The head of Russia's islamic committee urges to replace the current two-headed imperial eagle because it "corresponds to an entirely different spiritual reality". Apparently, mister Jemal is insulted by the crosses on the eagles' crowns and feels that a multicultural society cannot maintain religiously specific national insignia. Duma's politicians had already addressed this issue previously, citing that in this case the cross does not represent an exclusively religious symbol. In fact, renowned muslim expert Primakov confirms that this type of cross is also located within the muslim culture.
Religious minorities are not the only ones expressing their discontent. More "progressive" social contingent, mainly atheists, want all references to "God" removed. They find Russian anthem's lyrics such as the "land kept by God" unacceptable in a modern secular state. Not unlike Duma's clever defense of the cross, the Russian Orthodox Church is a powerful body closely tied to the government, despite official separation, and as such need not take such requests seriously. Perhaps a result of my own ignorance and my disdain for the Patriarch & Co. notwithstanding, the latter sounds like a case of extremely bored mimicry of similar debates intrinsic to the American society just as much as the remnants of our recent atheist soviet past.
Is the so-called rise of nationalistic feeling in Russia, seemingly dormant far too long, yet feared by many as a result of its presupposed ethnic implications, linked to this somewhat unexpected (at least in my eyes) idea surge? Do the minorities within the Russian state find this moment particularly opportune in light of the government's upholding of the fashionable tolerance principles such as Rodina party's ban from Moscow's municipal election due to its allegedly discriminatory slogans? More specifically, are muslim clerics' requests to remove integral symbols of Russian culture from its official symbology going to now be used as leverage in religious conflicts, such as the ongoing north Caucasus wars? Are we ready to ultimately give up Russia's heart, Moscow - the third Rome, little by little the way we gave up our second Rome, Constantinople, five hundred years ago?
Much earlier - a thousand years ago, our premier ruler and saint, Prince Vladimir, defined the future course for young Rus. A shrewd pagan seeking unification of his people via monotheism, he interviewed several representatives of different religions in his chambers. Rejecting Jews, muslims, and Catholics, Vladimir accepted Byzantine Orthodoxy. Romanticism of this ancient legend aside, eastern Christianity and its traditions have stayed in our blood for centuries, even despite the 74 years of imposed godless communism. Now the requests to modify our national insignia resemble distant mosquito buzzing.
The article I initially quoted concurrs that Russia maintains "Byzantinism in politics, "wild" capitalism in economy and soviet obedience among the people". Ironically and as if to support its latter premise, it is collectively credited to Gazeta.ru.