This issue of Otechestvennye Zapiski is dedicated to a debate of conceptual and practical issues arising from the relationship between the Russian State and Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

Church-state relations have always been a factor determining the course of Russian history. Paradoxically, public discussion of this extremely critical issue — that should be discussed nationally — is nowadays too often a subject of taboo and is only discussed privately, behind the scenes. This issue of the journal is meant to bring the debate to the level of free discussion by members of both the clerical and secular communities who can contribute their opinions to the discussion.

The analytical section of the issue presents diverse conceptual views of the problem. Vitaly Kurennoi argues about motives and prospects of rapprochement between the Russian state and Russian Orthodox Church from a philosopher’s point of view. Yegor Holmogorov presents two discourses: one about the specific language of the Church that the State has yet to learn to comprehend and the other is his comment on the “The Basics of the Social Conception of Russian Orthodox Church”. Tatyana Malkina shares her insights on what lies behind the notion of “power” – and the peculiarity of the Russian version of the liaison between Church and Power. Alexander Soldatov speculates on the “Holy Capital” of Russian Orthodoxy and its oligarchs. Alexander Tyakhta articulates important points of the ROC’s political positioning in the Putin era. A Russian government official Andrey Sebentsov adds his authorities’ point of view to the discussion. Historian Alexey Muraviev sheds light on Byzantine roots of Russian Orthodoxy, and Svetlana Lurie reflects on the traditional Russian mentality. Konstantin Krylov hypothesizes on the possibility of the appearance of a state religion in Russia. The discussion is complemented by a round table by historian Modest Kolerov, philosopher Konstantin Krylov, journalists Alexander Kyrlezhev and Mikhail Leontjev; Orthodox clergymen father Vsevolod Chaplin (official of the Moscow Patriarchy) and father Nikon Belavenets, and political scientist and theologian Yegor Kholmogorov. An orthodox journalist Alexander Morozov conducts the round-table discussion. Russian clergymen fathers Mikhail Ardov, Alexander Borisov, and Vsevolod Tsypin express their views on the issues in their answers to a questionnaire.

The reference section contributes some data to better understand the setting of the issues. Nikolai Mitrokhin writes both about economic and educational activities of the ROC. Lawyer Arkady Stolyar speaks on the gap between the law and practice in modern Russia. Sergey Firsov presents facts on the history of the Orthodoxy in Russia before 1917 — and Alexander Soldatov continues the story after this point. Yelena Ukhanova who is a historian and senior staff scientist of the State Historical Museum recalls facts about who is responsible for saving Russia’s cultural heritage. The section is supplemented by two references – on the structure of the ROC and on Alternative Orthodoxy.

Additional themes supplement the issue. Philosopher Valery Podoroga presents an exclusive piece on the ruin of Twinpeaks and American cultural standards. Orientalist Alexey Malashenko ponders over the future of political Islam. Yelena Suponina cogitates over the quest for power conducted by the world’s greatest religions. Akezhan Kazhegeldin adds to the topic a politician’s point of view.

The feature story section offers pieces by Lev Usyskin – about his journey to the Russian town of Velizh and by Alyona Solntseva – about a small provincial parish.

Finally, historian of literature and literary critic Oleg Proskurin tells a story of the first journal Otechestvennye Zapiski founded by a Russian nobleman Pavel Svinjin in 1818. Extracts from the old Otechestvennye Zapiski prepared by Anastasia Nikolaeva add a linguistic and historical zest to the issue.