Religious Xenophobia: Within Religious Orders and Between Religious Orders

Настоящий материал (информация) произведен и (или) распространен иностранным агентом РОО Центр «Сова» либо касается деятельности иностранного агента РОО Центр «Сова».

Alexander Verkhovsky

First and foremost, it should be noted that religious xenophobia is fundamentally different from ethnic xenophobia. And it is not because one can choose to change his or her religion at will, but primarily because negative attitudes towards other nations is not a necessary component for national self-identity, while a more or less hostile disposition to other religious beliefs is a major prerequisite for practically any religious identity. This hostile attitude can vary from slight arrogance, which is always implied in phrases like "after all they believe in the same God in their own way," up to an outright rejection of any deviation from religious doctrine.

Disapproval of this kind of negative attitude means a disapproval of the very essence of religious identity and would amount to the outside observer having the same kind of negative attitude toward religion (or worse). Even if the observer does not have any religious feelings, he or she cannot deny the presence of this feeling in others. Therefore, we believe that the subject area of religious xenophobia as a deplorable social phenomenon is much narrower than the area of national (ethnic, racial, etc.) xenophobia. From the very beginning, we would like to exclude specifically from our analysis any pronouncements about the faith or ideology of others no matter how harsh they are.

It does not mean though that this analysis would disregard any negative pronouncements altogether. We agree to hold as deplorable those pronouncements that instigate enmity towards others due to their origin, social practices or their way of life, rather than because of any particular provisions of their faith. We disapprove of any statements that directly or indirectly call on the authorities to resort to any kind of discrimination. In other words, sermons preached by religious authorities (including, quite naturally, the preaching of religious exceptionality and superiority) cannot be viewed as a socially objectionable xenophobia, while the statements given by the same authorities on social issues, including also the role of religions in the society, can and must be perceived in the same way as statements of any other public leaders.

The breakdown of religions based on how deeply rooted they are in the country or in a particular part of it is not very clear-cut. It is obvious, for example, that Islam is more traditional in Russia than the teachings of Ron Hubbard. It should be appropriate to talk about "traditional religions" in the above sense. However, introduction of this phrase as a notion should be accompanied by an explanation saying that tradition is a relative thing. (For example, the disciples of Lama Ole Nidal do not look very traditional, but they represent one of the branches of orthodox Tibetan Buddhism, which has been present in Russian for a long time, while the rituals of Old-Believers, which might seem rather exotic to some, are in fact more traditional than the "Nikonian" Russian Orthodox Church.) In addition, what is most important, the historical length of a religion's presence on the territory of a country does not give any indication of the depth of its influence on the society. Jehovah's Witnesses are more numerous in Russia than Lutherans, while in the Marii El Republic the ancient pagan cults are less powerful than the Russian Orthodoxy. Thus the notion of "tradition" cannot be reduced to any formal criteria and for that reason alone should be kept in the purview of religious studies.

Nevertheless, this term is seemingly gaining political and even legal ground, which may potentially result and in some instances has already resulted (see below) in quite dangerous conflicts. At the level of legislation, the notion of "tradition" has so far affected only the legally non-biding preamble to the 1997 Federal Law "On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations." This document first singles out the Russian Orthodoxy and then lists as traditional religions the following sequence: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and "other" religions. Since the adoption of this law, the public debate has acquired another new notion, "traditional religious organizations," which is especially ridiculous given the fact that right after the Bolshevik revolution the legal continuity of all religious organizations in this country, including the Russian Orthodox Church (which even had a different name before the revolution), was terminated. Meanwhile, Islam and Judaism do not place any importance on the legal continuity of religious organizations.

Still, a small circle of religious organizations has already been formed. Not only do these organizations call themselves and their counterparts "traditional," but they are also being recognized in this somewhat privileged capacity both by the government and by a significant portion of the society. These organizations include the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by the Moscow Patriarch, the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims (TsDUM) in Russia, the European countries, and members of the C.I.S., headed by mufti Talgat Tajutdin, the Traditional Buddhist Sangha of Russia, headed by hambo-lama Damba Ayushev. They are further joined by the Council of Muftis of Russia under mufti Ravil Gainutdin (the status of this organizations is somewhat ambiguous because of intra-religious competition), the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR), headed by rabbi Berl Lazar and the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia (KEROOR) under rabbi Adolph Shayevich. Of course, no one would attempt to question whether the Old-Believers were "traditional," or the respectability of the Lutherans or even Baptists, but nonetheless they are not part of the above-mentioned circle. Those organizations also form the Inter-Religious Council of Russia (although the Council of Muftis is substituted here by a friendly organization, the Coordination Council of the North Caucasus Muslims), thus reducing even further the small number of organizations, selected by the government as dialog partners within the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religions Associations.

It is rather difficult to suggest a generic term for those organizations that make up the Inter-Religious Council of Russia (MSR). They are not any more "traditional" that many others, they are not even the most populous. However, they are the recognized leaders in the relationship with the government and, largely, the society as a whole. Therefore, we will also call them here "the leading religious organizations." What we are interested to find out is to what extent these organizations contribute to the xenophobic trends in our society.

Because an organization's position is expressed primarily through its official documents and the statements of its leaders, it is also important to differentiate between the position of the leadership of these organizations and the positions of individual clergymen (not to mention the ordinary worshippers). Consequently, we would not touch in the current paper upon various and more or less radical xenophobic groups inside the Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, etc.

We are going to deal separately with three aspects of xenophobia - religious, ethnic and "inter-civilization" aspects (the latter is about relationship towards other cultures and whole groups of countries). There could also be other aspects to this problem, for example, the relationship towards sexual minorities. But such type of xenophobia, in our opinion, could not in principle be blamed on the leading religious associations, since strict rejection of homosexuality and any deviations from sexual morality form the essence of these religious teachings and are inseparable from the faith. Any pronouncements to this effect should be viewed as an essential element of the sermon.

The questions of morality were raised, for example, in the letter of Patriarch Alexii II written in connection with the European Union Charter of the Fundamental Rights. The Patriarch wrote in this letter that the Charter articles on non-discrimination can not be fully applicable to the Church, and it should be specifically noted that the Church, as a free association, could establish different rules. In particular it relates to the issue of equality between the two sexes. The wording of the letter is even harsher when it deals with the discrimination based on sexual orientation. It says, "differentiation on the basis of "sexual orientation' cannot be recognized as essentially inherent in human nature." The letter also expressed discontent with the absence of any limitations on creative efforts in science and art.

