Despite mixed signals, Russia remains the most un-vaxxed, unmasked, and anti-vax advanced economy in the world, with some of the best prospects for resisting an encroaching global vaccine tyranny.
A comprehensive look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Editor’s note: Immigration to Russia from the West for religious and political reasons has become a real phenomenon, especially for Orthodox Christians. A major factor is the increasing covid, vaccine, mask, and vax-passport tyranny in the West. News coming out of Russia is highly contradictory, and we are being inundated with questions about what is really going on. This article tries to sort it out, with several of our staff contributing their insight. We hope it gives a more realistic and honest picture of what to expect. Apologies for the great length, as you will see, Russia is nothing if not complex.
Most links to Russian sources in Russian, unless otherwise indicated.
A common idea floating around the Russia-and-Putin-sympathetic alt-media is that Russia does not have forced vaccines because Putin said he was personally opposed to the idea, and that he would never allow it. He did this to assuage angry Russian voters, the majority of whom are strongly anti-vax, ahead of September’s parliamentary elections. This misperception was repeated by prominent Russia observers as fact in their columns, by Paul Craig Roberts and The Saker, to name two. The only problem - it isn’t true, and while this publication is very Putin-sympathetic, even we have to admit that he, and we are sorry to have to say this, was flat-out lying.
The truth is that while he was saying this, top members of his party and government were doing exactly the opposite - i.e forcing people to get vaxxed, something they could obviously not have done without his consent. The “forcing” was exactly the same as what is causing an uproar in America today, firing people if they don’t get the jab. As in the West, millions of Russians reluctantly complied, and many refused and were fired.
We published an article last week highlighting some of the less reassuring trends. Russia Is Rapidly Adopting QR Codes. How Does This End? Vaccine mandates tied to employment and QR code movement restrictions proliferating in Russia’s 85 “federal subjects”, rough equivalents of what in the US would be called states. It should be noted that these are in response to a sudden increase in Covid cases over the past weeks in Russia.
Russia has a very active and boisterous public square, which mostly exists on social media platforms, none of which the government has much control over. The most popular ones are Facebook, Vkontakte (a Russian platform like Facebook), YouTube, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Telegram. This is where the public debate about vaccines, masks and Covid are being held, and most people are against them, and skeptical of the government’s policies.
The church and the faithful
The most militant resistance to the vaccines is among the Orthodox faithful. Across this huge country, provincial monks and priests tend to be against them, and tell their flock so. They don’t really need to, because most of the faithful intuitively feel that there is something wrong with the whole phenomenon. Impressive Orthodox activist groups have popped up vowing to fight this one tooth and nail. Prominent bishops have been uncompromising in denouncing the vax. (Russian Faith report (English)) The abbot of one famous monastery (Valaam) first announced he was requiring vaccines, but then within days reversed himself, apparently after getting an earful from the brethren, no doubt citing St. Paisios. All well and good.
Then suddenly, over the summer, the top church leadership, obviously at the behest of the government, rolled out a coordinated PR campaign urging the jab. One of the most revered and popular Christian figures in the country, Metropolitan Tikhon, author of Everyday Saints, Russia’s biggest best-seller of the last 50 years, was very outspoken, insisting that the vaccine is safe and the only way the country could prevail over the pandemic, dismissing doubts as nonsense. The famously liberal, Metropolitan Hilarion, the Oxford-educated “foreign minister” of the church, provoked an uproar when he said in a TV interview that not getting the vaccine was a “sin”, for which the faithful would have to repent, having possibly caused the death of others.
The most ham-handed blitz came from the highly popular, biggest and most prestigious national Christian TV channel “Spas” (Salvation), which is owned and run by the church, i.e. under the head of the church, Patriarch Kirill. The charge was led by lead anchor Roman Golovanov, all of 27 years old, and unpleasantly cocky, not uncommon in the young and successful, but not a trait usually associated with, nor admired by, the Orthodox. He hosted show after show with pro-vax priests who would try to debunk the anti-vaxxers, and displayed contempt for anyone so foolish as to think experimental mRNA gene therapies perhaps aren’t a great idea. This went over like a lead balloon, and seems to have only cemented anti-vax attitudes, and made Golovanov extremely unpopular, seriously discrediting Spas in the eyes of many.
