Religious battle in Russia

By Slava Tsukerman

The strict sentence of the Russian court to the members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot had serious consequences. The confrontation between supporters and opponents of unity between Church and Government keeps growing.

The Russian Parliament – State Duma has received a bill to protect religious believers’ feelings. The leader of the faction United Russia in the State Duma Andrei Vorobyov announced that the bill was supported by the leaders of all parliamentary factions “in connection with the particular importance of the issue.” According to the bill, “public insult to religious beliefs of citizens” and “humiliation of public worship, religious rites and ceremonies,” can result in penalties of up to five years in prison.

The law has not yet been passed. But officials across the country have already responded with actions.

In the city of Rostov in response to complaints from the Orthodox believers the performance of the rock opera Jesus Christ – Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice staged by Petersburg Theatre Rock Opera in 1990 and since then successfully performed all over the Russia was canceled.

Professor Yuri P. Vyazemsky is an  Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, an alumnus and now head of the Department of World Literature and Culture at the Moscow Institute of the International Relations – the most elite educational establishment of atheistic USSR and now Russia, and  host of the most popular “intellectual” TV show.   This week made a shocking ‘flip flop’ and pronounced: “Atheists are animals. And they are sick. They must be treated.”

This “top intellectual” had changed his official beliefs as people change gloves. So did the Institute. So did the entire Russia. I, an immigrant from USSR, find it ironical and funny. Russians find it common and normal today. This so called “intellectual” doesn’t even see the irony of the situation.

All International Service Providers operating in the Russia’s Chechen Republic, which follows now Sharia law, have blocked access to the YouTube, where the notorious video Innocence of Muslims was shown.

Last Friday, one of the local courts of the Chechnya capital Grozny, declared the preview of the never made Innocence of Muslims “an extremist film”. Under Russian law, any material found extremist by decision of any court at the Russian Federation territory should be included in the nationwide list of “extremist materials” and banned throughout the country.  The Russian representatives of Google had already agreed to block in Russia the YouTube showing of the Innocence of Muslims.

If the “insult to religious beliefs and feelings of the citizens” law will be approved by the State Duma the way it is drafted now, everyone who would show a recording of this video at home to a friend will be punished as a criminal.

Patriarch Kirill of Russian Orthodox Church had visited Moscow State University last week. In his speech to the students he stressed the idea that any power is sent to the government by God, so the duty of every citizen is to be obedient to all bureaucrats.

One of the students came to the meeting with Patriarch Kirill wearing a red Balaclava, a symbol of support to imprisoned members of the punk band Pussy Riot.  The girl sat dressed this way in the front row almost for half an hour.

Near the end of the speech of the patriarch guards asked the girl to remove her hat. After removing the red balaclava, she put on a blue one, but the guards also took away this one.

There is a lot of evidence of growing religious battle in Russia today. To conclude this article I can’t help but tell about one more ironic event, symbolically bringing the battle inside a Russian family.  Several days ago a brutal murder was committed in the city of Saratov. A forty-seven year-old daughter beat her seventy-nine year-old mother to death. The weapon used was a church icon.      


Updated: October 8, 2012 — 8:58 am © 2016