The impending schism in the East Orthodox Church, what some believe would be the largest schism in the Christian church in centuries, is yet another blow to the “all Rus’” concept of the origin of East Slavs and their modern nations. The all-Rus theory is contingent upon the shared space, language, customs, and religion of ancient Slavic people. The formation and longevity of the USSR from 1922 to 1991 furthered the notion of an all-Rus people. For some Russians, however, it’s not all-Rus it’s all-Russia(n). Those who subscribe to such thinking believe all Slavs (Ukrainians, Belarusians, etc.) are in fact Russian and Russians are the legacy and leader of this region. As one would expect, the Russian church and government is not thrilled with the separation.
On January 31, 2019 Vladimir Putin spoke at the 10th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church Local Council. In his speech, Putin congratulates “Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia” on his 10-year tenure as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. In his speech, Putin remarks that he will do his best to strengthen the partnership between the state and the Church. To many who believe Putin actively uses the power of the Church to appease his own agenda, his statements are laughable at best. Later Putin refers to the religion as the “Orthodox culture” rather than just a religion, this speaks to the magnitude of Ukraine forming their own Church: a departure from an ancient culture, not just a religion. Ironically, Putin believes the Ukrainian’s decision to leave their Church is fueled by greed and desire for power, very rich coming from him.
Putin ends with a vow to respect religious freedom, but in a way that restricts those who want to enact their religious sovereignty from the Russian Church. Putin has a knack for saying contradicting things simultaneously.