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Pro-kremlin TV Channel Attacks Orth. Church Critics

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    Pro-Kremlin TV Channel Attacks Orthodox Church Critics 2 / 2 Pro-Kremlin TV Channel Attacks Orthodox Church Critics© RIA Novosti.  © RIA Novosti. Yana
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2013
      Pro-Kremlin TV Channel Attacks Orthodox Church
      2 / 2
      Pro-Kremlin TV Channel Attacks Orthodox
      Church Critics© RIA
       © RIA Novosti. Yana
      19:54 21/01/2013

      MOSCOW, January 21 (Marc Bennetts, RIA
      Novosti) – A pro-Kremlin TV channel, whose exposés of President Vladimir Putin’s
      critics led last year to the arrests of political activists, has aired a new
      documentary, this time attacking what it called the “godless” enemies of the
      Russian Orthodox Church.
      “Anti-church campaigns are an instrument of political warfare,” intoned Boris
      Korchevnikov, the presenter of “I Don’t Believe: The War Against the Church,”
      which aired Sunday evening on the NTV channel.
      The onset of street protests against Putin’s rule in December 2011 also saw a
      rise in public criticism of senior Orthodox Church officials over their alleged
      luxurious lifestyles and subservience to the Kremlin.
      But Sunday’s documentary compared media and online “attacks” on the church to
      the persecution of Christians in Stalin-era Russia.
      “They even use the same terminology as in those times,” Dmitry Smirnov, a
      senior Moscow priest, said in the documentary, mentioning “obscurantism” as an
      example. “This all has a very familiar ring to us.”
      The Soviet authorities murdered 80,000 people for their faith in 1937 – the
      peak of Stalin-era purges – according to the Moscow Patriarchate. Some 200,000
      clergymen were executed during the entire Soviet period, according to a 1995
      presidential committee report.
      “In a world where the arguments for abortion and same-sex marriage are
      becoming louder and louder, the church is facing criticism over its calls not to confuse human rights and sins,” Korchevnikov, the program’s presenter, told the
      A church spokesman, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who was featured in the
      documentary, praised the film afterward.
      “This is a fair reflection of the mood in society,” he told RIA Novosti on
      Monday. “Not the virtual society, which is dominated by a small group from large
      cities, but real society, which loves its church.”
      Some 70 percent of Russians regularly identify themselves as Orthodox
      Christians in opinion polls. But a survey conducted last August by the
      independent Levada Center pollster found that 30 percent of Orthodox Christians
      in Russia did not actually believe in God.
      The NTV program also cited an Italian expert on the Vatican, Massimo Franco,
      as saying that Putin’s opponents were attacking him through the Russian Orthodox
      Church. Franco is not known for his expertise on Russia.
      Despite years of service in the KGB, the feared security agency in the
      world’s first officially atheist state, Putin has projected a pious image since
      coming to power in 2000. He is frequently shown celebrating religious holidays
      in church, often in the company of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian
      Orthodox Church.
      The documentary also featured a secretly filmed conversation between “blogger
      Oleg Zorbin” and an unidentified person that suggested popular Russian bloggers
      – including Rustam Adagamov, a member of the anti-Putin opposition council who
      recently faced a slew of murky child-abuse accusations – were accepting payments of
      around $5,000 for posting damaging material about the church. Media outlets
      demanded fees “higher than $7,000,” Zorbin also said.
      “It’s not important who is right, who is guilty,” Zorbin is shown saying. “We
      just make a fuss.”
      Searches on Google and Yandex in both English and Russian did not turn up any
      blogs by or relevant references to an Oleg Zorbin
      One of Russia’s most popular bloggers, Oleg Kozyrev, told RIA Novosti he had
      “never heard” of such a blogger. An NTV spokesperson could not be reached for
      comment as of Monday afternoon.
      Prior to the March 2012 presidential elections, Patriarch Kirill came under
      fire for his televised support for Putin after he said the ex-KGB officer’s
      first two terms as president were a “miracle of God.” The comments triggered a
      high-profile protest by the feminist punk performance group Pussy Riot in
      Moscow’s largest cathedral, which ultimately landed two of the young women in
      prison camps for two years each.
      The patriarch also faced criticism in 2012
      over his insistence in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never
      worn a luxury watch that Ukrainian media reported he had been sporting on a
      visit to Kiev in 2009. When eagle-eyed bloggers later discovered a photograph of
      the patriarch wearing the $30,000 Breguet timepiece on the church’s official
      website, the watch was subsequently airbrushed out. But its tell-tale refection
      on a varnished table remained, triggering a storm of online mockery. A spokesman
      for Kirill said the watch had been deleted by a “secular” employee who had made
      an “absurd mistake.”
      Early last year, NTV aired a documentary
      alleging that people attending anti-government rallies were being paid “cookies
      and cash” by the US State Department, sparking a protest outside the channel's
      Moscow studios. A criminal investigation was opened into the claims, but no
      charges have so far been brought. Alexei Navalny, a protest movement leader who
      requested the Federal Security Service (FSB) probe the claims made in the film,
      said last week he had received official notification that there were no grounds
      to bring charges of treason against demonstrators or rally organizers.
      A second documentary aired by NTV last
      autumn alleged that Sergei Udaltsov, one of the figureheads of the anti-Kremlin
      protests, had conspired with an influential Georgian politician to overthrow
      Putin. Two of Udaltsov’s fellow activists, Leonid Razvozzhayev and Konstantin
      Lebedev, are in custody awaiting trial, while Udaltsov is barred from leaving
      Moscow. All three men face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of the
      charges, which they deny.


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