06/04/2012, 00.00
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In current political crisis Russians see Church as only authoritative institution

by Nina Achmatova
According to the report of an influential think tank, in the irreversible decline of public confidence towards the political leaders, the Church is perceived as the only institution based on moral principles. Experts say the Patriarchate take advantage of historic moment to define a more determined presence in society.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - As part of the political "irreversible" crisis taking place in Russia - where citizens are gradually losing their faith in political leaders -the institution that continues to inspire Russian's confidence of the Orthodox Church is the . This was revealed in the report 'Company and power within the political crisis', developed by the Centre for Strategic Studies in Moscow think tank that contributed to the drafting of the program's first presidential term of Vladimir Putin, and that last fall, predicted the wave protests in winter.

"The Church as an institution in itself, detached from the figure of the patriarch and ecclesiastical spheres - the report says - has the confidence of all groups of people, believers and non-believers." There is a less positive attitude towards the Patriarch Kirill, however, with many of the respondents not even knowing his name. Despite the general condemnation of what the think tank calls "over-commercialization of the faith", referring to the scandals related to the properties of the Orthodox religious leaders, almost none of the interviewees doubts support to the Church as an institution.

Unlike political power, now branded as corrupt by most of the population - the text reads - the Church is still associated with moral values that correspond to the demands made by that part of civil society which for months has been on the streets demanding ethics in politics: transparent elections, independent courts, respect for the Constitution. This, according to experts, is another example of the vulnerability of the current political system: "As soon as a some form of political and moral authority takes shape in society, one that can take on a leading role, it may exercise real pressure on the government to determine great change, "says Mikhail Dmitriev, director of the Center for Strategic Studies.

"In the absence of credible institutions, based on ethical principles - says the expert - society expects the Church to make a more active contribution to resolving moral problems and educating the new generations." As a result many people, even in religious circles in Moscow, argue that now is the right time for the Russian Church to take a more defined role and engagement in contemporary society.

At what emerges from the study, where the parties and political leaders are losing more and more credibility in the eyes of citizens (currently 60% of those who voted for Putin as president in March say they do not respect him and voted for him because of a lack of alternative ), "the Church could exert a great influence on Russian society." "An influence - adds the study - that it does not appear to want or realise".

Currently Patriarchate is more focused on backing up the Kremlin, than outlining a stronger stance on social policy issues. For example, in the Putin project to create a Eurasian Union - of former Soviet nations under one economic banner, also a clear political move - the Orthodox faith plays a key role. One example is the consecration of the new cathedral in Astana, Kazakhstan, where Kirill spoke of "Sviataia Rus', the ancient holy Russia, built around the Orthodox creed, not ethnicity or economics.

Many, even among the faithful, are convinced that the Orthodox Church is losing a great opportunity. According to the well-known journalist Vladimir Pozner, this is explained by the fact that the patriarchate "is afraid of losing its privileges." Especially since in the same church community, in parallel with the awakening of Russian civil society, an unprecedented debate among priests has opened - carried out on blogs and forums - with open criticism to the policies of the Patriarchate. The same Pozner argues that this "internal weakness" of the Russian Church is the root of the repeated references to faith and defence of Orthodoxy in Russia which have emerged in recent months.


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