Religious Sects Have Far Less Clout In Russia Now, Orthodox Church Officials Say

Russia is no longer in danger of "all-out sectarianization," believes Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate exterior church relations department.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Chaplin pointed out that the danger of Russia's all-out sectarianization, which had emerged in the late 1980s, was gone now. Religious sects' clout has been on the decline of late, he said. Sectarian activists preaching on the streets are a rare sight in today's Russia, and sects operating in this country receive little, if any, media attention these days.

According to Chaplin, the main reason for the improvement is that "the public has learned to distinguish between a sincere desire to help and educate and a striving to enslave, driven by self-interest."

But the danger of sectarianism is still there, although its level is the same as in most European countries, warned the Moscow Patriarchate spokesman. "In society, there's always a certain number of people easy to convince, who are inclined to convert from one denomination into another," Chaplin said. And then, the activity of religious sects in Russia is still supported with substantial funds and other resources coming from abroad, he added.