The evolution of the political role of the Russian Orthodox Church (1991-2021)

Olena Kolodiy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, communism as an ideology and economic model appeared to lose its appeal worldwide. However, the attacks on liberal democracy, individual freedoms and universal human rights promoted by the USSR remained, now from a different actor within the post-Soviet sphere: the Orthodox Church.This paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Russian Orthodoxy and Politics in the Putin Era. The methodology used is mainly qualitative: using as its main sources various documents by the Russian Federation, the Russian Orthodox Church, and various academic and news articles.This paper is divided in three main sections: The first section concerns the political role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in promoting the so-called “spiritual renewal of Russia” and “moral development of society” (National Security Concept). To achieve the goals previously referred to, the official statements of the President of Russian Federation and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will be scrutinized. The second section is divided in two subsections. The first subsection will focus on the role of the Russian Orthodox Church as an instrument and as a form of power in the hands of the Russian government to expand its influence abroad and undermine the values of liberal democracy at the domestic level and abroad. The second subsection will discuss the ROC as a conservative entity that refuses to conform to new realities. It surmises with the thought that for Putin, Patriarch Kirill is rather a government minister than a religious leader. The third subsection will focus on the ROC and its important role in the increasing militarization of Russian society. It endorses the idea that nuclear weapons can serve as a protection of Russia from the Western influence.The third section will draw an analysis of the Russkiy Mir quasi-ideology and its connection to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The relevance of this symbiosis for the Patriarchate of Moscow will be analyzed and the role played by the ROC in the ideological campaign led by Moscow against Kyiv will be reviewed. Finally, the article aims to reflect on the medium to long-term effects of the 2019 schism and the future challenges of the ROC.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational meetings in political studies (est. 1993)
Subtitle of host publicationconfronting the authoritarian challenge
EditorsRita Seabra Brito
Place of PublicationLisbon
PublisherUniversidade Católica Portuguesa
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9789725408995
Publication statusPublished - 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of the political role of the Russian Orthodox Church (1991-2021)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this