Religion as a Political Vehicle: An Examination of the Influence of Orthodoxy in Serbia by Russia

By: Rachel Corbally

April 20, 2020

Responding to: Virtual Spring 2020 REWA Student Symposium

Religion as a Political Vehicle: An Examination of the Influence of Orthodoxy in Serbia by Russia

Few scholars have discussed the use of religion as a Russian political tool in Serbia. Therefore, I decided to explore how Russia is wielding Orthodox Christianity to exert its influence, and thus hypothesize that religion, as a political tool, will similarly be employed in other Orthodox states in the region. Because Serbs see religious identity and nationality intertwined, there is a kinship between Putin and Orthodox Serbs, and thus I examined how Russia has capitalized on this relationship and caused a political indebtedness to Russia, illustrating an act of Russian political exertion over the state. In analyzing the Serbia-Russia relationship from a religious, political, and social perspective I found that Russia has successfully used the church to increase Putin’s favorability in Serbia and thus widen the division between Serbia and the West—a tactic that could very well be employed within other Orthodox states.

Bibliography

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Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Boris Tadic, “Joint press conference,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, December 14, 2006.

“Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe: National and religious identities converge in a region once dominated by atheist regimes,” Pew Research Center, May 10, 2017.

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“Statement of the Holy Assembly of Bishops on Kosovo and Metohia,” Serbian Orthodox Church, May 1, 2018.

Igor Torbakov, “The Russian Orthodox Church and Contestations over History in Contemporary Russia,” The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization (2014): 145–170.

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