I have started reading the book A people's tragedy by Orlando Figes about the Russian revolution. I am no historian, however having read a few pages I have a few questions about the repeated comparison of some facets of the pre-revolutionary Russian regime to Byzantium.
The second principle from Muscovy was the idea of personal rule: as the embodiment of God on earth... This too had distinguished the Byzantine tradition of despotism from the Western absolutist state.
... much preferred the older title Tsar (derived from the Greek term kaisar), which went back to the Byzantine era and carried religious connotations of paternal rule.
To me the comparison between Byzantine despotism and Russian despotism seems stretched and superficial. Despite the millennium long history, no dynasty in Byzantium ever came close to ruling over 300 years, while Romanovs did rule for that long. The uprising and pretenders were very common in Byzantium, perhaps all too common (as is described in the book 'The Byzantine Republic'). This was not the case in Russia. In fact, it seems to me that Russia is much closer in this regard to late medieval/early modern western European kingdoms like France and England, where to my understanding the king had to be completely incapable of ruling for the people to seriously contemplate the change of dynasty.
The divine rights of rulers is not a Byzantine invention (as far as I understand, it goes back at least to Roman times), and it is definitely not a uniquely Byzantine phenomenon.
The title Tsar is not Byzantine and was first used by the Bulgarians. Thus the choice of Tsar seems to be more nuanced than simply 'going back to Byzantine era' as the author puts it. The way the author phrases it as an embrace of Byzantine style seems an oversimplification.
Now, as the author of the book puts it later, the Russian elites did view the autocratic style of ruling as 'Byzantine' as opposed to more western one. However, it seems to me that they are projecting their ideas backward in time as the relations between the ruler and the people in Byzantium was quite different from those in contemporary Russia.
To sum up, it seems to me that there is a massive difference between Byzantium and the late Russian empire in the way people viewed the relations between themselves and the ruler. Comparing pre-revolutionary Russia to a state which ceased to exist so many centuries ago feels forced and completely arbitrary. There may be other not so distant in time states which the pre-revolutionary Russia may be more fittingly compared to. What am I missing?