ISSN 2330-717X

Moscow Opens Russian Orthodox Church In Qarabagh – OpEd

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Moscow has taken another step to make the Russian presence in Qarabagh more permanent: it has opened the first Russian Orthodox Church there since the Soviets destroyed all such shrines more than half a century ago (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=78077).

Nominally, the church, which is located on the base of the Russian peacekeeping contingent there, provides religious services to those troops. But it is already clear that those behind it want to help maintain the ethnic Russian community there and Moscow’s hold on the disputed territory.

Aleksandr Bodrov, president of the Russian Community of Stepanakert, says that “Russian churches in Qarabagh to my great regret have not been preserved. All were destroyed by the Bolsheviks in Soviet times, and because of that, the newly erected Russian Orthodox Church in honor of the Birth of Christ acquires sacral and historic importance.”

But there is another reason why the appearance of this new facility is likely to anger many in Azerbaijan and please many in Armenia. Last month, Patriarch Kirill established a Yerevan-Armenian bishopric of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/12/establishing-russian-bishopric-in.html).

There was no indication at the dedication of the new church in Stepanakert that it will be subordinate to this bishopric, but it is certain that many in Yerevan will expect that and many in Baku will be alarmed about what both will see as a tilt by Moscow in Armenia’s direction and an indication that Russia intends to remain in Qarabagh not for five years but forever.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

One thought on “Moscow Opens Russian Orthodox Church In Qarabagh – OpEd

  • January 1, 2022 at 4:22 pm
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    Good o see the Russian O rthodox church expand its influence. Christianity must expand for the good of the world and Orthodoxy is doing so.

    Reply

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