Russian Orthodox Church: the Root Cause is not in Nationalism, but Rather in the Growth of Fundamentalism

Quite commonly, of the major religious associations, most accusations of nationalism are directed against Orthodox believers or the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs). However the Russian Orthodox Church as an organization does not display any signs of nationalism at the doctrinal level and even more so directly rejects it. The "Bases of the Social Concept" adopted in August 2000 by the Hierarchs' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church reads as follows.

Nationalist feelings can become the cause of sinful acts, such as aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, national superiority, and inter-ethnic enmity. Brought to their extreme, these acts often entail the abridgement of the rights of individuals and whole nations, wars and other acts of violence.

Orthodox ethics abhors the division of peoples into better and worse ones, and the disparagement of any ethnic or civil group. Thus the teachings, putting a nation on par with God or reducing the faith to one of the aspects of national conscience are all the more inconsistent with the Orthodox faith.

Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as those of other "leading religious organizations," practically do not allow themselves to make any nationalist statements.

However, in politics the church leaders, for some reason, choose to cooperate with the more or less nationalist or at least imperial-minded politicians, rather than with the liberals. (This observation, by the way, equally pertains to Islamic leaders as well.) The nine-year old history of the main clerical-political forum, held under the auspices of the Patriarchate and called the International Council of the Russian People (VRNS), could serve as a vivid confirmation of that.

On the other hand, the head of the Patriarchate's Department for Education and Catechizes hegumen Ioann (Ekonomtsev) became one of the founders of the Eurasia Movement that was created on April 21, 2001 by an outright political extremist, Alexander Dugin. It is obviously true that A. Dugin is a "respectable extremist" - he is an adviser to the State Duma Speaker, Gennady Seleznev, and an ardent supporter of President Putin. But hegumen Ioann's representative looked nevertheless quite out of place at the side of A. Dugin, when the latter spoke about the unity of fundamentalist forces in support of the President standing under a "Eurasia above all!" poster. An even greater role in the creation of Eurasia was played by the Spiritual Department of Talgat Tajutdin. He personally sat in the presidium of the conference and one could see many mullahs in the audience. In late March, Talgat Tajutdin and many of his colleagues entered as individual members and formed a political party on the basis of Eurasia. (Buddhists and Hebrews were represented only sparsely and by insignificant figures at the founding conference.)

The root cause of the problem lies in the lenient attitude towards nationalism inside the Church. A lot has been written already about nationalism inside the RPTs and we will touch on this topic only slightly. Aggressive Russian nationalism is a widespread phenomenon in our country and it would be strange to suggest that it would not be present in the Church as well, as it is in any other broadly-based public association that does not rigidly require that its members to categorically abandon nationalism.

There is also an ill-famed pre-Revolutionary legacy of close ties between many church Hierarchs and clergy with the "black-hundred" ultra-nationalist organization. Moreover, these ties have never been officially condemned and several "black-hundred" activists have been canonized in the recent decade, in particular during the mass canonization of new-martyrs at the Anniversary Hierarchs' Council held in August of 2000.

Since the 1991 incident when several of the monasteries stopped (for a while) to remember in their prayers Patriarch Alexii II because of his conciliatory speech in front of American rabbis, the RPTs leadership does not allow itself to openly come out against anti-Semitism, which is the linchpin of the ideology of nationalism in Russia. The "Bases of the Social Concept" do not even mention anti-Semitism at all.

Anti-Semitic literature is readily sold in Orthodox churches and sometimes even with the local bishop's consent, as was demonstrated in a recent incident in Ekaterinburg. On December 13, 2001, the regional prosecutor's office opened a criminal investigation under Article 282 of the RF Criminal Code ("incitement of ethnic and religious hostility") following numerous complaints filed by leaders of local ethnic communities outraged by such practices. The complaints accused not only the sellers of the Anti-Semitic literature, but also the editors of the Pravoslavnaya Gazeta (Orthodox Gazette) and Pravoslavny Vestnik (Orthodox Messenger) periodicals that are being distributed with a priestly blessing of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk bishop Vikenty (Morar).

The Pravoslavny Vestnik magazine has frequently published the verses written by an Orthodox singer and heiromonk, Roman. One of his verses has the following line: "Shalom! - scream the men with the peises: the Antichrists are going to meet the Antichrist. Their time has come! On the throne - a Kike!" or "worse than the first kind - is the third: when Russia is being run by Kikes."

Commenting on the criminal investigation, the press-secretary of the Ekaterinburg diocese, Boris Kosinsky, stated that a linguistic analysis of Neilus's book "Close to the Doors," which includes the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" has been conducted many times and for many years none of the representatives of the "traditional religious orders" has had any objections to the author. Neilus was not a political but a spiritual writer, which, in B. Kosinsky's opinion, is reason enough to deny the presence of any incitement to religious enmity in his writings. The same argument applies also to the Pravoslavnaya Gazeta newspaper which is a spiritual, rather than a secular publication. (The criminal investigation was dropped in March of 2002 according the General Prosecutor's Office.)

The inconsistent position taken by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church (we do not intend to go here any further into the discussion of its reasons) allows the Church's clerics to cooperate with aggressive nationalist groups. The evidence of that is abundant, especially with regard to Russian National Unity (RNE), the largest nationalist organization, which is not fully Orthodox but maintains close ties with the RPTs clergy in many regions of the country.

Although there is no hard evidence pointing to the direct approval of such a relationship by the RPTs bishops, there have been instances of open, yet limited, patronage. It would suffice to mention here an episode when a complimentary letter of the Patriarch was read on January 10, 2001 at a reception given to commemorate tenth anniversary of the Pravoslavny Vestnik magazine, which is undoubtedly one of the most influential radical nationalist newspapers. Among other things, it reads as follows: "For a period of ten years Pravoslavny Vestnik has managed, in spite of numerous difficulties, to defend with courage and zeal the traditional values of our people, to guard it's shrines against desecration, and to give a moral assessment of the current events in the society."

