The Russian Orthodox Church has long been allied with the state, even during the Soviet era when the relationship was somewhat strained. When Stalin got (or at least tolerated) religion, you know things were bad in the mother country. Under Putin and Medvedev, the relationship has become even more cozy. Russian Orthodoxy is no stranger to power.
This makes its handling of great Russian writers — many of them metaphysically anguished — all the more interesting. Given the cachet and harmlessness of lap dogs, it should be no surprise that Checkhov is in but that Tolstoy is out. Tolstoy’s excommunication from the church for his unorthodox though staunchly Christian mysticism apparently still rankles, given that the church refuses to acknowledge him.
If this is Tolstoy’s fate, one can only imagine that the even more incisive and dark Dostoevsky is less welcome. There were few (if any) more astute observers of religion, or the irony and hypocrisy so frequently associated with its Russian forms.