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Putin Appeals to Russia’s “Silent Major ity”

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/02/09/putin-appeals-to-russias-silent-majority/ February 9, 2013 Putin Appeals to Russia’s “Silent
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2013

      February 9, 2013
      Putin Appeals to Russia�s �Silent Majority�

      Putin is always looking for new ways to consolidate his power, and a
      well that never seems to run dry for him is the traditionally
      state-friendly Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill I, the primate
      of the Church, recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of his
      leadership, and Putin took the opportunity to state his support for
      increased Church influence in Russian life. /Reuters/ reports

      �While preserving the secular nature of our state, and not allowing
      the over-involvement of the government in Church life, we need to
      get away from the vulgar, primitive understanding of secularism,�
      [Putin] said.

      �The Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions should
      get every opportunity to fully serve in such important fields as the
      support of family and motherhood, the upbringing and education of
      children, youth, social development, and to strengthen the patriotic
      spirit of the armed forces.�

      For a while now, Putin has been appealing to a Russian �silent majority�
      to build support for his Putinocracy. There�s a division in Russia
      <http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1207> between
      the increasingly restive and dissatisfied urban middle class, and the
      majority of poorer, often more traditionally-minded Russians. This
      silent majority not only take a kinder view towards the centralized
      government, which they rely on for financial support, but they also tend
      to be more pious.

      Enter Putin�s courting of of the Orthodox Church. The close relationship
      between the the Church and Putin became especially clear in the Pussy
      Riot trial
      when Putin cast himself as the defender of the faith against godless
      blasphemers. Many
      <http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1622544,00.html> have
      picked up on the �unholy alliance� between Putin and the Church. The two
      power centers have a lot in common, including the fact that many senior
      Orthodox clerics got their start in the days when Putin�s old employer
      the KGB made sure to fill the church�s ranks with pliant government stooges.

      But it�s also true that the two share a common antipathy toward
      �foreign� ideological and religious currents emanating from the west.
      Secular liberalism is something the priests hate as much as the
      Putinites, but there is also a deep suspicion of non-Russian religious
      traditions. Note Putin�s careful reference to the �traditional�
      religions that he feels have a place in Russia. That firmly excludes a
      number of Protestant and other religious movements that the government
      and the church both want to marginalize. Neither religious nor political
      groups with roots abroad are welcome in these defensive days in Russia.

      Fortunately for the Orthodox Church, its greatest resources don�t lie
      with the power-friendly, Rolex-wearing clerics who will serve any
      secular master who comes along. A deep tradition of popular piety that
      rejects the trappings of wealth and power and is deeply suspicious of
      glittering prelates gave the Orthodox Church the spiritual strength to
      survive 70 years of Communist persecution. That faith in the heart
      remains the source of much that is strong and good in Russia today, and
      whatever the fate of the institutional church, the spiritual light that
      illuminates so many Russian lives is not easily corrupted or coopted.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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