Many prominent Orthodox have been outspoken against the vax, endangering their professional prospects with state-run media, while boosting their popularity with the public. The popular actress Marina Shukshina used the occasion of being awarded a medal from the prime minister to speak very strongly on the subject. That video went parabolically viral. She spends most of her time these days as an Orthodox anti-vax activist. Anna Shafran, a highly popular TV news host, with shows on Vesti FM radio and Spas, which are government owned, and Tsargrad, which is private, is uncompromising in her denunciation of the vax, mandates, qr codes, etc. She does not do so on her government shows, but on her widely followed social media, and on Tsargrad, where she is blistering. Another example is Sergei Mikheev, a popular Orthodox political analyst regularly on all the big shows. Other notables are political activists Alexandra Mashkova and Andrei Kormukhin, and the popular actress Olga Budina.
The Russian version of Citizengo, the highly popular and successful conservative European equivalent of Change.org, has grown dramatically over the past year, riding a popular wave of vaccine and lockdown discontent. In fact, taking a strong position against the government’s covid policies has been a savvy marketing move for many of these public figures. A group of Russian doctors held a conference in St. Petersburg on October 20-21, challenging government positions on all things covid. A popular musician, Mavashi, is hosted a similar event in Moscow on October 23. There are too many examples to keep track of. Most of these figures have social media accounts on the platforms listed above. Telegram is probably the best one to follow them on, because they do not have to self-censor on it.
In this respect, Russia has more prominent celebrities speaking out against the vax than in the US, where doing so would have swift and unpleasant professional consequences.
The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, has been quiet on the subject, perhaps sensing that this minefield is best left to proxies.
The upshot is that the aforementioned Metropolitan Hilarion admitted in a recent interview that the church’s efforts to change minds has been a total rout and failure, antagonizing the public and damaging the credibility of the church. Spas has also made an about-face, now regularly giving airtime to vaccine skeptics, a desperate effort to regain lost credibility.
Wearing of masks in churches is another hot-button issue for Russia’s believers. Many believe it is wrong, and observance varies from church to church, depending on the opinion of the rector. In Moscow and other cities, theoretically, a church can be fined for not enforcing mask wearing, but this in fact was only a threat in early 2020, and since then is not enforced. Perhaps with the latest spike in Covid, these threats will return. Out experience has been that if one politely but firmly declines to put on a mask in church, nobody insists on it. As recently as a month ago, almost no one was wearing them in Moscow and the surrounding provincial cities. With the lastest spike in Covid, they are more in evidence.
There is a common-sense explanation for why top figures like Tikhon and Hilarion might have been ignorant about the spiritual dangers of the vax, an explanation certainly more plausible than that they are in cahoots with Klaus Schwab, as Pope Francis most clearly seems to be. What people often fail to take into account is that at the very pinnacle of church life, their agenda is so crammed with interacting with others in this rarified world, that they are not exposed nearly as much as the rank and file to views which dissent from the official government line. They are not reading dissident orthodox websites, or watching Cardinal Vigano videos. There is a wonderful Russian aphorism: “Not a lot of bishops get to heaven.” One could see how they might have had a rather naive view of the vaccines, and the forces behind them.
There are reports circulating on social media that after their public support for the vaccines, the top church leadership was subjected to a veritable bombardment of covid redpills in public and in private from the rank and file, and that their understanding of the issues have evolved considerably since the summer. They certainly haven’t been making any pro vax statements in the past months, except for Hilarion, who keeps hammering away.
The Russian government’s stance and policies re: Covid strongly resemble most countries - lockdowns, masks, vaccines, mandates, qr codes. The people are a different matter.
