One New President, One New Patriarch and a Generous Disregard for the Constitution: A Recipe for the Continuing Decline of Secular Russia

32 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2010 Last revised: 14 Dec 2010

Robert C. Blitt

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: November 29, 2010

Abstract

The government of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) - the country’s predominant religious group - recently underwent back-to-back changes in each institution’s respective leadership. This coincidence of timing affords a unique opportunity to reassess the status of constitutional secularism and church–state relations in the Russian Federation.

Following a discussion of the presidential and patriarchal elections that occurred between March 2008 and January 2009, the Article surveys recent developments in Russia as they relate to the nation’s constitutional obligations. In the face of this analysis, the Article argues that the government and the ROC alike continue to willfully undermine the constitutional principles of secularism, nondiscrimination, and equality through a variety of special privileges, cooperation agreements, and legislative initiatives. These practices do not merely follow but rather deepen the pattern developed under the leadership of former President Vladimir Putin. The Article concludes that as a consequence of the strengthened church–state relationship, respect for freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, as well as freedom of expression will continue to wane, resulting in a further deterioration of the human rights crisis in Russia and of the foundation of Russia’s constitutional order.

Keywords: Russia, Putin, Medvedev, Kirill, Alexy, Patriarch, Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy, human rights, freedom of religion, church-state relations, separation of church and state, secular, secularism, freedom of expression, defamation, constitution, united nations, united russia

JEL Classification: K33, K42, K1, K39, K10, K40, P33, P3, P30

Suggested Citation

Blitt, Robert C., One New President, One New Patriarch and a Generous Disregard for the Constitution: A Recipe for the Continuing Decline of Secular Russia (November 29, 2010). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 43, p. 1337, 2010; University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 107. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1649556

Robert C. Blitt (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.utk.edu/people/robert-blitt/

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