In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
Called in Russian the “Youth Business Prayer Breakfast”, its primary supporters are Russian businessmen and politicians.
On 16 May, an alternative form of National Prayer Breakfast was held in Moscow’s expansive “Ukraine Radisson Royal Hotel”. The more than 200 participants came from a total of 14 countries and – according to its organisers – “all corners of Russia”.
Called in Russian the “Youth Business Prayer Breakfast”, its primary supporters are those dozen-or-so Russian businessmen and politicians who regularly attend Washington’s annual National Prayer Breakfast. One Russian organiser of the event was the businessman Vladislav Strashenko (born 1974). Strashenko is the son-in-law of the Evangelical-Christian bishop and “minor oligarch” Alexander Semchenko.
In contrast to Russia’s original Prayer Breakfast, which has been convening in Moscow since 1995, this new format involves more young people and laity. Indeed, not all of the youthful participants were clearly Christian; business and sport were the primary topics. There appears to be a sense of competition between the two Moscow Prayer Breakfasts: The new organisation’s detour around the usual Protestant channels did not find the blessing of all church leaders active in the original Prayer Breakfast. On the other hand, the United Russia-politician Alexander Torshin, who has long been active in the original Prayer Breakfast, is also involved in the new one.
Discussion at this Breakfast centred around the claim that spirituality and the goals of business are by no means opposites. Indeed, one primary speaker at the event, Sergey Glazyev, an advisor to President Putin, made clear that he is no socialist: “The extent of nationalisation present today is a negative development. It is related to the increased bureaucratic oppression of business. This tendency is supported by powerful state corporations and the state-owned banks” and hinders economic growth.
On another note, Doug Burleigh from Washington’s National Prayer Breakfast forecast that “a breakthrough in relations between Russia and the USA is about to occur. The greatest possible hope for Russia and the USA is friendship between our nations. I believe that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will yet become friends.” (Reverse translation from the Russian.)
The original Prayer Breakfast has been convening in Russia since 1995; this loosely-organised movement is present in more than 60 countries.