Category Archives: religion

Holy Putin, Batman!

Reuters reports:

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cultivates the image of a bare-chested macho man, but a nun-like sect in central Russia thinks actually he’s the reincarnation of St. Paul, the apostle.

Or, if not that, he may in a past life have been the founder of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“I say what the Lord has revealed to me,” the sect’s leader, former convict Svetlana Frolova, said.

Putin’s advisers disclaim any link with the sect led by the former railway manager, who was jailed for fraud in 1996.

“He (Putin) does not approve of that kind of admiration,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said by telephone.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Signs of the Neo-Soviet Apocalypse


Signs of the Neo-Soviet Apocalypse

“It would be good to draw up an all-Russian dress code. You think that is a utopia? It is not. People will soon have to get used to it.”

That was Russian Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Orthodox Church’s department for relations between the church and society, talking about the women of his country, who he says are “barely dressed or made up like a clown will certainly not find a man as a partner in life with an ounce of sense or self-respect.”  He says, with typical Russian bluntness, that they deserve to be raped, and that the Putin dictatorship will save them from themselves by imposing a dress code, a remarkably similar attitude to what they have in places like Saudi Arabia and other fanatical religious states.

And make no mistake, dear reader:  This is a powerful Russian connected directly to the neo-Soviet Kremlin.  The dress code could become reality any second. So could legalized rape.

Continue reading

Russians to Christmas: Drop Dead!

The indispensable Paul Goble reports:

Fewer than two percent of Russian citizens attended Orthodox Christmas church celebrations this year, a number that calls into question not only the claims of the Moscow Patriarchate that Russian population is overwhelmingly Orthodox but also the special relationship it has with the state and the state’s spending to promote Orthodoxy.

As Svetlana Solodovnik noted in Yezhednevny Zhurnal, perhaps no other public organization has benefited as much from the tandem as the Russian Orthodox Church which has positioned itself as the moral arbiter of the majority and extracted both the return of property and enormous state subsidies.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Oh Holy Putin!

Oh come, all ye faithful!



Oh Holy Putin!

Our stomachs were turned last week by the revolting news that Russian children were being encouraged by the Kremlin to offer up Orthodox prayers of worship to their new god, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  Here are the horrifying details:

Even as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denied that a personality cult has grown around him, news broke Thursday that St. Petersburg children were being encouraged to pray that God bless Putin and shield him from “demoniacal temptation.”  St. Petersburg’s Suvorov Military College presented printed Orthodox prayers to talented local children aged 8 to 14 who were invited to an International Children’s Day event at Tavrichesky Palace on June 1, Yelena Sakhno, who helped organize the event, said Thursday.  The prayers were among the gifts tucked into goody bags distributed to the 150 children. “We didn’t consider the inclusion of Orthodox literature among the presents to be reprehensible,” Sakhno told The Moscow Times.   “The prayer for the head of state is traditional in the canons of the church service,” she added.  “The Prayer for the President,” first reported by, calls on God to “send Your Archangel Mikhail to the aid of Your servants Dmitry and Vladimir” and to “shatter” their enemies and save them from “demoniacal temptation.” The text echoes the Russian Orthodox Church’s “Prayer to Archangel Mikhail.”

Let’s be perfectly clear: The Putin regime is establishing an official state religion in Russia, and doing so for the most crass of political motives.  It is ignoring the reality that Russia is rapidly becoming a Muslim nation and creating an oppressive, powder-keg scenario of religious exclusion totally contrary to the principles of the Russian Constitution solely so that the Kremlin can use religion (Russia’s current patriarch is a former KGB agent) to leverage its power and control.

Continue reading

Doing God’s Work, Building the Orthodox Power Vertical

Paul Goble reports:

In its drive to build a tight power vertical in the Russian Orthodox Church, the Moscow Patriarchate has crossed another and dangerous line, employing for the first time the language it has traditionally used for religious sectarians to describe a Russian Orthodox prelate whose only “crime” is his refusal to subordinate himself and his flock to Moscow.

A press release from the Odessa bishopric of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, described the Orthodox community of the Synod led by Metropolitan Agafangel, who has broken with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia now that the latter has established ties with Moscow in truly ugly ways.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: The Putin Pogrom


The Putin Pogrom

“Large-scale and systematic persecution.”