However, nationalist-minded insiders, i.e., politicized Orthodox brotherhoods and other groups, are much more important than any contacts with outside nationalists. The Church leadership does not support them but since there is no "expulsion" from the Church for political views, the nationalist brotherhoods continue their active operation. Moreover, they are an integral part of the "Orthodox community," so the Orthodox nationalist activists are present at practically any Orthodox-political event. The above mentioned International Council of the Russian People (MRS) is such an example. Speaking about the Sixth Council that was held on December 13-14, 2001, the head of the Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS), Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyayev), said that there were no radicals present in that gathering. In fact, they were represented slightly less than usual (Vladimir Osipov was absent, but Vyacheslav Klykov, Mark Lyubomudrov, hegumen Kirill (Sakharov) were nevertheless present, although they were given the floor less frequently than in the past). It is important to note that the Council is not an ordinary event. It always enjoys wide media coverage as an event for deciding the public, social, and political positions of the Church, for defining the Church's relationship with the government, and with various politicians. The Sixth Council was addressed for the first time by the Russian President.

And what is most important, the nationalism and anti-Western sentiments of politicized brotherhoods and similar organizations are just a by-product of their general ideological attitude, which would be most appropriately called "Russian Orthodox fundamentalism." This ideology, based on an extremely mythological perception of the pre-revolutionary Orthodox monarchy, is very widespread within the Church. Without making any attempt to analyze this phenomenon within the framework of this report, we shall only note that "Russian Orthodox fundamentalists" (further on - fundamentalists) stand for the restoration of monarchy, imposition of limitations on Jewish and all non-Orthodox believers in general, introduction of the imperial principle of statehood, national status for the Russian Orthodox Church, complete abandonment of the concepts of democracy and human rights (including, in particular, the freedom of conscience), opposition to any forms of Western influences inside the country and fight against them abroad, rigid paternalism of the government in all spheres of life, compulsory introduction of "Orthodox values" in every day life, culture, and even in economics.

These sentiments are spread so widely that the Patriarchate can intervene only in extreme cases. However, some of the moderate fundamentalist circles manage to coexist with the Patriarchate quite peacefully. Moreover, the fundamentalist trends inside the Church have been on the rise since the early 1990s, this trend is still continuing, and there are no indications that this upswing will reverse itself in the next several years. We can not afford to write here about all the details of relationship between the fundamentalists and the Patriarchate (they are even represented in the administrative bodies of the Patriarchate), but we shall say that the unstable equilibrium that emerged in the early 1990s is gradually shifting towards fundamentalism.

It is this fundamentalism and not nationalism, as such, that is the major anti-modern, xenophobic phenomenon, produced by the Church as a whole. The Patriarchate's leadership evidently has to cover for the fundamentalists, does not distance itself from them, and thus gives them legitimacy and support in the eyes of the public. Therefore, the activities of a small number of radicals are objectively backed up by the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church and some of the other leading religious organizations largely because of their indecisive policies in this area.

"Traditional" versus "Non-Traditional" Religious Orders

As we have already mentioned, we are not inclined to blame religious authorities for their rejection of other religious orders. However, it is noteworthy that the leaders of the major religious organizations do not allow themselves even the slightest insinuations against each other, but voice only calls for peace and inter-faith dialog. A striking exception to the rule is the relationship between the organizations belonging to the same faith. For example, the two competing Jewish organizations and especially the two leading muftis do not spare any insults when speaking of their opponent. It is easy to assume that the peaceful attitude of the "leading" organizations is grounded in repeated declarations of the mutual renunciation of proselytism, i.e., "competition" for the flock. To achieve this goal, religious leaders continuously link faith with ethnic origin, which is, by the way, an indirect manifestation of nationalist thinking (not in terms of interpersonal, but rather in terms of inter-ethnic relations), shunned formally by all except the Hebrews.

As a result, the attitude towards other religious organizations, which do not bundle the two things together and consequently do not avoid "competition" is totally different. They are being blamed for enticing people from "traditional" faiths into "non-traditional" ones, which by itself is a covert form of xenophobia. This statement implies deficiency on the side of the other religion not on purely religious grounds, which could be acceptable, but on some other criteria like the length of existence, the number of followers, "contribution to the culture," etc. It is totally understandable that the new religious movements ("new religious movement" has become a fixed notion in religious study ) often spark bewilderment or moral protest among people because of the behavior of their leaders or adherents, but this can hardly qualify as grounds for displaying enmity towards them. After all, everyone has a right to their own religious choice.

The matter is getting somewhat complicated because there is no list of "non-traditional religions," thus all accusations are, as a rule, addressed to no one in particular and therefore are being perceived as all-embracing. In order to narrow down the target circle, use is made of such terms as "totalitarian sect," "destructive cult," "pseudo-religious structure," etc. None of these terms has any clear or general meaning, as there is no more or less generally recognized list of such "sects" and "cults." Therefore, all attempts to narrow down the list have failed and it is still impossible to draw a dividing line between the prohibited Auom Sinrike that has indeed resorted to terrorism and, for example, the quite "traditional" Baptists.

The most frequently used register of "totalitarian sects," is a reference manual entitled New Religious Organizations of a Destructive and Occult Character in Russia, published by the Missionary Department of the Moscow Patriarchate led by Belgorod and Starooskol Archbishop Ioann (Popov). This book has been repeatedly subjected to sharp criticism for inherent bigotry and misrepresentation of facts. As far as Archbishop Ioann is concerned, speaking at a January 26, 2000 panel discussion "The World of Religious Sectarianism. Practical Experiences of Resolving the Problem" and held within the framework of the VIII International Christmas Educational Readings, he stated that "the sects present a clear danger to the national security of Russia" and "our major task today" is to amend the Criminal Code with an "article for ritual killing." We could continue quoting indefinitely various harsh pronouncements of the Church Hierarchs against "totalitarian sects."

This opinion is shared by practically all leading religious organizations. For example, on September 20, 2001 the members of the Inter-Religious Council of Russia expressed their resentment at the Expert Council of the Ministry of Justice for "not fulfilling its major obligation to protect the country and its people against the influence of sects, which should only be registered by the Ministry of Justice with the consent of this body," i.e., he directly called for discrimination based on religious affiliation.

