Orthodox Church should have more control over Russian life: Putin
President Vladimir Putin has said the Orthodox Church should be given more say over family life, education and the armed forces in Russia, as he celebrated the leadership of its head Patriarch Kirill.
Faith runs deep in Russia after the fall of the officially atheist Soviet Union and Putin has looked to the largest religion in Russia for support since he began his third term as president after a wave of protests against his rule.
He has also tried to mix spirituality with his own brand of patriotism in order to unify the officially secular country where ethnic and political fault lines are beginning to show.
“At the heart of all Russia’s victories and achievements are patriotism, faith and strength of spirit,” Putin said last Friday in the Kremlin’s gold encrusted Alexeyevsky hall, celebrating the fourth anniversary of Kirill’s accession as patriarch.
Putin’s relationship with the church has strengthened since band members of protest punk band Pussy Riot entered Russia’s Christ the Saviour Church last year and sang a vulgarity-laced song, urging the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”.
Without giving specifics, Putin said a “vulgar” understanding of secularism must be swept away to give the Church, and other religions, control over more aspects of Russian life.