Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill invited the United Russia deputies to his office to voice his angst over EU-backed plans to introduce sex education in Russian schools. He left the meeting with a promise from the pro-Kremlin party that he would be allowed to preview all legislation considered in the State Duma. The extraordinary agreement grants the Russian Orthodox Church a privilege not shared by any other religious community in Russia and not even afforded to the Public Chamber, the civil society advisory body that is supposed to have the right to examine pending legislation and influence its outcome.Read the rest here.
It raises questions about separation between church and state, which is enshrined in the Constitution, and promises to raise new concerns about the growing clout of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has seen a revival since Vladimir Putin rose to power in 2000. Putin, now prime minister after eight years as president, heads United Russia. Patriarch Kirill invited two senior United Russia deputies to his office near the Christ the Savior Cathedral on Wednesday to express his worries about the Duma’s ratification of the European Social Charter on May 20. The charter, which Russia was obliged to approve as part of its membership in the Council of Europe, guarantees people’s right to housing, health, education, employment and other issues. It also requires public schools to offer sex education and member states to establish juvenile justice systems aimed at deterring minors from committing crimes — two matters that the patriarch told Deputies Andrei Isayev and Vyacheslav Volodin that he opposes strongly.
Kirill said parents should be responsible for both sex education and disciplining their children, not the government. “We told the patriarch … that the ratification of the charter won’t require any changes in Russian legislature and won’t lead to circumstances that will frighten the public,” Isayev said in a statement. At the meeting, Kirill also asked whether he could preview upcoming legislation to prevent any misunderstandings in the future, and the deputies agreed.