As an expert vodka drinker — I will challenge anybody who claims otherwise — as well as a former proud citizen of the Evil Empire, I feel the urge to contribute my 58 kopeks to the religion-in-Russia discussion.
For whatever reason, we consistently call the Communist Soviet Union atheistic. It most certainly was not. “Jesuits without Jesus,”( in Churchill’s words) certainly, but not without gods. The whole system was undoubtedly structured as a religion — the cult of Lenin and his gang, the Inquisition, the commissars in the army, and consistent extermination of nonbelievers and doubters (committed to mental institutions or expelled from the Motherland during the more vegetarian periods). Soviet Communism was no more than traditional Russian imperialism, draped in the red flag for the consumption of the useful macacas around the globe. Thus, the easy transition into newly founded “spirituality” — the former first secretaries and KGB colonels crossing themselves fervently, with laughable tales about secret baptisms by their babushkas.
It is true that genuine believers are scarce (there’s not one prostitute or a thug in Moscow who doesn’t wear a religious adornment on her/his neck) but who do exist tend to be rabidly anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Catholic, as the Russian Orthodox Church is the source of the paranoia and hatred of liberal Western values. We will be fooling ourselves if we are to believe that, having exchanged the “Short Course of the History of the Communist Party” for the Bible, the Russians will become civilized.