LIVE UPDATES: The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill designated the war in Syria a “holy war.”
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Recent Analysis and Translations:
– Does it Matter if the Russian Opposition Stays United?
– Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Has Invented A Version Of History To Meet His Needs
– Getting The News From Chechnya â The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
– Aurangzeb, Putin, Realism and a Lesson from History
On the 4th anniversary of the famous May 6, 2012 Bolotnaya Square demonstrations against President Vladimir Putin’s fraudulent win in the elections and subsequent policies, protesters once again came out to Bolotnaya to protest not only the government but the imprisonment of 35 people on charges of public disorder or assaulting police, despite thin evidence presented by investigators.
Russian authorities have continued prosecutions under the “Bolotnaya” rubric today as two more people were added to the ranks of political prisoners related to this demonstration of four years ago.
An activist tweeted the progress of the action today — which ended in multiple arrests:
More people have been detained since then and we will have an update soon.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
“Therefore today, the war with terrorism is a holy war, and God grant that this be understood throughout the whole world, so that they don’t divide terrorists into good and bad, so that no one links the war against terrorism to the achievement of their own, often undeclared, but really existing goals in the political sense. Then the war with such an enemy through such honest means will also be holy.”
Patriarch Kirill made no mention of the fact that mostly Russia and Assad have avoided bombing terrorists but have actually empowered them in Syria.
Following the obscenity of the Russian orchestra playing in Palmyra as a refugee camp was bombed nearby, as we reported earlier, the Patriarch’s declaration appeared to be part of Russia’s interpretation of itself as the leader of “Christian civilization” where the decadent West has failed.
In September 2015, at the onset of Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria, Patriarch Kirill also defined the action as a “holy war.” He appears to have stopped short of doing this for the war in Ukraine, possibly because the Moscow Patriarchate’s own parishes are on Ukrainian territory.
He did speak in 2014, however of the “unambigious religious agenda” of the war, as he saw it, an allusion to both ancient and post divisions between the Orthodox Church dominated by Russia and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church which are not recognized by Moscow, as well as the self-governing Ukrainian Uniate Church, the Eastern rite body related to the Catholic Church. He said that the Ukrainian armed forces’ ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation], which in fact began as the defense of Ukraine against the Russian-backed armed separatist movement, was religious in nature. The remarks were removed later from some official Russian Orthodox web sites, but remained on the web site of Metropolitan Ilarion:
Uniates and the schismatics who adhere to them, having received weapons, under the guise of an anti-terrorist operation have begun to carry out direct aggression regarding the clergy of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the east of the country.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick