East-West Church  Ministry Report
Vol. 10, No. 3, Summer 2002, Covering the Former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe

Religion and the Russian Press Since 1990:
Journalists Most Actively Writing on Church Subjects

Yakov Krotov

Editor's Note: The previous issue of the East-West Church & Ministry Report carried Yakov Krotov's article, "Religion and the Russian Press Since 1990." Both selections were translated by Vitaliy Bak.

Generally, journalists are not included who publish in only one newspaper without influencing its religious orientation. For example, the present listing omits authors at Nezavisimaia gazeta who do not publish elsewhere.

Aksiuchits, Viktor (Nezavisimaia gazeta). An Orthodox dissident in the Soviet period who managed to avoid imprisonment, Aksiuchits became an organizer of the Russian Christian-Democratic Movement during perestroika. He then took extreme, anti-Western positions, blaming the intelligentsia alone for the 1917 Revolution and occasionally writing articles against the U.S., the new world order, etc.

Asmus, Valentin (Radonezh).  A priest at the Nikolskaia Orthodox Church in Moscow, he specializes in monarchist and anti-ecumenist propaganda.

Babasian, Natalia (Russkaia mysl'; Novoe vremia). Regularly publishes articles criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church for nationalistic and antidemocratic tendencies.

Bukalov, Alexey (Segodnia; Novoe vremia). A government correspondent in Rome who frequently publishes articles about the pope and the Catholic Church.

Bychkov, Sergei Sergeevich. While he still was an atheist he became acquainted with Fr. Aleksandr Men. At the beginning of the 1970s he was baptized and worshiped regularly at Fr. Men's church. He married and later divorced a relative of Fr. John Meyendorf, then married a second time. Since Soviet times he has regularly published material about artists in Sem'ia, Moskovskie novosti, and Moskovskii komsomolets. In the 1990s he wrote on church life for Moskovskii komsomolets and was the most active critic of Metropolitans Yuvenalii (Poiarkov) and Kirill (Gundiaev). At the same time that he was praising Metropolitan of Voronezh Methodii and Patriarch Alexii, he was pointing out his closeness to Fr. Men. He did not defend freedom of conscience, but he did criticize Bishop Tikhon (Bronnitskii) who defended Aleksandr Dvorkin, the leader of Orthodox antisectarian efforts.

Chapnin, Sergei. Head of the official Moscow Church Herald since 2001, he formerly wrote for NG-religii under Maksim Shevchenko. An opponent of ecumenism and freedom of conscience, he oversees Sobornost (http://www.sobor.ru), an Internet site that includes a regular survey of Orthodox news.

Chistiakov, Georgii (Russkaia mysl'; Ogoniok). A specialist in ancient literature, he became a priest in the 1990s in the church of Fr. Aleksandr Borisov, where he has a teaching ministry. Often writing on general ethical issues, he carefully avoids criticizing the Russian Orthodox Church and advocates tolerance for Catholics.

Deutch, Mark. In the 1970s he became acquainted with Fr. Aleksandr Men, was baptized, went abroad, and worked for Radio Liberty (RL). After RL moved from Munich to Prague in 1999, he returned to Russia and became a staff journalist for Moskovskii komsomolets. He majors in critiques of Communists and nationalists, but during the 1990s debate over freedom of conscience he criticized "totalitarian sects" and supported Aleksandr Dvorkin and Bishop Tikhon.

Dvorkin, Aleksandr Leonidovich. In the first half of the 1970s he studied in a teacher training institute, but did not complete the program before immigrating to the U.S. After completing a degree at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in the U.S., he returned to Russia at the beginning of the 1990s. Since then he has specialized in attacks on non-Orthodox movements ("totalitarian sects"). Following Fr. Oleg Steniaev's criticism of his emotionally charged campaign against threats to Orthodoxy, he was transferred from the Mission Department of Fr. Ioann Ekonomtsev to the Orthodox Publishing Department of the very nationalistic Bishop Tikhon. In 1999, with funds from the Moscow Patriarchate, he started publishing the magazine Prozrenie against infidels and he has written harsh criticism of Fr. Men for Radonezh. He actively criticizes the West while maintaining his U.S. citizenship.