Despite the Russian public being the most anti-vax of any advanced economy (see below), the government’s policies are very similar to the West. Russia has an institutional culture for fighting pandemics, inherited from cold war days, when Soviet society was serious about being battle ready on this front, as pandemics were also part of biowarfare preparedness. In the first months of Covid in early 2020, Russia’s lockdown was more draconian than in the Western democracies, in some ways similar to China’s. As people began to realize that the danger was not as high as first feared, Russia transitioned to rushing out vaccines, requiring masks and social distancing. As danger receded even further, these measures were widely flouted by the public, resulting in a situation where by the end of 2020, life had largely “gone back to normal”, with no serious measures being observed or enforced, although they were still officially in place. The result was that Russia was much less restrictive than the West up until early summer of 2021.
When the new waves of Covid began appearing in early summer, authorities again clamped down, instituting vaccine qr codes for cafes and restaurants in Moscow. The result was a complete fiasco, with the largely unvaxxed public simply boycotting eateries. Within a few weeks, some 200 of them had gone bankrupt, and the mayor was forced to relent. At the same time, he began requiring employees of a large part of the economy to be vaccinated or be fired. This was unpopular, but most knuckled under, because many Russians have little savings and would face economic deprivation if they lost their jobs.
The overall Covid picture is very similar to the West. The government is using a carrot and stick approach to urge citizens to vaccinate. The media is solidly pro-vaccine and constantly exaggerating the threat of Covid, breathlessly reporting new upticks and ignoring improvements. Where Russia is different is that the public is less trusting of this narrative than their Western cousins. Another difference is that the alternative media is mostly pro-Western, and therefore if not openly sympathetic to mainstream Western attitudes to vaccines and masks, it is certainly not a bedrock of opposition as it is in the West. There is a lot of public discussion of Covid measures on social media, and in that space, there is a lot of opposition to vaccines, forced vaccines, qr codes, masks, and the like. This has not yet translated into street demonstrations, as it has in Europe and the US.
Finally, there is a small but lively sector of alternative media which is deeply conservative, Orthodox, traditionalist, and critical of the Putinist mainstream from the right. A strong anti-vax/mask stance is emerging from this group, and it is rapidly attracting followers from a sympathetic public.
Belarus and Russia are an example of radically different approaches to Covid. Belarus, like Sweden, has persistently refused to fall for the hype, playing down the risks, never locking down, not requiring vaccines, masks, or other measures - in other words, taking a sensible approach. Russia’s approach more resembles the West. Statistics suggest that Belarus has fared better than Russia, and their economy has certainly not suffered as much.
Why Russia is the most anti-vax advanced economy in the world
At this late stage in the vax saga, Russia is still only 35% vaccinated, despite having their own vaccines, something only China has achieved. The reasons Russians are avoiding them is not because they are particularly well informed of the dangers, or spend time on Bobby Kennedy’s website, or because it has become a political issue as it has in the US, rather, it mostly has to do with the fact that Russians tend to have a very deep, and healthy, we might add, suspicion of anything the government / big business partnership is urging on them. Can you blame them?
As the pandemic has gotten long in the tooth, most Russians have also come to the conclusion that it is not nearly as dangerous as their media are making out, judging from their anecdotal experience. As elsewhere, few die from the disease, and most that do are elderly or have comorbidities. The attitude of most is that the risk is low, and that the relentless hectoring to get the vaccines is suggestive of an ulterior motive, likely financial.
The anti-vax mood here is robust, to put it mildly. Social media is chock full of memes and videos ridiculing the vax. Russians famously have a great talent for jokes and humor, and many of the videos and memes are extremely well done. Opposition is not so much organized, as it is deeply ingrained and widespread. It differs from the anti-vax mood in the US, which is driven more by high-quality alt-media exposes of the obvious contradictions and fishiness of the vax agenda, which then spread through the country on partisan lines.
Caption reads: "Voluntary vaccination"
Russia’s alt-media is mostly anti-Putin, i.e. sympathetic to globohomo, so they also tend to echo sympathy for the vax in rare agreement with the establishment. In any case, they have a rather small audience. Therefore Russia lacks this key role alternative media plays in the West, and Russians often aren’t aware of the more compelling logical, health risk, and civil liberties arguments against them. There are some alternative media which are more nationalistic, Christian, and conservative than the mainstream, and they tend to be strongly anti-vax, with the full panoply of conspiratorial reflections featuring Klaus Schwab, Gates, and the like, but they too, often do not have access to the latest information emerging from the alternative media in the West, i.e. Mercola, Robert Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense, etc.
