How to Win an Election in Russia

Christianity:

19 November 2007:

…Formally, Putin met with church hierachs from Russia, as well as Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate and discuss a number of church-state issues. Church leaders sought, however, to dissociate themselves from politics ahead of Monday’s meeting.

…”The Church distances itself from political struggle,” said [Patriarchal spokesman Vladimir] Vigilyansky. He conceded, however, that priests could be calling on their parishioners to vote for a particular party depending on their own political leanings, adding that he personally wanted Putin to remain in office for a third term.

After the event, the church officials were positive about the meeting with Putin and said there was no direct discussion of how Orthodox believers would or should vote. Varfolomei, Archbishop of Rovno and Ostrog, in Ukraine, said that during the meeting Patriarch Alexy II expressed his hope that Putin would continue his role as the country’s leader.

Islam:

22 November 2007:

“At a working meeting of the Council of the Muftis, its members instructed Abdul-Vahed Niyazov, the head of the Islamic Cultural Center, to organize a Muslims in Support of President Putin movement and ensure its membership in the National Movement in Support of President Putin,”

Judaism:

3 December 2007:

Russia’s chief rabbi Berel Lazar has voted in the State Duma elections at the Russian Consulate General in New York where he is on a working trip.

…He said he has “never advocated any particular party, because campaigning by a religious official for any political group contradicts the Jewish understanding of God’s Law.”

However, this should be compared with an earlier report, from 27 January 2005:

Just before the sun set over Auschwitz on January 27, ending the international ceremonies that marked the 60th anniversary of the notorious death camp’s liberation, President Vladimir Putin of Russia stepped forward to receive a medal from a man who claims the title of chief rabbi of Russia. Lazar, a Lubavitch Hasid known for his close ties to Putin’s Kremlin, awarded Putin the so-called Salvation medal as a symbol of “the Jewish people’s gratitude” to Russia for liberating the camp.