Orthodox symbols on the Russian National Emblem
gave rise to a religious dispute in Russia. The majority of Muslim
leaders and scientists say that Russia should remove Orthodox
symbols from the Emblem. The central image of the Emblem depicts
the Orthodox Saint, Georgy Pobedonosets (Victorious Georgy), slaying
a dragon. Crowns with Christian crosses adorn the heads of double
eagles. Another cross can be seen on the orb, which one of the
birds holds in its claws.
Russia is a secular multi-confessional state.
The State Emblem of Russia should therefore reflect the variety
of nations living on the territory of the country. According to
the results of the latest population census, up to ten percent
of Russians practice Islam. Islamic figures have recently urged
the Russian government to pay attention to the issue of Orthodox
symbolism on the National Emblem, for it could be referred to
as a violation of human rights.
"It is not only the matter of the Russian
State Emblem. They put up crosses on frontier posts and city entrances,
Orthodox icons can be seen hanging on office walls. All these
facts, which include sending Christian symbols into space, assigning
Christian icons to Russian troops, missile troops in particular,
the presence of four large crosses on the Emblem testify to a
certain pressure of Christian symbolism in the country,"
the chairman of the spiritual administration of Russian Muslims,
Nafigullah Ashirov said. "Let us build mosques, synagogues,
Catholic churches and pagodas everywhere and make it all look
absolutely absurd," the clergyman said.
"Muslims raise this subject every now and
then. Muslim police officers in Dagestan, for example, may erase
Christian crosses off cockades. Christian symbols, which can be
found on certain elements of the Russian military uniform, contradict
to their beliefs and religion. No one has touched upon this question
before, but this problem exists," Ashirov said in an interview
with Echo of Moscow radio station.
Ashirov does not think that state symbols should
display the signs of a particular religious confession. "The
Russian Federation Constitution defines Russia as a secular state.
One should therefore avoid any religious symbols in state emblems.
Religion is a private matter. One should not promote the Christian
religion on the state level," the official said.
"If President Putin says that Russia is
a Christian, Muslim and secular state at one and the same time,
it should be so in reality. Otherwise, the government needs to
change the Constitution and pronounce Russia a Christian state,"
It is worthy of note that there are up to two
million Muslims living in Moscow alone. The total number of those
following Islam is estimated at some 20 million in Russia.
The Russian State Emblem displays monarchic symbols
of the Russian empire, academician Valeria Porokhova believes
(Porokhova translated Quran into Russian). "Modern Russia
is a secular state indeed. The presence of Christian symbols can't
help hurting Muslims' feelings at this point," the scientist
"There are no Orthodox symbols on the State
Emblem of Russia. The Orthodox cross has eight ends, although
the crosses on the Emblem represent the general cultural value,"
Russia's chief specialist of heraldry, Georgy Vilinbakhov said.
As for Victorious Georgy affecting a dragon, it is an ancient
pre-Christian, pagan symbol, which was associated with Christianity