chapter  2
19 Pages

State policy towards the Russian Orthodox Church

WithSophie Kotzer

In April 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev invited Patriarch Pimen and the members of the Holy Synod to the Kremlin, the first meeting between a Soviet leader and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) since September 1943. This chapter addresses the reasons leading to such a change in the official Soviet policy towards religion in general and towards the ROC in particular, and the existence of any shift in the functions of the different institutions in charge of the formation and implementation of the policy towards religious organisations. It examines how official propaganda and the new legislation on religion reflected the modification of the official state policy. Special attention is devoted to the Soviet central authorities’ attitude towards the millennium anniversary of the Christianisation of Kievan Rus. The millennium celebrations served as a showcase of the new freedoms for the Church in the USSR.