Russian Orthodox Church and Russian State: 10 most influential figures

  • Russia
  • 17.Jun ‘20
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The life of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is built not by the Church elites alone, but also by people who are not formally a part of the system, but have enough weight to influence the church financially or politically in a significant way. Here is our list of 10 most influential figures who are not a part of the internal Church administration, but still play a crucial role in how the ROC is functioning.

Andrei Veniaminovich Yarin, Presidential Executive Office (PEO). Officially: Chief of the Presidential Domestic Policy Directorate. Factually: the one responsible for the state politics towards the ROC and deals with both tactical and strategic goals.

Andrei Valentinovich Tretyakov, PEO. Officially: Chief Advisor of the Department of Religious Organizations Relations, the Presidential Domestic Policy Directorate. Factually: the key specialist on the ROC in the PEO; knows everyone and everything in the church; advises Yarin and prepares specific solutions. There were rumours that it was Tretyakov who hosts Tserkvach Telegram channel; yet we find it hard to believe: he has more than enough on his hands as it is.

Sergei Alekseyevich Melnikov, PEO. Officially: Executive Secretary of the Presidential Council on Religious Organizations Relations. Factually: oversees key ROC leaders at the PEO, creating a structural counterbalance to Tretyakov, which at times leads to tensions. Apart from the ROC, deals with Russian Protestant groups.

Konstantin Veniaminovich Goloshchapov, Russian Athos Society. Officially: owner of dozens of investment and construction companies. Factually: a close friend of Vladimir Putin; together with Poltavchenko, organized Russian Athos Society that the head of the state and his closest circle are members of. He organized St. Nicholas’ relics to be brought to Moscow in 2017; serves as the head of Khram (“the Church”) foundation that builds churches all around the country. Due to his proximity to Putin, wields substantial political influence in addition to the financial one.  

Andrei Grigovyevich Guryev, FosArgo. Officially: majority owner of the FosArgo chemical holding. Factually: one of the key sponsors of the Moscow Patriarchate; finances international travels of the ROC leadership; together with Goloshchapov, organized St. Nicholas’ relics to be brought to Moscow in 2017.

Vladimir Iosifovich Resin, State Duma (United Russia party). Officially: State Duma Deputy. Factually: Patriarche Kirill’s advisor on church construction; overseer of the Moscow Program-200; since his days as the second person to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has built a wide network of connections within the business elite of the capital as well as within the bureaucracy. Uses his connections to push forward ROC construction projects.

Sergei Anatolyevich Gavrilov, State Duma (Communist Party of the Russian Federation). Officially: State Duma Deputy; the head of the State Duma Committee on the civil society development and civic and religious organizations; coordinator of the interfactional deputy group in defense of Christian values. Factually: the go-to ROC-adjacent person in the lower house of the Federal Assembly; lobbyist of legislation beneficial for the church.

Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin, Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called. Officially: the former head of Russian Railways. Factually: head of the boards of trustees of Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called and the Centre of National Glory of Russia. These entities implement various programs of the Moscow Patriarchate, including church construction in Russia and abroad. Also known as the long-time Jerusalem-to-Moscow Easter Holy Flame carrier.

Sergei Vadimovich Stepashin, Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. Officially: former head of multiple agencies, including the Federal Security Service; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Accounts Chamber, Government of Russia, and several others. At present serves as the head of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. Factually: with the help of the IOPS, helps carry out foreign policy initiatives of both the Russian Federation and the ROB. Stepashin himself rarely meddles in the ROC affairs, yet is capable of pushing any initiative through.

Konstantin Valeryevich Malofeev, Tsargrad, Foundation of Saint Basil the Great. Officially: the head of several investment, information, and civic organizations. Factually: a generator of great amounts of activism; the deputy head of the World Russian People’s Council; member of Patriarch’s committee for issues concerning families and maternity  protection; organizer of a number of church and church-adjacent projects, including Tsargrad, Foundation of Saint basil the Great, Gymnasium of Saint Basil the Great. 

Obviously, we did not mention each and every heavyweight. Please stay tuned to find out about Beglov, Vasilyeva, Poltavchenko, and some others 😉

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