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The new Russian cult of war - It has been growing unnoticed for some time - The Economist - 26.03.22

ON MARCH 22nd, in a penal colony 1,000km north-east of the front lines around Kyiv, Alexei Navalny, the jailed leader of Russia’s opposition, was sentenced to another nine years imprisonment. To serve them he will probably be moved from Vladimir, where he has been kept for more than a year, to a yet harsher maximum-security jail elsewhere.

The crime for which he was sentenced is fraud. His true crime is one of common enterprise with that for which the people of Ukraine are now suffering collective punishment. The Ukrainians want to embrace many, if not all, the values held dear by other European nations. Mr Navalny wants the same for Russia. Vladimir Putin cannot countenance either desire.

As Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, told The Economist, “If Russia wins, there will be no Ukraine; if Ukraine wins, there will be a new Russia.” That new Russia is as much a target of Mr Putin’s war as Ukraine is. Its potential must be crushed as surely as Mr Navalny’s.

This crusade against a liberal European future is being fought in the name of Russkiy mir—“the Russian world”, a previously obscure historical term for a Slavic civilisation based on shared ethnicity, religion and heritage. The Putin regime has revived, promulgated and debased this idea into an obscurantist anti-Western mixture of Orthodox dogma, nationalism, conspiracy theory and security-state Stalinism.

The war is the latest and most striking manifestation of this revanchist ideological movement. And it has brought to the fore a dark and mystical component within it, one a bit in love with death. As Andrei Kurilkin, a publisher, puts it, “The substance of the myth is less important than its sacred nature…The legitimacy of the state is now grounded not in its public good, but in a quasi-religious cult.”

This article appeared in the Briefing section of the print edition under the headline "The cult of war".

For the full article in pdf, please click here:

The new Russian cult of war - Leading article for the Economist - March 26th 2022
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Footnote: first drew attention to the religious aspects of this war in an article from ekathimerini-com who are based in Greece. See the article by clicking on this link:

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