Russian world

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Russian World by O. Kuzmina (CGI, 2015). It depicts Saint Basil's Cathedral of Moscow behind the monument to Minin and Pozharsky.

The "Russian world" (Russian: Русский мир, romanizedRusskiy mir, lit.'Russian world', 'Russian order', 'Russian community') is a concept and a political doctrine usually defined as the sphere of cultural and political influence of Russia.[1][2][3][4][5] This concept is sometimes also phrased as Pax Russica,[6][7][8] in parallel to the Pax Romana, and as counterweight to Pax Americana and Pax Britannica before that.[9]



Major authors behind the resurrection of the concept in post-Soviet Russia include Pyotr Shchedrovitsky [ru], Yefim Ostrovsky, Valery Tishkov, Vitaly Skrinnik, Tatyana Poloskova and Natalya Narochnitskaya. Since Russia emerged from the Soviet Union as still a significantly multiethnic and multicultural country, for the "Russian idea" to be unifying, it could not be ethnocentric, as it was in the doctrine Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality of the 18th century Russian Empire.[citation needed]

In 2000, Shchedrovitsky presented the main ideas of the "Russian world" concept in the article "Russian World and Transnational Russian Characteristics",[10] among the central ones of which was the Russian language.[2] Andis Kudors of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, analyzing Shchedrovitsky's article, concludes that it follows the ideas first laid out by the 18th century philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder about the influence of language on thinking (which has become known as the principle of linguistic relativity): the ones who speak Russian come to think Russian, and eventually to act Russian.[2]

Putin era[edit]

Russia's president Vladimir Putin visited the Arkaim site of the Sintashta culture in 2005, meeting in person with the chief archaeologist Gennady Zdanovich.[11] The visit received much attention from Russian media. They presented Arkaim as the "homeland of the majority of contemporary people in Asia, and, partly, Europe". Nationalists called Arkaim the "city of Russian glory" and the "most ancient Slavic-Aryan town". Zdanovich reportedly presented Arkaim to the president as a possible "national idea of Russia",[12] a new idea of civilisation which Victor Schnirelmann calls the "Russian idea".[13]

Eventually, the idea of the "Russian world" was adopted by the Russian administration, and Vladimir Putin decreed the establishment of the government-sponsored Russkiy Mir Foundation in 2007. A number of observers consider the promotion of the "Russian world" concept an element of the revanchist idea of the restoration of Russia or its influence back to the borders of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.[14][15][16]

Other observers described the concept as an instrument for projecting Russian soft power.[2] In Ukraine, the promotion of the "Russian world" became as early as 2018 strongly associated with the Russo-Ukrainian War.[17][18] According to assistant editor Pavel Tikhomirov of Russkaya Liniya [ru], the "Russian world" for politicized Ukrainians, whose number constantly increases, nowadays is "simply 'neo-Sovietism' masked by new names". He reconciled that with the conflation of the "Russian world" and the Soviet Union within Russian society itself.[19] The Financial Times described "Russian world" as "Putin’s creation that fuses respect for Russia’s Tsarist, Orthodox past with reverence for the Soviet defeat of fascism in the Second World War. This is epitomised in the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, 40 miles west of Moscow, opened in 2020."[20]

Russian Orthodox Church[edit]

A mosaic in the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces blending Eastern Orthodox iconography with propagandistic Soviet military symbolism.

On 3 November 2009, at the Third Russian World Assembly, newly-enthroned Patriarch Kirill of Moscow defined the "Russian world" as "the common civilisational space founded on three pillars: Eastern Orthodoxy, Russian culture and especially the language and the common historical memory and connected with its common vision on the further social development".[21][22]

Russkiy Mir is an ideology promoted by many in the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.[23] Patriarch Kirill of Moscow also shares this ideology; for the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russkiy Mir is also "a spiritual concept, a reminder that through the baptism of Rus', God consecrated these people to the task of building a Holy Rus."[24]

During the Russian invasion of Ukraine[edit]

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Declaration on the 'Russian World' Teaching that was published on 13 March called it an "ideology", "a heresy" and "a form of religious fundamentalism" that is "totalitarian in character".[25] As many as 500 Eastern Orthodox scholars allegedly were signatories.[26][27] They condemned six "pseudo theological facets". Those condemnations concern: replacing the Kingdom of God with an earthly kingdom; deification of the state through a theocracy and caesaropapism which deprives the Church of its freedom to stand against injustice; divinization of a culture; Manichaen demonization of the West and elevation of Eastern culture; refusal to speak the truth and non-acknowledgement of "murderous intent and culpability" of one party.[27]