Falikov, Boris (Russkaia mysl'; Novoe vremia). A specialist on India, he publishes rather infrequently, primarily in defense of freedom of conscience.

Gal'tseva, Renata Aleksandrovna. She writes regularly for Novyi mir and also has been published in Nezavisimaia gazeta, Literaturnaia gazeta, and Kontinent. A specialist in the works of philosopher and theologian Nikolai Berdiaev, she is known on the one hand for criticizing paternalistic, antirationalistic, and clerical tendencies within the Orthodox Church, and on the other hand for criticizing "liberalism" and "postmodernism" in Orthodoxy. She argued for the introduction of television censorship, participating in discussions on Duma legislation for that purpose.

Kolpakov, Aleksandr. This nonbeliever and professional orientologist was a lead writer on religion for Moskovskii komsomolets in the 1990s, praising Bishop Mefodii of Voronezh and only softly criticizing some minor problems in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Kolymagin, Boris (Literaturnaia gazeta; Obshchaia gazeta; Russkaia mysl'). A defender of reform-minded Fr. Georgii Kochetkov, he writes reviews of new religious books. He has headed an Internet magazine at http://religion.russ.ru since February 2002.

Komarov, Evgenii. A former worker in the publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate, and court photographer of the Patriarch. He parted with Bishop Tikhon (Bronnitskii). He regularly writes on the subject of religion in Novye izvestiia, primarily criticizing bishops, including the Patriarch, but softly.

Koroliov, Aleksandr. Responsible for religion reporting for Trud, propagating Orthodoxy as the state religion.

Krakhmal'nikova, Zoia Aleksandrovna. Imprisoned by the Bolsheviks for publishing and disseminating the Orthodox Almanac via tamizdat (cassette tapes). Occasionally publishes newspaper satires against the Moscow Patriarchate in Novoe vremia and Literaturnaia gazeta.

Kublanovskii, Yurii. Journalist and poet who emigrated to the West at the end of the 1970s and who returned to Russia in 1991. In addition to heading a department in Novyi mir he writes a column of television critique for Trud. His writing defends nationalistic ideas while attacking both the West and Communists. He published a memoir about Fr. Aleksandr Men, whom he did not know well, presenting himself as a liberal thinker. He received a government prize for his articles.

Kuraev, Andrei (Radonezh; Trud). Son of a Soviet nomenklatura activist, Kuraev graduated from the Department of Marxist Studies at Moscow State University. He became a believer and was baptized at the beginning of the 1980s. Metropolitan Kirill (Gundiaev) sent him to study at the Orthodox Academy in Romania. In 1990 he was ordained a deacon. Upon returning to Russia in 1990 he became a speechwriter for the Patriarch. His criticism of Metropolitans Kirill and Yuvenaliy (Poiarkov) in the secular press for their liberalism and ecumenism may explain his dismissal as a speechwriter for the Patriarch. He has since halted such attacks and now concentrates on accusations against all manner of non-Orthodox (from Protestants to followers of the religious cult figure Nikolai Roerich). He has been known to criticize Fr. Aleksandr Men and to make anti-Semitic statements.

Kyrlezhev, Aleksandr. Considers himself primarily a theologian. A regular writer for Russkaia mysl' (now usually under pseudonym) and Kontinent, he defends an Orthodox "middle way" between nationalism and "extreme" liberalism.

Levinson, Lev. A regular author for the human rights paper Ekspress-khronika, Levinson specializes in articles defending freedom of conscience. He is an assistant to Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalev, as he had been earlier for Fr. Gleb Yakunin and Vladimir Borshchev.

