Russian Politics and “Vulgar, Primitive” Secularism

russian-church-putinVladimir Putin has given another speech [ru] in defense of Russian Orthodox values, this time calling on the Church to study the lessons of the twentieth century. (One imagines that Putin has in mind Soviet religious oppression, which he seems to blame for the Russian Civil War.) “We must avoid a vulgar, primitive understanding of secularism,” he told the Bishops’ Council, a massive gathering of Orthodox clergy. Putin’s comments are hard to divorce from several legislative efforts in the last year, which include Internet censorship and anti-gay initiatives that shield children from supposedly immoral influences.

Some activists argue that the Kremlin’s recent cultural conservatism is intended to bait the liberal opposition into taking unpopular stances on issues that often stoke religious sentiments in the country’s regions. The harsh prosecution of the Pussy Riot members, some say, was a Kremlin gambit to mobilize liberal protesters in support of artists too radical for Russia’s political mainstream…

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