Patriarch and the President concerns school education. Putin repeatedly has said that teaching of religion at a general school can be only voluntary, as stipulated by the law. And the Patriarch on January 27, 2002 declared:
:I think that it is time to expand the experience of teaching :The Bases of Orthodox Culture; to all state schools of Russia. The legislation of our country allows to teach this subject within the frameworks of national-regional component of the basic education program or within the frameworks of its school component.
Also one need not to be afraid that among the school pupils there might be children of Moslems, Judaists, Buddhists. You see, the achievement of the Russian Orthodox culture are essentially an integral part of the world spiritual treasury, and even more so of our way of thinking and life, which for centuries has united the people.;
Let's note that till that moment the Patriarchate leaders had spoken exclusively about a voluntary teaching of the Orthodoxy. And now as well they do not speak about introduction of :God's Law,; but about a certain half-measure, which, probably, seems more acceptable to the society and state.
Probably, such a brave statement become possible only after the approximately one year long discussion on introduction of theology in the state higher schools ended favorably for the Church. Exactly on January 28 the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation approved the education standard for the specialty :Theology.; (By the way, in it :the traditional religions; of the Law of 1997 for the first time obtained legal existence, but of all Christianity only the Orthodoxy remained.)
Putin till now has not reacted to the Patriarch's initiative, but hardly could have changed his point of view. Most likely, this time the RPTz will not find support in the Duma either: State Duma Chairman Gennady Seleznyov immediately spoke against breaching of the principle of secularity of the state education. (And Viktor Zorkaltsev even related :propaganda, appeals and actions directed at... changing of the secular nature of the state, the system of nation-wide secular education; to :religious extremism.; ) Patriarch Alexis hardly expected such reaction, so its statement should apparently be understood as an application for the future, as an announcement of the advance of the Church against the currently existing balance between secular (Western-liberal basically, in Metropolitan Kirill's words) and church (accordingly, national-Orthodox) principles.
And the offensive is already successful: though no decision has been adopted at the federal level, at the level of regions with the start of new academic year the teaching of :Bases of Orthodox Culture" has noticeably expanded (for example, it has been introduced for high school class throughout the whole Belgorod Region).
The second direction of the advance is the mass media. Last year the Church leaders have been acting more actively against various displays of immorality in the press and especially on TV, that in itself being completely natural. But while in the past positive proposals were actually appeals to the state, now some new ideas emerged (more precisely - the old ideas have been revitalized). First, at the above-mentioned conference on January 25, 2002 a lot was said about creation of supervisory boards on TV, and with attraction of the Church people at that. Secondly, new Chairman of the Publishing Board of the Patriarchate archpriest Vladimir Silovyov proposed to create within the frameworks of the RPTz a media-holding including radio, TV mass media and a number of printed editions. Certainly, the reference here is so far only to some reorganization within the Publishing department, but the task is depicted rather radically: as in Russia 70 percent of the population are Orthodox, then they should have 70 percent of broadcasting time on TV. Archpriest Vladimir declared: :We should put a task before the deputies for them to promise that our children will taught God' Law, that everything we don't like will be removed from TV screens.;
Certainly, the state will give the RPTz neither 70 nor even 7 percent of broadcasting time. However, the possibility of substantial expansion of RPTz access to the mass media can still be seriously discussed (more seriously that the idea of a restitution of Church lands raised by some politicians in Summer 2002, but of no use even to the Patriarchate itself). In the end, there is already a TV channel :Moskovia; controlled by a big :oligarch; (and since December 26, 2001 a member of the Council of Federation as well) Sergey Pugachyov, who is close simultaneously to conservative church circles and to so-called Kremlin :young Petersburgians.; Why should not other Kremlin groupings try to use an element of Orthodoxy in the media structures.
Thus, in two years of Vladimir Putin's presidency the uncertain paternalist relations existing between the state and the RPTz during the last years of Boris Yeltsin's rule became even more uncertain.
The first open conflict emerged as early as after the Bishop's Congress of 2000, when the RPTz officially stated that it claimed restitution of the pre-revolutionary church property and considered basically possible to call the believers to civil disobedience, if the authorities called them to commit a heavy sin (in particular, to a deviation from the Church). But then Metropolitan Kirill managed to smooth down the negative impression made on the Presidential Administration.
As time goes by the authorities already more clearly understand what they wants, though, certainly, the internal conflicts still interfere with pursuit of a coherent policy. And the Church is ready to insist on granting it bigger opportunities to influence the society. Till autumn of 2001 it seemed that the intentions of the parties at least approximately coincide. Imperial self-identification of the state was the reason. For that it needed at least some symbols of imperial continuity and was ready to pay for them by versatile support to the Church. September 11 changed the situation: the above-described rhetoric of the Patriarchate radically contradicts the new foreign policy course, and thus the Church at this moment causes much doubts as an ideological basis. The farther the September 11, the more the anti-western, imperialistic and, generally speaking, anti-liberal wing in the Kremlin and around it raises its head. It is already clear that Putin's turn to the West is not so principled as it seemed a year ago. And it does not cause a surprise that such experienced politicians as Patriarch Alexiy and Metrolopite Kirill did not rush then to change their views: they still have got solid support in the authority bodies.
Not only abovementioned Pugachev is the matter here. One should note that it is the anti-liberal officials of :Putin's call" most persistently support the Patriarchate's positions. On the contrary, Chuyev's draft was supported in the staff of the Southern Federal District, while in the staff of the Central District they even took it for additional work (thus significantly improving the draft's chances).
And the conflict between the Patriarchate and Vatican that started after the decision to reform the temporary administrative structures of the Catholics into regular dioceses was immediately and more actively than others joined by the Foreign Ministry (a purely canonic dispute caused an official protest note).Since then the Foreign Ministry denied visas to four Catholic priests and one bishop. And, as no explanations of those acts were given, one can only assume that the Foreign Ministry thus stands in support of the Patriarchate against such an obvious symbol of the West as Vatican.
In general the relations between the secular authorities and the Church are unstable. The Church slowly but surely drifts from any liberal trends, and to change at least partially that direction is very difficult, if possible at all. While the state is maneuvering - to a large extent due to internal contradiction - and will hardly determine the direction in a near future. In such situation both parties rather try to exploit contradictions inside the partner's camp than build a kind of strategic cooperation with the partner.