While reading the Russkaia Pravda, I couldn’t help but laugh a little to myself because in my leisure time I’ve been reading a book called Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, which is a profile of the crazy, extreme Mormon sects that routinely practice kidnapping, rape (statutory & not), marrying girls and women off inappropriately. These are simply a few of the horrible atrocities committed by these extreme Mormon sects. What took me by storm, was how many offenses listed in the Russkaia Pravda were applicable to these mormons. I swear, the Rus’ government would be making loads of grivnas off of these religious fanatics. From page 51… rules 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14… Clearly these mormons would have some serious issues with the Rus’. At the same time, however, I was blown away by how strong a presence religion really was in Kievan Rus’. For instance, Rule No. 19 of the Russkaia Pravda basically says if you leave your wife and kids you get punished. From my eyes, in today’s society – that seems pretty unfair. The next rule however, rule no. 20, cleared up my confusion. Rule 20 states that if a Muslim or Jew marries a woman, they have to pay (I think) 60 grivnas and take her to a convent. Rule 20 helped clarify rule 19 because it showed me how religious the Rus’ were, which is why leaving your wife would be considered a giant problem in their society. The amount of rules pointed at fornication contributes to this notion. I can’t imagine myself living in Kievan Rus’ society and feeling comfortable being there.
Reading the Russkaia Pravda also makes me wonder if the anti-gay sentiments of Russian people are deeply rooted in the highly religious Kievan Rus’ society. Clearly, this is an enormous stretch, but it could be worth a delving into. I wonder how much documentation exists on the treatment of homosexuals during the Kievan Rus’ period – this is also something to delve into.