Reactions of Russian Religious Minorities on the Aggression Against Ukraine

Stanislav Panin holds a PhD in Philosophy from Moscow State University and is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Religion at Rice University.

For years Russian authorities worked to establish control over the public sphere and to suppress independent political parties, media, and non-profits. This control and suppression extend to religious associations; in the past decade, Russian authorities put great effort in prohibiting independent religious movements that were reluctant to profess their unconditional allegiance, had extensive international connections, or were otherwise perceived as a potential threat.

The current events in Ukraine, called “the Russian aggression against Ukraine” by the United Nations and a “special military operation” in Russian official jargon, provided a justification to tighten the restrictions. On 4 March, Russian authorities introduced new laws that made illegal “discrediting the actions of the Russian military,” “calls against the use of the Russian Federation military,” and “calls for political and economic sanctions against Russia.”


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Religion, the Russian-Ukrainian War, and Social Media

Elizaveta Gaufman is Assistant Professor of Russian Discourse and Politics at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

When I first discussed this post with Talk About editor Dmytro Vovk we lived in a different world. We chatted, exchanged screenshots, and I wondered whether my findings would even be interesting to the public. After all, pro-Kremlin social media users were not keen on invoking shared religion in conflict resolution and seemed to have drawn a line between Russians and Ukrainians. At the time of writing, the editor of this post is sheltering from air raids in Kharkiv with his family, and I am sending him daily messages hoping they are ok. What Putin’s regime is doing to Ukrainians is a crime. If those making decisions in the Kremlin actually did care about the common culture and religion that they claim to share with Ukrainians, they could at least remember “thou shalt not kill.”


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The End of Unity: How the Russian Orthodox Church Lost Ukraine

Regina Elsner is a Researcher at the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS).

Since the end of the Soviet Union, dozens of theologians and scholars of religion elaborated on the complicated relationship within the church community of the so-called Holy Rus’. The Moscow Patriarchate defines its territory of spiritual responsibility in the borders of the Soviet Union—except for the old churches of Armenia and Georgia. The core of this spiritual community is Kyiv as the place of baptism of Rus’ in 988 and Moscow as the residency of the head of the church, today Patriarch Kirill. Bitter as it is, the territory of the Soviet Union was always closer to the ecclesiastical understanding of this sacred territory than the Russian Federation and its independent neighbor states, and the Russian Orthodox Church made comprehensive theological, historiographical, and political efforts to design the unity of the people in a new way.


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