Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers

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Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers

Союз православных хоругвеносцев
AbbreviationSPKh (English)
СПХ (Russian)
Leader Leonid Simonovich-Niksich
FoundedJune 1992;28 years ago (1992-06)
Headquarters Moscow, Russia
NewspaperRussian News
Ideology Orthodox nationalism
Christian fundamentalism
Russian ultranationalism
Absolute monarchism
Tsarist autocracy
Political position Far-right
Religion Russian Orthodox Church
Colours  Black
Slogan"Orthodoxy or Death!"
(Russian: "Православие или смерть!")
Party flag
Flag of the Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers.png

The Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers (SPKh; Russian : Союз православных хоругвеносцев; СПХ; Soyuz pravoslavnykh khorugvenostsev, SPKh) is a Russian nationalist-fundamentalist organization that identifies itself as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, though the church has implicitly repudiated that claim. It was co-founded in 1993 by Leonid Simonovich. The Union's stated primary aim is to "resurrect the spirit" of Russian Orthodoxy, by conducting processions with banners and icons in Moscow and other regions.


The group became famous for its use and promulgation of the phrase "Orthodoxy or Death," and its association with violent skinhead reactionaries. In 2009 the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, denounced this slogan and said to "beware" those who used it, calling it "dangerous, false and intrinsically contradictory": [1]

[I]f we hear fervent calls to battle, to division, to the salvation of Orthodoxy even to death, when we hear such slogans as, "Orthodoxy or death," we need to beware of such preachers. The Lord never said, "My teaching or death." Not one apostle said, "Orthodoxy or death." Because Orthodoxy is eternal life, joy in the Holy Spirit, joy of life, beauty of life, but death is decay, the result of the fall, and the devil’s influence. Among us even today appear, from time to time, false teachers who tempt the people with the call to save Orthodoxy, to save its purity, and who repeat that dangerous, sinful, and contradictory slogan, "Orthodoxy or death." In the eyes of such people you will not find love; in them burns the demonic fire of pride, the striving for Church power, and the destruction of Church unity.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (March 8), 2009 [2]

A Moscow court later agreed in a decision denouncing the phrase as "extremist." [3]

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  1. Krivobok, Ruslan (Feb 2013), "Extremist Slogan Removed from Russian Church", RIA Novosti, retrieved 3 August 2013
  2. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow (12 March 2009), Homily of Patriarch Kirill on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, translated by Яков Александр Ручьёв, retrieved 24 May 2015
  3. Krivobok, Ruslan (Feb 2013). "Extremist Slogan Removed from Russian Church". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 3 August 2013.

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