Makarkin, Aleksey. From 1998 to 2001 he worked for Segodnia, actively championing religion from a progressive Orthodox perspective. In 2002 he began writing for Ezhenedel'niy zhurnal (formerly Itogi).

Medvedeva, Irina, and Tatiana Shishova. Their specialty is articles that attack sex education instruction as contrary to Orthodoxy.

Mikhailov, Boris. An art critic and former museum worker at Ostankino. He became a priest at the beginning of the 1990s, specializing in efforts toward the full restitution of church property to the Moscow Patriarchate.

Minkin, Aleksandr. In the first half of the 1990s he was a regular contributor to Stolitsa and Moskovskii komsomolets. He blamed the KGB for the murder of Fr. Aleksandr Men and stated that the KGB encourages gossip about Orthodox-KGB cooperation in order to weaken the church. He has revealed government corruption and at the same time has defended and continues to defend the KGB as a necessary institution. Official favor may be deduced from his possession of a dacha in the "President's" village.

Mitrokhin, Nikolai (Russkaia mysl'). Author of a handbook of biographies of bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, he specializes in collecting  information about Russian Orthodox bishops and the economic activity of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Nezhnyi, Aleksandr Iosifovich (Russkaia mysl'; Moskovskie novosti; Izvestiia). A writer and journalist since the Soviet period, he caused a sensation at the beginning of perestroika with his articles that for the first time presented the Orthodox Church in a sympathetic light. An Orthodox believer who defends freedom of conscience, he has authored books about Bolshevik persecution of the clergy and has harshly criticized Andrei Kuraev for anti-Semitism and incorrect methods of polemics against non-Orthodox groups.

Nikolaeva, Olesya. Poet and wife of journalist Vladimir Vigilianskii, she actively criticized Orthodox "modernists" at the end of the 1990s.

Okhlobystin, Ivan (Kommersant; Izvestiia; Versiya). An actor and journalist, he directed a Channel Six television program on Orthodoxy. At the beginning of 2000 he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Kazakhstan Metropolitan Vladimir (Ikim). He criticizes non-Orthodox and praises the Patriarch.

Pavlov, Innokentii (Russkaia mysl'). A priest who worked for many years for the Russian Orthodox Department of External Church Relations. In the 1990s he was a strong defender of  freedom of conscience and criticized the Patriarchate for its extreme closeness to the government, which cost him his job.

Pozdniaev, Mikhail. A journalist and an Orthodox believer since Soviet times. In the 1990s he wrote on religion for Stolitsa  (now closed), for Obshchaia gazeta, and since 1998 for Ogoniok. The author of very well written accounts of church life, he has criticized the Moscow Patriarchate harshly for its compromises with both Communist and post-Communist authorities. His brother Dionisii works in the Russian Orthodox Department of External Church Relations, specializing in China. He left Ogoniok in February 2002 and now works in "Zakharov" Publishing House.

Shchipkov, Aleksandr. Son of Tatiana Shchipkova, an Orthodox believer imprisoned for her religious beliefs in the 1980s. In collaboration with Sergei Filatov he specializes in research on new religious movements in Russia. He hosts a religious program on radio "Russia." In 2000 he advocated that the government strengthen its control over religious life.

Shevchenko, Maksim. An editor of the religion department of Nezavisimaia gazeta until February 2002, he now is attempting to organize a new religious newspaper. In 1994 he invented the term pravoslavizatsia, the process of drawing together the Orthodox Church and the state, seeing the process as beneficial for both. He is an opponent of the West, ecumenism, and freedom of conscience. A Russian nationalist and champion of the Patriarch, he at the same time criticizes shortcomings of the Orthodox Church at the level of provincial dioceses.

Shevelev, Vladimir Vladimirovich. For many years the secretary of the Communist Party organization in the atheist magazine Nauka i religiia, he has headed the religion department at Moskovskie novosti for the last 15 years. A nonbeliever, he tries to uphold freedom of conscience and tolerance and at the same time respect the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy.

