Spirituality as a political instrument: The Church, the Kremlin, and the creation of the ‘Russian World’

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Series Details No.98, September 2017
Publication Date 12/09/2017
ISBN 978-951-769-541-1
ISSN 1456-1360
Content Type


This Working Paper analyses the way in which the Russian state and the Russian Orthodox Church use the claims related to spirituality in their public diplomacy in domestic and foreign policy matters. A key impetus for the study has been the 'conservative turn' in Russian politics since 2012, when the state leadership placed traditional, spiritual-moral values at the core of the political discourse and thus paved the way for the Russian Orthodox Church to become an even more influential actor in politics.

In domestic politics, the Church has used formal institutions for promoting legislative changes which aim, for example, at condemning offending religious people’s feelings and decreasing punishments for domestic violence.

In the foreign policy context, the actors support each other in representing the distinctive Russian values that contradict the 'Western' ones – a move that can be seen as a securitization process. The 'Russian World' concept functions as a geopolitical metaphor that resembles the concept of Holy Rus, reinforcing the idea of spiritual connections between all Russians, not only within the borders of today’s Russian Federation.

The interests of Church and state are not always fully congruent. The Church is not merely the Kremlin’s puppet; it functions as its own, sometimes internally divided entity. Thus far, it seems that both the Kremlin and the Church have benefitted from their cooperation. The Working Paper concludes that by consolidating spiritual values as being reminiscent of a state ideology, the Russian Orthodox Church and the state leadership have made it increasingly difficult to change the course of the 'conservative turn' in the future.

Source Link https://www.fiia.fi/en/publication/spirituality-as-a-political-instrument
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