11/05/2019, 11.26
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Unity Day amid the divisions of Orthodoxy and Russian society

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Demonstrations in schools, squares, theaters drew a few hundred people. The burden of Putin's anti-pensions and anti-youth policies and schisms caused by the Ukrainian Church. Kirill speaks of the need to overcome all internal and external divisions and restore  the role of international spiritual guide to Russia. The country's moral renewal to increase demographic data.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - November 4 in Russia is a national holiday or Unity Day, established after the end of communism to commemorate the "reconstitution" of Russia in 1612 after the great divisions and struggles of the "Torbidi" period, which followed the death of Ivan the Terrible. After expelling the Polish invaders, Russia relied on the new Patriarchate institute and the new Tsarist dynasty of the Romanov family.

Russian unity was therefore also a decisive move away from external enemies, especially in the West. Even today, the same motif reappears. Last year the hilday came during the acute phase of the Ukrainian "schism", with the proclamation of the Tomos of autocephaly of Kiev that led to the rupture also with the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople. This year too the aftermath of a year of quarrels with western neighbors and "Orthodox brothers" made themselves heard: on 3 November the patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev) presented his meeting Tomos with the European Russians (photo 1 ), in turn dismissed by Constantinople, and condemned by the Orthodox Church of Athens, which recently recognized the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church.

The holiday therefore took on even more explicit “nationalist” tones, not only for ecclesiastical events, but also for the radicalization of sentiments widespread in Russian society. The past year has seen a long succession of protests against the Putin regime, both for unfavorable economic measures for pensioners and workers, and for the imposition of domesticated electoral lists, in Moscow and in other regions. Complaints are also being raised against the Church for sacred and administrative building projects, from Ekaterinburg to Sergiev-Posad, and in several other cities. The Russians today appear to be anything but "united", and the party has tried to reaffirm this great historical and religious ideal.

In the assembly of the "Russian World Council" – which he established in the nineties - Patriarch Kirill reiterated the need to overcome all these internal and external divisions and restore to Russia its role as spiritual guide at an international level. Kirill's most bombastic proposal concerns population demographic growth, which has fallen dramatically for three consecutive decades, which should follow a spectacular moral recovery based on the moral values ​​of the family and the Church. According to the intentions of the head of the Orthodox, all this, must lead to a very strong turnaround, reaching a population growth of 13 million people in 10 years.

This year, the revival of orthodox nationalism has had a remarkable resonance in Russian schools, where pupils were made to recite the Moleben (Orthodox prayer of thanksgiving) during the festivities in theaters and squares. In Kemerovo, Siberia, 400 pupils formed a large five-pointed star after prayer, a reminder of Soviet patriotism (photo 2).

Alongside the ecclesiastical and school celebrations, during the festival there were ultra-nationalist demonstrations of the "Russian March" movement (Russkij Marsh), supported by state and local authorities, as well as by Putin's "United Russia" party, which refers precisely to the themes of the 4th November holiday.

In reality, the mobilization of schools and activists has failed to bring very significant numbers to the streets: in Moscow, in the "Ljublino" district, there were less than five thousand people (photo 3), in 12 other large cities there were only a few hundred participants.

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