In this respect, the most frequent target for malevolence are foreign missionaries. Some of the Russian regions have passed local discriminatory statutes against them and when the federal authorities started rectifying these violations, the Russian Orthodox Church strongly objected. For example, a quite moderate Metropolitan Juvenaly (Poyarkov) made the following statement to the Deputy-Minister of Justice, Yevgeni Sitorenko, on May 30, 2001 in a meeting of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations: "if the local statutes have been adopted, there must have been valid grounds and therefore we must look at the root cause of their appearance." He also suggested inviting the representatives of the Russian Federation regions so they could express their opinion on how they would not be able "to live once those laws are repealed."

One of the most severe critics of foreign missionaries among the major religious leaders is mufti Talgat Tajutdin. We bring here one of his statements as an example.

If we today turn a blind eye to the spread of foreign Christian structures in the Russian Federation, tomorrow Russia will be engulfed by new organizations, related to foreign Islam. Not to mention the flow of foreign exotic missionaries of destructive cults, which until recently had been foolishly welcomed by the authorities. A sectarian activist of obscure origin or an occultist arrives in a traditionally Christian or Islamic land. He will actively preach. He will publish newspapers, hand out souvenirs and humanitarian aid. He will buy airtime on TV, and build a three-story mansion in six months while the followers of traditional faiths cannot always afford to pay their electricity or central heating bills. Do you really believe that the local populations should watch it in silence? You are wrong.

It is obviously rather easy for Talgat Tajutdin to speak so bluntly. Islamic foreign missionaries often belong to fundamentalist organizations involved in political extremism (including the separatist movement in Chechnya) and therefore are a matter of justified concern to the government.

However, the new religious movements are not the only cause of strong emotions. The attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church towards Catholics has been traditionally negative. The Church leadership obviously does not allow itself to make the same kind of remarks about them as about the "new religious movements," but in a crisis situation it is not always manageable to maintain a neutral attitude. The Pope's decision of February 11, 2002 to transform the temporary administrative structures of the Roman-Catholic Church in Russian into regular dioceses stirred up a fury of protests in the Russian Orthodox Church. Leaving aside the substance of the canonical conflict over the dioceses, we shall only note that the RPTs had every right to criticize the Pope's actions (since any public association has a right to criticize any other association), but it failed to refrain from making openly xenophobic remarks. Patriarch Alexii II stated as follows: "We view this as an aggression against Russia." It is noteworthy that Alexii II made this statement in relation to the establishment of dioceses. When commenting on the satellite conference between the Pope and Moscow Catholics scheduled on March 2, 2002 he found it necessary to add that March 2 is the day commemorating Patriarch Hermogen, "who in tumultuous times opposed similar attempts of the Roman-Catholic Church to penetrate into Russia."

Sadly enough, the struggle against "non-traditional" organizations sometimes makes people resort to direct calls to violence. And this applies not only to the behavior of the rank-and-file clergy. Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, Acting Chairman of the Patriarchate's Department for Relations with the Armed Forces and Law-Enforcement Agencies and Pro-Rector of the St. Tikhon Theological Institute (as well as one of the leading ideologists of fundamentalism) thus spoke on September 17, 2001 in his interview to the "Radonezh" radio station:

Don't they have enough bricks in Moscow to crush all those sex-shops? <...> If people had cared about it, there would be no problems at all. Or take, for example, sects. If, say, 800 people come to disperse the sectarians, how many police officers would be necessary to prevent them from doing so? After all, local authorities and mayors do not like when people get rebellious. Fifteen hundred people will come into a public office and demand: "Make our life free of Mormons! Give us the laws that we need! Otherwise ten thousand people will gather and let no one go to the State Duma! Go back home and develop a bill to banish all sects altogether!" <...> There is a legal way, but there is also a popular way. Choose anything you like. But God forbid to resort to murder, arson, etc. Because people can get hurt.

Attempts to Involve the Government in the Fight against "Non-Traditional" Religious Orders

The task of fighting against "sects" (this Christian theological term has been expanded indiscriminately to a great variety of religious movements and groups) is being conducted quite officially. Under the "Bases of the Social Concept," "countering the activities of pseudo-religious structures, who present a danger for individuals and the society as a whole," should become one of the areas of cooperation between the Church and the government.

Emergence of two alternative concepts of the relationship between the state and religion has become a major development in this respect. A draft concept of government policies in the religious sphere, developed jointly by the Chief Department of the Ministry of Justice for the city of Moscow, and the Institute of Church-State Relations (the main authors of the draft are Vladimir Zhbankov and Igor Ponkin, respectively) was made public and widely promoted on June 5, 2001. We do not intend to analyze this document entirely but will highlight some of its major provisions.

The proclaimed purpose of the Concept was to particularize the preamble of Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations," which had declared that there are "traditional" and "other" religions, but did not list which religious organizations were "traditional." The Concept suggests that the "traditional" religious orders have their privileges and relationship with the government legalized and regulated by law. The question of which religious orders should be ranked as "traditional" is answered in the Concept in a fundamentally unlawful and discriminatory way: religious associations are to be grouped by three categories, namely, number of followers, historical contribution to the development of the country, and work "as a creative and unifying spiritual force of the Russian society for the maintenance of peace and stability in the Russian Federation." It is quite obvious that none of the above criteria (in the current situation even the numerical strength) could be applied in an objective manner.

The justification for the reform and its generally conservatively xenophobic disposition are also very significant. Some of the problems singled out in the draft concept (in its first version) are as follows:

- the presence of threats to the maintenance and development of the cultural identity and spiritual uniqueness of the peoples of Russia;

- deterioration of the general situation related to outbursts of religious enmity and the growth of religious extremism in the society;

- foreign religious expansion into Russia as an element of the foreign policy of a number of foreign nations.

Despite their imprecise nature, the wording of the above formulations are generally reminiscent, not of the rhetoric of Church leaders, but rather of the statements made by the communist-patriotic opposition leaders throughout the 1990s.

The text of the Concept was continuously revised. Some of its provisions were smoothed out. The term "traditional religious organizations" was substituted for the term "traditional religions," which is of principle importance. This substitution is significant because some of the Islamic and Christian associations can hardly qualify as "traditional organizations" (given the widespread use of the term "Christian" for the purposes of self-identity).

A concept developed by a narrow group of experts would certainly not deserve too much attention. But immediately after its publication, the concept was given an unusually warm and friendly endorsement by the leaders of the major "traditional" religious associations - the Moscow Patriarchate, both aforementioned muftis, Hebrew, Buddhist and even some of the Protestant leaders.

