MOSCOW, May 4 (RIA Novosti)
Russians have more trust in the Russian Orthodox Church in general than in its head Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, according to a survey conducted by the Kremlin-backed pollster Public Opinion Foundation (FOM).
The survey, the results of which were published on Friday, said 64 percent of Russians have confidence in the Church, and 56 percent in the patriarch.
Among those who called themselves Orthodox Christians, there were 79 percent of those who trust the Church. Thirty-five percent of those who said they are Muslims backed the Russian Orthodox Church.
Only three percent of Orthodox Christians said they do not trust the Church at all. Among Muslims, the figure was six percent.
A total of 84 percent of Russians said their attitude toward the Church has not changed recently. Five percent said their attitude improved. Another five percent said it deteriorated due to “actions of Patriarch Kirill,” “hypocrisy of clerics” and “clerics becoming rich.”
A total of 76 percent said they have not recently come across negative reports about the Church in Russian media. The most high-profile scandal referred to the Pussy Riot female punk group, according to the survey.
The Church has recently been involved in a number of high-profile scandals. Top Church officials have been criticized by bloggers and opposition activists for their support to authorities during recent parliamentary and presidential elections and for their “lavish” lifestyles.
The punk group performed what it called “a punk prayer” in February next to the Christ the Savior Cathedral’s main altar, which is off-limits to all but priests. Five group members, clad in balaclavas, chanted a song entitled “Holy Sh*t” against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that also contained words insulting to Patriarch Kirill.
The group said the performance was a response to Patriarch Kirill’s support for President-elect Vladimir Putin in the run-up to his March 4 election victory. Their actions have been widely condemned by believers and the Church.
Three females have been charged with hooliganism, which means they may face up to seven years behind bars. Their detention pending trial split Russian society on the issue of possible punishment. However, the Church has said it would ask authorities for leniency should the sentence be too harsh.
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