from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- The established church of the Russian empire up to the revolution of 1917, at which time the ruling Communist party tried to suppress all religious worship. The czar was the nominal head of the church, but he never claimed the right of deciding questions of theology and dogma. It still forms a portion, by far the largest, of the Orthodox (Eastern) Church and is governed by the Patriarch and the Holy Synod. In 1988 the church, with official approval, celebrated the 1000 year anniversary of the baptism of Russia. After breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Russian Church began to regain some its old influence in Russian life, and the government turned over some of the confiscated churches back to church control. The Russian Church was recognized anew as the official church of Russia, with special priveleges, by an act of the Russian Duma in 1997. The Metropolitan of Moscow, as Patriarch of the church, is regarded as the first among equals in order of deference among bishops of the church.
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