An alternative bill emerged just three days after the publication of the Concept. It was prepared by the Religious Studies Department of the Russian Academy of Civil Service (RAGS), headed by Professor Nikolai Trofimchuk, member of the above mentioned Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religions Associations. The text prepared by RAGS is definitely more professionally done and does not contain any openly propagandistic constructions. This draft firmly states that implementation of religious equality is more important than any practical utility resulting from the preferential relationship between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church or any other religious association.

It should not be forgotten that Nikolai Trofimchuk is not a stranger to the authors of the first bill: he edits a page titled "Church-state relationship" on their web-site. The same site is also posting his book Expansion, which is an elaboration on the theory of Western geopolitical expansion through religious missionaries. One of the major conclusions of his book is that "in its relationship with the West, Russia has to emphasize the inherent uniqueness of its civilization and defend itself with all sorts of "social-cultural screens.'" These screens "shall be transparent to information related to new technologies but should be semi-transparent or impenetrable to any information having an immediate harmful effect on the system, which is based on traditional religious values, as well as on the axiological sphere as a whole."

Thus, the alternative bill turned out to be almost as xenophobic as the first one. N. Trofimchuk and his colleagues also recommended attaching a legal status to "traditional religions." The differences with the first bill primarily related to details.

Nevertheless, religious leaders were united in giving their preference to the bill of V. Zhbankov and I. Ponkin. Firstly, the RAGS bill was perceived by many, primarily by the Russian Orthodox Church, as "atheistic" because it emphasized the need for the state to distance itself from the Church and clearly stated the impossibility of any restitution of church property or the introduction of Russian Orthodoxy (or any other religion for that matter) into compulsory school curriculums. Secondly, the RAGS bill spoke about "traditional religions" rather than "traditional organizations," which did not allow many such organizations to solve their problems with internal "competitors" within the framework of their own religious orders. (And thirdly, the RAGS bill suggested re-establishing a united coordination body for faith-based policies of the government, which could potentially lead to a more stringent control over religious affairs. In contrast, the major religious associations, including the Russian Orthodox Church, prefer to establish direct ties with the high-ranking politicians without the assistance of any intermediaries. )

As a result, it was the Zhbankov-Ponkin bill that mufti Talgat Tajutdin pompously presented to President Putin on September 24, 2001, along with the favorable reviews of religious leaders.

Nevertheless, the idea of passing the amendments provided for in this concepts to the 1997 Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" encountered rigid opposition from the more liberally minded officials of the Cabinet of Ministers. Therefore, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims leaders changed their tactics, dropping the idea of amending the Law. Instead, they suggested adopting a new law that would be directly related to the privileges of "traditional religious organizations."

It was this idea that became a focal point of discussion at the conference "The State and Religious Associations: Conceptual Basis of their Relationship as Shown by the Practical Experience of the Russian Federations Territories Comprising the Central Federal District" that was held on January 25, 2002. In their presentations to the conference, Metropolitan Kirill and, especially, mufti Talgat Tajutdin again came out against foreign preachers, in favor of a special status and special role of "traditional religious organizations" in the state (primarily in the education sphere), meaning unequivocally the Russian Orthodox Church and some major organizations of Muslims, Buddhists and Hebrews.

Deputy-Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations Alexander Chuev (a politician traditionally lobbying for the interests of the Patriarchate and the leader of a smallish Christian-Democratic Party of Russia) told the participants about his own bill on "traditional religious organizations." A. Chuev came out against the imposition of new limitations on "non-traditional" religions, but, at the same time, spoke in support of granting privileges to the "traditional" ones, e.g., access to schools and social work, free access to the mass media, etc. He even suggested returning tax credits to them that were cancelled as of January 1, 2002, as a result of the enactment of the new Tax Code). As he pointed out, "We believe that traditional religious organizations should be given tax credits, which should be applicable not only to the organizations themselves but also to the businesses and non-commercial organizations they establish." (The implementation of this measure would be equal to the creation of an internal "religious offshore zone.")

A. Chuev put forward a complex system of classifying "traditional" religious orders into federal, regional and "historical" ones (the latter group would most likely include the Old-Believers). As a separate proposal he introduced the notion of "a mission of foreign traditional religious organizations," which would probably help to differentiate, for example, the Catholics from some foreign "totalitarian sects."

The status of a traditional organization should be granted in Russia to an organization that has at least a million believers or followers, has been active in the country for at least fifty years and, most importantly, is recognized as an integral part of the spiritual, historical and cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia. For a historical traditional organization the numerical strength is of lesser importance than the length of its life. It should be at least eighty years old. In the case of an organization that is traditional for specific peoples of Russia the criterion of strength should be 100 000 people. Foreign religious organizations or their missions can be granted the status of a mission of a traditional religious organization, provided they can back up this claim by an official letter from their embassy testifying that a particular religious organization is regarded as traditional on the territory of its native country.

The responsibility of granting statuses should be vested in a federal commission that should be formed initially on a parity basis by the President, both Chambers of the Federal Assembly and organizations of "traditional religions" already mentioned in the preamble to the 1997 Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations." The representation of Christians is, by the way, reserved for the Russian Orthodox Church. Among other things, the commission would be responsible for the verification of the headcount of the followers, although the verification procedure is totally unclear: in fact all the major religious organizations in Russian do not have any fixed membership. Having realized the problem, A. Chuev soon dropped the numerical strength criterion, increasing instead the required minimum life qualification to 95 years. Those religious organizations that receive the status of "a traditional organization" would be allowed to delegate their representatives to the commission.

In his letter to A. Chuev, published on March 1, 2002, Metropolitan Kirill, writing in his capacity as the head of the Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS), supported in principle the bill's concept but pointed out some inconsistencies and suggested setting up a special working group. A review prepared by the OVTsS experts was attached to the letter. Their objections were partially related to various legal and technical issues (although quite serious ones) and partially tackled some essential problems, namely:

- the bill does not specify the privileges to be granted to "traditional organizations";

- the mechanism of proving traditionality is not purely spelled out;

- the bill gives almost equal rights to the representative missions of foreign organizations and to "native" traditional organizations (A. Chuev simply made a blunder here. He probably meant Catholics or Mormons, but all major religious organizations get registered as Russian organizations, while missions are extremely rare and have a purely "technical" nature).

