Having witnessed the biggest public demonstration since the end of the Soviet Union according to BBC News (1), this is without a shadow of a doubt a time where Russia not only is changing its mentality with the rise of the middle class and the emergence of youth dating from after the Soviet era but also a time where it has become necessary to question its political situation.
In the need to find its identity in a post-USSR world, democracy and rule of law seem the likely way which Russia will keep on fighting for in the future. The particularly intriguing question is how the current politicians and the people of Russia will come to terms with each other in order to establish a real democracy in the Eurasian continent and finish with mutual grievances.
According to Euronews (2), a very revered institution in Russia such as the Russian Orthodox Church has decided, on the day which is considered to be Christmas day in their calendar, to defend its followers by counselling the government on what it should do in order to appease the social turmoil existing in the country. The Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, the current head of this Church, alerted in an interview on state-owned television channel Rossiya 1 the danger of present insensitivities towards the people of Russia.
This situation is due to the past legislative elections of the Duma, whereby many were concerned by the veraciousness of the results and by the swapping of chairs made by the current President Dmitri Medvedev and his Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (who has already served the nation as President for 8 years). The latter seems to be willing to participate in the upcoming presidential elections in March, where he seems to be unrivalled within his party “United Russia”, suggesting he might ascend to the position of head of State for the third time (if there are no surprises in the opposition). (3)
However, it must be said that the Church up until now has been rather discreet in its opinion on the past election results whereby many allegations of fraud were issued, according to the New York Times (4). Their careful position is understandable but now they most use their powerful position within Civil Society (the Church claims that 70% of the population to be Orthodox) and their “close links to the Kremlin” to mediate this complex situation.
In all the surprise and quite unexpectedly, it seems that the Orthodox Church can be regarded as being a rather good intermediary between both sides of the scale: Politicians and Civil Society. Living in a time of political convulsion all over the World from Tripoli and Damascus, to New York and Madrid, the Russians seem to have a good middleman in order to help and sort out present grievances. Being in this situation, it is highly recommendable for their Civil Society to trust a Church which was repressed in the Soviet Era.
Further into the interview, Kirill I looked into the need of the government to hear protesters and react to their plights accordingly amidst an atmosphere of massive arrests. The Patriarch reminded, however, the difference between change and revolution. He recalled the consequences of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 in a rather curious and explicit manner, for which I consider worthwhile quoting:
“If demonstrations ahead of the 1917 revolution had ended in the expression of peaceful protests and had not led to a bloody revolution and a fratricidal war, Russia would have had a population of more than 300 million and would have challenged or maybe even surpassed the United States from the point of view of economic development” (4).
(1) Russian Church head Kirill urges Kremlin policy change. Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16454200
(2) Russian church head calls for dialogue after protests .Link: http://www.euronews.net/2012/01/07/russian-church-head-calls-for-dialogue-after-protests/
(3) For further and more in-depth analysis on the situation in the Russian Federation, please read our past article entitled “The cubs that growl at papa bear (11.12.11)”. Link: http://ginrevista.com/2011/12/11/the-cubs-that-growl-at-papa-bear-11-12-11/
(4) Head of Russian Church Says Leaders Must Listen to Protests. Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/world/europe/patriarch-kirill-urges-russian-leaders-to-listen-to-protests.html?_r=1&ref=world