Pavel Bayov

2005-06 International Policy Fellow
Combating Open Society Threats in the former Soviet Union working group


For the first time in one thousand years of Russian history, democracy finally has the opportunity of replacing either religious absolutism or atheistic totalitarianism. Since the 1990s a new social framework is being created in Russia, one which is supposed to guarantee all universal human rights including the right to worship, however there is a serious disparity between the legislation and reality in the religious sphere. The Russian Federation inherited many problems, not least a lack of any clear educational projects aimed at the promotion of religious tolerance. This has resulted in a growth of xenophobia and chauvinism.

In Russia, Orthodox Fundamentalism presents one of the biggest dangers and it remains to be seen whether the Orthodox Church in Russia can limit its own ambitions and draw a line between itself and Fundamentalism. It is necessary for the state to begin to curb religious fundamentalism through the promotion of ideas of religious tolerance and social values. There has to be an end to the joining of church and state and church and school, with an emphasis on an education which acquaints people with the religions of Russia and neighboring states and to help them realize that all people have an equal right to the validity of their religion.