As of 4 July 2020, the amendment to the Russian Constitution—first proposed by President Vladimir Putin in January, smoothly approved by the State Duma and Constitutional Court in March, and confirmed in a nationwide referendum with 78,56 per cent of votes—has taken effect. As widely reported, the main purpose of the amendment was to secure Putin the possibility of two more terms in office. But what significance does the constitutional amendment of 2020 have for the Russian Orthodox Church?
There are four places in the amended constitution which are the result of successful lobbying by the Moscow Patriarchate.
I tried to stay away from publicly expressing my thoughts on the current church/autocephaly crisis in Ukraine, for many reasons. First of all, there are much more competent people who know the situation better than I do. Second, the issue of autocephaly of the church in Ukraine has, by now, escalated so dramatically that one feels compelled to side either with the “pro-Russian” block or with the “pro-Ukrainian/pro-Constantinople” one. The “camps” seem to be so fortified, and the discussion so heated, that it seems difficult to formulate and express one’s opinion without taking a clear-cut “pro” or “contra” position.
In the end, however, I decided to write a short piece about the issue because I received about a dozen requests from various people to comment on the situation, and to give my view on the issues at stake.
Let me say at the beginning that I do not share the mainstream views when it comes to the issue of autocephaly in Ukraine. I will try to explain why. Continue Reading…
For most Christians residing in the West, the Kosovo “question” has long been forgotten. But for Serbs and other non-majority communities who live in Kosovo, the march of the international community toward ethnic zones in an independent Kosovo presents a genuine risk to our sacred shrines and our lives.
The lynchpin in the current international plan, wrongly supported by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, calls for areas of “delimitation between Serbs and Albanians.” This would create ethnically pure territories within Kosovo, forcing over 80,000 Kosovo Serbs to leave their homes. This scenario would forever estrange our people from their historic sacred spaces and—as it has in all other instances across the globe—it will almost certainly lead to violence.
Those Serbs who believe that this compromise is necessary for the progress of the Serbian nation are not only forsaking their own cultural ancestry, but they are exchanging them for short-term gains that will neither create a better future for the Serbian people nor bring peace or stability for this region of Europe. This arrangement, in fact, is eerily similar to the one promoted by Milošević for Krajina, Croatia in 1995. We know only too well where that led: to ethnic cleansing and war. Continue Reading…
During the last weeks of June 2016, two major international events took place, namely the ‘Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church’, on the island of Crete (June 16-27), and the British referendum that narrowly voted to leave the European Union (June 23). At first sight, the two events are unrelated. One is the product of extensive inter-Orthodox dialogue that began in 1923, nearly a century ago. The other is the expression of the democratic political vote that took place in Britain, on Europe’s western periphery. Although neither event referred to the other, both are representative of tectonic shifts in the international liberal order of the post-Cold War era.