Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the most senior bishop in the Christian Orthodox world, summed up the Russian church’s political stance in a recent speech:
The Russian Orthodox Church sided with the regime of President Vladimir Putin, especially after the election of His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill in 2009. It actively participated in the promotion of the ideology of “Rusky mir”, i.e. the Russian world, according to which language and religion make it possible to define a whole, covering Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, as well as the other territories of the former Soviet Union and the diaspora. Moscow (as a political and religious power) will represent the center of this world, whose mission will be to combat the decadent values of the West. This ideology is a tool for legitimizing Russian expansionism and the basis of its Eurasian strategy. The connection with the past of ethnophyleticism and the present of the Russian world is obvious. Thus, religion becomes the backbone of the ideology of Putin’s regime.
Coming from a Christian Orthodox bishop, this is a scathing criticism and a stern warning. The argument is hardly new; the authority of this pulpit, one hopes, will draw greater attention from the audience.