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© RIA Novosti. Konstantin Rodikov

Orthodox activists create Moscow patrol squads

by at 22/08/2012 18:56

Orthodox activists are up in arms to protect their priests and sacred places with patrol squads scouring Moscow for the “enemies of faith.”

Ivan Otrakovsky, head of Orthodox Christian movement Holy Rus, said seven teams had already started operating in the Russian capital, BBC Russian service reported on Wednesday.

“The time has come to remind all apostates and theomachists that it is our land and we forbid blasphemous, offensive actions and statements against the Orthodox religion and our people,” Otrakovsky wrote in his call for volunteers at the end of last week.

 

‘Blasphemy, heresy, defilement and lechery’

The offensive actions can take various forms, but they can be “a kind of ‘art’, marches, lectures or anything else that comes laden with blasphemy, heresy, defilement and lechery,” it has to be stopped, according to Otrakovsky.

If troop members spot someone vandalizing churches or sneering at priests, they will have to “take actions to detain [this person] and call police,” he told the BBC.

The devout defender of Orthodoxy hopes to see these troops operating nationwide, but said that they would not be bringing more violence to Russia’s streets. “An Orthodox believer in God is very calm and moderate,” he said. “We don’t have any personal enemies, just the enemies of faith.”

 

‘Spiritual terrorism’

Otrakovsky’s call for volunteers was published on the day after a Moscow court sentenced three members of female punk band Pussy Riot to two years in a penal colony for performing an anti-Kremlin punk-prayer in Russia’s main church.

The sentence was protested by numerous supporters of the group and saw several other Russian churches desecrated by unknown people.

Dimitry Smirnov, an Orthodox cleric in charge of the church’s relations with the army and law enforcement bodies, is going to prepare a report on the need to fight “spiritual terrorism” and increasing protection of Orthodox places of worship, Interfax reported.

 

‘Every religion must have its own patrol squads’

The secular powers that be, however, don’t seem to favor the idea of Orthodox groups patrolling the streets. “I think it is a wrong approach. This will, to the contrary, cause a split in society – we have a multi-confessional state,” Alexei Mayorov, head of Moscow’s regional security department, told Interfax.

The Internal Affairs Ministry also believed this initiative to be “premature,” Interfax’s source said.

Human rights activists also frowned upon the proposal. “Every religion must have its own patrol squads then, and atheists too,” Lyudmila Alexeyeva told RIA Novosti. She described Otrakovsky’s idea as “nonsense.” 

 

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