Simply speaking, the OVTsS recognized the soundness of Chuev's initiative, but gave a bad mark to its technical implementation. It was probably decided that the introduction of the bill the way it was presented would not give the Russian Orthodox Church (as well as other "traditional organizations") enough advantages. Hence, further development of the bill and its promotion within the parliament and the society will probably be carried out in this direction (this is most likely a long-term campaign: the government is (still?..) very unlikely to accept such a bill).

Russian Orthodox Church's Claims to a Special Status in the Country

Projects of a discriminatory nature developed by the Moscow Patriarchate are not reduced only to the confrontation with "non-traditional religions." The Patriarchate claims a special status even among other "traditional" organizations. The claim is based on the following argument of the aforementioned "Bases of the Social Concept": "When a nation, civil or ethnic, is entirely or predominantly an Orthodox community, all of one faith, it can be perceived in a certain sense as a single spiritual community - the Orthodox people."

In the Russian Orthodox Church's opinion, the Russian people are "predominantly of one faith" both in the ethnic and even in the civil sense of the word "Russian" (according to a survey run within the framework of the project "Religions and Values after the Fall of Communism," 50 to 80% of the respondents call themselves Orthodox, though the same polls also show that less than one half of the population believes in God, therefore it would be more accurate to talk here about a cultural rather than a religious identity). Correspondingly, a question arises about whether an "Orthodox people" should have a more or less Orthodox state.

As for the "Bases of the Social Concept," they bluntly reject the idea of immediate transformation of the current state into an Orthodox one. Neither do the "Bases of the Social Concept" provide for granting the Russian Orthodox Church a special status within the state (the idea of a state Church status is also rejected). Nevertheless, the desire to obtain a special status is still present among the Church leadership.

In its ultimate form this idea was outlined by Metropolitan Mephody (Nemtsov) at the conference "The Role of the Orthodox Church in the Creation and Development of the Russian State" that was held December 10-11, 2001 (among the organizers of the conference, beside the ROC, were the Presidential Administration, Institute of Russian History of the Academy of Science and other reputable organizations). Metropolitan Mephody argued that unlike Western society, Russian civic society should be founded on wholesome unity, rather than on individualism. This gives the Church a special role to play, which, in his opinion, should be set along the guidelines of the Russian Orthodox Church Local Council of 1917-1918. Those decisions put a significant dividing line between the Church and the state, especially given the previous state of affairs in the Russian empire, but for a modern reader could sound quite radical (we shall quote them selectively):

- being an integral party of the Universal Christian Church, the Russian Orthodox Church occupies a leading public and legal position among other faiths, which is only appropriate for her as the greatest holy treasure of the vast majority of the population and as a great historical force that built the Russian state;

- State laws, related to the Orthodox Church, shall be adopted only with the consent of the Church authorities;

- the Head of the Russian state, Minister of Religious Orders and Minister of Public Education and as well as their deputies shall be Orthodox Christians;

- the Orthodox Church shall have precedence in all public life events when the state affairs involve religions;

- the low, medium and high level schools, both theological and general education, created by the Orthodox Church shall enjoy all the rights of public educational institutions without exemptions.

It should be repeated that this is a long-term program. At the same time, it is truly indicative of the direction chosen by the moderates like Patriarch Alexii II or Metropolitan Kirill, who, by the way, refrained from making any comments on the statement of Metropolitan Mephody.

Metropolitan Mephody, whose views lie somewhere between those of Metropolitan Kirill and of the leader of "respectable fundamentalism" Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), has been keeping an increasingly high profile in the church-government relations recently. It was Metropolitan Mephody who in November of 2000 chaired the discussions at a round-table on the issues of church-government relations that was organized by the Presidential Administration in the President-Hotel and was attended by numerous representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. In March of 2001, he joined the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religions Associations.

By early 2002, the Patriarchate's "offensive" against the principles of religious equality and separation of Church from the state concentrated on two major issues - mass media and school.

For the last year, Church leaders have been actively campaigning against various manifestations of immorality in the mass media, especially on TV, and that, by itself, is only natural. But unlike the past, when positive proposals were largely confined to the appeals to the government to take appropriate measures, now a new set of ideas has emerged. Firstly, the above mentioned conference "The State and Religious Associations: Conceptual Basis of their Relationship as Shown by the Practical Experience of the Russian Federation Territories Comprising the Central Federal District," held on January 25, 2002, actively discussed the idea of supervisory boards for TV broadcasting, with the active involvement of Church representatives. Secondly, the new Chairman of the Publishing Council of the Patriarchate, Archpriest Vladimir Solovyev, came out with an idea to create within the Russian Orthodox Church a media holding, including radio and television broadcasting stations and a number of print publications. At this stage, the plan is obviously to merely reorganize the Publishing Department, but the long-term goals have been defined quite ambitiously: since 70% of the Russian population are Orthodox Christians, they must have 70% of the air time on television. Archpriest Vladimir stated in this regard: "We must compel the members of parliament to take a pledge that our children would learn the Christian scriptures and the TV screens would be rid of everything that we do not like."

Mufti Talgat Tajutdin, by the way, also actively backed the idea of supervisory boards on television in the conference of January 25.

Two days later, on January 27, Patriarch Alexii delivered a speech in the opening ceremony of the Tenth Christmas Readings. Among other things, he said the following:

In our opinion, it is time to expand the experience of teaching "The Principle of Orthodox Culture" to all public schools in Russia. The legislation of our country allows introducing this subject as an ethnic-regional component into the core school curriculum or as an additional component.

We should not be discouraged by the fact that the pupils may also include the children of Muslims, Hebrews or Buddhists. The achievements of the Russian Orthodox culture make up an essential part of the world spiritual heritage and constitute the core of our way of thinking and life, which for many centuries have united our people.

It is noteworthy that until recently the leaders of the Patriarchate have been speaking exclusively about the extracurricular teaching of Orthodox Christianity (which is provided for by law). Even now, they are talking not about a full-scale introduction of the "Word of God" but rather about some kind of a palliative suitable for both the society and the state.

Most likely this bold proposal became possible due to the favorable outcome for the Church of an almost a yearlong discussion about the introduction of theology into the programs of state-sponsored colleges. On January 28, the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation approved of the educational standard for the "Theology" specialty. It shall be noted that in the second stage of higher education the students' choice of specialty subjects is restricted to just four options: Christian, Islamic, Hebrew and Buddhist theology. It looks like the first practical example of fixing at a statutory level the privileges of the four "traditional religions" from the preamble of the 1997 Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations."

