My attention has recently been drawn to this article by a Konstantin Matsan.
My initial reaction was that de Nile is not just a river in Egypt, it seems. However, after further consideration, I think that Mr Matsan is right in that too often all manner of assertions are made about the supposedly deepening relationship between church and state in Russia without any effort being made to show the premise to be true, (I believe that "begging the question" is the expression that he is struggling to find), but he falls into the trap of another logical fallacy in that this itself does not render the premise untrue.
Are the Russian state and the Church in Russia getting closer? Finding an answer to this would require a detailed historical comparison, which I am not qualified to make, and indeed we are presented in the article with evidence that seems to suggest that there is no real deepening relationship here. Perhaps a more manageable question, then, would be whether they are already too close. This only requires an examination of present circumstances.
Enough has been written on the subject of the infamous protest in Christ the Saviour Cathedral (referred to recently on BBC News "a church in Moscow", demonstrating the firm grasp that the Beeb has on the matter) from various perspectives to render much further comment redundant. To those voices, I shall only add that when Karol Wojtyla was shot and criticially wounded in 1981, his response was to forgive his attacker and to call for his pardon. I'll let you draw your own comparisons, not to mention your own conclusions about the relationship between church and state in Russia and its impact on the Church's ability to respond to events in a manner that is in keeping with the Gospel.
Then there are the ongoing church seizures from Orthodox groups not in communion with Moscow. ROCOR may be on the comfortable side of the fence these days but we know full well from our own past experience that Moscow's use of political allies to "acquire" property from smaller churches is nothing new. These groups are out of communion with Moscow due to problems that arose during the captivity of the Russian Church in Soviet times and which many believe not to have been resolved. They were granted these buildings in various states of dilapidation and disrepair after the fall of the Soviet state, and lovingly brought them back into good repair and regular use over the course of years, roofing them, painting them, decorating them, furnishing them with holy tables, icons, and all of the accoutrements of Orthodox worship - all at their own cost - making them their own through their daily and weekly prayers and worship of God.
Now these people are being evicted, and the churches being seized by the state and handed over to the patriarchal church. Understandably, these stories are of no particular interest to the western media but one only need look at the appeals on the websites of these groups to find some of what has been going on. Reports of many of the events have been consolidated on the "Notes from the Underground" news blog, which has the benefit of being in English. Reading some of these stories, I cannot help but be reminded of this:
You see - the thing that concerns me most is that, six years ago, we were assured that the problems in the Moscow Patriarchate had been largely resolved, and that what difficulties remained were not of the sort that warranted remaining outside of full, normal canonical relations with that church. We were told that Sergianism was no longer a valid charge and was mainly the subject of overzealous convert ravings. It is partly on this basis that many took part in the union. Now, priests are no longer being made to disappear, nuns are not being thrown down mineshafts, churches are being rebuilt and monasteries are being filled, for all of which may God be glorified. Yet, I have to wonder whether Sergianism is truly dead. Is the Moscow Patriarchate co-operating with the secular state to such a degree that this co-operation has led it to sacrifice elements of the way of life that is in keeping with the life of the Saviour? I don't know the answer to that question but I do not like some of the things that I see.
I delight in many of the fruits of reunion. We have made good friends, are able to share the altar and chalice with those who share our faith and whom we love, give and receive help when needed at various services, and much else. These things are great blessings for which I am grateful. Yet there are times when I look at some of the things mentioned in this post as well as other goings-on which seem to be in the same realm as simony, and cannot help but think: 'What have we done?'
I remain obedient to my priest and bishop while praying that my fears may yet be shown to be unfounded.