That is how the latest report from the Liberty of Conscience Institute characterizes Vladimir Putin’s policy towards religions other than the state-sponsored Russian Orthodox Church.

The Kremlin’s attack on non-Orthodox religions is beginning with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an easy target.  Last month, Russia’s highest court banned their activities and authorized burning their literature.  Many Russophiles will say:  So what? The Witnesses, they will say, are a bunch of extremist freaks that Russia is better off without.

But those Russophiles are not well versed in developed Western political thought.  Those of us who are understand that one cannot preserve religions diversity without allowing extremist freaks.  They are the price of diversity and liberty.

If you choose not to pay that price, then you pay a very different and much worse price.  You end up with a monolithic dictatorship which cannot be creative, which stifles and destroys rather than encouraging and building, which is unable to adapt.  You end up with, in short, the USSR.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Russia and its “Religion”


Russia and its “Religon”

Last week, Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Pope, spoke about ” a country of poverty and crime, hunger, drug addiction, corruption, and a loss of moral values.” He opined that “many of these troubles are caused primarily not by failed social policy but by defects in the depths of the human spirit.”

Even though Russia is documented as being one of the most corrupt and immoral nations on the planet, with a raging drug and AIDS epidemic, horrendous crime and one of the highest murder rates on the planet, to say nothing of its vast ocean of poor folks (the average worker earns just $3 per hour, so imagine how the poor are doing) and its obscene disparity between rich and poor, Kirill was not speaking about Russia.  Instead, he was referring to Haiti, which he apparently believes got what it deserved when it was rocked by an earthquake that killed 150,000 of its men, women and children.

Kirill apparently feels that since a natural disaster hasn’t struck Russia recently, this proves Russia is a moral nation which enjoys God’s blessings and approval.  But what about the Beslan and Dubrovka terrorist attacks, and the conflagration of fires that kills thousands of Russians every year, more than in any other nation on Earth.  Aren’t they signs of divine condemnation of Russia, of Putin and indeed of Kirill himself? What of the fact that Russians don’t rank in the top 130 nations of the world for average adult lifespan?  Isn’t that, too, proof that God reviles Russia?

Continue reading

Kirill Prepares for Holy Russian Empire

Paul Goble reports:

In the waning days of 2009, Patriarch Kirill made three statements designed among other things to position the Russian Orthodox Church for even greater role in Russian politics at home and abroad in the year to come, a role that some may welcome but that others will see as a challenge to secular values and human rights in both Russia and Europe.

First, in what must be music to the ears of many in the Russian government, Kirill repeated his longstanding view that Russia represents a unique civilization and should therefore can and should ignore the evaluations offered by outside experts and institutions like the European Court of Human Rights. Second, and as part of his campaign to build bridges with the Papacy and conservative Christians more generally, the outspoken Russian patriarch lashed out at Europeans for surrendering their cultural and political values to what he described in Gumilyev-style language as “passionate” Muslims. And third, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church further integrated that institution with the state not by signing an expanded cooperation accord with the Academy of Government Service, and demanding that the powers that be support religions relative to their size.

Continue reading

Miraculous Russian Churches Obliterated by Russian Dictatorship

After the jump, photos of miraculously beautiful turn-of-the-century Russian Orthodox churches (and, yes, even a Roman Catholic one!) as photographed by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii.  These and hundreds more like them were eradicated by the same KGB whose proud servant now rules the country, and many of their resident priests were murdered.  How ironic that now these same priests are selling their souls to the devil and cooperating with Vladimir Putin to build a new ne0-Soviet state where religion is used as an element of power.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: The End of Freedom of Religion in Russia


The End of Freedom of Religion in Russia

The latest act of barbarism against Russian democracy being committed by the nation’s so-called “parliament” is a statute called The Law on Religious Activity proposed by the prosecutor’s office and soon to be enacted into law.  It’s just one more heartbreaking step down the road towards establishing a Holy Russian Empire, a road Putin has been following since his first days in office.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Russia on the Verge of Religious War


Russia on the Verge of Religious War

Orthodox Priest Daniil Sysoyev

From his earliest days in the Moscow Kremlin, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s chief claim to fame has been that he brought peace to Russia’s relations with Chechnya and its growing Muslim population (it’s predicted that within the next century Russia will become a majority-Muslim nation).

