Russian Religious Leaders Hail Putin and Medvedev

Following on from this blog entry, Interfax has a number of statements from Russian religious leaders on Vladimir Putin and his successor-in-waiting Dmitry Medvedev. There are a few caveats about not actually endorsing particular political parties, but the religious groups and leaders who have done well out of the Putin years make it clear where their loyalties lie. First up, Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who enjoyed Putin’s support when the position of Chief Rabbi was in dispute:

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar thinks that it will be ‘a great present’ if Vladimir Putin accepts to head the government after presidential elections 2008.

‘When president, Vladimir Putin has showed that he is equal to any task. If Putin considers the scenario offered by Dmitry Medvedev realistic, it will surely be a great present, if the government is headed by the most efficient statesmen in Russia’. Lazar told Interfax-Religion Tuesday.

However, Lazar’s toadying is rivalled by that of Damir Gizatullin:

…”During his years of being President, Vladimir Putin has raised social issues to the new principal level, and Dmitry Medvedev assists him to do it. It was an excellent union of the two outstanding politicians,” stated First Deputy of Muslim Religious Administration of Russian European Region, Damir Gizatullin to Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

A few weeks ago, the Council of the Muftis announced its plan to join a “National Movement in Support of President Putin”. Also predictably lavish in its praise is the Russian Orthodox Church, which is now resurgent and riding a crest of nationalism:

…’It is evident that both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev are efficient statesmen, people trust them. The Church knows them as good partners in dialogue and cooperation’, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

Also:

…”Dmitry Medvedev has proved himself as a good first deputy prime minister, so if Putin proposes him, this is a weighed decision, which we hail,” [Patriarch] Alexy II told journalists at a conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

And:

…Members of the Union of Orthodox Citizens pin their hopes on nomination of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for Russia’s president.

‘Professional ‘fighters with clericalism’ should be disappointed with Dmitry Medvedev as he is not only sympathetic with Orthodoxy, but he is a practicing Orthodox Christian’, the Union’s statement conveyed to Interfax-Religion on Tuesday reads.

Further:

…Medvedev “understands the need to preserve Russia’s moral and cultural traditions and the positive role of traditional religions in the public life of this country,” [the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations] said.

However, none of these characters go as far as a group profiled in Novosti:

The Bolshaya Elnya village in the Nizhny Novgorod Region is home to the “Rus’ Resurrecting” sect, a group of local residents who believe that President Putin was both the Apostle Paul and King Solomon in previous lives…The sect possesses a President Putin icon that [group leader Mother] Fontinya claims miraculously appeared one day.