Sunday, August 03, 2014

Putin Strives to Harness Energy of Russian Pilgrims for Political Profit

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, NYT
AUG. 2, 2014

SERGIYEV POSAD, Russia — The pilgrims tramped toward the storied monastery by the thousands — chanting prayers, singing and embracing the kind of nationalist fervor that President Vladimir V. Putin seeks to harness as his own.

The official reason for the trek to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, the seat of the Russian Orthodox faith and the country’s original monastery, was to commemorate the 700th birthday of its founder and namesake.

But amid that tide of pilgrims — official estimates hovered around 30,000 — swirled diverse political and religious currents related to Mr. Putin’s effort to cast himself as the defender of traditional values, a campaign that has become more pronounced since Russia’s involvement with Ukraine.

The birthday celebrations in Sergiyev Posad emphasized St. Sergius’s role in shaping a unified Russia, a narrative that dovetails with the nationalism and conservative morals that Mr. Putin espouses.

(More here.)

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