That absurd propagandistic lie got yet another harsh jolt of reality last week when Orthodox Priest Daniil Sysoyev, Russia’s most active proselytizer in the Islamic world, was shot dead in Moscow.  Sysoyev crusaded to bring Orthodox Christianity to the Russia’s Tatar region, and aggressively confronted Russia’s Wahabi Islamic sect with his Christian views.  He had written, for example:  “In contrast to the opinion of many  both the word of God and the rules of the Church condemn marriages between Christians and followers of other faiths.”  One Russian Orthodox clergy leader responded:  “Father Daniil, his message, and martyr’s end will become a symbol of the rebirth of missionary activity of our Church.”

It appears, then, that the forces of Islam have now struck back, and that Putin’s Russia stands on the brink of holy war.

Continue reading

Jesus of Siberia

What would Jesuski do?

What would Jesuski do?

We can only (excuse the pun) pray that reader “psalomschik’s” head does not explode when he sees this. The Daily Mail reports (click through for more photos of His Holiness):

The beard and long hair are both present and correct. And with his flowing linen robes and beatific smile he certainly does a fine impression of a holy man. But to his believers in this remote corner of Siberia, Sergei Torop, a former traffic policeman, is the literal reincarnation of none other than Jesus Christ

Continue reading

Photo Essay: Holy bling-bling, Batman!

A $30,000 Breguet wristwatch

A $30,000 Breguet wristwatch

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Dima Medvedev, Girly Man-God?


Dima Medvedev, Girly Man-God?

That explains a lot

That explains a lot

We learned earlier this week, somewhat to our surprise, that although Russian “president” Dima Medvedev has one outward appearance, shown at left while visiting a Buddhist monastery in the village of Verkhnyaya Ivolga in Buryatia on Monday, he has another rather different inner appearance visible to those who are sufficiently enlightened. He looks like this:

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: The Holy Russian Empire?

Tandem II:  Putin & Kirill

Tandem II: Putin & Kirill


The Holy Russian Empire?

On July 9th, Russian “prime minister” Vladimir Putin and Russian Patriarch Kirill (the Slavic pope) paid a state visit together to the island of Valaam and its ancient monestary, a famous place of religious pilgrimage for Orthodox Russians.  The two have more than just Russian nationalism and religion in common:  It’s widely believed that Kirill, like Putin, was a member of the KGB.  Russia’s constitution, just like America’s, calls for separation of church in state; as with every other aspect of the document, Putin simply ignores it with impunity.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Russia Today is Really Tragic


Russia Today is Really Tragic

By now most Russia watchers are aware that the Putin Kremlin is squandering millions of dollars badly needed by its sick population (Russians don’t rank in the top 120 countries of the world for adult lifespan) on a shameless English-language propaganda TV network known as “Russia Today.”

It goes without saying that there is no more reliable information to be found in RT’s broadcasts than there was on the pages of Pravda or Izvestia  in Soviet Times. But the fully neo-Soviet character of the network’s material is nonetheless surprising and revolting.

Take, for instance, a recent report on religious freedom in Russia.

Continue reading

Annals of the Holy Russian Empire

The Chatanooga Times Free Press reports:

The glittering Christ the Savior Cathedral, a pale-white marble structure decorated with bronze statuary and swaths of gold leaf, is more than just Moscow’s grandest and most opulent place of worship. Built in the 1990s as a replica of a church dynamited by Communists in 1931, the cathedral symbolizes the Moscow Patriarchate’s rising political influence — which may be greater today than at any time since the 17th century. It also serves as global headquarters of vast and expanding business operations that experts say are worth several billion dollars.

To tens of millions of Russian believers, the Orthodox Church is first of all a sacred institution, a pillar of the country’s 1,000-year-old identity and culture.

Continue reading

The Sunday Pogrom: Putin’s Russia cracks down on the Jews

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Two and a half years ago, a young Orthodox rabbi from New York set down in the port city of Vladivostok, family in tow. Yisroel Silberstein came with a mission, and he expected to stay for good. Out on Russia’s rough-and-tumble eastern frontier, Silberstein set out to revive a Jewish life that, he says, had almost disappeared. He reached out to several thousand local Jews, organizing services, holiday parties and a summer camp where children learned about Judaism and swam in the Sea of Japan. “We thought we were making a great difference in people’s lives,” he said in a telephone interview. “People went from not even knowing they were Jewish to becoming very interested in Jewish life and Jewish activities.”

