probably 2013, with this speech, given by President Vladimir Putin, and the West's reaction to it). One major acronym thrown around is of course the KGB, of which President Putin was an agent, and its modern incarnation as the FSB (Federal Security Bureau). These were the feared agents that would come and take people away in the middle of the night and send them to the Gulag, or to prison, or exile, or death. In particular, the Russian Orthodox Church was known to have KGB agents operating as priests, who would report people's confessions to their superiors.
When communism collapsed, that all changed. In fact, it had been changing for years even before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the KGB took a name change and remained the nation's chief security agency, serving the same purpose for Russian interests that the CIA and FBI do in the United States. The FSB is simply an intelligence gathering agency.
It also has a lot of Christians in it. And standing next to the FSB academy in Moscow is this magnificent church, dedicated to the Iveron icon of the Mother of God (The Virgin Mary).
This church was completed in 2016. Construction on it started in 2012.
Now the Church is complete, and it is truly magnificent. It contains both an upper and lower church. On Saturday, September 1, a Divine Liturgy was served in the Lower Church, in the English language, with one American supplementing the otherwise all-Russian choir.
The Liturgy happened at the same time one was taking place in the upper church. It was well-attended. Outside the families and friends of FSB members and incoming students gathered after the service for the celebration of the new academic year to come.
The Lower Church is beautiful. The Upper Church is breathtaking.
While the Western news media tries to spin a narrative about Russia being an oppressed land under a sinister leadership, this spin does not reflect the reality of the nation. The city of Moscow alone is rebuilding and planting new Orthodox Churches at great speed, with twenty-one new large churches expected to be opened this year alone in the city. This temple serves as an example, and is actually characteristic of the energy and effort put into all the new temples in the city and around Russia. They are funded mostly by the donations of parishioners, and with some help from Church and government organizations.
Times have indeed changed.