This in-depth case study examines the Russian Orthodox Church’s influence on federal level policy in the Russian Federation since the fall of communism. By far more comprehensive than competing works, The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics is based on interviews, close readings of documents—including official state and ecclesiastical publications—and survey work conducted by the author. The analysis balances the Church as an institutional political actor with the government’s response to Church demands. Papkova ultimately concludes that the reciprocal relationship between the Church and state is far weaker and less politically important than Western analysts usually believe.

Papkova traces the Church’s relative failure in mobilizing parishioners, influencing political parties, and lobbying the state, citing the 1997 law limiting religious freedoms as its only significant political win. She attributes much of this weakness to the informal division of the Church into liberal, traditionalist, and fundamentalist factions, which prevent it from presenting a unified front. The book provides a fresh insight into the role of the Church in post-Soviet Russia that can be appreciated by people interested in numerous fields. While written from a political science perspective, the book speaks across disciplines to sociology, anthropology, history, and religious studies.




1. The Russian Orthodox Church in Contemporary Russian Politics: An Introduction

2. The Post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church and Secular Politics: Ideological Frames

3. The Moscow Patriarchate as Political Lobbyist

4. Informal Orthodoxy and Radical Politics

5. Orthodoxy and Political Identity

6. Conclusion: Post-Soviet Canonizations, the Russian Orthodox Church, State, and Society


“The book provides a valuable assessment of how Russian presidents Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev view the role of the Orthodox Church. Also, Papkova skillfully covers the relationship between the Orthodox Church and such important factors in Russian politics as the Communist and the Liberal Democratic parties. This book definitely helps to understand modern Russia.”—Choice

“Papkova writes from the perspective of a political scientist, but her research will also be useful to social scientists, anthropologists, students of religion, and historians. In fact, I found her book so riveting I wished she had interviewed Russian army personnel with the same questionnaire.… She has already demonstrated that she is a sound scholar and fine analyst. I have no doubt that The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics will be but the first in a long line of informative monographs in a distinguished career.”—Slavic Review

The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics manages to elucidate an extraordinary amount of material in just over 200 pages of text and presents a powerful, well formulated argument with widespread implications. One could not ask for more in a book of its kind. Papkova has provided what will surely be a controversial and lasting work for Russian Studies, the study of religion and politics, and the study of religion in general. By disrupting traditional tropes about the political stance and influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, this book will be a constant source for future scholarly engagement and elaboration.”—Religion

“Papkova synthesizes all of the research that we in the field have been doing, and assesses what we have proven, what we have left unproven, and how it can all be understood. She then fills in the gaps in the debate, and leads us all to conclusions that we have not yet been able to reach without her insight.”—Professor Christopher Marsh, Baylor University

“There is little written about the Russian Orthodox Church, and precious little by political scientists who use qualitative, critical methods. This book is a welcome contribution and will receive attention from political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists of religion.”—Professor Catherine Wanner, Penn State University