But in February, Silberstein, his wife and two children were abruptly deported from the country and banned from returning for five years. Zvi Hershcovich, a Canadian rabbi who had been leading a small Jewish community in the southern city of Stavropol, also was expelled. Both men were accused by immigration authorities of visa violations.

The expulsions have sent a nervous chill through Russia’s Jewish minority.

Continue reading

Annals of the Holy Russian Empire

David Satter, writing on

The Orthodox patriarchate is a bulwark of autocracy.

The installation of Kirill I as the new patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church last month will not end the subordination of the church to the Putin regime. On the contrary, the church is likely to emerge as an even stronger supporter of dictatorship and anti-Western ideology.

Kirill, who was the Metropolitan of Smolensk, succeeds Alexei II who died in December after 18 years as head of the Russian Church. According to material from the Soviet archives, Kirill was a KGB agent (as was Alexei). This means he was more than just an informer, of whom there were millions in the Soviet Union. He was an active officer of the organization. Neither Kirill nor Alexei ever acknowledged or apologized for their ties with the security agencies.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: An Open Letter to Gordon Brown



An Open Letter to Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown
Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
10 Downing Street
London, England

Dear Prime Minister Brown,

If you don’t mind our asking, Sir, just what the !#@*&? do you think you are doing?

Are you, perhaps, trying to cement your status as this century’s Neville Chamberlain and the worst ruler of Britain in half a century?  Do you actually want to encourage more murders by Russian special forces on British soil like the killing of Alexander Litvinenko by making the Russians think England is their supplicant?   If so, we sincerely hope the good people of Great Britain will have the wisdom to put you in prison at their earliest opportunity.

Let us explain.

Continue reading

The Sunday Sacrilege: Praying to the KGB

On Tuesday, the Russian Orthodox Church chose Metropolitan Kirill as its new pope.  The Times of London reported just before the church was made:

The Russian Orthodox Church will choose [on January 27th] between three alleged former KGB agents as its next spiritual leader.

More than 700 priests, monks and lay representatives will decide who should become the new Patriarch in the first Church election since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The contest at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow pits the favourite, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, against two rivals who also rose through the heirarchy at a time when the Church was under strict Communist control.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: A Russian Selection


A Russian Selection

In decision science they speak of a “Hobson’s Choice” in which the decision maker is given only a take-it-or-leave-it alternative, much as was the case in “elections” in the USSR.  Then there is a “Morton’s Fork” scenario, which which two actual alternatives are presented but they lead to the same nasty result.  This is what Russian voters faced in 2000 when they had to choose between a card-carrying Communist aparachik and a proud KGB spy for president.  Neither model is adequate to encapsulate the horror of decisionmaking in Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet Russia.  A new term must be found.

The Moscow Times reports that upon the demise of KGB spy and Russian pope Alexei II (who collaborated with proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin from the onset of Putin’s time in government and helped to assist Putin on the way to becoming a Holy Russian Emperor) the Russian church is offering two candidates for succession.  Russia will either have Kirill, a maniacal funamentalist, or Kliment, a shameless Kremlin shill.  It’s the same as choosing between Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Dimitri Medvedev as Vladimir Putin’s so-called successor.

Call it a “Russian Selection.”

Continue reading

An Early Russian Christmas Carol: Oh Holy Stalin!

The lastest barbaric idiocy from the Russians is a contention that genocidal maniac Josef Stalin is no different for the them than Napoleon is for the French.  Did we miss something? Did Napoleon build gulags and wipe out a huge segment of the French population?  Are Russians proud of the fact that Stalin’s Russia, like Napoleon’s France, was totally obliterated? And why is it that the West is “irrelevant” to Russia whenever the West’s good points are at issue, but when Russia’s faults are being discussed suddenly what happens in the West is absolutely crucial? Is this national psychosis?  Paul Goble reports:

An Orthodox priest in a town near St. Petersburg has sparked controversy by putting up an icon showing the figure of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, with some believers and Communists viewing this as simple justice and others as an indication that many Russians have lost any sense of proportion or truth. One of the most widely covered stories in the Russian Federation last week concerns not the actions of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or even the impact of the economic crisis but rather the decision of a priest to put up an icon portraying Stalin and the efforts of some to canonize him. The priest of St. Olga’s Church in Strel’na, Father Yevstafiy, recently put up an icon there to the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, on which Stalin was portrayed, without any of the attributes of sainthood but simply standing next to her. Thus, technically, it was not an icon of Stalin at all.

