Voices from Russia

Saturday, 29 April 2017

29 April 2017. Is Your Parish Still Celebrating? It Should Be…

00 russia dancers krasnogorsk raion moscow oblast 290417


The above image is of the Красная горка (Krasnaya Gorka: Red Hill) celebration in Dmitrov (Krasnogorsk Raion, Moscow Oblast). Where better to celebrate “Red Hill” than in “Red Hill” Raion? Red Hill is the popular name for Thomas Sunday and for the following week. Obviously, it’s a “baptism” of pre-Christian pagan festivities marking the beginning of spring, people hold dances and fairs, organise bonfires and celebrations, and often hold marriages at this time (it’s thought particularly auspicious). People make another round of Easter Eggs and Cakes and keep the party spirit alive. By the way… the Igumen of the local Monastery of St Dmitri Salunsky blessed this festival…

It’s party hearty until Pentecost… keep it alive until then…



29 April 2017. We Must Unburden Each Other


29 April 2017. We Need New Bridges… NOT New Walls


It’s insane to build a “border wall”… what we need to do is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. We need to stop insanity like the “border wall” and stop the warmongering in foreign parts. Then, we can devote resources to rebuilding our country. Shall we do it? Choose wisely…


The Russian Ban Against the JWs is a Victory for Common Sense. The West Should Take Note


Recently, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation defined the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) as an extremist organisation and ruled its operations illegal. The Ministry of Justice ordered all Kingdom Halls closed and the church’s property turned over to the state. The resolution raised widespread discussion and one can see that the openly anti-Russian Western mainstream media used this opportunity to create an image of Russia as an enemy of freedom. However, one shouldn’t use “religious freedom” as an excuse to tolerate activities that violate the safety of a state and its people.

At first glance, from the point of view of freedom of religion, the ruling of the Supreme Court might seem totalitarian, but upon closer inspection of the JW’s activities, it becomes apparent that the Supreme Court had ample reason to believe this group violated Russian law. Discussion on activities carried out under the guise of “freedom of religion” is very timely. We see both moderate and extremist factions and sects in all religions. The “Muslim-invasion” in Europe over the past years raised justified concerns over the danger extremist Islam poses for the indigenous Western population; meanwhile, Christian supranational religious sects continued to strengthen. Should we build Sunni grand mosques in Europe? Should the West also restrict the activities of Mormons, Evangelicals, and JWs? What about the Freemasons and other such groups?

How do we define extremist religious denominations and what kind of actions should we take to restrict activities dangerous to the public interest? As Western countries contemplate threats from Islamists, Wahhabis, and Salafists, Russia is also aware of the threats posed by Western religious groups to its citizens. The Supreme Court stated that the JWs systematically and through central governance infringed on human rights and trampled the freedoms of its members. The sect restricts families, bans many types of education, and forbids many medical treatments. Therefore, in principle, the decision protects the rights and freedoms of Russians, and on the other hand, punishes the JWs for breaking the laws governing church activities. The state gave warning and notification to the JWs demanding that they reform, but without results. Therefore, do as the Romans do, or get out of Rome. Primarily, Russia wants to protect the necessities of life for its citizens. If a religious group creates a threat to people’s livelihood, and if it demonstrably threatens a citizen’s life, their rights, and their freedoms, shouldn’t the state ban this kind of activity and convict them of breaking laws governing church activities? On the other hand, should we in the name of religious freedom tolerate anything from religious sects and churches, even violence and terrorism?

Churches as a National Threat

Here in the war-torn Donbass, laws governing religious groups led to the ban of several religious denominations and the closure of their churches in the DNR and LNR. It’s clear that rulings on the closure of activities based on national security might seem arbitrary restrictions of freedom, but using churches and religions to harm the public interest is part of the toolkit of political influence. In mass psychology, in informational and behavioural influence, harnessing religious sects to advance political ends is common, regardless of the religious group. For example, often, hard-line elements use churches as covers, and hostile factions use “harmless” meeting and storage locations to carry out terror and sabotage. We must remember that churches are often political organisations and often very strong operators regionally; their economic, educational, and political influence on a community might be harmful to public interest and security. When countering the spread of harmful extremism, one must understand specific regional viewpoints, the interest of the national majority, and the political situation when targeting religions and their activities. What’s dangerous for some might be beneficial for others, depending on the interests sought after with the activities under examination.

The JWs are an American Religious Group

A nine-person governing body in New York is responsible for the JW’s decisions; they’re responsible for coordinating the operations and actions of the group. In the current situation, allowing any American church organisation to operate in the Russian Federation is a political question, one with multiple geopolitical angles, with national security threats as well. Increasingly, Western influences are in opposition to the interests of the majority of Russians. Russia has a critical and strategic need to protect its national interests against Western organisations that operate against its public interest by promoting the growth of Western influences in Russia. Western NGOs, media, and (presumably) religious groups, like those in the Donbass region, create security threats in their target countries, that is, in states that don’t recognise Western globalist domination (hegemony). So far, although the ruling banning the JW’s operations doesn’t appear to have links to national geopolitical threats, we can view the ban against the JWs as a defensive measure, the same as forbidding operations by Western NGOs.

Religious Freedom and Controlling Extremism

Respecting freedom doesn’t mean tolerating irresponsibility. Religious groups that don’t respect the public interest or national laws and set their own opinion and activities above the secular law are irresponsible and we shouldn’t tolerate them. We need to classify all such activity as extremism. Public interest means the good of the majority, and a minority can’t force its opinions on the majority in the name of democracy. If some religious group infringes the basic rights and freedoms of citizens, it’s a question of breaking the law. Therefore, no religious group should have the right to impose unlawful rules on its members, let alone on all others in the name of its religion. We must monitor activities in churches, prayer rooms, mosques, and other religious locations; we must prosecute all churches operating against the national laws and interest. We must remember that extremism is always a threat to the good of the majority. When we look at the banning of the JW’s activities as a whole, the Russian judicial system’s actions in restricting extremist church activities appears in a new light and shows us a strong communal moral leadership. The West should take heed of this. They have to consider their own ever-growing threats. Only by drawing lines does order prevail.

25 April 2017

Janus Putkonen

Russian Insider


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