Believing in Russia - Religious Policy after Communism
Routledge – 2013 – 304 pages
Routledge – 2013 – 304 pages
This book presents a comprehensive overview of religious policy in Russia since the end of the communist regime, exposing many of the ambiguities and uncertainties about the position of religion in Russian life. It reveals how religious freedom in Russia has, contrary to the widely held view, a long tradition, and how the leading religious institutions in Russia today, including especially the Russian Orthodox Church but also Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist establishments, owe a great deal of their special positions to the relationship they had with the former Soviet regime. It examines the resurgence of religious freedom in the years immediately after the end of the Soviet Union, showing how this was subsequently curtailed, but only partially, by the important law of 1997. It discusses the pursuit of privilege for the Russian Orthodox Church and other ‘traditional’ beliefs under presidents Putin and Medvedev, and assesses how far Russian Orthodox Christianity is related to Russian national culture, demonstrating the unresolved nature of the key question, ‘Is Russia to be an Orthodox country with religious minorities or a multi-confessional state?’ It concludes that Russian society’s continuing failure to reach a consensus on the role of religion in public life is destabilising the nation.
'With more and more people at least beginning to see through the vulgar masquerade of Putinism, the current political regime needs the help of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) of the Orthodox Church no less than its predecessors did seventy and twenty-five years ago…This is the background to the main question that Fagan poses in her remarkable monograph. Because she skips about between times, places and religions, which might be disconcerting for those who have only recently become interested in the subject and have not been following her contributions to the online Forum 18 News Service, readers should always bear in mind the basic question around which the book revolves: ‘Is Russia to be an Orthodox country with religious minorities or a multi-confessional state?’ The answer is not nearly as clear as one might suppose, if only because of Putin’s interest in neo-Eurasianism and the possibility of creating some sort of a Eurasian Union centred on Russia (not discussed in detail by Fagan), his apparent reluctance to allow the North Caucasus to leave the Russian Federation and his need to appease the growing number of Muslim citizens now to be found in every corner of the vast country.' – Martin Dewhirst, University of Glasgow, UK, SEER, vol. 92, no.2 (April 2014).
Introduction 1. Russia’s Religious Freedom Tradition 2. ‘Native Land Protected by God’ 3. Rites of Spring 4. Law Unto Itself 5. Fight Thine Enemy 6. In Search of Tradition 7. Extreme Measures 8. Alternative Scenarios Conclusion
Geraldine Fagan is Moscow correspondent for Forum 18 News Service, and has monitored religious policy across Russia for the past decade.