The political role of the Orthodox Church in post-communist Russia is more difficult to assess than its social and cultural roles for several reasons. First, to offer any systematic observations on the matter one must attempt to construe the nature of the church-state relationship in Russia, a notoriously controversial subject. Second, one must make an educated guess concerning the part played by the huge internal security apparatus which only yesterday dominated the internal affairs of the Soviet Union, including religious affairs. The security establishment has been dislodged from its hegemonic role in the Soviet state as a result of the Gorbachev reforms, but there is little question that it continues to exist as a political force in the country. Reading the aims of this network is no easy matter, however, because by definition it operates in relative secrecy and by means of diversionary tactics. One also has to reckon with the possibility that the security network has been disrupted by the changes of recent years, and operates with less coordination than in the past.