Our right: Human Rights and Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on Tuesday March 1st, took part in the session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In his speech, special attention was paid to the problems of protection of the rights of the Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa. A feature of the foreign policy of Putin's Russia is the reinterpretation of the liberal concept of human rights in a conservative manner.

Evil ideology

The concept of "human rights" is a Western-and liberal one. It contains the inherent Western Enlightenment understanding of human rights (law) and liberties. A human is conceptualized as an atomic individual, free from the pressure of any social community and collective identity and religious norms; liberty as a negative "freedom from", which prohibits the establishment of any positive purpose of social development but the actual process of liberation. A right is recognized as a universal category, abstracted from the concrete existence of a particular society. The sacred traditional European empires were destroyed under the banner of human rights and freedoms, and Europeans colonized the rest of the world.

Every time when the West speaks of human rights and liberties, it aims to impose an absolutely racist and anti-religious ethnocentric view of the world to all other peoples and civilizations. By translating the ideology of human rights the West reinforces its hegemony. This very ideology is the basis for Western intervention in the affairs of other countries around the world.

Conservative understanding of human rights

The ideology of human rights was imposed on Russia after the fall of the Soviet system and is reflected in the structure of the new Russian law; after the coming to power of Vladimir Putin's new conservative government they tried to reinterpret liberal dogma in a conservative manner.

From the conservative point of view, man is not an abstract individual but is representative of a particular state and society. It is directly related to a particular religious tradition, a particular people and the fatherland. A Russian Orthodox person understands the ideas of freedom and rights differently than a Western person.

Freedom is thought primarily as "freedom for" something. This is a positive conception of freedom. A right is conceptualized in close connection with the concrete historical tradition of Russia or other countries. That is why Russia prefers to talk about the rights of specific social groups: Christians in the Middle East, Russians in the Baltic States and Ukraine, the Orthodox in Ukraine, etc.

If the liberal understanding of human rights is not linked to the political freedom of society to which the individual belongs, and hence to the sovereignty of the state, the freedom of the individual to the conservator is not possible without freedom of society and state sovereignty. On the right to identity and an independent path of development, national sovereignty in this topic gets a special meaning. For Russia, the fundamental human right is the right to live in a free country sovereign from the Western dictate.

Orthodox understanding of human rights

The most consistent expression of a conservative approach with respect to human rights is explained in the respective documents of the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s "Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church" and "Bases of the teachings of the Russian Church on the dignity, freedom and human rights", as well as in the "10th World Russian People's Council Declaration on human rights and human dignity", it is of fundamental importance that human rights are recognized as human institutions, but are not divine, and therefore their interpretation should be subject to God's commandments.

Thus the Church, recognizing the freedom of man, argues that the choice in favor of sin deprives a person of true freedom, making them a slave to their passions. The Russian Orthodox Church maintains that there are rights of collective entities, along with human rights, such as, for example, the family, the community, and the state. The Orthodox understanding of human rights is an anti-individualistic one and in fact is the opposite of the liberal one. Such an understanding of human rights deprives the doctrine of its original godless, anti-clerical, anti-traditional, anti-social and anti-statist pathos.

From the point of view of the Church: "The weakness of human rights institutions - is that they are defending the freedom of choice (αὐτεξουσίον), ignores the moral dimension of life less and less, and the freedom from sin (ἐλευθερία). Public institutions must be guided by both freedoms, harmonizing their implementation in the public sphere. "

According to the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church:

• Human rights cannot be higher than the values of the spiritual world. Divine law is greater than a human.
• The development and application of human rights principles should be coordinated with the norms of morality - a moral principle laid down by God in human nature and recognizable in the voice of conscience.
• The Church sees a great danger in the legislative and public support of the various vices - such as sexual promiscuity and perversions, and the worship of profit and violence. Equally unacceptable is rate of the immoral and inhumane actions towards a person, such as abortion, euthanasia, use of human embryos in medicine, experiments changing the nature of man, and the like.
• Human rights should not contradict love for the homeland and neighbors.
• The Church opposes ignoring the spiritual and cultural traditions of countries and nations, so it stands against the ideology of universalism of human rights and a Universalist understanding of the human phenomenon.
• The realization of human rights should not lead to environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources.
• The realization of the right to life in the first place should not be desired at all costs to maintain life on earth, but the desire to arrange it so that people could co-work with God to build up his soul for eternity.
• Freedom of conscience is understood as the freedom of religious choice, not as indifference towards religious traditions.
• Freedom of speech from the Christian point of view, as well as freedom of creativity is limited to moral framework.
• The Russian Church supports the ideals of social justice and opposes such a society in which the use of material things turns into a dominant or even sole purpose of societal existence.