In the Declaration document, it is said to be an "Orthodox ethno-phyletist religious fundamentalism".[25]

The Russo-Ukrainian War is said to implement the idea of Russian world.[28][29][30] The Economist states that the "Russian world" concept has become the basis of a crusade against the West's liberal culture and this has resulted into a "new Russian cult of war". It says that Putin's regime has particularly debased the "Russian world" concept with a mixture of obscurantism, Orthodox dogma, anti-West sentiment, nationalism, conspiracy theory and security-state Stalinism. It based this analysis on Putin's first public speech after 24 February 2022, wherein he praised the Russian army, using Jesus' words on love as a laying down of one's life. He also referenced Fyodor Ushakov, an admiral who is the Orthodox patron saint of the Russian Navy. Putin recalled Ushakov's words: "the storms of war would glorify Russia". The Economist also pointed to Patriarch Kirill's declaration of the godliness of the war and its role in keeping out the West's alleged decadent gay culture, and to the priest Elizbar Orlov who said that Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine is cleansing the world of "a diabolic infection".[31]

On December 25, 2022, in an interview for the national television, Putin, apparently for the first time, openly declared that Russia's goal—not only culturally, but territorially "to unite the Russian people" within a single state.[32] In June 2023 President Putin described those who had died in the invasion as having "gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world".[33]

Orthodox condemnations[edit]

On the 2022 Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Volos Declaration was issued by 1600 theologians and clerics of the Orthodox Church, condemning the ideology of "Russkiy Mir" as being heretical and a deviation from the Orthodox faith.[34][35][36]

Following this, among the Orthodox Patriarchates from the Pentarchy, two have condemned the ideology as contrary to the teachings of Christ, linking it to phyletism, an ideology condemned as an heresy by a General Synod in Constantinople in 1872.[37] The first one to do so was the Church of Alexandria and all-Africa and their Patriarch, Theodore II.[38][39][40] They were followed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the first Orthodox Church in rank and honor.[41][42]

