by John P. Burgess
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…
by Katherine Kelaidis
There 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…
by Kristina Stoeckl
On 23 November 2016, the European Union Parliament passed a resolution entitled EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties. In one part of this resolution, the signatories deplore that
the Russian Government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), special authorities (Rossotrudnichestvo), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), cross-border social and religious groups, as the regime wants to present itself as the only defender of traditional Christian values, social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.
The resolution was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.
Religion comes up in two places in this resolution. Continue Reading…
by Christopher Stroop | ру́сский
One of the strangest aspects of Vladimir Putin’s third term as president of the Russian Federation has been the emergence of Russia as the global standard bearer for so-called “traditional values.” Many commentators, pundits, scholars, and Russia watchers have had difficulty coming to terms with this shift.
While certain left-wing commentators such as Stephen F. Cohen and Glenn Greenwald have joined Green Party candidate Jill Stein in continuing to see Russia as somehow mysteriously leftist, Moscow has made no secret of its pursuit of a “traditional values” agenda in close collaboration with the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the same time, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump consistently supports Putin and spouts Russian propaganda. Continue Reading…