Russia’s covid statistics are less transparent than in the West
The main reason Western covid statistics are reasonably well understood in the West is thanks to a robust and sophisticated alternative media like Children’s Health Defense and Mercola which punches holes in the load of baloney emerging from official sources. It has now been proven that the CDC has been criminal in its manipulation of statistics. As explained above, Russia’s mostly pro-Western media is asleep at the switch on this critical issue, so there is more confusion regarding what the real picture is in Russia, and there is justified suspicion that the government and pharma industry has relatively free hand to manipulate the statistics to suit their narrative.
Due to this, the Western public has a much better understanding of negative reactions to the vaccines, leading to several countries, i.e. Sweden, now suspending some of them. In Russia, adverse reactions are barely reported, and the public is basically in the dark about this highly controversial issue, which further feeds public mistrust.
Anti-covid activists in Russia suspect the government of overstating infections and casualties, as part of a scare campaign to get people to take the vaccines. Western critics suspect Russia of understating them, in order to avoid having to lock down the economy. Both theories are plausible, and this only raises suspicions about what the actual statistics are.
Russia’s pro-vax 5th column
The organized anti-vaxers speak of a “covid faction” in the government and big business. Prominent members are deputy prime minister Tatyana Golikova and Anna Popova, the head of the Russian Consumer Protection Agency, a top government position. Deputy prime minister sounds more important than it really is, because there are 9 of them, the actual deputy prime minister carrying the title of “first deputy pm”.
The faction spills over into big business. German Gref, who is head of the country’s largest bank, Sberbank, owned by the government, is a big vax enthusiast. It doesn’t help matters that despite being married with kids, most Russians, who tend to be intolerant of such things, insist that he is a homosexual, something that cannot be proven or unproven. It is simply a meme that has stuck, which may or may not be true. It gets worse in that Gref prances around in an argyle sweater, in onstage productions meant to mimic similar events at Apple, where he extols the digital future he is building with his good friends at the World Economic Forum, with whom he recently hosted a simulation of a global cyber-attack entitled “cyber polygon”. Worse yet, his bank was the main financier of the Russian Sputnik vaccine, which uses the same mRNA technology as big Pharma, literally birthing it. The mayor of Moscow, who like Angela Merkel, appears to have a penchant for making masonic symbols with his hands in photographs, is a close ally of Gref’s, and they clearly seem to be in cahoots. The Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin is a lockdown, mask, vaccine, QR-code enthusiast. He is in fact more powerful than many ministers, as Moscow represents an enormous percentage of the country's wealth, GDP, and even population.
How exactly Gref and his cohorts came into possession of the exact same technology the big western pharma companies all seemed to invent at the same time, has yet to be explained, and yes, Russian social media is full of videos showing skin becoming magnetic after the jab. The head of the Russian research institute which supposedly “invented” Sputnik, Alexander Gintzburg, comes across like a creepy Jewish cousin of Klaus Schwab and is a close confidant of Mr. Gref. Russians are the reigning world champs for conspiratorial thinking (it requires skills similar to those for chess), and obviously all this is rich material for theories of a global cabal reaching deep into the highest levels of the government, business healthcare, academia and media to bring the masses into a digital, beast system, concentration camp.
To top it off, Metropolitan Tikhon mentioned above, recently presented an excellent 6 hour documentary arguing that it was just such a secret conspiracy of elite Russians, including top church leaders, which caused the Russian revolution, not any great unhappiness or poverty of the Russian people, which he insists is a canard promoted by Communists and their sympathizers after the revolution. So the Russian revolution was actually a color revolution, 100 years before the term was invented. Yet Tikhon is pro-vax. The plot thickens.
Are Russia’s vaccines different or better than big Pharmas?
The short answer is “no”. Sputnik, the most widely available one, is a viral vector vaccine, which works similarly to mRNA vaccines, i.e. it causes the body to manufacture spike proteins, and fetal tissue was used in its development, and this is the vaccine that is being currently forced on Russians.