In their epistolary exchange of early 2023, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I and the Archbishop of Cyprus, George III, discussed the issue extensively.[43][44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Curanović, Alicja; Leustean, Lucian (2015). "The Guardians of Traditional Values - Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in the Quest for Status". The Main Features of Traditional Values in Russian Discourse. {{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  2. ^ a b c d Kudors, Andis (16 June 2010). "'Russian World'—Russia's Soft Power Approach to Compatriots Policy" (PDF). Russian Analytical Digest. Research Centre for East European Studies. 81 (10): 2–4. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  3. ^ Laruelle, Marlene (May 2015). "The 'Russian World': Russia's Soft Power and Geopolitical Imagination" (PDF). Washington, DC: Center on Global Interests. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  4. ^ Valery Tishkov, The Russian World—Changing Meanings and Strategies, Carnegie Papers, Number 95 , August 2008
  5. ^ Tiido, Anna, The «Russian World»: the blurred notion of protecting Russians abroad In: Polski Przegląd Stosunków Międzynarodowych, Warszaw, Uniwersytet Kardynała S. Wyszyńskiego, 2015, issue 5, pp. 131—151, ISSN 2300-1437 (in English)
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^
  10. ^ Shchedrovitsky, Pyotr (2 March 2000). "Русский мир и Транснациональное русское". Russian Journal (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  11. ^ Shnirelman 2012, pp. 27–28.
  12. ^ Shnirelman 2012, p. 28.
  13. ^ Shnirelman 1998, p. 36.
  14. ^ Abarinov, Vladimir; Sidorova, Galina (18 February 2015). "'Русский мир', бессмысленный и беспощадный". (in Russian). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  15. ^ Taylor, Chloe (2020-04-02). "Putin seeking to create new world order with 'rogue states' amid coronavirus crisis, report claims". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  16. ^ Götz, Elias; Merlen, Camille-Renaud (2019-03-15). "Russia and the question of world order". European Politics and Society. 20 (2): 133–153. doi:10.1080/23745118.2018.1545181. ISSN 2374-5118.
  17. ^ Zharenov, Yaroslav (9 January 2018). "'Русский мир' в Украине отступает, но есть серьезные угрозы" ["Russian world" retreats in Ukraine, however there are serious threats]. (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  18. ^ "Путин надеется на возвращение Украины в так называемый 'русский мир' – Полторак" [Poltorak: Putin hopes to return Ukraine into the so-called "Russian world"]. (in Russian). 5 April 2018. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  19. ^ Goble, Paul (10 September 2018). "Claims That Many Ukrainians 'Will Never Attend A Moscow Patriarchate Church' – OpEd". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  20. ^ "The Kremlin's 'holy war' against Ukraine". Financial Times. 2022-04-19. Retrieved 2022-05-12.
  21. ^ Rap, Myroslava (2015-06-24). "Chapter I. Religious context of Ukrainian society today – the background to research". The Public Role of the Church in Contemporary Ukrainian Society: The Contribution of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to Peace and Reconciliation. Nomos Verlag. p. 85. ISBN 978-3-8452-6305-2.
  22. ^ "Выступление Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла на торжественном открытии III Ассамблеи Русского мира / Патриарх / Патриархия.ru" [Speech by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the grand opening of the Third Russian World Assembly]. Патриархия.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  23. ^ Payne 2015; Wawrzonek, Bekus & Korzeniewska-Wisznewska 2016.
  24. ^ Petro, Nicolai N. (23 March 2015). "Russia's Orthodox Soft Power". Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  25. ^ a b (2022) "A Declaration on the ‘Russian World’ Teaching," Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 42 : Iss. 4 , Article 11.
  26. ^ "A Declaration on the 'Russian World' (Russkii mir) Teaching". La Croix. 21 March 2022.
  27. ^ a b Weigel, George (23 March 2022). "An Orthodox Awakening". First Things. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  28. ^ "The War in Ukraine Launches a New Battle for the Russian Soul". The New Yorker. 2022-10-09. Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  29. ^ "Russia's War in Ukraine: Identity, History, and Conflict". Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  30. ^ Nye, Joseph S. (Jr) (2022-10-04). "What Caused the Ukraine War?". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  31. ^ "The new Russian cult of war". The Economist. 26 March 2022.
  32. ^ "Putin Says West Aiming to Tear Apart Russia". Voice of America. 2022-12-25. Retrieved 2022-12-29.
  33. ^ "'Internal betrayal': Transcript of Vladimir Putin's address". Al Jazeera.
  34. ^ Orthodoxy, Public (2022-03-13). "A Declaration on the "Russian World" (Russkii mir) Teaching". Public Orthodoxy. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  35. ^ "University of Exeter". Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  36. ^ Panagiotis. "A Declaration on the "Russian World" (Russkii mir) Teaching". Ακαδημία Θεολογικών Σπουδών Βόλου. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  37. ^ "1872 Archives". Orthodox History. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  38. ^ "Ανδρείες αποφάσεις Πατριαρχείου Αλεξανδρείας: Παύει μνημόνευση Κυρίλλου, καθαιρεί Λεωνίδα, καταδικάζει "ρωσικό κόσμο"". Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  39. ^ (2022-11-22). "Καθαίρεση Μητροπολίτη και διακοπή της μνημόνευσης του Πατριάρχη Μόσχας". (in Greek). Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  40. ^ "Patriarch Theodoros stops commemorating Patriarch Kirill, Russian Exarch declared defrocked by Alexandria | The Paradise News". Retrieved 2022-11-24.
  41. ^ NewsRoom. "Bartholomew: Russian Church has sided with Putin, promotes actively the ideology of Rousskii Mir | Orthodox Times (en)". Orthodox Times. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  42. ^ Govorun, Archimandrite Kirill (2023-01-17). "The doctrine of the "Russian world" is a dualistic political religion". The European Times. Retrieved 2023-01-24.
  43. ^ Andreas Matei (2022-12-28). "Βαρθολομαίος προς Κύπρου Γεώργιο: Δίκαιη χαρά για την εκλογή Σας". Εκκλησία της Κύπρου (in Greek). Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  44. ^ NewsRoom. "Assurance of the Archbishop of Cyprus for the support to the Phanar | Orthodox Times (en)". Orthodox Times. Retrieved 2023-01-23.


Further reading[edit]