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Official website of the President of Russia

Russian Orthodox Church

the largest religious association within the framework of the Russian Orthodox tradition.

Its jurisdiction includes persons of Orthodox confession living on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, Ukraine, the Republic of Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Estonia, and also Orthodox Christians living in other countries.

The Russian Orthodox Church includes 157 dioceses, 29,263 parishes, and 804 monasteries, of which 478 are in Russia.

The supreme bodies of the church authority and governance are the Local Council, the Bishops’ Council and the Holy Synod headed by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The Local Council is comprised of bishops, members of the clergy, and laity. The Local Council interprets the teaching of the Orthodox Church, resolves internal church matters, canonises saints, establishes election procedures and elects the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The Bishops’ Council consists of the diocesan bishops and permanent members of the Holy Synod. Its duties include preparations for convening the Local Council and monitoring the execution of its decisions, adopting and amending the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, and establishing, reorganising, and dissolving Self-governing Churches, Exarchates, and dioceses.

The Holy Synod is the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church in the period between the Bishops’ Council.

The Patriarch is elected by the Local Council from among bishops in the Russian Orthodox Church who are no younger than 40, have a good reputation and are trusted by other bishops, clergy members, and the public. They must have a strong foundation in theological education and sufficient experience in diocesan administration. Patriarchs are elected to the office for life.