Gintsburg is something of a salesman, frequently on TV shows talking up his clotshot mystery juice, and has said in this format that the Sputnik technology is basically the same as the Western mRNA. Here is an English language interview with RT where he does so. This may partly be salesmanship because many Russians believe that anything made in the West must be better than what Russia can produce. Many upper crust Russians actually flaunt the fact that they got their Western shots, allowing them to travel and frolic in Europe and other countries. This type of Russian often attaches great importance to the "status" of an expensive iphone (the more expensive the better), over the plebian android.
Russia does have a promising vaccine called “Covivac”, which uses old-fashioned ideas like using actual dead viruses, no gene therapy, and no recycled baby parts. The problem is that this vaccine is in very limited production, and for all intents and purposes unavailable. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that one of the nation’s top plutocrats (Gref) is plumping for the vector competitor. But supposedly production will be dramatically increased. But nobody really knows. Here is a very good new article explaining Sputnik’s shadowy origins and shoddy testing history.
The third vaccine worth mentioning is Epivac Corona, another non-mRNA vaccine, but it is also very much a runner up. Sputnik and its backers have won the vaccine sweepstakes in Russia, and are dreaming of global glory and profits to match. It is quite extraordinary that Russia was able to field 3 vaccines in a matter of months. China is the only other example of a country able to do so. In both cases it is a testament to both country’s military industrial complex, where development of such vaccines is part of being a world military power.
Another theory making the rounds is that Sputnik wasn’t “invented” at all, and that the technology was just given to Gintzburg by Big Pharma, as part of their plot to enslave the world, a not unrealistic hypothesis, given the obvious coordination between nations in rolling out these vaccines on short notice, and the weird, psychopathic behavior of self-appointed engineers of humanity's future, like Klaus Schwab, et. al., and his admirers and collaborators in Russia.
A final observation about the technical differences in all these vaccines is that nobody really knows what is in them, or how they work. How do we know what else is in there that Big Pharma isn't telling us about? What is up with those metallic nano-particles? Would any person in their right mind trust Big Pharma at this point? Gintsburg certainly doesn't inspire any confidence.
Does the government’s effort to vax everyone mean that Putin and his ruling elites are part of Klaus Schwab’s grand cabal?
There are some rational alternative explanations. One is that the government has dollar signs in their eyes, and sees a real opportunity to compete with big pharma in a global market. Remember, Russia is the only country with a vaccine that can compete with the West. China has some, but faith in Chinese quality control is low, globally. Perhaps this is what Gref is up to. If most Russians aren’t getting the vaccine, that doesn’t put it in the best light. Furthermore, the Russian experience with the vaccine could serve as evidence that it is safe.
Another reason could be that Putin and his elites honestly see Covid as a health crisis, bioweapon attack or not, for their country, and want to get a decent percentage of the population inoculated for national security reasons, honestly believing that the vaccines work and are by and large effective. They, like the church leaders mentioned above, could be as much in the dark about the problems with the vaccines as many well-intentioned people are around the world.
What about mask mandates?
Russians are much less inclined to follow directions than their European cousins, again, perhaps because of their 3 generation experience with Communism, where success often depended on how creative one could be in circumventing a relentless torrent of petty rules and regulations.
Anyone who has been on a plane full of Russians will have noticed that a few minutes before landing, a pleading voice comes over the intercom, asking people to not get up from their seats until the plane comes to a full stop. The plea is repeated, with emphasis, in anticipation of what happens next. As soon as the wheels touch down, 80% of the plane jumps to their feet and starts pulling down carry-on bags and putting on coats, seemingly oblivious to what they were just asked to do.
The situation with masks is much the same. Where they are required, they are mostly ignored. When that is impossible, they are worn under the mouth if possible, but if not, then under the nose. Signs telling people they have to wear masks (and sometimes gloves) are in many larger store entrances and in entrances to public transport, and on their intercoms, yet most people ignore them. Some large shopping malls require you to put a mask on at the entrance, with most people then taking a few steps, and shoving the mask back in their pocket. At many MacDonald’s, they won’t hand you your McNuggets until you have a mask on. Having received your order, you take off the mask which you put on 15 seconds ago, and go about your business. This strikes no one as preposterous. This has been the situation for the last 18 months or so, after initial real fears about the pandemic quieted down. So, even though most of Russia has had masking policies in place for two years, in fact, if you are not the masking type, you could have worn a mask less in Russian towns and cities than in most places in the West.
