Russia

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence

by Sergei Chapnin

Russia protest

Last Sunday Russia saw a wave of protests against corruption in the upper echelons of power. Masses took to the streets ignited by the investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation titled “He is Not Dimon for You,” which focused on the alleged corrupt affairs of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The outcome of these events surprised everybody, including the government, the organisers of the protests, and society at large.

Firstly and most importantly, Alexei Navalny, the author of the investigation who had previously announced his bid to seek the presidency in 2018, managed to lead tens of thousands of people out to the streets all over Russia, from Vladivostok to Voronezh. Nobody, the organisers included, expected the protests to achieve such scale. In many cities, the rallies remained unauthorized and led to people being arrested despite the peaceful nature of these demonstrations.  Continue Reading…

A Time for U.S.-Russian Repentance?

by John P. Burgess

moscow

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Orthodox churches throughout Russia on Sunday, February 26th. In the church that I attended, the priest spoke of a God who invites humans to confess their sins and make a new start. As dozens of flickering candles cast gentle shadows into the darkened room, he bowed his head and in a hushed voice spoke of his own shortcomings. “I don’t always give you the attention that you need. I’m not always patient with you. The priesthood is a high calling, and I’m not always worthy of it. I ask you please to forgive me.” I held my breath, but his parishioners responded, quietly but firmly, “God forgives.” And then they came forward one by one to ask him to forgive them.

This ritual takes place in Orthodox churches throughout the world on Forgiveness Sunday, the beginning of the seven weeks of fasting and prayer that mark the Great Lent. But this year the words, “God forgives,” had a special poignancy to me. Continue Reading…

Why Is the Church Silent about Anti-LGBT+ Violence in Russia?

by Katherine Kelaidis

rainbow laces.jpgThere are a lot of really good reasons to ban FIFA ’17, including the bevy of corruption scandals that seem to plague the governing body of the world’s most popular sport. But a group of Russian MPs, many from Vladimir Putin’s own United Russia Party, have managed to seize on the most ridiculous: “The FIFA multiplatform video game… invites users to support the action of the English Premier League’s ‘Rainbow shoelaces’ action – a large-scale campaign in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, according to the law the ‘protection of children from information harmful to their health and development’…includes information that promotes non-traditional sexual relations.”

The MPs’ letter is just a recent (and, let’s be honest, absurd) example of the hostile climate that LGBTQ+ people face in Russia, particularly since the passage of the 2013 “Anti-Propaganda” law (the one referenced above by the MPs). Continue Reading…