The new standard is not markedly xenophobic in its nature, although it is still not clear what problems may result from its practical implementation. In particular, it remains to be seen what direction the specialization will take within the Christian theology (for example, would it take into consideration the views of Old-Believers and Protestants, or the Catholics for that matter).

"Non-Traditionality" as an Excuse to Incite Enmity towards Other Organizations within the Same Religion

We have already mentioned that unlike "traditional religion," the notion of "traditional organization" is required primarily to justify the fight against other organizations within the same religion. However, it is useful only for those, who can prove to the government and society its greater "traditionality." The Moscow Patriarchate has used this argument against the secessionist Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church of Valentin Rusantsev (totally non-canonical from the theological point of view but quite legitimate from the legal viewpoint) or against the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (the parishes of which are quite "traditional" outside the boundaries of the former USSR and "non-traditional" inside them).

This argument is most frequently employed, though, by the head of the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims, Talgat Tajutdin, who accused mufti Ravil Gainutdin and his followers of "Wahhabism." By doing so, T. Tajutdin misused the meaning of the word as a synonym of extremism within Islam (although he personally knows its right meaning). The head of the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims also equated the followers of the Muftis' Council with genuine Wahhabite preachers (primarily of Arab origin). At one time, Talgat Tajutdin made an attempt to directly scare the public, saying that "this extremist religious schism had already infiltrated into Moscow," that one mosque had already been captured and "in spite of our protests they had already been given official ownership documents for the mosque." In fact, he was talking about a mosque in the district of Zemlachka in Moscow that had been occupied by his main competitor Ravil Gainutdin's followers about six months earlier in March of 2000.

A specific situation has been unfolding in Dagestan where Wahhabism has a significant fellowship and is in opposition to the dominant Sufi schism of Islam (armed clashes between the two peaked in 1999). Sufi sheiks have practical control over the Spiritual Department of Dagestani Muslims (DUMD) and exercise significant influence over local political leaders. As a result, Dagestan has actually introduced religious censorship. In March of 2000, the Spiritual Department of Dagestani Muslims created an Expert Council that is responsible for monitoring all Islamic literature published in the republic as well as any audio- and video-material with religious contents, while any materials being sold without prior permission of the Expert Council are subject to confiscation and destruction by law-enforcers. (A similar council was established in the Urals in March of 2002, but its evaluations and conclusions only take the form of recommendations. Such a situation, in our opinion gives no grounds for concern.)

Then the parliament of Dagestan passed a regional law banning Wahhabism and introduced a similar bill to the State Duma (see the article on legislation). Mufti Ravil Gainutdin expressed his righteous indignation over it and said that it was inadmissible to ban a whole faction of Islam. However, the alternative proposed by the mufti, i.e., to ban the "extremists," does not sound any better:

Those people who in the name of Islam are engaged in criminal activities cause harm to our religion. On this basis, we attempted to develop criteria that would allow us to differentiate between extremists and true believers. There are three major characteristics of extremism. I can name them all. They include the rejection of the fundamental traditions of Islam, a teaching of one's own exclusiveness and pre-eminence that serves as a justification of the self-acquired right to call traditional believers non-Muslims, and finally proclamation of one's right to abridge other people's rights. In my opinion, these criteria must be taken into account while considering the issues related to Wahhabites.

But obviously it is not only Orthodox Christians and Muslims who lapse into calling on the government to abridge the rights of their "competitors." Following is a passage taken from the interview of the head of Central Spiritual Department of Buddhists of the Russian Federations, hambo-lama Damba Ayushev:

- The law [Federal Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations"] is actually limiting our opportunities. While giving freedom to new religious organizations, it imposes certain limitations on us.

- What limitations are you referring to?

- It is about the flock. Under this law it is permitted to create new Buddhist organizations called by people the "red-hats" (religious scientists also call them the same name and it is not a new schism in Buddhism - comment of A.V.). They are engaged in active propaganda and thus steal away our followers. Our influence on the believers is diminishing. That means that the law gives more advantages to new religions at the expense of the old ones.

- What changes could be introduced into this law?

- The changes should be as follows: the central concept of the law should be the tradition of a people and traditional religion of this people. The law should serve for better harmonization of the relationship between a religion and its followers. It must work for the people, for the preservation of the people. This is the direction I would recommend.

This passage aptly demonstrates not only the desire to impose limitations on "competitors," but also an emphasis on creating a rigid relationship between religion and ethnicity.

And finally, xenophobia of this kind can also serve as an instrument in a dirty struggle. For example, in 2001 the Pentecostal bishop of the Samara region, Vasili Lyashevski, sent a letter addressed to the law-enforcement bodies of the city of Samara, the regional prosecutor's office and the Federal Security Service demanding to ban a religious conference of his rivals among the Pentecostals. In particular, he wrote as follows:

I believe that the groups "New Jerusalem" and "Open Sky" are extremist groups and try to stage a political show under the disguise of a religious conference. Their promotional materials say that the conference will be attended by a politician from Minsk, Yuri Karmanovich. I don't know who this person is, but I'm afraid that the guise of missionaries can be misused by spies and all sorts of people, who have nothing in common with Christianity. I consider it an implementation of a directive of the West aimed at destroying the spiritual values of the Russian people.

In his letter to the regional prosecutor of the Samara region, Vasili Lyashevski, spells out a lot of complaints against one of his competitors, Pentecostal bishop Sergei Ryakhovsky, including accusations of Masonry, heresy and instigation of inter-religious enmity.

Anti-Western Xenophobia, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Globalization

The previous example was not the only example given in this report to highlight the theme of a confrontation with the West. In fact, such examples are very are numerous. There is nothing surprising in this, since many religious leaders in Russia, even those who do not share nationalist ideas, perceive their confrontation with other religious associations as part of an all-Russian confrontation with the ever-hostile West. Following is a passage from a statement of Metropolitan Kirill, the second man in the Russian Orthodox Church command and leader of the liberal-conservative wing of the Church.

We believe that fighting against sectarianism by making the religious legislation more stringent would not bring the desired results ... Because in the case of sectarianism we deal not with freedom of choice, but rather with the attempts of well-known forces to spiritually divide our society and to add religious differences upon the existing ethnic, property and political divisions.

