Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine was “not just a political war, it’s a holy war”.
So argued abc news‘ said Stan Grant, international affairs analyst, as pundits around the world struggle to explain the Russian president’s motivation for invading Ukraine. Some believe Putin’s beliefs played a key role in his decision-making, but not all are convinced.
Putin was born in Leningrad — a city that reverted to its original saintly name of St. Petersburg in 1991 — to an atheist father and a devout Christian mother who secretly baptized him. He grew up under the communist regime, which said that open displays of religion were “frowned upon”. Reuters.
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In recent years he has increasingly emphasized his apparent religious beliefs by “wearing a silver cross around his neck [and] kissing icons,” wrote Deborah Netburn in the Los Angeles Times. In a televised stunt when Putin was campaigning for re-election in 2018, he dove into the freezing waters of a lake – an Orthodox Christian Epiphany ritual that commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
The Russian head of state presented himself as “the true defender of Christians around the world,” said journalist and rector Giles Fraser unherd. Putin’s relentless bombing of the Islamic State (IS), for example, “has been portrayed as a defense of Christianity’s historic homeland,” Fraser wrote.
But whether Putin’s seeming orthodoxy represents a true spiritual awakening or just political theater is “hard to say,” added the LA Times’ Netburn.
Meaning of Kyiv
The Russian Orthodox Church dates back to 988 AD, when the ruler of Kievan Rus, Vladimir I, summoned the entire city to the banks of the Dnieper for a mass baptism. This founding of Russian Orthodox Christianity created a common heritage among the people living in the countries now known as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
A 2015 Pew poll found that 78% of Ukrainians identified as Orthodox Christians and 71% of Russians. This religious connection was picked up by Putin, whose much-repeated assertion that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people” fed into his justification for actions the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
While the older and larger Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, a new self-governing Orthodox Church of Ukraine was established in 2018, celebrating its independence from Moscow.
Putin’s desire to preserve the strength of the Russian Orthodox Church explains why he’s “not that interested in some Russian-leaning districts in eastern Ukraine,” Fraser argued on UnHerd. The president’s goal is “terrifyingly” the holy city of Kyiv, and his invasion of Ukraine is a “spiritual quest.”
“In Russia, the church and the military go hand in hand,” he said The economist. Both Putin and the head of the Russian Church, Patriarch Kirill, have promoted and developed a concept called “Russian World”.
This “soft power ideology” promotes “Russian civilization, connections with Russian speakers around the world, and greater Russian influence in Ukraine and Belarus,” explained Scott Kenworthy, a professor of comparative religion at Miami University, in an article above The conversation.
Russia is portrayed as the spiritual, cultural and political center of civilization, in contrast to Western liberalism, secularism and consumerism.
And “as surely as the Islamic State poses as a defender of Islamic cultural purity,” Putin sees himself as the chief defender of the godless West’s Christian culture, Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, said in an article for New statesman.
“More NATO than New Testament”
Not everyone is convinced that Putin’s actions are guided by faith. “A lot of nonsense is being written right now about the religiosity of modern Russia and the role of the Orthodox Church in President Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine,” Anglican priest Michael Coren told a Canadian newspaper The Globe and the Mail.
The ongoing war, Coren argued, “has more to do with NATO than with the New Testament.”
But Tim Costello, a staffer at the Center for Public Christianity in Sydney, suggested the opposite was true. Putin complains about the threat to Russia from the NATO encirclement and the need to “denazify” Ukraine.It was just “propaganda and nonsense,” Costello wrote The guard.
The Russian leader’s “vision of power” was “laced with nationalist Christian theology,” Costello continued, but it was simply “evil” for a leader to use religion “to justify invasion, violence, and annihilation in God’s name.”
In addition to his obviously religious beliefs, the Russian president is also “very superstitious,” the Russian president said BBC‘s Jonny Dymond on the Radio 4 podcast series Putin.
To back up his claim, Dymond related an anecdote about a 2008 interview Putin gave to theatrical surpreme Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was advised to drop a proposed question on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master of Margharita.
“[Putin] read the novel, when he returned to St. Petersburg in the early 90s and a terrible fire broke out there, from then on he refused to have anything to do with it The Master of Margharita or Bulgakov,” Putin’s press secretary Lloyd Webber reportedly said.
The president is also believed to have been unsettled by Alexander Gabyshev, a wandering shaman who made headlines in 2019 for embarking on a quest to “exorcise the evil spirit of Putin from the Kremlin” before later becoming one Compulsory treatment in a Russian psychiatric institution was convicted.
“Whereas western audiences might find the shaman’s exorcism quest funny.” The Washington Times reported at the time: “Mr. not Putin.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/956273/vladimir-putins-beliefs-and-superstitions Vladimir Putin’s beliefs and superstitions