Forum 18 – 13 May 2022 (excerpts)
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in even stricter censorship and control of Russian religious communities – by newly created offences of “discrediting the Armed Forces” or “disseminating false information” about them, or pressure not to condemn war.
Lutheran Archbishop Dietrich Brauer, who has left Russia for Germany, said that, at the start of the war, President Vladimir Putin’s administration made “a clear demand” of religious leaders to speak out in favour of the invasion.
A pastor in a different Protestant church described how FSB security service officers visited clergy to warn them not to say anything critical in sermons or on social media.
Endorsing the invasion, however, the Russian Orthodox leader, Patriarch Kirill holds that Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all constitute a single spiritual and cultural space in opposition to the liberal and secular West.
On 6 March, he claimed that Russia was protecting the Donbas from outside pressure to abide by liberal values, especially as expressed in gay pride parades, arguing that this “indicates that we have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance”.
Despite this official support for the war, some Patriarchate priests have resigned from their jobs after opposition to the war brought them into conflict with their dioceses.