Staunton, March 31 – Recent events show that the Russian state has agreed to act as an enforcer for the Moscow Patriarchate, an accord that points to the further clericalization of Russian society and that does not bode well for the many opponents of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to Lyudmila Alekseyeva.
The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church has long supported the Russian state, but now, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group says, the state is returning the favor, acting as its enforcer in clear violation of the 1993 Russian Constitution by making the Moscow Patriarchate “a state religion” (portal-credo.ru/site/?act=authority&id=2137).
Alekseyeva’s comments to Portal-Credo.ru came after Russian government magistrates intervened and seized the remains of Suzdal saints that had been kept in a church of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, a group that is often at odds with the Moscow Patriarchate but that the latter has not been able to impose its will.
Now, the state has intervened, a reflection she suggests of the fact that “the state has agreed that the Church can use the state apparatus” for its own denominational goals. In this situation, the Autonomous Church has few good options left except perhaps to turn to the European Human Rights Court.
When the Russian police came to act on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Feodor of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church lay down in front of the shrine, but the police simply stepped over him and went about their business. “I can imagine the attitudes of belivers,” Alekseyeva said.