From: sanjeev nayyar
Notwithstanding the indifference of most Russians, the Orthodox Church, with active support from the state, has effectively established itself as state religion.
Moscow taxi-drivers claim that only three persons in the Russian capital would take no more than 15 minutes to ride from their country residences to the city centre, despite horrendous traffic jams: President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Christian Orthodox Church.
It is only for these VIPs that traffic is stopped so that their stretch armoured limousines, escorted by SUVs with armed bodyguards, can speed through the emptied streets at 150 kmph. The Patriarch's bodyguards are from the Kremlin security services, provided free of charge, which is another thing that puts him in the company of the President and the Prime Minister. The church is separate from the state in Russia, the Constitution says. It also says there can be no state religion. But in reality, the Orthodox Church in post-Communist Russia is as much a pillar of the state as are the army, the police and the courts.
After the collapse of the atheist Soviet Union, state persecution of religion came to an end in Russia. The new law on religious freedom adopted in 1997 identified four religions as “constituting an inalienable part of the historical heritage of the Russian people” — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. This in itself was a violation of the Constitution, which enshrines equality of all religious organisations. Moreover, the law set the Orthodox Church apart from other religions, noting its “special role” in Russian history. It was probably in line with this special status that Russia's Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar and Supreme Mufti Ravil Gainutdin lost the right to flash car lights several years ago.