The ROC currently claims its exclusive jurisdiction over the Orthodox Christians, irrespective of their ethnic background, who reside in the former member republics of the Soviet Union, excluding Georgia and Armenia, although this claim is disputed in such countries as Estonia, Moldova and Ukraine and consequently parallel canonical Orthodox jurisdictions exist in those: Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church and Metropolis of Bessarabia, respectively.
It also exercises ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the autonomous Church of Japan and the Orthodox Christians resident in the People's Republic of China.
The ROC, as well as the primate thereof, officially ranks fifth in the Orthodox order of precedence, immediately below the four ancient Patriarchates of the Greek Orthodox Church, those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
The official Christianization of Kievan Rus' widely seen as the birth of the ROC is believed to have occurred in 988 through the baptism of the Kievan prince Vladimir and his people by the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate whose constituent part the ROC remained for the next six centuries, while the Kievan see remained in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until 1686.
The followers of Sergius founded four hundred monasteries, thus greatly extending the geographical extent of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
In 1439, at the Council of Florence, some Orthodox hierarchs from Byzantium as well as Metropolitan Isidore, who represented the Russian Church, signed a union with the Roman Church, whereby the Eastern Church would recognise the primacy of the Pope.
The ROC branches in Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and Ukraine since the 1990s enjoy various degrees of self-government, albeit short of the status of formal ecclesiastical autonomy.
In Ukraine, ROC (represented by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church) has tensions with schismatic groups supported by the current government, while it enjoys the position of numerically dominant religious organisation.
Several men showed off their flexibility, including one performing the splits on the bonnet of a car You're meant to drink it!
A woman wastes her alcoholic energy beverage for the purposes of seduction (left).
Such holy figures as Sergius of Radonezh and Metropolitan Alexis helped the country to withstand years of Tatar oppression, and to expand both economically and spiritually.
The Trinity monastery founded by Sergius of Radonezh became the setting for the flourishing of spiritual art, exemplified by the work of Andrey Rublev, among others.
The Christian community that developed into what is now known as the Russian Orthodox Church is traditionally said to have been founded by the Apostle Andrew, who is thought to have visited Scythia and Greek colonies along the northern coast of the Black Sea.