Continue reading

The Sunday Sacrilege: Annals of Russia’s Islamic Bomb

Paul Goble reports:

The Russian government’s failure to enforce its own laws and to provide basic community services in the modernized sector is to blame for efforts by non-Russian groups there to revive pre-modern traditions like shariat, according to a leading Moscow commentator. Such groups in the current political environment have few chances of influencing the behavior of the Russian government, observer Yuri Gladysh says, and consequently, they are taking the only steps available to them to protect themselves and their families from increasing official arbitrariness.And the Russian authorities will have only themselves to blame if they do not change course and then must confront communities far less adaptable to Russian-style modernization than they were only a few years ago and far more ready to listen to those, often radical in their politics, who speak within that alternative, pre-modern tradition.

Continue reading

The Sunday Sign of the Russian Apocalypse

In an informal poll among LR staff members, this story has been universally agreed to be the single most repugnant piece of news we’ve ever published about Russia. It’s so repulsive that words fail us to describe the horror. So much for separation of church and state. We can only wonder what they did with the nation’s Muslim atheletes — ate them, maybe. The Moscow Times reports the blasphemy:

Russia’s Olympic team received religious icons and a crash course in Orthodox church history in China during a Kremlin cathedral service on Tuesday.

The athletes and their coaches also met with President Dmitry Medvedev for a pep talk for the Summer Games, which start in Beijing on Aug. 8.

“You are going to China as representatives of Russian Orthodoxy in a critical period of Russian-Chinese relations,” Bronnitsky Bishop Ambrosy said at the service in the 15th-century Assumption Cathedral.

The two countries have been mending once-strained ties, most recently ending a 300-year dispute with the signing of a pact demarcating their 4,300-kilometer border on July 21.

The bishop on Tuesday offered a brief history of Russian Orthodoxy in China, noting that the church had suffered because of a lack of religious freedom in the country. “Unfortunately, the life of our religion has struggled during the 20th century in China,” he said.

However, he said, the athletes will be able to worship in Orthodox churches in Beijing.

He extended to the athletes a blessing from Patriarch Alexy II, who was home resting from a recent trip to Kiev.

Before the church service, the entire Olympic delegation attended a meeting with a cautiously optimistic Medvedev in the Grand Kremlin Palace. “Today, we won’t make any forecasts, but all Olympians should know that we support you with all our hearts,” Medvedev said in televised excerpts of his address.

Athletes said they appreciated the attention from the president and the church. “The meeting with Medvedev was official and spectacular and was meant to give us confidence,” said Yevdokia Grechishnikova, who will compete in the modern pentathlon in Beijing. “The blessing, however, was for our souls. Without it, going to China would be hard.”

“God always helps,” said Lyudmila Bodniyeva, a member of Russia’s first Olympic women’s handball squad. “I’m glad that we’ve been promised Orthodox services in Beijing.” In a brief discussion with reporters before the church service, a priest said attendance was optional and that only one-third of Russia’s 467 athletes and coaches were expected to show up.

Francesco Cuzzolin, an Italian assistant coach for the men’s basketball team and a Roman Catholic, said he attended the church service out of curiosity. “This is just like what happens at the Vatican for the Italian delegation, but 200 times smaller,” he said.

The entire delegation was dressed in team outfits — blazers emblazoned with the double-headed eagle and sneakers and shirts patterned in a Russian folk style. Male athletes wore blue and cream, while women were in red. “I’m not sure how we look individually, but as a whole, we make a beautiful impression,” Bodniyeva said of the uniform made by Bosco Sport, a general sponsor of the the country’s Olympic team.

At the end of the church service, athletes were given diptych icons encased in red and blue velvet. The athletes hurried out of the Kremlin and onto Red Square, blocked off to visitors for the afternoon, for a buffet that included asparagus sushi and white chocolate-covered strawberries. An actor dressed as the Olympic team’s mascot, the fuzzy, giant-eared Cheburashka, was present on Red Square to greet the athletes, who for the most part ignored the creature while they ate their lunch.

The Olympic delegation will leave for Beijing over the course of the next week, according to the Russian Olympic Committee’s press office.