Pagans among Suspects in Priest’s Murder

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A Russian Orthodox priest is murdered in his Moscow church, and suspicion falls both on Muslims and on Russian Pagans.

But note the titles of his books.

We know too much about people who shout “Allah Akbar” and then pull the trigger, but why the Pagans? Why bring them into the discussion?

Paganism in Russia is somewhat like what my Anglosphere readers are used to, but there are significant differences. Russian Pagans are more likely to have their own line of “blood and soil” rhetoric and to claim that they represent the true spirituality of their people, which puts them in direct conflict with the Orthodox Church, which itself has made that same claim since the 10th century.

The Russian anthropologist Victor Shnirelman is one scholar who has written a lot of on the topic. Being Jewish (as I understand), he is particularly sensitive to whiffs of antisemitism, as in this article, “Russian Neopagan Myths and Antisemitism.”

The Pomegranate has published several articles on Russian and other Eastern European Paganisms. Abstracts are available online.

Kaarina Aitamurto, “Russian Paganism and the Issue of Nationalism: A Case Study of the Circle of Pagan Tradition,” 8:2 (2006) 184-210.

Adrian Ivakhiv, “Nature and Ethnicity in East European Paganism: An Environmental Ethic of the Religious Right?” 17:2 (2005) 194-225.

Victor Shnirelman, “Ancestral Wisdom and Ethnic Nationalism: A View from Eastern Europe,” 9:1 (2007) 41-61.

6 thoughts on “Pagans among Suspects in Priest’s Murder

  1. Denis

    Excellent. A X-tian priest makes a name converting muslims to Cristianity and actively engaging in open religious debates with muslims.
    He has received 14 death threats from muslims according to his own blog, one shortly before his murder.
    The murderer is described as "probably a native of Caucasus" (they are mostly muslims) by the witnesses.
    Guess who is accused?
    The pagans, of course.
    Why could it be a legitimate suspicion? Because a Russian Jewish author wrote a bad article about Russian pagans 11 years ago.

  2. Chas Clifton


    I would not say that Pagans are accused because of Prof. Shnirelman's research.

    The various Russian and other Slavic Pagan groups are quite capable of putting out their own message–and of claiming that they are more truly Russian than the Orthodox church is.

  3. Denis

    Chas, you wrote: "why the Pagans? Why bring them into the discussion?"
    And then produced the links.
    This looks as if you were justifying the police decision.
    In case you didn't know, the pagans are the primary suspect, at least this is what the Russian sources say, because the muslims are peaceful and the pagans are nationalists, you know.
    Imagine someone writing on Fort Hood massacre in the same fashion, bringing in Americam pagans, because after all American pagans are bad, aren't they? 🙂
    But anyway, sorry about turning this wonderful blog into a discussion forum.

  4. Chas S. Clifton

    Denis, don't mistake juxtaposition for argument.

    The links are there for people who wish to learn about scholarly examination of Russian or other Slavic Pagaism.

    They most emphatically are not there to support the hypothesis that Russian Pagans killed the priest.

    Are we clear about that?

  5. Denis

    Ok. Now that you stated that, I understand you didn't mean to accuse anyone.
    Let us wait for the investigation results, though if the police are biased from the start, pagans will most likely be scapegoated. But that is a different story.

Comments are closed.