Moscow (AsiaNews) – The inauguration ceremony of the third president of the Russian Federation, Dimitry Medvedev, provided a platform to reiterate on the one hand the stated continuity with the Putin administration and on the other the increasingly close “collaboration” of the Russian Orthodox Church with the country’s political rulers.
This morning the new president, elected on 2 March, took his oath of office on a copy of the Russian constitution after Vladimir Putin made his farewell speech.
This time the ceremony of transfer of power saw both outgoing and incoming presidents together, thus symbolising Putin’s continued presence on the political scene.
As head of United Russia, the party with a majority in the Duma (parliament), Putin will soon be sworn in as prime minister.
The Catholic archbishop of Moscow, Mgr Paolo Pezzi, and the apostolic nuncio, Mgr Antonio Mennini, were present at the swearing-in ceremony.
Following the speeches and the salute by the presidential guard the Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Aleksij II celebrated a thanksgiving and blessing prayer in the Kremlin’s Cathedral of Annunciation.
At the end of the service the Patriarch presented Medvedev and his wife the famous icon of Our Lady Vladimirskaya, considered the patron saint of Russia.
The new president thanked Aleksij II pledging that during his mandate he will do everything in his power to further develop the relationship with the Orthodox Church, which he called one of “special trust”.
Today’s ceremony like other public and religious functions that bring together political and spiritual leaders is part of broader trend.
As part of its nationalist campaign the Kremlin is increasingly relying on Orthodox views, presenting itself as the defender of traditional moral values.
For its part the Russian Orthodox Church has been trying, successfully, to carve for itself a privileged position vis-à-vis other religions.
In light of this many experts and journalists in Russia are wondering whether the constitutional principle of separation between state and religion (art. 14) is actually being upheld.