An Orthodox Bishop in Russia expressed that he does not want the Russian people to vote for Vladimir Putin when he runs for reelection in March.
The statement was recorded in the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Surprisingly, the highly-charged church dissent was not due to political differences but because the Bishop believed that Vladimir Putin had been impious.
Bishop Yevtikhy Kurochkin, of Ishim, Siberia. On his personal page at VK, Russia's social media platform, Bishop Yevtikhy stated that he could no longer follow his desire to vote for Putin because of his blasphemous remarks on television.
Bishop Yevtikhy said:
"If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is your darkness!' are the words of Christ,
"And will I go against Christ to vote for darkness or advise anyone to do this? No, no and no!"
That these comments came from a high ranking religious leader is unprecedented in the Russian Federation and the fact that the statement was released on Russian social media made it even more notable.
The angry statement followed Putin's statement about the Soviet regime's adaptation of Christian ideas. In a state television show, Putin said:
"They put Lenin in the mausoleum. How does this differ from the relics of saints for Orthodox believers or Christians in general?" Putin said.
"When they tell me no, there is no such tradition in Christianity, how is there not? Go and look in Athens, there are the relics of saints there, and we have the relics of saints here too," he continued.
Putin appears set to the March reelection, though his contender Alexei Navalny is still moving to become a valid candidate for presidency of the Russian Federation.
Growing support for Navalny can be seen at the grassroots level. In December 2017, a total of 800 people gathered in Moscow to express their support of Alexei. Currently, Navalny I facing problems with running for presidency because of what he claims is a "politically-motivated" criminal conviction.