If we take into account that the absolute majority of those who are now called "sectarians" in Russia belong to religious associations that were brought to Russian ten or a hundred years ago from abroad, it will become clear that the "well-known forces" are also located somewhere abroad. If we add to this that the "sects" of western origin outnumber the "sects" of eastern origin, we can also conclude that the anti-sectarian rhetoric has an outright anti-Western character.

The pronouncements of fundamentalist activists of the Russian Orthodox Church and their patrons among the bishops contain a lot of even harsher verbal outbursts to this effect. But the position taken by a moderate Metropolitan Kirill is more significant.

The Patriarch's position was stated in a Diocesan Assembly on December 15, 2000. He said the following:

We must realize that there is a well-coordinated bloodless war being waged against our people, which is aimed at destroying us. A powerful industry of debauchery is at work in the Western countries, supplying to Russia incredible amounts of pornographic literature, manuals on so-called sex-education that promote lewdness of all kinds and de-facto organize everyday life in the pattern of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Russia today there is an immense market of alcohol, drugs, pornography, and contraceptives, which bring profits to foreign companies and mafias. The activities of the latter have resulted in an unprecedented demographic crisis in our country that brings about an incredibly rapid degeneration and extinction of our people.

Muslim leaders also follow suite. On September 12, 2001, Talgat Tajutdin considered it necessary to state that "the USA have the same problem as the ancient pharaohs - haughtiness and pride, a desire to become a master of the world, while this position can be claimed only by the Almighty Creator."

However, the most vehement language is characteristic of Ravil Gainutdin's deputy in the Muftis' Council, mufti Nafigulla Ashirov. Commenting on the start of a military operation in Afghanistan, Nafigulla Ashirov stated that this action gives every Muslim the right to reciprocate in kind, though he also emphasized that his Spiritual Department will not call for any acts of violence. After the infamous pogrom in the street market at Tsaritsino on October 30, 2001, he commented that the views of the skinheads are quite appealing to him but the skinheads have chosen the wrong target - instead of beating Muslims, they should have beaten some Westerners.

Speaking of Islamic leaders, we can not avoid the subject of their anti-Zionist attitude that is so militant (unlike, say, declarations of the Patriarchate in support of Yaser Arafat), that it can be characterized as a form of anti-Semitism. The same mufti Nafigulla Ashirov stated in the spring of 2001 as follows:

Although there are many people who would disapprove of the methods of "Hezbulla," they have proved their effectiveness. "Hezbulla" and its allies have achieved good practical results. The Israeli army has withdrawn from Southern Lebanon.

<...> It is very important that for the first time the highest political elites have taken an armed popular struggle against the Israeli regime, which is fair, just and necessary.

One could ask in this regard what sort of justification is necessary here? Who would in his right mind would attempt to question the lawfulness of the operations of Kovpak's guerrillas?

Immediately after the tragedy of September 11, Nafigulla Ashirov and Vali-Azmed Niyazov, leaders of the Eurasian Party, who are very close to Ravil Gainutdin, gave a press conference and commented on those events as follows: "Who stands to benefit from all this? Who was the first to rip the benefits of this situation?" They emphasized that the first commentaries came "not from Americans or Russians, but from the same Scharansky and Liberman [ministers of the Israeli Cabinet], who seemed as if they had been waiting for this with the NTV cameras." N. Ashirov also added the following: "We know which country has a well-developed network of secret services. These are Zionist secret services. Bin Laden does not have their capabilities. This was not done by Arabs or Muslims, but by those who had the necessary capabilities and who stood to benefit from it."

Anti-Western feelings in Russia have taken on, in recent years, a new form (ironically, borrowed from the West) - anti-Globalism. The Russian Orthodox Church leaders are offering to the government and the society their own strategic concept with regard to globalization, or more precisely with regard to Russia's relations with the outside world, primarily with the West. We are talking about the concept that has been developed by Metropolitan Kirill, approved by the Patriarch and included in the "Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church" in the 2000 Hierarchs' Council. Instead of quoting numerous articles and documents of the Council, we shall give a brief summary of them.

The Church condemns liberal (Western) ideology as non-religious and individualistic, but acknowledges its right to exist in the modern sinful world. The Church maintains that the "traditional" ideologies - Islamic, Orthodox and others have an equal right to exist. The World Order should take account of all these ideologies in equal measure. The process of intermixture of civilizations is being assessed rather negatively, while the maintenance of religious, ethnic and civil identity is being viewed as its alternative.

The Church maintains that the Russian people should identify itself within this paradigm as an Orthodox Christian people. This means a categorical rejection of liberalism, a demand to shift the balance towards traditional values and public mechanisms based on pre-revolutionary traditions.

Metropolitan Kirill always expresses himself very diplomatically, but he also perceives the situation as critical and requiring urgent action: "The current ongoing global process of establishing liberal values as allegedly the pinnacle of the multi-century history of human civilization is today a bigger danger than was formerly presented by communistic atheism."

Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church offers Russia a policy that could be called civilizationary isolationism (it is worth comparing it to the above quotations from different concepts of state-religious relations) and that represents a defensive form of xenophobia.

Radical anti-Globalism, if presented in a respectable manner, is not being rejected by the Church either. The St. Petersburg Theological Academy, headed by Bishop Constantine (Goryanov), held (in partnership with two secular institutes) a conference on May 3-4, 2001 on "The Spiritual and Social Problems of Globalization." The conference adopted a final document that is worth being quoted:

The ideology of globalization is in opposition to Christian ideology and is incompatible with it; it is being introduced and promoted to the public and Church by the world elite and is representative of the latter's interests. Globalization is becoming an embodiment of the utopian ideas of mondialism about the creation of a unitary supra-national rigidly-governed state on Earth...

<...> The Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian State have become the main obstacles in the way to the world domination...

This text displays certain parallels to the philosophy and propaganda of radical nationalists, but in general it repeats more clearly and resolutely the paraphrased ideas from the "Bases of the Social Concept." Thus, it is not surprising that the Synod did not raise any objections against it, at least in public.

Therefore, the fundamentalist anti-Globalism, although not in its extreme forms, has been actually legitimized within the Russian Orthodox Church. It has also led to a simultaneous legitimization (as well as promotion in the name of the Church) of anti-Western xenophobia.