Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 47

If Russia’s presidential commissioner for human rights can expound on the military benefits of the alliance with Belarus against NATO, why should the head of the Russian Orthodox Church not broaden his mandate in similar fashion and pray for CIS integration? This is what the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Aleksy II, told a news conference that he was doing in response to the current turmoil in the CIS. Aleksy was cited as calling for “stronger integration among the CIS countries” and for introducing amendments to the CIS charter. Russia and the former Soviet republics “traveled the same road for seventy years and are linked together economically,” the patriarch argued, invoking a system which had–incidentally–persecuted his church. And because “many Russians live in these neighboring states, it is impermissible to cut into live flesh,” the patriarch concluded (Russian agencies, March 5). Historically identified with the Russian imperial state, the official hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church seeks to preserve ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the entire former Soviet space while blessing Moscow’s political “integration” efforts.