05/25/2020, 11.27
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Prof. Anatolij Krasikov, narrator of Russia’s religious revival, has died

by Stefano Caprio

He was among the most influential personalities in the transition from the Soviet Union to federal Russia. He worked for Tass for 37 years; he was the first Soviet correspondent accredited by the Vatican Press Office. He defended religious freedom in Yeltsyn's Russia, without privileges for any confession.

Rome (AsiaNews) - On the evening of May 21, Prof. Anatolij Krasikov, one of the most illustrious witnesses of the transition from the Soviet Union to federal Russia, a great narrator of the country's religious revival died.

For several years he was director of the Press Office of Boris Eltsyn's presidency; from 1996 to 2016 he led the Center for the Study of Problems of Religion and Society in the Institute of Europe of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was also head of the Russian section of the International Association for Religious Freedom.

Anatolij Krasikov was born in Moscow on August 3, 1931. In 1954 he graduated from the faculty of history of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), the mythical "spy factory" and KGB collaborators in the time of the USSR. His specialization: "historical experts on international issues". The following year he attended specialization courses in foreign languages, becoming an interpreter in Italian, which he actually knew perfectly.

For 37 years he worked at the Soviet regime’s Tass information agency, on international issues and beyond. Between 1959 and 1964 he was an official correspondent from Italy and the Vatican, and in this capacity he made known, within the limits imposed by the circumstances, to the whole Soviet world the events related to the Second Vatican Council. He was the first Soviet correspondent accredited by the Vatican Press Office, and he led the Tass headquarters in Rome. From 1966 he moved to head the Paris office, and in the 1970s he became one of the agency's main managers in Moscow.

In 1990 he was among the first to try to orient himself on regime changes, and the end of the Soviet era. In that year he defended a doctoral dissertation at the Soviet Academy of Social Sciences, on the theme "Spain in international relations between 1945 and 1989: evolution of foreign policy orientations". Between 1992 and 1996, the years of major political, social and cultural breakthroughs, Krasikov worked in the administration of President Yeltsyn, as director of communications and secretary responsible for relations with religious associations with the president of the Russian Federation.

In those years churches were rebuilt and parishes were registered according to the new laws, the most liberal in all Russian history. Anatolij Krasikov is recognized as one of the most reliable consultants for everyone: Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, without discriminating even against small communities of various religious orientation. He was not only an official: present at conferences and religious ceremonies, available for personal relationship and participation in many common events and publications, capable of critical observations, but also of sincere encouragement. A great friend, a man without prejudices, one of the few capable of breaking down every barrier.

After retiring from the state in 1996, he continues to lead the Center for Studies on Religion with passion and high academic level, intervening on every occasion to defend religious freedom, even in Russia which is once again turning to the selection between good and bad religions. He was one of the most authoritative journalists in Russia, a member of the editorial board of the analytical information magazine "Religion and Law", and one of the patrons of the Theological Institute of Saint Philaret, one of the most prestigious in Moscow.

Krasikov left many of his memoirs in the books and in the many articles he wrote in Russian and in many other languages. Reading them, you can understand how it was possible to live with sincere enthusiasm the end of an era that seemed invincible, and the beginning of another that is still entrusted to the hands and freedom of people.

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