Alternative Spiritualities in Russia during the Conflict in Ukraine


Publication: Religion During the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict. Routledge, 2019.

The book is a much-needed English introduction to a thorny set of religious, political, juridical, and related problems concerning the Eastern Ukrainian conflict [1].

The chapter examines ideological patterns concerning minority religious groups in Russia during the conflict in Ukraine and reactions of religious minorities to the conflict. The author indicates that statements of Russian government-funded media and Russian Orthodox Church tend to describe affiliation with religious minorities in a negative way as a part of the image of the enemy as opposed to normative Russian identity.

Religious minorities are often portrayed as having hidden agenda and acting as agents of foreign influence, specifically to ignite revolutionary actions and to undermine social stability in different countries, including Ukraine and Russia. The history of these narratives is rooted both in Soviet criticism of religion and in ideas of American anti-cult movement transmitted in Russia during late 1980s and 1990s.

At the same time, minority groups themselves have different opinions concerning the situation in Ukraine. They demonstrate the variety of perspectives on the actions of Russian government during the conflict from critical to sympathetic. However, because even sympathetic minority groups and individuals tend to act outside of established hierarchical structures, their actions might be perceived as a threat regardless the specific content of their ideas.


  1. Review by Teuvo Laitila, Journal of Contemporary Religion 36 (2021).

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