The Moscow Patriarchate’s Constitution: How the Russian Orthodox Church Champions the Kremlin’s Battle Against “Falsification”

Robert C. Blitt is the Toms Foundation Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law

Russia’s 2020 constitutional amendments provide fresh succor for the Kremlin’s longstanding foreign policy priorities. These priorities include fortifying a muscular vision of sovereignty, non-interference, and a multipolar international order; disseminating traditional values;” defending rights of compatriots living abroad; and cracking down on the so-called “falsification” of Russia’s WWII history that tarnishes the country’s reputation. Given the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate’s (ROC) consistent support for these priorities, its role as a vital Kremlin soft power lever is poised to deepen in the coming years.


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Ukrainian Autocephaly, One Year On

Elizabeth A. Clark is Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies and Regional Advisor for Europe at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

In a moment that would have repercussions throughout the Orthodox world, on January 5, 2019, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officially recognized a new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). An act that may seem like an obscure internal jurisdictional shift to outsiders, Patriarch Bartholomew’s grant of a Tomos of autocephaly (an ecclesiastical grant of independence) reflects and contributes to the highly politicized role that religion has played in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and contains the potential to dramatically change the role of religion in Ukrainian public life for years to come. (more…)

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Religious Policies under President Zelensky

Dmytro Vovk is Director of the Centre for the Rule of Law and Religion Studies, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and co-editor of Talk About: Law and Religion

When Volodymyr Zelensky won the April 2019 presidential election, he became the sixth president of Ukraine, prevailing over his predecessor Petro Poroshenko by almost 50 percent.  To all Ukrainian presidents so far, religion has mattered greatly. After coming to power, these leaders develop their own model of church-state relations by favoring one or the other branch of the split Ukrainian Orthodox Church. For instance, President Poroshenko’s crucial support allowed for the creation and recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Due in large part to this support in context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, church-state relations have culminated in religion becoming an inalienable part of state policies and public discourse on national security. (more…)

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