If going to church involving armed vigilantes guarding against potential threats (which we presume means “girl punks, liberals, and foreign dark people”) sounds like your cup of tea, then welcome to the Moscow Patriarchate in 2012! Even though there is little evidence that, before three women were thrown in jail for singing a vulgar song at Christ the Savior Cathedral, anyone actually cared much about Moscow Patriarchate Churches, the MP has been plugging along with its “Orthodox Patrols” program, which in some cases has attacked people wearing “Riot” support t-shirts and other bystanders.
However, “Sviataia Rus” has a not insignificant distinction from the standard bearers who are tedious at rallies but rather harmless. First, members of the movement, formed into a kind of “armed units,” constitute the security at public actions of monarchists. The description of the prayer vigil of 15 July on the organization’s website says that “warriors of the First Orthodox Regiment of the leader of the heavenly hosts Archangel Michael provided security.” Second, participants in this recently created “Orthodox Regiment” (judging from the word “first,” subsequent units are expected) conduct training. “On 22 July the first tactical class was held with warriors of the First Orthodox Regiment of the leader of the heavenly hosts Archangel Michael. The class was held in the woods,” the “Sviataia Rus” Internet resource reports. In photographs posted there we see men in black uniforms or camouflage with pistols and Kalashnikov machine guns (possibly pneumatic, although the text says nothing about this) carrying out actions in a group and firing from various positions. The description of this training says, “the regiment’s tasks consist in guaranteeing the security of processions of the cross, prayer vigils, sacred Orthodox sites, and clergy from hostile attacks, ready to defend the fatherland during invasion from outside, and protecting the honor and dignity of Russian citizens.” Judging from the mention even of possible “defend[ing] the fatherland during invasion from outside,” the organization’s goals are ambitious. In an interview with the “Mir” television channel at the end of August, Otrakovskii said: “We are trying to restore order by collecting the people into a united front and united fist.” In another interview given on the same day he declared that the citizen squads he has created comprise about 100 active participants and around 5,000 supporters of the movement, and every day he receives 2,000 letters from people wishing to join the squads. This week Otrakovskii promises to make a statement about extending his initiative to the whole territory of Russia.
That’s right, folks, they’re not just security, they’re armed with Kalashnikovs. Because we can’t let any more women up cursing and doing aerobics on the solea when there isn’t even a service going on at a TOURIST LOCATION– we need deadly force to take them out.
Don’t worry! If you’re Muslim and in Russia, you too can have your very own set of vigilantes.
Similar calls for protecting houses of worship and religious leaders “by vigilantes” were also heard in Dagestan after the murder of the influential Sheikh Saeed of Chirkei. On 28 August the head of the republic, Magomedsalam Magomedov, declared at an emergency meeting of the Security Council of Dagestan: “I think that today we will make the decision to organize in every city and every district squads for self-defense, patrols of young people trained under the leadership and along with agencies of internal affairs to work for maintaining security and for punishing these criminals and terrorists. This is an order for all leaders of cities and districts.” According to reports from journalists who were in Chirkei, the native village of the slain sheikh, popular vigilantes already have taken up the preservation of order there along with the police.
Meanwhile, in a report entitled (their translation) “Church will increase spiritual influence on authorities, society – Patriarch Kirill”, the Patriarch explained that the MP intends to expand its “moral sphere” in all aspects of Russian society:
“People who say that the Church in Russia is very closely connected with the state are wrong. It’s not true,” the Patriarch said in an interview with the Japanese media before his visit to Japan.
“However, we are preaching to people, including our authorities. We bring certain values to our people, primarily moral values. And we insist that politics should be based on morals. Politics without morals do not benefit those who pursue those policies and those who are influenced by these policies,” he said.
For this reason, the influence exerted by the church on political life is “moral, not political.”
Patriarch Kirill said the Church wants to influence everyone, “including state figures and ordinary people so that the morals the church preach are adopted by our people’s consciousness.”
That, and oh, they’re training people that the state authorities want nothing to do with to walk around with machine guns.