Moscow's mass transit system is far superior to anything we have seen in the West, and we have seen a lot. American mass transit is a sad joke compared to it. It provides an impressive 20 million rides per day. It is the obvious place for Covid to spread, as people crowd into metro cars at close quarters. Continued use of the metro negates almost any other anti-covid measure a society might take. Again, until the recent spike, perhaps 20% of people on mass transit would wear masks, and many of those would be worn improperly. With the recent spike, a new directive has been handed down, threatening fines if masks are worn improperly. We doubt that will last long.
To understand the reality with many things in Russia the following quote from the beloved 19th c. satirist, Saltikov-Schedrin illustrates the situation very well. He wryly observed that: “The harshness of Russian laws is mitigated by the fact one need not observe them.” This reflects a national trait that is alive and well today.
Paying bribes to avoid vaccines
With such a high level of vaccine resistance among the public, it also extends into the medical profession. Many of the videos swirling around social media are from doctors and nurses speaking against government policies. Many Russians insist that they would have no trouble finding doctors who will squirt the dose into the sink, and register the patient as jabbed for a small consideration, say $20. It is obviously difficult to estimate to what extent this is happening and will happen going forward, because obviously people do not advertise this activity.
If pursuing this approach, it is important to consider that one might run into a problem with the boosters, because if one cannot find a doctor to repeat the dodge with the booster, then how does one explain not wanting to get it. At the very least, this strategy kicks the can down the road a year or two, and by that time, perhaps the restrictions will be relaxed.
That this attitude is widespread is further confirmation of the satirical quote in the previous section. Western Christians often balk at bribe-paying as against Christ’s teachings. Russian Christians argue that by defying an unjust government directive, you are in fact following Christ.
Latest developments - a record spike, fighting back with qr codes, rapid tests, and trying (unsuccessfully) to convince grandma to stay home
At the time of writing, Russia is in the throes of a record spike in Coronavirus cases, if one believes the official statistics, which, as we point out above, one probably shouldn’t. The media is full of scaremongering, regional governments are announcing ever more restrictions, and the federal government keeps urging the public to vaccinate. The dominant trend on social media is to contest the official narrative.
For a very informative article about the growing use of QR codes around the country, see here.
At the end of last week Moscow announced that unvaxxed citizens over 60 will have to stay at home except for going out to buy food, walk their pets, and make other essential sorties. It is not specified whether going to church is included in that category. It is encouraging that at least this time around, efforts are being made to quarantine only the more at risk, i.e. the elderly. But the more important observation being made is that this is unenforceable, because how can one establish whether grandpa is actually on his way to the store or just taking his daily stroll? Furthermore, trying to keep the Russian babushka away from her church services, which often amount to several a week, is an exercise in futility. Babushkas are notoriously fearless, and have a tendency to unleash a terrifying scolding on those who would stand in between them and the Lord. Moscow’s elderly generally don’t use smartphones so one can’t coral them that way. No, it appears that this is window-dressing so that city bureaucrats can say, “We tried”, and will be very selectively observed.
Also last week St. Petersburg announced QR codes to enter restaurants and some stores, museums, etc. Crucially, negative covid tests are not accepted, in an obvious effort to push up vaccination rates. This comes after about one third of Russia’s regional governments announced similar measures. The problem with this is that it failed miserably when it was tried in Moscow over the summer, so we can probably expect a similarly quick retreat in these instances, although, who knows. This one bears watching.
One example of smart, targeted government measures in Moscow this time around is free, Russian-manufactured rapid tests widely and conveniently available throughout the city. Fast and with almost zero paperwork, anyone can stop by testing stations in the city’s metro stations and get a diagnosis in minutes. Got the sniffles?, get a quick test on your daily commute and make sure you’re not a spreader. The tests are supposedly highly accurate, but just to be sure, if one is positive, they do another one, and if that one is positive, they send you for a PCR test. It’s efficient and lines are minimal, and makes sense, if you accept the premise that there is a pandemic to begin with.
