By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin has insisted that Lenin’s creation of union and even autonomous republics set the stage for the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, but now Moscow Patriarch Kirill has gone a step further by insisting that the Bolshevik leader “liquidated” as well the common faith of that country, Orthodoxy.
Not only is that reading of Lenin even more outrageous than Putin’s, Kharun Sidorov says; but it threatens the non-Orthodox non-Russians by bringing the Moscow Patriarchate into the closest possible alliance with the Kremlin not only to demolish the republics but also the status of their faiths (idelreal.org/a/31880056.html).
If Kirill gets his way, the standing of Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and other faiths professed by minorities would fall relative to Orthodoxy; and the state would back the ROC MP as its ideological ally, quite possibly even closer than was the case between the Russian Imperial State and the Orthodox church in tsarist times.
Obviously, what Kirill is saying – and Sidorov provides copious citations to his latest homilies and other messages – is the Orthodox leader’s wish list and is far from a done deal. Putin may yet recognize just how dangerous such a move would be and pull back from any concordat of the kind Kirill seems to want.
But Kirill’s words are certain to alarm many non-Russians as well as non-Orthodox faithful within the Russian nation, and the fact that he feels free to say things that only a few years ago would have brought down the power of the state against him shows just how far Putin’s incautious promotion of a return to the past may be.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .