One of the important stages in the formation of the Russian quasi-religious neo-fascist doctrine of the "Russian World", intended to become the official state and religious ideology of Putin's Russia, took place on 27 March 2024. On this day a little-noticed but significant event took place in the Church Councils Hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Under the chairmanship of Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundyaev) the "Edict of the XXV World Russian People's Council", titled "The Present and Future of the Russian World," was officially approved. As stated in the preamble of this document, it "is a program document of the World Russian People's Council, as well as an order addressed to the legislative and executive authorities of Russia" (Edict of the XXV World Russian People's Council "The Present and Future of the Russian World", 27.03.2024. Official website ROC-MP. ).

It should be noted that this remarkable document, while not formally an official act of the Russian Orthodox Church, can be considered such in practice. It was unanimously supported by 488 delegates, including more than 30 bishops and more than 60 ROC-MP priests. As protodeacon Andrei Kuraev noted, "Of course, this represents the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church. Because all this was developed and adopted under the direct leadership of the Russian Patriarch. He is the head of this Council. In the Council Hall, this document was unanimously approved. And there were at least 20 ROC bishops present, six of them permanent members of the Synod. That constitutes half of the composition of the Synod. The presence of the Patriarch ensured that the majority of the Synod was represented. Therefore, this document reflects the official position of the Russian Church." (Blog of Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, 01.04.2024. ).

In essence, the document developed and approved under the auspices of the ROC-MP resembles and partially copies the program documents of the pro-Nazi church movement known as the "German Christians" (German: Glaubensbewegung "Deutsche Christen"). In particular, certain similarities can be traced to the so-called "Directives" of May 1932 and the "10 basic principles" of May 1933, which supported the new imperial-religious doctrine of the Third Reich, "sacralized" and blessed expansionist and xenophobic ideas, sanctioned the unification of church and state, and the synthesis of Christianity and German National Socialism. The Deutsche Christen movement effectively distanced itself from the Gospel precepts of peace, love, and forgiveness as those that weaken a nation. They sought to monopolize the status of a single imperial church, putting it at the service of the interests of Hitler's regime and Nazi Germany. It is obvious that some of the authors of the new ROC-MP ”Edict” were inspired by these ideas and prototypes. At least one of its developers, Alexander Dugin, who is a member of the Presidium of the "World Russian People's Council" (WRPC), has never concealed his sympathies for the ideas of fascism, early Nazism, and the occult, incorporating them in a reinterpreted form into his quasi-religious fundamentalist concepts.

Presenting the document before it was put to a vote, Patriarch Kirill described its significance: "The Edict consists of eight sections that concern the Special Military Operation, Russian World, foreign policy, family, demographic, and migration policy, education and upbringing, economic, spatial and urban development...". The main task of this Edict, as well as the long-term activity of the entire World Russian People's Council, is the defense and strengthening of the Russian World. The division and weakening of the Russian people, depriving them of their spiritual and life forces, has always led to the weakening and crisis of the Russian state. Therefore, the restoration of the unity of the Russian people, as well as their spiritual and life potential, are the key conditions for the development of Russia and the Russian World in the twenty-first century" (Speech of Patriarch Kirill at the Extraordinary Congress of the World Russian People's Council, 27.03.2024. Official website of ROC-MP. ).

It should be noted that the document sanctioned by the Patriarch and hierarchs of ROC-MP fundamentally contradicts the Gospel teaching, Christian worldview, and Orthodox theology, and is a blatant apology for anti-Gospel ideas of violence, xenophobia, and genocide. Therefore, it requires a more detailed analysis and comments:

1.  Special Military Operation

In the first paragraph, for the first time in official documents under the auspices of the ROC-MP, the Russian military aggression against sovereign Ukraine is referred to as "war" (until recently it was forbidden in the Russian Federation to use the word "war" to refer to the Russian military invasion of Ukraine). Moreover, the "military operation" and the genocide of the Ukrainian people is called here a "Holy War" (before that, in his sermons, Patriarch Kirill called Russia's war in Ukraine a "metaphysical and existential struggle between the forces of good and evil"). In particular, the document says: "From a spiritual and moral standpoint, the special military operation is considered a Holy War, in which Russia and its people, defending the unified spiritual space of Holy Russia, fulfill the mission of the "Katechon" ("Restrainer"), protecting the world from the onslaught of globalism and the victory of the West that has fallen into Satanism". The document also proclaims that "the Special Military Operation is a new stage of the national liberation struggle of the Russian people" against the "collective West, conducted in the lands of South-Western Russia since 2014. During the SMO, the Russian people, armed, defend their lives, freedom, statehood, civilizational, religious, national, and cultural identity, as well as the right to live on their own land within the borders of the unified Russian state." Denying the right of the Ukrainian people to their own identity, autonomy, and statehood, the document proclaims that "after the end of the SMO, the entire territory of modern Ukraine should enter the zone of exclusive influence of Russia". "The possibility of the existence of an independent Ukrainian state on this territory" "should be completely ruled out," declare Patriarch Kirill and other authors of the document.

Every phrase of this paragraph completely contradicts the "Ten Commandments" ("you shall not kill", "you shall not steal", "you shall not bear false witness", "you shall not covet ") and the Gospel ideals of love, peace, forgiveness, mutual respect, and non-violence. Indeed, any military invasions, aggression, murder, and violence cannot be termed or justified as "holy" from the standpoint of the Gospel. This is purely a pagan approach, where war was given special "sacralization" and "sanctification", which fundamentally contradicts the teachings of Christ. It is probably no coincidence that in this document, ROC-MP, despite its pseudo-spiritual style and personal presentation by the Patriarch, there is no mention of the name of Christ or reference to the Gospel. It should be noted that the term "Racial Holy War" (RaHoWa) is quite common among modern neo-Nazi anti-Christian pagan-occult movements. Given the propensity of some authors of the document to such ideas (Alexander Dugin and Co.), it cannot be ruled out that it was they who inspired such anti-evangelical formulations. At the same time, this document contradicts the previously affirmed "Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the ROC", where in the eighth chapter entitled "War and Peace," it is noted that "war is evil", and "killing, without which wars cannot happen, was regarded as a grave crime before God as far back as the dawn of the holy history." (para. VIII.1), therefore "clergy and canonical ecclesiastical structures cannot assist or cooperate with the state" in matters of "political struggle", "waging civil war or aggressive external war" (para. III.8.2), since "the Church endeavors to perform a peacemaking ministry..., also opposes the propaganda of war and violence, as well as various manifestations of hatred capable of provoking fratricidal clashes" (para. VIII.5). Thus, the justification by the leadership of ROC-MP of the aggressive war and the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Ukraine, which they call a "holy war", testifies to their distortion and perversion of Orthodox doctrine and disbelief in the basic tenets of Christ's teaching.

2.  Russian World

The second paragraph of the document proclaims the existence of a separate Russian spiritual and cultural "civilization" ("Russian World" or "Russian oikoumene"), distinct from other Christian and even Orthodox nations. Preaching their own "civilizational" exclusivity, the authors of the document proclaim that "Russia is the creator, supporter and protector of the Russian World. The borders of the Russian World as a spiritual, cultural, and civilizational phenomenon are significantly wider than the state borders of both the current Russian Federation and historical Russia. Along with the representatives of the Russian oikoumene scattered all over the world, the Russian World includes all for whom the Russian tradition, the shrines of the Russian civilization, and the great Russian culture are the highest value and meaning of life". This idea is at the heart of the justification of modern Russian expansionism. "Restoration of the unity of the Russian people" is declared "the key condition for the survival and successful development of Russia and the Russian World in the twenty-first century". In this case, following the theorists of the occult-mystical current in German National Socialism, who proclaimed the revival of the chiliastic "Thousand-Year Reich" (germ. Tausendjähriges Reich), the authors of the document profess the theory of "building a thousand-year Russian statehood", which, according to them, "is the highest form of political creativity of Russians as a nation." Such a "thousand-year kingdom" in the person of Russia is proclaimed to be the apocalyptic "Katechon" (from the Greek ὁ κατέχων, i.e. "Restraining the world's mystery of iniquity"), the one capable of stopping the enthronement of the "Antichrist" in the world. This marginal theory has been popularized for many years in the ROC by the occultist Alexander Dugin, who believes that Russia should oppose "the world conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons" (a favorite slogan of Adolph Hitler). But now for the first time, it has been publicly voiced and authorized at the official level on behalf of the ROC-MP leadership. The document proclaims: "The highest raison d'être of Russia and the Russian World it has created—their spiritual mission—is to be the world's "Katechon", protecting the world from evil."

Such views of the self-proclaimed "spiritual-civilizational" exclusivity of the "Russian World", its "thousand-year reign" on earth, and the role of the "Katechon" ") fall under a number of pseudo-Christian heretical teachings, which have been repeatedly condemned by many holy fathers of Orthodoxy. In particular, statements about the "spiritual-civilizational" exclusivity of Russians and the "Russian World" fall under the anathema of the heresy of ethnophyletism, pronounced at the Local Council of Constantinople in 1872. The emphasis on the "millenarianism" of Russia (which does not correspond to historical reality) is a transfer onto Orthodox soil of heretical chiliastic ideas about the "Thousand-Year Kingdom on Earth", which have been repeatedly condemned by the Fathers of the Church as unorthodox, since Orthodox theology understands the "kingdom" as the Universal Church, not as any particular earthly state entity. In addition, the influence of the heretical chiliastic theory of the "Thousand-Year Reich" (germ. Tausendjähriges Reich) can be traced here. Additionally, the concept of Russia as the only embodiment of the “forces of good” in the world that are opposed by the “forces of evil” in the person of the West “that has fallen into Satanism” is a manifestation of the Manichean heresy. That heresy was based on the idea of religious syncretism and dualism, whereby the world is divided by the confrontation of the opposites (light and darkness, good and evil, truth and falsehood). The proclamation of Russia as a kind of "Katechon" also contradicts Orthodox doctrine, because in theology the term "Restraining iniquity" is primarily understood as the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit, affecting the spiritual and moral state of mankind and its striving for good, whereby the Holy Spirit does not depart from it, and the forces of evil do not receive authority in it. St. John Chrysostom, Blessed Theodorite of Crete, St. Photios of Constantinople, St. Theophan the Recluse, and others called the Holy Spirit “Katechon,” followed by some Russian conservative thinkers of the end of the nineteenth – beginning of the twentieth century, i.e. Lev Tikhomirov. Attempts on the part of the ROC-MP leadership to "sacralize" and endow the modern Russian Federation and its ruling criminal regime with such "messianic" attributes show that it is trying to artificially create some new civil religion, which outwardly disguises itself with medieval Christian terms, but in its inner essence is anti-Christian and anti-Gospel. At the same time, these claims reveal an aspiration to urge the restoration of the Russian Federation as an empire led by a sole (autocratic) "supreme leader"—the emperor, similar to the establishment of the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte and his proclamation of L'Empire français. 

3.  Foreign Policy

In the third paragraph, the document proclaims Russia's global leadership in the new world order: "Russia should become one of the leading centers of the multipolar world, leading integration processes." "As the geopolitical center of Eurasia," "Russia should regulate the balance of strategic interests and act as a bulwark of security and a just world order in the new multipolar world." At the same time, in this new world order, representatives of ROC-MP and the ruling Russian political elites flatly deny the right to a separate existence of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Instead, they proclaim a return to the outdated and completely unscientific Russian imperial-mythological "doctrine of the triune unity of the Russian people, according to which the Russian people consists of  'Great Russians' (великороссы), 'Small Russians' (малороссы) and 'White Russians' (белороссы), which are branches (sub-ethnicities) of one people, and the concept of "Russian" covers all Eastern Slavs." According to the authors of the document, "The reunification of the Russian people should become one of the priorities of Russia's foreign policy." and "the doctrine of triune unity should be enshrined in law, becoming an integral part of the Russian system of law. Triune unity should be included in the normative list of Russian spiritual and moral values and receive appropriate legal protection."

Thus, the document approved by the ROC-MP leadership, encroaching on the God-given freedom to self-determination, denies the very right of existence to Ukrainians as a separate people and ignores the historical processes of development of their cultural identity and statehood. At the same time, as experts of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) point out, "restoring the unity of the Russian people" through Russia's war against Ukraine is proclaimed by the ROC-MP leadership as the key condition for the survival and development of the "Russian World." The aim of the call is the "full-scale destruction of the Ukrainian nation as such" (genocide) and its violent military occupation by Russia for complete assimilation and annihilation (Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 29, 2024. ISW.  ). Thus, this document falls under xenophobia and contains propaganda and calls for violence and genocide.

4.  Family and Demographic Policy

The fourth paragraph proclaims that "to survive in the twenty-first century, to preserve Russia's sovereignty and its own civilizational identity, Russia needs sustainable, and most importantly, intensive natural population growth." Apparently, such appeals are also borrowed from the ideologists of German National Socialism. The authors of the document see the solution to this problem in the cultivation of "traditional large families." According to the document, "the state should set itself a long-term strategic goal to bring Russia's population to the “Mendeleevian” 600 million people within a hundred years of sustainable demographic growth." The aspiration "to create a family, to give birth and bring up three or more children, should become a visible embodiment of the ideas of the Russian World." "The state must take exhaustive measures" against "abortion, sexual licentiousness, and debauchery, as well as sodomy and various sexual perversions." "The whole national culture, first of all, mass culture, should work to create in society the cult of family, many children, and marital fidelity."

Among other things, several postulates characteristic of the German National Socialist ideology can be seen here, such as the idea of "blood and soil", the cult of procreation and multiplication of the nation, modeling the family as the basis (cell) of "Aryan society" and the like. Moreover, without a word about the democratic rights and freedoms of citizens, in place of the Church's mission of fostering voluntary spiritual and moral enlightenment and correction of the population, the ROC-MP tries to endow the state with totalitarian qualities in the field of control over the morals and morality of society, as it was in Nazi Germany and the communist USSR, and as it is in a number of modern Islamist totalitarian states. Undoubtedly, it is the task of the Church to preach moral values. However, their imposition in a totalitarian way with the help of police functions of the state contradicts the principle of human free will preached by the Gospel. It is rather a sign of ROC-MP's desire to shift the role of the moral basis of society from itself to the state. 

5.  Migration Policy

In the fifth paragraph, the authors, in the spirit of fascist-racist and xenophobic ideas, see one of the main threats to modern Russia in the influx of migrants from Asian countries. "The mass influx of migrants who do not speak Russian and do not have a proper understanding of Russian history and culture, and therefore are unable to integrate into Russian society, changes the image of Russian cities, which leads to the deformation of the unified legal, cultural and linguistic space of the country," the document states. Further, "Uncontrolled mass influx of foreign labor force leads to underpayment of native population and their subsequent replacement by migrants in entire sectors of the domestic economy… Closed ethnic enclaves are emerging and actively developing in the largest cities, creating breeding grounds for corruption, organized ethnic crime, and illegal migration." In this regard, the authors of the document proclaim the following "priorities of the new migration policy" of Russia: "Protection of the Russian civilizational identity, the unity of the legal, cultural and linguistic space of the country. Protection of the rights and legitimate interests of the Russian and other indigenous peoples of Russia. […] Significant restriction of the inflow of foreign cultural, low-skilled foreign labor force into the Russian Federation. Introduction of the principle of maximum legal and economic liability of an employer for foreign workers from alien cultures engaged by the employer.” This paragraph appears to be entirely taken from the program documents of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) with its racist and xenophobic ideas.

6.   Education and Development

In the sixth paragraph, again in the spirit of totalitarian ideas of fascism, the main threat to the "Russian World" is seen as the spread of "destructive ideological concepts and attitudes, primarily Western." Therefore, "domestic educational and development programs must be purified" from them as "alien to the Russian people". "The assimilation of worldview ideas and spiritual and moral values of Russian civilization is the most important aspect in the nationalization of modern Russian elites, as well as in the upbringing of future generations of Russian citizens." "A new socio-humanitarian paradigm based on the Russian civilizational identity and traditional Russian spiritual and moral values should be developed and introduced into the domestic teaching of social and humanitarian disciplines." To solve this task of "building a new socio-humanitarian paradigm," the document proposes "a critical review of Western scientific theories and schools (primarily in the field of social and human sciences) for their conformity to the sovereign Russian worldview, their usefulness or destructiveness for strengthening national self-awareness; conducting a revision of the array of humanitarian knowledge, commonly accepted theories and concepts based on their correlation with the system of worldview ideas and moral values of Russian civilization; restructuring methodological systems, standards, and assessments without regard to international (essentially, imposed by the West) criteria and benchmarks; reforming the domestic education system to align with the fundamental parameters of sovereign Russian worldview." In other words, following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany and the communist USSR.

7.  Spatial and Urban Development

The seventh paragraph proclaims the task of "spatial transformation of Russia" to "ensure a significant increase in the birth rate". To this end, it proposes the forced mass deportation of city dwellers, including those in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, to abandoned villages and settlements throughout the vast expanse of the Russian Federation. "By 2050, Russia should turn into an evenly populated and developed low-rise country of 1,000 revitalized medium and small towns - the Garðaríki of the 21st century. Suburban settlements should become the main type of settlement in the country," the document proclaims. This plan envisages "refusal of priority development of large and largest urban agglomerations, mass construction of apartment buildings, as well as overconcentration of labor resources and productive forces in megacities; transition to the traditional for Russia even distribution of population and productive forces over the territory of the country through mass resettlement of city dwellers in well-appointed suburban settlements."

8.   Economic Development              

The eighth paragraph declares that "the main goals of the national economy" should be "to ensure growth in the birth rate, to settle and develop Russia's vast expanses, and to ensure the country's sovereignty and defense capability". Again, this paragraph is very much reminiscent of the documents of Nazi Germany.

The analysis of the “Edict” shows that it completely contradicts the Gospel teaching and Orthodox theology, is an apology of anti-Christian and xenophobic ideas, and falls under the signs of dualistic heresy, based, according to the definition of Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, on mixing religion with politics. Instead of preaching the fundamentals of Christian doctrine, the document borrows and promotes neo-fascist, xenophobic, and anti-Christian ideas on behalf of ROC-MP. Since it was developed and approved with the participation of leading ROC-MP hierarchs headed by the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, this document is, in fact, an official expression of the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. It contains genocidal rhetoric and is not only a program document of the WRPC but with the official blessing of the ROC-MP leadership it is addressed to the legislative and executive authorities of Russia and legalizes propaganda of the ideas set out in it at the level of the Russian authorities, whose representatives are members of the WRPC Presidium (Ombudsman of Ukraine: The Russian Church and its affiliated organizations play by the rules of the Kremlin's propaganda, 29.03.2024.


In December 2001, the Synod of the ROC-MP (which included the bishops of the UOC-MP), in a separate decision officially declared "useful the development of the activities of the World Russian People's Council as a permanent union of public organizations with the active participation and spiritual guidance of the Russian Orthodox Church." Thus, the activity of this organization "under the spiritual leadership of the ROC" officially has the blessing and powers of the governing body, the Synod of the ROC-MP. The head of this organization by statute is the Patriarch of Moscow. As Patriarch Kirill emphasized during the presentation of the above-mentioned "Edict", this "Council has become a very effective and truly open platform for discussing many problems of the national and public agenda, as well as issues related to the life of the Russian Orthodox Church" (Speech by Patriarch Kirill at the Extraordinary Sobor Congress of the World Russian People's Council, 27.03.2024. Official website ROC-MP. ).

Patriarch Kirill attaches importance to this organization both in the life of the ROC-MP and the Russian state (Speeches by the President of the Russian Federation and the Patriarch of Moscow at the plenary session of the XXV World Russian People's Council, 28.11.2023. Official website ROC-MP. URL: ). Since he, in violation of the ROC Charter, has essentially canceled the convocation of the highest governing body of the ROC-MP, the Council of Bishops (no longer convened after 2017), the so-called "World Russian People's Council" created by him, in which bishops, priests and laity of the ROC-MP participate, in fact, substituted this ecclesiastical body.

For a long time, WRPC was considered a "marginal" organization, so its activities and statements were not given fundamental importance by many experts. However, since the mid-1990s under the aegis of ROC-MP, this very structure has been acting as a kind of "laboratory" for the development, testing, and promotion of neo-imperialist quasi-religious ideas, which were adopted by the ruling regime of the Russian Federation and used as a justification for expansionism and war against Ukraine.

WPRC emerged in 1993 shortly after the collapse of the USSR as an attempt to replace the former CPSU in order to consolidate Russian post-Soviet elites and introduce a new Russian national idea to replace the old communist ideology. The organization was initiated by the then head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and now Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundyaev), also known under his KGB agent alias "Mikhailov." This new organization under the aegis of ROC-MP united Russian religious and cultural figures, scientists and representatives of the diaspora, and most importantly, representatives of the authorities, security, and law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation.

Until 2009, the head of the WRPC was Patriarch of Moscow Alexis (Ridiger), and his deputy and de-facto head of the organization was Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev). When he became the Patriarch of Moscow in 2009, he also became the head of WRPC.

For a long time, the late Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, known for his scandalous statements in favor of nuclear war, and the odious Russian oligarch, owner of the Tsargrad TV channel and sponsor of terrorism in the LPR/DPR, Konstantin Malofeev, were Kirill's deputies in the WRPC. Malofeev resigned as the deputy chairman of the WRPC this year. He was replaced by the executive director of the Malofeev Foundation, a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, the Board of Trustees of the Synodal Department of the ROC, and the Board of Trustees of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra Sergei Rudov. Other WRPC deputy chairmen are Metropolitan Gregory (Petrov) of Voskresensk and one of the ideologues of the "Russian World", Alexander Shchipkov, who is also the first deputy chairman of the ROC-MP Synodal Department for Relations with Society and the Media.

The WRPC Presidium also includes the odious A. Dugin, a Russian occult philosopher and neo-fascist, one of the developers of the modern Russian neo-imperialist-Eurasian ideology. Also in the WRPC Presidium are S. Shoigu, S. Glazyev, S. Baburin, S. Stepashin, V. Medinsky, D. Rogozin, metropolitans of ROC-MP Barsonofiy (Sudakov) of St. Petersburg, Savva (Mikheev) of Vologda, Alexander (Mogilev) of Kazakhstan, and Vikentiy (Morar) of Tashkent. Other ruling hierarch members of the WRPC Council are metropolitans ROC-MPInnokenty (Vasiliev) of Vilnius and Lithuania, Eugene (Reshetnikov) of Tallinn and Estonia, and Dionisy (Porubai) of Omsk..

According to the reports of the WRPC leadership, its membership includes more than 100 ROC-MP bishops in Russia and abroad, as well as 17 governors, 5 deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, 10 senators, 10 chairmen of the legislative assembly of the subjects of the Russian Federation, 45 deputy governors, as well as a number of heads of ministries and administrations of the subjects of the Russian Federation, heads of public chambers, 16 university rectors, and so on.

The role of WRPC significantly increased in 2001, when its congress was opened personally by Vladimir Putin in the Church Councils Hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Since then, not only representatives of ROC-MP and public organizations but also the Head of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, the leadership of the Federation Council, the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, leaders of the main political parties, heads of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, public and religious associations of the Russian Federation have started to participate in the work of WRPC. Thus, the organization gained influence both at the level of ROC-MP and central and regional legislative and executive authorities in the Russian Federation, whose representatives were included in the Presidium and other bodies of the WRPC. In addition, the organization has been granted consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

It is this organization, as has already been said, that has been assigned the role of almost the main "laboratory" in the development of the doctrine of the "Russian World".

The order from the Kremlin to develop the ideology of the "Russian World" was a reaction to the Kyiv "Maidan" of 2004. Frightened by the possible migration of the Ukrainian experience to Russian soil, Putin sought reliance on a new imperial ideology and propaganda. One of those who suggested this path to him was Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev). Long before he became the Patriarch of Moscow, Metropolitan Kirill attracted and supported various marginal supporters of Russian imperial "messianism", including those with openly fascist, neo-Nazi, and occult views (Dugin, Platonov, and others).

In 2005-2007, WRPC experts developed the "Russian Doctrine", in which, in addition to ideological slogans, specific tasks were announced. Among them was the expansion of the Russian Federation in the "near abroad", and the seizures of Crimea, Donbas, and the entire Ukraine. Thus, the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine was ideologically justified and prepared at least since 2005. In 2006, this "doctrine" was "assessed by the reviewers of the Moscow Theological Academy ROC-MP as not contradicting the spirit and teachings of Orthodoxy". In 2007 the "Russian Doctrine" was adopted as the basis of the WRPC ideology under the auspices of the Moscow Patriarchate with the direct lobbying support of the then head of the DCR MP Metropolitan Kirill (Opening speech of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk at the cathedral hearings on the project "Russian Doctrine". Official website ROC-MP. URL: ). He personally presented the final version of the doctrine at the all-Russian congress of the Young Russia movement (Metropolitan Kirill spoke to students about the Russian Doctrine. Russian Doctrine. URL: ).

This doctrine, presented and promoted by Metropolitan Kirill, for the first time introduced and tested among the Russian society the terms "Russian World", "spiritual fasteners", "common historical space," and the like.

Here are a few quotes from this document, which was blessed and promoted at various levels by the current Patriarch of Moscow:

"A CREDO OF FAITH IN RUSSIA. Russia is for its people a spiritual symbol of the same order as God, the Church, and faith. The credo of faith in Russia is the credo of the patriot for whom Russia is the supreme jewel of his life. Agreement with the credo of faith in Russia makes all people believers in a certain —BELIEVERS IN RUSSIA."

"The concept of the space of Historic Russia, i.e. the natural territory of the RUSSIAN WORLD (the present RF and Russian ethnic enclaves – Tavria (Crimea), Novorossiya, Narva region, Latgale, Southern Siberia, Carpatian Rus, as well as territories of complementary ethnic groups—Belarusians, Eastern Ukrainians, Transcarpathian Ruthenians, etc.), is officially proclaimed."

"Russia is embarking on the path of Russian irredenta: the ideology of the return and reunification of those territories of historical Russia to which it has a historical and moral right and which it makes practical sense to return. For Russia, this applies primarily to Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan."

"Russia must make a sharp U-turn with regard to the near abroad states…Russia's rights to a whole range of territories must be recognized. In the case of Ukraine, minimal claims can be made to Donbas and Tavria (Crimea)."

"The main principles of ensuring national security are the principles of ... offensiveness and expansion."

All this paranoid nonsense occupies hundreds of pages and is freely available on the Internet on the Russian Doctrine website of the same name (Russian Doctrine (text). Russian Doctrine. ).

As we can see, long before he became head of the Moscow Patriarchate, Kirill Gundyaev was leading the process of developing and promoting a special Russian militant-fundamentalist ideology, which he tried to interest Putin and his entourage in. It was probably because of this that he was able to gain Putin's support and become head of the ROC-MP in 2009.

After becoming the Patriarch of Moscow in January 2009, Kirill Gundyaev is trying to turn the "Russian World" narrative into the ideological doctrine of the entire ROC-MP. According to him, "the core of the modern Russian World is Russia, Ukraine and Belarus," but to this "united space" he also includes Moldova, Kazakhstan, and some other former Soviet republics, which, he says, are certainly in need of "restoring unity." "Only a united Russian World can become a strong subject of global international politics, stronger than any political alliances," said Patriarch Kirill at the opening of the Third Assembly of the Russian World in November 2009 (Patriarch Kirill's speech at the opening of the Third Assembly of the Russian World. Official website ROC-MP. ).

Since then, the manipulation of slogans about "one Russian World", "one holy Russia", "one civilizational space", "unified spiritual fasteners" and the like have acquired a systemic character, they are adopted not only in ROC-MP but also in the power structures and special services of the Russian Federation.


For a long time the ideas and narratives of the "Russian World" were not consolidated into a coherent concept, often appearing as separate statements, reports, and slogans of various church hierarchs, priests, public figures, and politicians. This gave some skeptics reason to claim that the ideology of the "Russian World" as a holistic concept does not exist, that it is a "myth", etc. The fallacy of this view lies, among other things, in the difference between Western European and Russian-Soviet mentality. After all, the latter, unlike the Western mentality, is not characterized by the development of clear and integral philosophical, theological, or ideological concepts and doctrines. A set of loud slogans and myths and belief in them by a certain part of society ("You cannot understand Russia with your mind, you can only believe in Russia"—a famous line from a poem by Fedor Tyutchev) is enough. The formation of such a quasi-religious doctrine, which by design should become the official state and religious ideology of Putin's Russia, has not yet been completed. This process is ongoing. But its outlines at the stage of gradual formation were clearly projected back in 2007 in the aforementioned “Russian Doctrine,” which laid down its main postulates. And the new “Edict” of WRPC can be considered its official program document.  The “Edict” brought the process of formation of the ideology of the "Russian World" to a qualitatively new level. Now this ideology has acquired expressive forms that testify to its incompatibility with Christian teaching.

As experts from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have noted, in the adopted "Edict" "ROC unites the previous Kremlin narratives into a relatively coherent ideology" (Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 29, 2024. ISW.

It should be noted that the creation of the ideology of the "Russian World" stretched over 30 years. This concept was originally born in the early 1990s in the bowels of a Moscow intellectual group of "methodologists" (often referred to in the media as the "sect of methodologists"), which in the Soviet period was supervised by the KGB and by the end of the 1980s had influence on some representatives of the party and economic nomenclature of the USSR. In the 1990s, this "sect" included Peter Shchedrovitsky, Yefim Ostrovsky, Gleb Pavlovsky, Sergey Kirienko, Vladislav Surkov, and others who contributed to Vladimir Putin's rise to power in Russia. From 1995 to 2011 Pavlovsky was the official political technologist of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, where he headed the election campaigns of Boris Yeltsin (1996), Vladimir Putin (2000), as well as Viktor Yanukovych (2004). Working closely with the then head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Kirill, the "methodologists" in the mid-1990s began looking for a replacement for the communist ideology that had lost its relevance, betting on Orthodoxy as the basis for Russia's new national state ideology. It was they who first developed the concept of the "Russian World" and proposed it to the leadership of the ROC-MP and later to the Kremlin.

At their suggestion, the so-called "World Russian People's Council" (WRPC), created in 1993 on the initiative of Metropolitan Kirill Gundyaev, began to promote these ideas. Under the pens of the representatives of the ROC-MP, narratives of the "Russian World" have acquired a completely different color and content, gradually acquiring the signs of a separate hybrid neo-fascist ideology.

This new doctrine, promoted by Patriarch Kirill, consolidates multiple elements borrowed from various quasi-religious and marginal theories. In essence, it is a kind of "explosive mixture", a "hybrid" in which often opposite doctrines and ideologues are mixed together. More often than not they are openly non-Christian, which makes this mixture acquire the character of heresy.

In particular, as we have already seen above, it reflects the ideas of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism, as well as old communist myths and notions. There is also room for the reinterpreted Islamist fundamentalist idea of the political unity of the "Islamic world", the revival of a single Islamic Caliphate and its global hegemony to confront the West. Borrowing such ideas and slogans, modern ideologues of the "Russian World", in fact, tried to transplant the ideas of the world Islamic Caliphate on Orthodox soil. Thus, in the new Russian myth-making the ideal of the medieval holy Caliphate was replaced by a myth of the so-called "Holy Russia" (which never existed in history). In fact, the term "Russian World" itself was introduced into use as a separate ideologeme on the model of the "Islamic world" (Shumylo, S. “Orthodox Shahidism” and Patriarch of Moscow Kirill’s neo-pagan theology of war // Orthodox Times, 11.12.2022.

The propensity of the "collective consciousness" of Russian post-Soviet society for such artificial myths and totalitarian ideologemes, as well as their demand for them, has created a favorable ground for the spread and popularity of newly-emerging pseudo-Orthodox fundamentalist ideas, which are in fact modern transformed incarnations of the ideas of neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, national communism and Islamist fundamentalism, reworked and adapted under the Orthodox camouflage to the Russian-post-Soviet mentality.

According to Brandon Gallaher, Professor of Theology at the University of Exeter, the ideology of the "Russian World" "is a form of ethno-racial religious fundamentalism, with appeals to blood, land, faith, nation, people, language, and tsar/leader. Like previous ethnocentrisms, it demonizes all who oppose it. At the same time, in the logic of the ideology of the "Russian World," the West is a great adversary, a kind of "supreme demon". The ideology of the "Russian World" is a new Nazism, the Nazi ideology of the twenty-first century" (

This view of this latest doctrine is shared by more than 1,500 Christian theologians around the world who have signed a joint Declaration on the Doctrine of the "Russian World" in which they condemn this new doctrine as unchristian and heretical (Declaration on the Doctrine of the "Russian World" // Public Orthodoxy.

One of the co-authors of this Declaration, the well-known Orthodox theologian Cyril Hovorun, gave a theological definition of this fundamentalist ideology promoted by the ROC-MP as a manifestation of phyletism and ecclesiological heresy. In his conviction, it is dualistic, based on the mixing of religion with politics. Such features have been defined as heresy by St Irenaeus of Lyons and other holy fathers. These saints perceived heresies as forms of pagan thinking disguised as Christianity. Similarly with the so-called "Russian World." This hybrid quasi-religionist ideology can be compared to the official pagan imperial religion, which, in fact, is now being substituted for Orthodoxy in Russia.

In essence, there is a "dogmatized" distortion and perversion of Orthodoxy in the ROC-MP. This, however, meets the goals of both the ruling regime of the Russian Federation and Patriarch Kirill, who are interested in dogmatizing the subordination of the Church to the state and neo-Soviet restoration under the guise of a supposed "revival of Orthodoxy" in Russia. The process of Sovietization of the Church and its transformation into an instrument of the totalitarian state (a kind of "religious appendage" of such a state) has not only not weakened with the external fall of communism in the modern Russian Federation but has recently markedly intensified (Holy Third Roman Empire // Mirror of the Week, 18.05.2007. ).

We must conclude that due to the sacralization of falsehoods, myths, and lies under the supposed appearance of "Orthodoxy" in Russia, a subtle internal substitution is now taking place at a deeper level. In fact, we can say that this is an attempt to assume the role of the so-called "anti-Christ". After all, the ancient Greek word "anti" (Greek ἀντί) means not only "against", but also "instead of", that is, replacing one thing with another, falsification, substitution. And so, "anti-Christianity" is not simply that which is "against Christianity," but that which substitutes for it under the outward deceptive cover of supposed Christianity. This is exactly what we see in ROC-MP with its "theology of war", mass militarization of church consciousness, and "sacralization" of the murder and genocide of Ukrainian civilians. This is a clear sign of marginalization and degeneration into heretical and sectarianism of both the ROC-MP and part of Russian society, which is ready to accept and consume such spiritual surrogates (Shumylo, S. False “prophecies” as justification for the war: Sectarian hoaxes by Patriarch of Moscow Kirill // Orthodox Times, 26.11.2022.


With the adoption by the Patriarch of Moscow and other hierarchs of the ROC-MP on 27 March 2024 of a program document outlining the basic principles and apology of the anti-evangelical ideology of the "Russian World", their course for the final falling away into schism from Ecumenical Orthodoxy, which they began in 2018, is actually declared. This official document is a conscious act of their adoption of anti-Christian teaching, which places them as heresiarchs outside the Orthodox Church and subjects them to ecclesiastical and canonical sanctions and condemnation.

All 488 WRPC delegates, including the Patriarch of Moscow, hierarchs and priests of the ROC-MP, as well as political and public figures of the Russian Federation, who voted in favor of this anti-Christian, xenophobic and genocidal document, now have grounds to be subject to international condemnation and sanctions, and the delegates of the ROC-MP - also to ecclesiastical court. Their adoption of the "Order" creates a unique opportunity to bring all those who voted in favor of it to secular and ecclesiastical condemnation. From now on, it is an important argument and "material evidence" both for the future International Criminal Court in The Hague and for the future ecclesiastical court with the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other representatives of the local Orthodox Churches.  

Serhii Shumylo holds a Ph.D. in History, and a degree of Doctor of Theology (ThDr.), He is the Director of the International Institute of the Athonite Legacy, visiting research fellow in the Department of Classics, Ancient History, Religion and Theology, University of Exeter (UK), and research fellow of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.