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Are the Russian Orthodox Turning Against Putin?


During the Pussy Riot trial last August, Russia observers began to note the “unholy alliance” that was growing between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the time, we remarked that the vitality of the Russian faith often resided in the people, many of whom are suspicious of power and wealth. “The spiritual light that illuminates so many Russian lives,” we wrote, “is not easily corrupted or co-opted.”

A fascinating Foreign Affairs piece on the fraying of Russia’s church-state alliance suggests that we were right. The piece highlights a growing movement of devout Russian orthodox laypeople who have turned against Putin and the hierarchy that has supported him:

The most influential (and liveliest) discussions about the church’s future as a political actor were initiated instead by a group of Orthodox journalists and activists in the aftermath of the disputed December 2012 presidential primary vote. This group includes journalist Konstantin Eggert; Aleksei Ulyanov, the deputy director of the Moscow Administration’s Department of Science, Business, and Enterprise who was formerly with the socially liberal Yabloko party; and Andrei Zolotov, the founding editor of Russia Profile magazine. Since then, the ten-member group has broadcast its bimonthly meetings on national television.  In doing so, it has brought to bring to light the deep discontent among some Orthodox laity about the church hierarchy’s alliance with the state.

Read the whole thing for an interesting look at ongoing developments in Russian Orthodoxy. Even as Putin has asserted his global presence in the Syria crisis, it looks like he may be losing a crucial piece of support at home.

[Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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