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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Crushing Diverse Religion in Putin's Orthodox Russia

The Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a report on Russia in the fall of last year which begins: "Since Vladimir Putin became president of Russia in 2000, the Russian government has steadily retrated from democratic reform, endangering significant gains in human rights made since the end of the Soviet era, including in the areas of freedom of religion or belief." The report documents increasing race violence, official harassment of Muslims, attacks on NGO monitoring, and cites an April 2006 statement of Metropolitan Kirill (pictured, left) which asserts Russia's right "to deviate from UN human rights norms to correct the 'harmful emphasis' on 'heightened individualism' which has infilatrated Russian society via 'opposition groups' working through Russian civil society organizations." In essence, Kirill called these groups foriegn spy organizations. The report also points out that under Russian law Russian Orthodoxy is the only form of Christianity to receive recognition (along with Islam, Judaism and Budhism).

Now, Kirill has responded to the USCIRF report. According to Interfax:

Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Departmenr for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad has criticized the depiction of the situation in Russia in a 2006 report issued by the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom. "In its report U.S. experts are superficial and biased when judging the Orthodox Church's approach to the understanding of human rights, to the problems of Church-State relations. The report for its authors is not an opinion, which we want to respect, but a sort of verdict on religious freedom in Russia," Metropolitan Kirill said in an interview with the Rossijskaya Gazeta newspaper published on Friday. On March 20, the Metropolitan, in comments on the report sent to U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns, confirmed, among other things, the Russian Orthodox Church's concern about "the radical-liberal interpretation of human rights" and its desire to ban any abuses of human rights that "humiliate human dignity and undermine conventional ethical principles." In his interview the Metropolitan recalled that democracy as a "political mechanism" makes it possible for various systems of values to co-exist and is not identical to "the ideology developed in the West without other civilizations and cultures taken into account. This is why it is surprising when some see themselves as ultimate holders of the truth," the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said. The support of same-sex "marriages", drug addiction, prostitution, death by lethal injection in the West should not be made "the criterion of democracy in society and should not make everyone believe they are useful, right and ethically acceptable."
So, what he's saying is that if you are a democrat this means you have to accept the existence of fascist maniacs as an expression of divurgence of opinion, and leave them alone. Isn't that what Hitler said at Munich? It seems he's also saying that the West consistes of morally degraded inferior beings who have no right to make moral criticisms. Isn't that what Krushchev said at the United Nations? Is this man a cleric or an apparachik? Kind of hard to tell, isn't it?

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