No info yet as to when this will be available in the provinces.
Why we believe Russian society is better positioned than the West to resist the vax / covid tyranny
If nothing else, this article demonstrates how complex Russia is, and that there are many different factors at play, creating outcomes in some ways similar to the West, but in other ways, very different. Russia is a modern country with an elite very much hooked in with the global elites, so many of the disconcerting trends in the West are sure to be found here.
But Russia has more on the opposite ledger than the West does. First of all, sheer numbers determined to avoid the jab if at all possible. Second, the church. While the leadership was taking the globalist view this summer, the rank and file and most of the priesthood and monastics are, and were, most definitely not. As explained above, this matters, because the rank and file influence the top. Because of this leadership from the greater church, there is likely to be more spiritual discernment in Russian society in general, than in the West.
The contrast with Western churches could not be greater. The Catholic and Protestant denominations, including the American Evangelicals who supposedly are socially conservative, are much more infected with globalist attitudes than the Russian church, both leadership and rank and file, and opposition from them on the vax is practically non-existent. There is stout resistance from the remnant Catholics, but they are very few in percentage terms.
Third, happy chaos and Byzantine complexity permeates Russian society, and this characteristic only intensifies in areas where there is persistent public resistance. This feature of Russian life makes it very difficult for the government to push anything on the public it really doesn’t want.
Fourth, the Russian government and social elites, while also vulnerable to malignant tendencies emanating from the West, are nonetheless, less captive to the globalist attitudes and influence that have Western governments in veritable straightjackets. This is particularly true in the military and security ministries. We believe that a government and society which is at least nominally Christian, but also has a fair share of serious believers in its ranks, will ultimately fare better than ones that are openly hostile to Christ.
Does this mean that Russia is out of the woods on Covid? Clearly not, and the forces in society that see anti-Covid measures as the threat they are to spiritual truth and civil liberties, will have to fight to prevail, just as many are in the West. But they ARE fighting, and so far, they are holding the line more effectively (in terms of numbers) than in the West, doubtless because the angels are on the side of the Orthodox, and the Orthodox prayers of the monks and the faithful are being heard in heaven.
The fact is that the battle between the Covidians and people who at first sensed, and now increasingly understand, that this is the battle of their lives, as RFK Jr. has many times said, and that it is as much a spiritual struggle as anything else, is a global one, and every society is fighting this fight in its own way. The battle is no less pitched in Russia, and the outcome not certain. In a spiritual war, Russia has resources and weapons at its disposal, which the emaciated Christianity of the West simply does not.
Will Christian immigrants to Russia be able to avoid mandated vaccines, masks, etc?
The short answer is “yes”. Even if the mandates become widespread, perhaps in the face of a worsening Covid situation, most immigrants will not face the same economic pressures your average Russian does to surrender. In the provinces, rules are enforced much more selectively and lightly than in the big cities. Another wonderful Russian saying goes: “The sky is high, and the Tsar is far away.”
For people traveling to join Orthodox communities around Rostov in the Yaroslavl region, public transportation is hardly a necessity and food can be bought collectively and indirectly. As a last resort, it is not inconceivable that immigrants who have come for religious, Orthodox reasons, and expressly to avoid vaccine tyranny in the West, might well be able to secure a religious exemption. Their arrival in Russia is, and will, provoke much interest, and their testimony, reasons for coming, and views on vaccines, masks, and keeping churches open will encourage Russian Christians and make Russian hearts more stout, and will make an outsized contribution to the swirling forces at war inside Russia, as they are everywhere in the world.
Whatever transpires, it is in God’s hands, and it seems to us that God is more likely to protect his people in a country that has not apostatized to the egregious extent that has occurred in the West. If that turns out not to be the case, and an intolerable vaccine tyranny descends on Russia, one can always seek refuge in other parts of the world, if there are any that are doing better, (perhaps anti-Covid-hysteria Belarus?) including returning to our homelands.