Marat Terterov: Armenia’s long term security will be better served by strengthening economic security, rather than defining national security on the basis of the Tsarist Russian catch-cry “armiya i flot”
ArmInfo’s interview with Sergey Ryakhovsky, Leader of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians, member of the Russian Civic Chamber, and member the Presidential Council for Interaction with Religious Organizations and Unions
by Ashot Safaryan
Would you please share you opinion of the religious atmosphere in Armenia, where the Armenian Apostolic Church quite painfully responds to the activities of Protestant denominations. What are the implications of this attitude?
They do it because they know little about Protestants. So as to be able to meet the challenges Christianity is facing in such a dangerous region, the Armenian Apostolic Church must take a more loyal and constructive attitude towards the Evangelist Church. Very few healthy Christian forces have been left in Armenia and the world and they must not war against each other.
The multi-confessional and multi-national Russia has also faced such challenges. Many power centers, including in the West, try to destabilize the situation in the country on the principle "divide et impera" with help of various experts in sects. On the other hand, there are so-called human rights defenders that try to drive a wedge between the Orthodox Church and the Protestants. Politicians cannot help splitting the two big religions unions either. But we have matured enough not be split up.
In view of these challenges, has the Russian Orthodox Church done anything to foster cooperation between the Orthodox and Protestant Christians?
Irrespective of the political environment and public response, the Christians in Russia and in any other country should never turn against each other.
Some 4 years ago Patriarch Kirill reanimated the Consultative Inter-Christian Council. The given initiative was aimed to boost the dialogue between the Christians of Russia. To meet today's challenges, the Christianity needs consolidation of the representatives of the Orthodox Church, Protestants and Catholics, Armenian Apostolic, the Gregorian, and Georgian churches having dioceses in Russia. It was the first and very important step.
And what about the charges of the Protestants’ cooperation with the forces trying to organize "orange revolution” in Russia?
Such allegations were nothing but public unfamiliarity with the activity of Protestant Confessions.
Today there is severe, systematic and coordinated pressing on the Russian Orthodox Church and personally the Patriarch by laics, liberals. One should not be naive and think that this actions is aimed against the Russian Orthodox Church only. We deal with a target-oriented campaign against Christianity in Russia and in world. We, Protestants, support not just the Orthodox Church but Christianity in general. Many politicians and officials were quite surprised at that. However, I think, Christians should not turn against each other irrespective of political environment.
What is your position on the scandalous act of the Pussy Riot punk band in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow?
I think that such acts prove that Christianity is not clear and consistent in demonstration of its principles. Very often what clergymen say and do are two different things. And such acts are a signal that the Church must change.
The same is true for Armenia, isn’t it?
The social-political and religious processes in Armenia and Russia are closely inter-connected and this is both good and problematic.
As regards, the politics, I can say that even though there are no friends in the politics, the interests of Russia and Armenia coincide. In the 1990s we were scattering stones, and now it's time to gather them, which is a much harder thing to do. I am glad that our countries trust and understand each other. In fact, we have no other choice but to be friends, and I am very optimistic of the future of our relations.
As regards the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia, I think that Russia should not interfere in this process in any case.