Shishova, Tatiana - see Medvedeva.

Sitnikov, Mikhail. He wrote regularly for Russkaia mysl' newspaper and worked on the radio program "Sofiia." A defender of freedom of conscience, he nevertheless has advocated limitations as regards "socially dangerous" religions.

Sokolov, Maksim. Became well-known at the time of perestroika through his anti-Communist satires. He previously worked for Kommersant and now works for Izvestiia. He defends the glory of Russia, advocates restricting the electorate through a property qualification, actively supports Andrei Kuraev, and criticizes intellectuals for their indifference to his apologetic works. (Intellectuals supported the apologetics of Fr. Aleksandr Men in contrast to Kuraev's anti-Semitism.) At the beginning of the 1990s Sokolov was one of the idols of the democratic intelligentsia, but by the end of the decade he was criticized for anti-Westernism, militarism, and incorrect methods in polemics. He now is a regular host on Channel One, doing a sophisticated job of propagating government positions.

Soldatov, Aleksandr (Moskovskie novosti). From the middle of  the 1990s, although still a journalism student at Moscow State University, he started writing in the secular press on church topics. He belongs to the camp of "alternative" Orthodox who criticize the Patriarchate for its compromises with Communists, for its "liberalism" in matters of church discipline, and for its ecumenism.

Soldatov, Andrey. Since 1999 a writer for Versiya and manager of the Web site: www.agentura.ru. Specializing in pro-KGB propaganda, several of his articles have furiously attacked the Roman Catholic Church, accusing it of spying on Russia.

Strel'chik, Evgenii. Executive secretary and head of the religion section at Vecherniaia Moskva. He criticizes the Patriarchate gently and writes as well on non-Orthodox religions. Since 1998 he has been co-authoring articles for Nezavisimaia gazeta.

Talalai, Mikhail Grigorievich. Publishes in Russkaia mysl' and from 1999 in Nezavisimaia gazeta.  In addition to articles on religion in Russia, this resident of Florence writes about church life in Europe.

Tomaeva, Tatiana. A Catholic on the staff of the Slavic Law Center of Anatolii Pchelintsev, she has written on freedom of conscience for Catholic papers and, since 1998, for Nezavisimaia gazeta.

Vigilianskii, Vladimir. He was a professional journalist for Ogoniok before the collapse of the Soviet Union. He immigrated to the U.S. at the beginning of the 1990s but was not successful there, divorced, and came back to Russia. He then became a priest, although married for a second time to Olesia Nikolaeva. (Probably the first marriage was deemed invalid because it occurred before his baptism.) He works in the Church of St. Tatiana at Moscow State University. Head of the Union of Orthodox Journalists, he periodically publishes anonymous reviews in the secular press, defending the Patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church from all criticism. He regularly broadcasts a religious TV program on Channel Six.

Zolotov, Oleg. Authored occasional articles about religion in Trud, primarily informational. One such piece criticized Satanists.

Zolotov-Svetozarov, Andrei. A writer for Nezavisimaia gazeta and Moscow Times, he received the prestigious Templeton Prize for his articles on religion in 1998. He is rarely published in Russian. He did not participate in the freedom of conscience debate, but did make a claim during the financial crisis of 1998 that the falling value of the ruble was profitable for foreign missionaries. During the conflict in Serbia he strongly criticized Western military actions.

Yakov Krotov is a church historian and journalist living in Moscow. His informative Web site (http://members.xoom.com/krotov/engl/myen.html) focuses on Russian church history and contemporary church-state issues.

Yakov Krotov, "Religion and the Russian Press Since 1990: Journalists Most Actively Writing on Church Subjects," East-West Church & Ministry Report 10 (Summer 2002), 10-13.

Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

© 2002 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

EWC&M Report | Contents | Search Back Issues | From Our Readers | Subscribe