Persecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses Reflects, Reinforces Links Between Russian State And Russian Orthodox Church – OpEd


Few developments in recent years have highlighted the unfortunate and increasing fusion of state and religious functions than the cooperation of Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in persecuting the Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to Anton Chivchalov.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activist, who has been forced to flee from Russia to Belarus where the persecution of his denomination is much more infrequent says that “again and again the Russian state helps one elect religious organization deal with another by offering the first its police forces” (

This represents “a complete restoration of the medieval system in which the Orthodox Church had state functions and could persecute any it found unsuitable,” Chivchalov says. “Today, the close cooperation of siloviki with ‘Orthodox activists’ in the struggle against law-abiding citizens of the country who believe otherwise is something only the blind do not see.”

The Jehovah’s Witness activist says that he would very much like to ask “sincere honest Orthodox believers: how do you react to the fac that your mother-church understands the Gospel teaching about love to those close to one and even to enemies? Are you prepared to close your eyes to this? And if you are, then what else are you prepared to close them for?”

Chivchalov says he is often asked what the Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted in Russia. “In response,” he says, he “usually enumerates a number of readily accessible facts:

“Patriarch Kirill even before being elected patriarch actively fought with the Witnesses in Kaliningrad and Smolensk and their literature was first held to be ‘extremist’ seven months after his enthronement;

“Procurator Yury Chaika has a church order for ‘work for the good of the Church” and has promised to ‘actively cooperate with the Russian Orthodox Church;

“Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov graduated from the St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanities University;

“Aleksandr Dvorkin, the main ‘sect fighter’ of the country, a professor of the same university and the possessor of four church awards, works in the justice ministry and the State Duma;

“In Voronezh, prohibited literature from the Orthodox ‘anti-sect’ center was planted on the Jehovah’s Witnesses;

“In Arkhangelsk, Governor Igor Orlov said in an interview to the official site of the local bishopric of the ROC MP about his intention to ‘de-legalize’ the Jehovah’s Witnesses in cooperation with the ROC MP; and

“Metropolitan Ilarion called the new persecutions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘a positive step.’”

This list could be expanded “much further,” Chivchalov says; indeed, the government and the church are adding new things to the list, including the involvement of nominally independent Orthodox activists in joint work with the Russian police forces to repress the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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] .

2 thoughts on “Persecution Of Jehovah’s Witnesses Reflects, Reinforces Links Between Russian State And Russian Orthodox Church – OpEd

  • July 23, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Christianity, that is, actually knowing and following Christian teaching, has never failed to benefit its adherents, no matter where they live. Moral degeneracy, wherever it is found, is not part of the fruitage that following Christ produces. It is evidence of ignorance of and/or disrespect for Christian teaching. Any country with a dominant religion can rightly be examined to see if it’s moral fruitage matches its claim to be following said teaching. Look up reports of widespread crime, corruption, dishonesty, delinquency, divorce, drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, etc. This test applies as much to Russia as the USA or any other country. Regardless of what the society one lives in does, as individuals who aspire to imitate Christ, it devolves upon us to study and live by his teachings and example. If sincere efforts to encourage this kind of introspection results in persecution, it is further evidence of moral failure on the part of the perpetrators of such.

  • July 28, 2018 at 12:55 am

    All Christians say they believe in a God. Also Christians believe in the Bible. Stories and history testify how their God delt with
    people such as Nebuchdnezar ,King Saul, Belshazar and many more who
    detested Gods faithful servants.Each and everyone who resents people who worship in love and peace will be delt with by God himself. How long will he allow this to continue? A short time awaits Gods wrath.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *