PUTIN'S REVOLUTION

Written by Vladimir Moss

PUTIN'S REVOLUTION

 

     Orthodox monarchist writers, such as Archbishop Averky (Taushev) and Archimandrite Konstantin (Zaitsev) often said that the only hope for mankind in its rapid descent into Satanism was the return to power of the Orthodox Autocracy in Russia. Let us therefore look more closely at the latest, Putinist phase of the Russian revolution, and the prospects of its final overthrow. 

 

     “On 31 December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the Constitution of Russia, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation. On assuming this role, Putin went on a previously scheduled visit to Russian troops in Chechnya.

 

     “The first Presidential Decree that Putin signed, on 31 December 1999, was titled ‘On guarantees for former president of the Russian Federation and members of his family’. This ensured that ‘corruption charges against the outgoing President and his relatives’ would not be pursued. This was most notably targeted at Mabetex bribery case in which Yeltsin's family members were involved. On 30 August 2000, a criminal investigation (number 18/238278-95) was dropped in which Putin himself was one of suspects as a member of the Saint Petersburg city government. On 30 December 2000 yet another case against the prosecutor general was dropped ‘for lack of evidence’, in spite of thousands of documents passed by Swiss prosecutors… The case of Putin's alleged corruption in metal exports from 1992 was brought back by Marina Salye, but she was silenced and forced to leave Saint Petersburg.

 

     “While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the Presidential elections being held within three months, on 26 March 2000; Putin won in the first round with 53% of the vote. 

 

     “The inauguration of President Putin occurred on 7 May 2000… The first major challenge to Putin's popularity came in August 2000, when he was criticized for the alleged mishandling of the Kursk submarine disaster. That criticism was largely because it was several days before Putin returned from vacation, and several more before he visited the scene. 

 

     From 2003 he began to reverse the main gains of the liberal 1990s – religious freedom, and a more open and honest attitude to the Soviet past. Churches were seized from True Orthodox Christians and their websites hacked; elections were rigged, independent journalists were killed; independent businessmen were imprisoned on trumped-up charges; new history books justifying Stalinism were introduced into the classrooms; the red flag and hammer and sickle were restored to the armed services, as well as the melody (if not the words) of the Soviet national anthem; youth organizations similar to the Hitler Youth were created.  

 

     Banking on the high price of Russian oil, Putin began to rebuild Russia’s economic and military might – but imbalances within the economy hindered the diversification he needed. He also had to keep the oligarchs and Mafiosi on his side. Misha Glenny has demonstrated in his important book McMafia, that the growth of trade liberalization and globalization in the 1990s engendered an enormous explosion in organized crime throughout the world. It now constitutes not only a significant part of world economic output, but also a distinct threat to the sovereignty of nations. Whether we are speaking about drug-trafficking (Colombia, Mexico), people-trafficking (China), counterfeiting (North Korea), gold (India), protection rackets (Japan), guns and bombs (North Korea), banking fraud (Brazil), oil (Nigeria, Libya) or diamonds (South Africa), in each sphere we see both enormous profits and penetration of governments and security forces. The cost not only in taxes but in ruined lives has been particularly horrendous especially in the case of drug-trafficking; here the criminals have consistently triumphed over the governments; even the war on drugs waged by the United States is judged by experts to have been a total failure, to the extent that decriminalisation – i.e. surrender – is being seriously put forward as the only “solution”. 

 

     In the 1990s the growth of organized crime in Russia penetrated and overwhelmed not only the elected government, but even the mighty KGB; the boundaries between business, law enforcement and the Russian mafia became hard to make out; and the power of the Russia mafia spread also to places like Israel and Hungary. Putin made great electoral capital out of his claims to control these oligarchs and mafiosi. And indeed, some of the oligarchs of the 1990s – those who refused to buckle under to Putin, like Berezovsky and Gusev – were indeed tamed (or, more usually, expelled). Thus Glenny writes: “In the 1990s, the oligarchs and gangsters clearly controlled the Kremlin. Under Vladimir Putin, who systematically used popular hostility to the oligarchs to strengthen his political position as President, the situation was reversed: criminal and oligarch interests were subordinate to state interests. It does not follow that Putin and friends persecuted criminals or dispensed with corrupt practices. On the contrary, they flourished as before but they are now much more carefully controlled. Of course, it is often difficult to tell who is truly running the show – the chicken or the egg!” 

 

     Whoever truly runs the show, it is clear that the financial interests of Putin and his friends play an increasingly important in his conduct of international affairs. Thus the new American National Security Adviser, General Macmaster, said in May, 2016 that “Russia invaded Ukraine without being punished, established dominance over this territory and then turned the situation in such a way as to pretend that we and our allies are escalating matters.” The general drew attention to the complex strategy employed by Moscow, which was based on a combination of two factors – ‘the usual forces’ and, under their cover, ‘the much more complex campaign bound up with the use of criminality and organized crime.’”  

 

     Indeed, the long post-Soviet campaign of the KGB to undermine Ukrainian independence, which involved attempts to assassinate pro-western politicians, appears to have owed as much to “turf wars” between Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs as to anything else.  

 

     Of course, the purely political desire to restore the Soviet empire to its pre-1992 boundaries, was another very important motive. But it is very difficult to disentangle such supposedly “pure” political motives from financial ones. Thus there can be little doubt that the oligarchs that control such monstrous State-mafia companies as Gazprom and Rosneft are vitally interested in acquiring complete control over the oil and gas pipelines that pass through Ukraine. Other wars that Putin has conducted – in Chechnya, in Georgia and in Syria – also “coincidentally” happen to have important pipelines passing through them. If the United States is sometimes accused of conducting wars in the Middle East for the sake of oil interests, the same can be said with still greater confidence about Russia.

 

     Putin’s personal profits from his “grand bargain” have clearly been enormous. Thus Rob Wile writes: asks: “Figuring out the Russian president’s net worth has long been the holy grail of spooks and hacks around the world. But the personal wealth of Putin—a former KGB agent—is nearly impossible to decipher, and is likely distributed across a secret web of company holdings, real estate, and other people’s accounts. In fact, at a time when his political motivations are under scrutiny across the world, the struggle to pin down Putin’s riches reveals something about the covert ways in which he wields his authority over Russia.

 

     “Here’s what we know.

 

     “The most often cited estimate comes from a former mid-level Kremlin adviser named Stanislav Belkovsky. In 2007, he claimed Putin had a fortune worth at least $40 billion—a figure that would put him in the top 10 of Forbes magazine’s ranking of billionaires.

 

     “(Forbes, the premier chronicler of the world’s wealthiest, doesn’t include Putin on its list of billionaires. In 2015, the magazine said it couldn’t verify enough assets.)

 

     “The Kremlin source based his estimate on Putin’s alleged stakes in several companies, mostly in the oil sector. He said the Russian president controlled 37% of the oil company Surgutneftegaz, 4.5% of natural gas company Gazprom, and had substantial holdings in a commodities trader called Gunvor.

 

     “’At least $40 billion,’ Belkovsy told the Guardian at the time. ‘Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about.’

 

     “The American government has linked Putin to Gunvor, too. ‘Putin has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds,’ the U.S. Treasury said in a statement in 2014 as it announced sanctions.

 

     “Gunvor—which reportedly made $93 billion in revenue in 2012—denies Putin has ever had any ownership in the company.

 

     “Later, in 2012, Belkovsky upped his estimate to $70 billion, based on new information from ‘confidential sources around the corporations,’ according to an interview with non-profit journalism outlet The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

 

     “That’d put Putin within striking distance of Bill Gates, who according to Bloomberg is the world’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $84 billion.” 

 

    The latest estimate, by Bill Browder, author and a former fund manager in Russia, is that Putin is worth '$200 billion, with 58 planes and helicopters and 20 palaces and country retreats.  

 

     Anton Grigoriev writes: “Few are those who take account of the fact that criminality in the 2000s was not conquered, but integrated. In Putin’s time, not only have the Chechens become the greatest patriots of the Russian Federation, but also the Russian ‘thieves in law’. Who, let us say, will now fail to call Joseph Kobzon, not only Russian, and a member of ‘One Russia’ [Putin’s political party] but also a loyal patriot loyal to the authorities? But in the 1990s Kobzon was one of the deputies who did not enter into any of the deputies’ groupings, was not a member of the party of power of that time, and was forbidden entry into the USA, with which the Russian Federation at that time entertained the best official relations. Since 1995 he had been forbidden entry because of suspicions that he was linked with organized crime. Several attempts to get an American visa, including with the help of diplomatic channels, let to nothing. But in the 2000s Kobzon became a political figure of pan-national reputation – the president of the Culture Committee of the State Duma from ‘One Russia’, and deputy-president of the Committee for Information Politics. That is, he became one of the authorities. 

 

     “In the 1990s there was unorganized crime. In the 2000s this turned into the vertically integrated backbone of the new order.”  

 

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     But if Putin undoubtedly turned the tables on the mafia, or integrated himself with them to such an extent that he became “the boss of bosses” and the richest of them all, whose interests (apart from his own) did he ultimately represent? 

 

     There can be only one possible answer to that question: the KGB/FSB. As Martin Sixsmith writes, “In December 1999,… Vladimir Putin went to celebrate his election victory with his old comrades at the FSB. When the toasts came round and Putin proposed they should drink ‘To Comrade Stalin’ there was a shocked silence followed by a loud cheer. Putin opened his celebratory speech by jokingly telling his former colleagues: ‘The agent group charged with taking the government under control has completed the first stage of its assignment.’…” 

 

     “The agent group” now moved on very quickly to the next stage: the re-establishment of the former USSR’s military power. Thus, as Masha Gessen writes, only his second decree “established a new Russian military doctrine, abandoning the old no-first-strike policy regarding nuclear weapons and emphasizing a right to use them against aggressors ‘if other means of conflict resolution have been exhausted or deemed ineffective’. Soon another decree re-established mandatory training exercises for reservists (all Russian able-bodied men were considered reservists) – something that had been abolished, to the relief of Russian wives and mothers, after the country withdrew from Afghanistan. Two of the decree’s six paragraphs were classified as secret, suggesting they might shed light on whether reservists should expect to be sent to Chechnya. A few days later, Putin issued an order granting forty government ministers and other officials to classify information as secret, in direct violation of the constitution. He also re-established mandatory military training in secondary schools, both public and private; this subject, which for boys involved taking apart, cleaning, and putting back together a Kalashnikov, had been abolished during perestroika. In all, six of the eleven decrees Putin issued in his first two months as acting president concerning the military. On January 27 [Prime Minister] Kasyanov announced that defense spending would be increased by 50 percent – this in a country that was still failing to meet its international debt obligations and was seeing most of its population sink further and further into poverty…” 

 

     Such an order could only mean one thing: that having returned to power after its temporary eclipse in the 1990s, the KGB was returning to the perennial expansionist goals of Soviet politics. Of course, Russia in 2000 was incomparably weaker than it had been even as recently as 1990. But the train was now back on the rails leading to the same goals as Lenin and Stalin had put before themselves.

 

     However, certain changes in tactics and methods were now deemed necessary in order to “modernize” the revolution.

 

     First, the old ideology of Marxism-Leninism had to be ditched. It was out-of-date and obviously false. Of course, telling lies had never been a problem for Soviet leaders and propagandists; but if the whole world saw that the Emperor had no clothes, it was time to discard the Emperor – or give him some new clothes. This was not to say, however, that old methods of the control of the press and other media were to be abandoned. Nor was the population, still saturated in Soviet modes of thinking, necessarily against such methods. According to a 2005 survey, 42% of the Russian people, and 60% of those over sixty, wanted the return of “a leader like Stalin.”  Their wish had been granted… Thus in July, 2006, the Duma passed two laws allowing the secret services to eliminate “extremists” in Russia and on foreign territory, and defining “extremism” to include anyone “libellously critical of the Russian authorities”. 

 

     Again, old friends still stuck in the old Marxist ways were not discarded. So Zyuganov’s Russian Communist Party, as well as Zhirinovsky’s nationalist “Liberal Democrats”, would be given cosy and honoured places in the new order – so long as they did not present a serious threat to Putin’s “One Russia”, but remained a loyal (extremely loyal) “opposition”. (In fact, these opposition parties have been extremely useful to Putin. The Communists have kept the poor old pensioners onside, while Zhirinovsky has been used to air outrageous opinions and policies which Putin adheres to but which he does not want to espouse publicly.) Moreover, old comrades abroad such as the North Koreans and Cubans, and especially the Chinese, would remain comrades, of course. 

 

     But if the old Soviet ideology would be discarded, Soviet patriotism remained a compulsory element of the new order. Hence the return of the melody of the Soviet hymn, the red flag in the armed forces, the resurrection of the pioneers, etc. And, especially, the mythology of the “Great Patriotic War”, which has been pumped as never before (not even Stalin used it, because of its nationalist connotations). 

 

    Indeed, any doubting of that mythology would now become a criminal offence. Thus Dmitri Volchek writes: “’One Russia’ proposes imprisonment for people who spread false information about the activity of the USSR during the war. 

 

     “A final version of a bill forbidding the rehabilitation of Nazism is ready. It was worked out by the ‘One Russia’ fraction in the Duma. The coordinator of the patriotic platform of OR, the president of the Committee for Security Irina Yarovaia, considers it necessary to punish people for ‘denial of fact and approval of crimes established by a sentence of the International Military Tribunal, as well as the distribution of knowingly false information about the activity of the USSR during the Second world war connected with accusing people of committing crimes established by the publicly determined sentences of the International Military Tribunal.

 

     “Yarovaia proposes punishing such crimes with a fine of up to 300,000 roubles or imprisonment up to three years. It is proposed that the same actions carried out with the use of one’s service status or of the media should be punished with a fine of up to 100,000 – 500,000 rubles or a prison term of up to five years. In previous editions of the bill there was no mention of the USSR; it was a matter only of banning the declaration of the actions of the anti-Hitler forces as criminal. ‘Criticism of the USSR is threatened with prison,’ warns the newspaper Vedomosti. ‘If the bill is passed, will not historians occupied with the investigation of the crimes of Stalinism find themselves on the bench of the accused?’” 

 

     Secondly, since the merging of the government, the bureaucracy, the KGB and the mafia was steadily advancing, there could be no question of cutting Russia off from the world economy; for the mafia derived most of its ill-gotten gains from outside Russia, and had invested heavily there in houses, yachts, football clubs, companies, their children’s education, etc. Of course, this also made the new regime vulnerable to sanctions and to simple operations such as the cutting off of links with western banks. And the recent sharp decline in the Russian economy as a result of sanctions applied after the invasion of Ukraine has been a serious worry for Putin, however much he tries to shrug it off; it has knocked several percentage points off Russia’s GDP. 

 

     However, it was precisely the New Russians’ openness to the West that allowed them to infiltrate it to a degree that Soviet spies could only have dreamed of. Already in the liberal 1990s an increase in KGB activity in Britain was reported as compared with the Soviet period – and this at a time when so many people thought that the KGB no longer existed! In the 2000s and 2010s the spying and the propaganda barrage increased exponentially; foreign-language TV channels such as “Russia Today” beamed into millions of western homes, and began to produce significant fruits. Thus in Germany it was reported that as a result of Russian propaganda the populace had begun to move away from seeing Washington as the main friend of the country, and that Moscow was moving close to taking Washington’s place in the ratings. Again, polls show that four NATO countries – Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Slovenia – would prefer that Russia come to their aid in time of war than the US. 

 

     Only China rivals Russia’s ability to infiltrate state institutions, corporations and major infrastructure (nuclear power stations, for example) through cyber warfare. Belatedly, NATO has decided to pour more money into combatting this deadly threat, which could give victory to Russia in any future war. Western Europe is particularly vulnerable to Russian hacking and cyber-spying; only Britain’s GCHQ at Cheltenham provides significant defence capacity against this new type of warfare.

 

     But old-fashioned types of spying remained effective. Indeed, perhaps the most spectacular coup in this field, with incalculable consequences for the future, took place in 2013, when, as is now credibly argued by historians and experts, the present president of the United State, Donald Trump, was caught in a classic honeytrap and probably blackmailed into serving the Russians. Thus the Russian-American historian Yury Felshtinsky wrote on the eve of Trump’s electoral victory in 2016: “The behavior of Trump in relation to Russia fits into the schema of an agent’s behavior. I shall immediately qualify myself: I have no proofs that he is an agent of Putin. But the whole of his behavior points exclusively to this schema. Agent Trump is not allowed to criticise Putin; he is not allowed to criticise the foreign policy of Russia; he is not allowed to raise the question of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea; he is not allowed to encourage the strengthening of NATO and opposition to Russian aggression in Europe; he is not allowed to criticise Russian interference in the civil war in Syria. 

 

     “Trump is allowed to criticise American policy in relation to Syria and Iraq; to call for the weakening of NATO and the American withdrawal from Europe, Japan and the Muslim East; to call for the smoothing of relations with Russia and the restructuring (in reality, the worsening) of relations with Mexico, on the one hand, and with China, on the other.

 

     “There remains only one winner from the foreign policy programme written for Trump in the Kremlin (which I also cannot prove): Putin.

 

     “I don’t know how Trump was recruited (perhaps during his visit to Moscow in 2013 to conduct a beauty contest. ) But I know for certain that he was recruited…” 

 

     If this hypothesis proves to be true, then it points to the deepest and highest penetration yet into the fortress of the West by the Russian revolution, and the possible fulfilment of the prophecy of Elder Ignaty of Harbin (+1958): “What began in Russia will end in America.” 

 

     Trump and Putin are both essentially crooked businessmen turned politicians. Trump is a real-estate businessman (with several bankruptcies to his name); Putin is in the same business (he owns a fabulous number of palaces) but with a finger in the pie of almost every other form of organized crime. They unite through their common worship of Mammon – but with Putin as the senior partner controlling the Russian-American organized crime syndicate – and most of the world’s nuclear weapons...   

 

     A third major change of tactics that Putin’s revolution has necessitated is in relation to religion… In order to understand this change, we must first inquire into Putin’s personal religion (if he has any)… When Putin became president, he presented himself as “all things to all men”: a communist to the communists, a capitalist to the capitalists, a democrat to the democrats, a nationalist to the nationalists, and an Orthodox to the Orthodox. And yet Putin is no believer. On September 8, 2000, when asked by the American television journalist Larry King whether he believed in God, he replied: “I believe in people…” 

 

     This refusal to confess a faith in God is not surprising. It should be remembered, as Preobrazhensky points out, that Putin “began his career not in the intelligence ranks but in the ‘Fifth Branch’ of the Leningrad Regional KGB, which also fought religion and the Church. Putin carefully hides this fact from foreign church leaders, and you will not find it in any of his official biographies… The myth of Putin’s religiosity is important for proponents of ‘the union’. It allows Putin to be characterized as some Orthodox Emperor Constantine, accepting the perishing Church Abroad under his regal wing. For his kindness we should be stretching out our arms to him with tears of gratitude…” 

 

     “For those who claim,” writes Professor Olga Ackerly, “that the ‘CIS is different from the USSR’ and Putin is a ‘practising Orthodox Christian’, here are some sobering facts. The first days and months Putin’s presidency were highlighted by the reestablishment of a memorial plaque on Kutuzovsky Prospect where Andropov used to live. The plaque was a symbol of communist despotism missing since the 1991 putsch, bearing Andropov’s name – a former head of the KGB, especially known for his viciousness in the use of force and psychiatric clinics for dissidents. On May 9, 2000, Putin proposed a toast to the ‘genius commander’ Iosif Stalin and promoted many former KGB officers to the highest state positions…

 

     “Important to note is that the Eurasian movement, with ties to occultism, ecumenism, etc. was recently revived by Putin, and a Congress entitled ‘The All-Russian Political Social Movement’, held in Moscow in April of 2001, was ‘created on the basis of the Eurasist ideology and inter-confessional [sic!] harmony in support of the reforms of President Vladimir Putin.’ The movement is led by Alexander Dugin, a sexual mystic, National Bolshevik Party member, son of a Cheka cadre, personally familiar with the so-called ‘Black International’, advisor to the State Duma, and participant in Putin’s ‘Unity’ movement.” 

 

     Again, while claiming to be a devout Orthodox Christian, as George Sprukts writes,

 

     “1) he lights menorahs when he worships at his local synagogue;

 

     “2) he has worshipped the mortal remains of Kin Il Sung in North Korea;

 

     “3) he has worshipped the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi;

 

     “4) he ‘believes not in God, but in Man’ (as he himself has stated);

 

     “5) he was initiated into an especially occult form of ‘knighthood’ in Germany;

 

     “6) he has restored the communist anthem;

 

     “7) he has restored the bloody red rag as the RF’s military banner;

 

     “8) he has not removed the satanic pentagram from public buildings (including cathedrals);

 

     “9) he has plans of restoring the monument to ‘Butcher’ Dzerzhinsky;

 

     “10) he has not removed the satanic mausoleum in Red Square nor its filthy contents.” 

 

     Although Putin is clearly not an Orthodox Christian, he has many reasons for pretending to be one and for protecting the official Orthodox church. First, the MP hierarchs are his partners in organized crime and fellow agents in the KGB. This is illustrated by the activities of “the tobacco metropolitan”, now Patriarch Cyril Gundiaev, KGB Agent “Mikhailov”, who imports tobacco and alcohol duty-free and is now one of the richest men in Russia.  

 

     On January 22, 2012, the patriarch made an interesting proposal in the Russian Duma: to increase the rate that doctors charge for abortions. This would have the pleasing consequences of squeezing the rich (not the really rich, like himself, but the middle classes) and reducing the rate of abortions, thereby slowing down the catastrophic fall in Russia’s population. How moral! How financially prudent! How farsightedly caring about the demography of the Russian nation! Not a word, however, about the fact that abortion – any abortion, carried out for any or no price – is murder, and condemns the abortionist to eternity in hell-fire! Not a word about the fact that Russia is number one in the world for numbers of abortions per head of population. And not a word about the fact that (as the present writer has seen with his own eyes) placards outside churches proclaim it is possible to buy absolution from the sin of abortion from MP priests for a tidy sum of money; so that the jingle about the medieval papacy now applies equally to the Moscow Patriarchate:

 

As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,

The soul from purgatory springs…

 

     Like his predecessor, Patriarch Cyril is financially interested in the abortion business – and in a most bizarre way. Thus “one can have an abortion and restore one’s virginity in the medical centre ‘Alternative’, which operates on the territory of the ‘Danilovskaia’ hotel attached to the Danilov monastery of the ROC MP in the centre of Moscow, reports a correspondent of Portal-Credo.Ru. Very close to the hotel can be found the official residence of Patriarch Cyril (Gundiaev) and the Department of Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

 

      “’If it turns out that the birth of a child forms no part of your plans, then it is necessary to reduce the consequences of termination of pregnancy to a minimum,’ it says on the page of the medical centre on the territory of the hospital “Danilovskaia”, which is dedicated to abortions and emergency terminations. Surgical and non-surgical methods of termination are offered, and abortion, it points out, ‘is always a hormonal stress for the organism’.

 

     “The re-establishment of virginity is offered on the centre’s site as one of the services of aesthetic and intimate surgery. The site points out that the ‘foremother’ of this operation can be considered to be the goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite, who regularly dived into a special pool, ‘from which she emerged on the bank as a chaste virgin again’…”  

 

     The MP’s enormous property portfolio, of which the hotel Danilovskaia is only one small element, is beginning to elicit unfavourable comment in the country. However, Putin is not yet ready to throw his colleagues to the wolves; besides, they are useful to him in important ways. Thus Patriarch Cyril is useful, first, as a diplomat serving the interests of Putin. He does a considerable amount of external diplomacy, mainly among church leaders, both Orthodox and heterodox, but also with State leaders. Thus he has always maintained cordial relations with the Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro, and in 2016 he chose to meet the Pope in Cuba! A French comment on this meeting: "Cuba is at the same time a Catholic and a Communist land. Thus neither side had the feeling of going to Canossa." Indeed, this is the essence of the matter. Patriarch Cyril did not come to the meeting as a representative of Orthodoxy, but as a representative of Putin. This was a meeting of states, not of Churches.

 

     Still more important is Cyril’s role as cheerleader for Putinism. Although the continuance in power of the heretical and deeply corrupt MP is a matter of deep sorrow for all truly Orthodox Christians, nevertheless there can be no denying that there has been a sharp growth in Orthodox religiosity in Russia since 1991. So millions of sincere if deluded people are ready to follow their leader wherever he points – whether it is in condemning the Ukrainian “schismatics” who reject the authority of the MP, or in hypocritically condemning the West for its lack of Christian values, or in praising the “holy wars” in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, or in hailing the All-Holy Putin as the Saviour of Orthodoxy, the new St. Constantine.

 

     For Putin’s regime claims to be the successor not only of the RSFSR and the USSR but also of the pre-revolutionary Russian Orthodox Empire. It may be described as neo-Soviet and neo-Fascist, without Marxism but with “Orthodoxy”. It draws support from a heady mixture of conflicting constituencies: nationalists and democrats and monarchists, conservative Orthodox and pagan mystics and dyed-in-the-wool atheists, westerners and capitalists, mafiosi and Slavophiles. Putin aims to find a place in his grasping heart for all the Russias of the last century. Only one condition is attached: that Putin’s regime is accepted as the lawful successor of all previous Russian regimes. This is a condition that no truly Orthodox Christian can accept; but Cyril accepts it with enthusiasm, and thereby provides an inestimable support to the new “Tsar”, the new Emperor of the supposedly resurrected Third Rome…

 

     The inclusiveness of Putin’s regime even included some of the most irreconcilable enemies of Soviet power. Thus probably his greatest coup was his enticement of the fiercely anti-communist Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR) under Metropolitan Lavr into union with the MP. Here a sharp division emerged between the great majority of ROCOR’s flock inside Russia, also known as the Catacomb or True Orthodox Church, and the majority of her flock outside Russia. Inside Russia, the believers did not trust the changes that had taken place since perestroika; for them, the leopard had not changed its spots (Jeremiah 13.23), the communists had merely assumed the mask of “democrats”, the wolves had simply put on sheep’s clothing while remaining inwardly as ravenous as before (Matthew 7.15). Outside Russia, on the other hand, most believers were displaying signs of “war weariness”; they wanted to believe that the Soviet Union had miraculously changed into a normal State overnight, that the KGB had disappeared, that the communists had repented, etc. When Putin came to power in 2000, this attitude intensified as nationalist feelings became mixed up with the dogmatic and canonical issues; and in 2007 ROCOR threw in the towel and was united with the MP, acknowledging the legitimacy of the Russian State.

     Already three years before the unia, on May 28 / June 10, 2004, the Holy Synod of the True Orthodox Church of Russia under Archbishop Lazarus (Zhurbenko) had declared: “The Union of ROCOR with the MP is taking place through the political leadership of the Russian Federation and special services, and is the result of the New York Synod’s loss of freedom. This neo-sergianist act subjects the Church to antichristian powers and is an ecclesiastical crime analogous with the action of Metropolitan Sergius, and even more serious [than that] since it was committed voluntarily, and not under compulsion. The words of Hieromartyr Pachomy of Chernigov, spoken by him concerning Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod, apply completely to the Synod of Metropolitan Lavr: ‘Metropolitan Sergius is a complete slave, an obedient weapon in the hands of Soviet institutions… well-known to us, and it has completely lost its moral-ecclesiastical authority… In a word, the Holy Church has never before experienced such humiliation and abuse’.

     ‘The union of ROCOR and the MP is being accomplished on the orders of the world’s behind-the-scenes government, being a necessary part of the accomplishment of the plan for the world’s antichristian globalization. This union strengthens the post-Soviet regime of the Russian Federation, gives it a church blessing. The regime which is carrying out the dechristianization of the Russian people, a campaign for its moral corruption, and is encouraging its physical dying-out, is declared by the Synod of ROCOR-L to be Christian and Orthodox. Here are only a few of the facts confirming the antichristian essence of the present regime of the Russian Federation: ‘In Russian society catastrophic phenomena are taking place whose causes are concealed in its spiritual failure. On the basis of statistical data from Russian and foreign sources: a man is killed in Russia every minute, and every 10 minutes one or two suicides take place. The number of homeless children in Russia almost corresponds to the post-war level. 30% of youth use narcotics. On average practically every Russian woman has two to four abortions per year. The mortality rate is 70% higher than the birthrate – within 15 years Russia will have 22 million fewer people. That is more than we lost in the Second World War. Today we can say definitively: Russia is perishing not only spiritually, but also physically’ (I.A. Kunitsyn, member of the Historico-Judicial Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate attached to the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 2 June, 2004). Thus ROCOR-L is consciously taking part in a fake regeneration of Russia and the Russian Church. The New York Synod, having blessed this regime and declared it to be ‘helping the spiritual regeneration of Russia’, has committed a terrible crime against the Christian conscience.”  

*

 

     We have seen that the essence of Putin’s regime is the legitimization of organized crime on a scale never seen before in world history. In this connection, we should recall that Leninism and banditism have existed in the closest symbiosis ever since Stalin robbed the Tbilisi bank and the Sochi post office to provide Lenin with funds for revolutionary terror in the early 1900s. The victims in the 1920s were the nobles, the industrialists and the Church, in the 1930s - the peasants, the generals and the Old Bolsheviks, in the 1940s - the Germans, the Crimean Tatars and other conquered peoples, and in the 1990s - all small-time investors and account-holders. In the 2000s it was the oligarchs’ turn: in true Leninist style, Putin “expropriated the expropriators”. 

 

     However, far from Putin “cleaning up” the country after the oligarchs’ excesses in the 1990s, which is what he claimed to be doing, he simply replaced one clan of bandits with another, sharing out the proceeds among those who recognized his power as the chief thief. The transfer from Yeltsin to Berezovsky had been effected, not by Yeltsin, but by the Jewish oligarch Berezovsky, who hoped that Putin would rule to the advantage of him and his clan. (Since Yeltsin had also been involved in the pillaging, Putin’s first act as president was to give immunity from prosecution to Yeltsin and his family.) However, Berezovsky was deceived: Putin put his own St. Petersburg mafia in charge and forced Berezovsky to flee into English exile until his recent mysterious “suicide”. Others who pretended to some measure of political and economic independence, such as Khodorkovsky, were imprisoned on trumped-up charges and/or driven out of the country…  

 

     The gap between the richest and the poorest in Russia became the highest in the world except in some Caribbean islands. State institutions and services, such as education and health, were starved of funds. The only notable exceptions were the armed forces and the security services, which received vast increases reminiscent of Hitler’s rearming in the 1930s. Moreover, he increased the numbers of bureaucrats, 78% of whom are now KGB , and increased their pay. In this way he guaranteed their support, a tactic he borrowed from the Bolsheviks in the Civil War period… 

 

     Like all Soviet leaders, Putin shows a marked antipathy to the West, and a steadfast conviction (or feigned conviction) that his country is morally superior to it; probably the main reason why so many Orthodox Christians – and not only Orthodox Christians  - support him, is his claim to be restoring “Christian values” to Russia by contrast with “Eurosodom” and the decadent West…. “We have to give him a chance,” is the view. “And if he succeeds, then Christianity as a whole is the winner…” His holier-than-thou propaganda campaign began in about 2006, at just the time, as we now know, that he was preparing his invasion of fellow Orthodox Georgia. It intensified during the Kievan counter-revolution in 2013... 

 

     Of course, the West has only itself to blame for this. Thus its decision to join the civil war in Syria on the side of the Sunni rebels has enabled Putin to put himself forward as the champion, not only of the Shiites, but also of those Christians who have suffered at the hands of the rebels. Again, the West’s mindless pursuit of the LGBT agenda that has enabled Putin to portray himself as the champion of traditional Christianity. Of course, the irony is mind-boggling: the KGB, the biggest killer of Christians in history, which has regularly used well-trained heterosexual and homosexual prostitute-spies to pursue its ends, is now hailed as the champion of traditional Christian values!… But the level of historical knowledge in the West is now so low that younger generations in America, for example, scarcely have the first idea of what the Russian revolution and the KGB was.

 

     “’Russia has been using this issue to develop a constituency in Muslim and African countries,’ says Mark Gevisser, an Open Society fellow who is writing a book on the global debate on gay rights. ‘This brand of ideological moral conservatism was originally minted in the US. It is highly ironic that these countries are mounting an anti-western crusade using a western tool. Moscow plays on opposition to gay rights most effectively closer to home. Last November, when it looked like the Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych was close to signing an Association Agreement with the European Union, billboards appeared across the country warning that the ‘EU means legislating same-sex marriage’ [‘EURO=HOMO’]. The campaign was paid for by Ukraine’s Choice, a group associated with the Kremlin-connected politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk.” 

 

     Putin’s problem here is: the extreme moral degradation of contemporary Russian society is plain for all to see. For under the watch of Putin and Gundiaev, these profoundly immoral moralists and, self-styled guardians of Christian morality, Russia’s already shocking statistics on a wide variety of social indices – social equality, corruption, alcoholism, drug-taking, child mortality, suicide – have got worse, making her comparable only to some of the poorest and most corrupt nations of the Third World. 

 

     Thus according to United Nations statistics cited by Vladimir Ruscher, occupies the following positions in the world league tables: 

 

     1st in suicides of adults, children and adolescents;

     1st in numbers of children born out of wedlock;

     1st in children abandoned by parents;

     1st in absolute decline in population;

     1st in consumption of spirits and spirit-based drinks;

     1st in consumption of strong alcohol;

     1st in tobacco sales;

     1st in deaths from alcohol and tobacco;

     1st in deaths from cardiovascular diseases;

     2nd in fake medicine sales;

     1st in heroin consumption (21st in world production).

 

     These statistics show that Russia, far from leading the world in virtue, is perhaps the most corrupt country of all. As regards general criminality, theft, corruption and murder (including abortion), Russia is very near the top of the league, and this not least because the government itself has taken the lead in these activities, making Russia into a mafia state run by and for a small clique of fantastically rich criminals. Thus the general picture is one of extreme moral degradation. 

 

     The most obvious explanation for this is that during Soviet rule religious faith was persecuted and the only accepted morality was the anti-Christian revolutionary morality. However, Putin deals with this problem by putting the blame exclusively on the Yeltsin period (because that was the most westernizing). Before Yeltsin, as he argued in 2012 in a speech to the Federal Assembly, Soviet society had been distinguished by “charity, compassion and sympathy” (!) “Today,” however, “Russian society has an obvious deficit in spiritual bonds, a deficit in everything that made us at all times stronger, more powerful, in which we always prided ourselves – that is, such phenomena as charity, compassion and sympathy… The situation that has been created is a consequence of the fact that some 15 to 20 years ago ‘the ideological stamps of the former epoch’ were rejected… Unfortunately, at that time many moral signposts were lost…”

 

     However, at the Valdai forum in 2013 Putin said that “many Euro-Atlantic countries have de facto gone down the path of the rejection of… Christian values. Moral principles are being denied… What could be a greater witness of the moral crisis of the human socium than the loss of the capacity for self-reproduction. But today practically all developed countries can no longer reproduce themselves. Without the values laid down in Christianity and other world religions, without the norms of ethics and morality formed in the course of millennia, people inevitably lose their human dignity. And we consider it natural and right to defend these values.”  

 

     The strange thing about this statement is that Putin seems entirely unconscious of the fact that with regard to the “Christian value” that he cites here, “self-reproduction”, Russia performs worse than any western country. Thus even after taking migration into account, the twenty-eight countries of the European Union have a natural growth in population that is twice as high as Russia’s! And if he is referring not to the balance between the birth rate and the death rate, but to homosexuality as a factor that by definition inhibits reproduction, then the situation is little better in Russia than in the West. For in spite of Putin’s much-vaunted ban on pro-gay propaganda to minors, the vice remains legal among adults. Thus many in Putin’s entourage are homosexual; during the Winter Olympiad there were two openly gay bars in Sochi; while a marriage between two women was recently registered officially in Moscow.   Homosexuality even flourishes in places from which it should have been banished first of all. Thus among the three hundred bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, 50 according to one estimate (Fr. Andrei Kuraiev) and 250 according to another (Fr. Gleb Yakunin) are homosexuals. It is even claimed that promotion up the hierarchical ladder of the MP is possible only by serving the sexual needs of a bishop higher up the ladder…     

 

     The fall in the population of the Russian Federation has been catastrophic, even worse than in the late Soviet period and unprecedented for peace-time conditions. But its causes are mysterious: after all, while Putin has regularly disposed of journalists and dissidents, he has not (yet) resorted to mass murder on a Stalinist scale… Of course, the fact that supposedly Orthodox Russia is first in the world, according to United Nations figures, in child mortality, alcoholism, abortion, narcotics-consumption, etc., accounts for part of the figures. But even when these factors are taken account of, much still remains to be explained. Nicholas Eberstadt writes that “as of 1980, the Russian population may well have been suffering the very highest incidence of mortality from diseases of the circulatory system that had ever been visited on a national population in the entire course of human history—up to that point in time. Over the subsequent decades, unfortunately, the level of CVD mortality in the Russian Federation veered further upward…. By 2006… Russia’s mortality levels from CVD alone were some 30% higher than deaths in Western Europe from all causes combined.” But what is the cause of this huge level of CVD mortality? The usual physical factors – poverty, over-eating, drinking, smoking – do not explain it. The real cause, concludes Masha Gessen, is psychological and spiritual. Russia is dying of a broken heart:-

 

     “Another major clue to the psychological nature of the Russian disease is the fact that the two brief breaks in the downward spiral coincided not with periods of greater prosperity but with periods, for lack of a more data-driven description, of greater hope. The Khrushchev era, with its post-Stalin political liberalization and intensive housing construction, inspired Russians to go on living. The Gorbachev period of glasnost and revival inspired them to have babies as well. The hope might have persisted after the Soviet Union collapsed—for a brief moment it seemed that this was when the truly glorious future would materialize—but the upheaval of the 1990s dashed it so quickly and so decisively that death and birth statistics appear to reflect nothing but despair during that decade.

 

     “If this is true—if Russians are dying for lack of hope, as they seem to be—then the question that is still looking for its researcher is, Why haven’t Russians experienced hope in the last quarter century? Or, more precisely in light of the grim continuity of Russian death, What happened to Russians over the course of the Soviet century that has rendered them incapable of hope? In The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt argues that totalitarian rule is truly possible only in countries that are large enough to be able to afford depopulation. The Soviet Union proved itself to be just such a country on at least three occasions in the twentieth century—teaching its citizens in the process that their lives are worthless. Is it possible that this knowledge has been passed from generation to generation enough times that most Russians are now born with it and this is why they are born with a Bangladesh-level life expectancy? Is it also possible that other post-Soviet states, by breaking off from Moscow, have reclaimed some of their ability to hope, and this is why even Russia’s closest cultural and geographic cousins, such as Belarus and Ukraine, aren’t dying off as fast? If so, Russia is dying of a broken heart—also known as cardiovascular disease.” 

 

     The Lord said: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12.1). In relation to no other sin is the Lord as fierce as in relation to hypocrisy, and His contest with the Pharisees was the most critical of His life; it led literally to His death. Pharisaism is bad enough in the individual, alienating him completely from the life in Christ. It is even more dangerous when it seizes hold upon a whole people that has, or once had, the knowledge of God, and which then, in combination with the passions of hatred, resentment, wounded pride and xenophobic nationalism, exposes Orthodoxy – for we are not talking only about Russian Orthodoxy here, but also to the other “Orthodox” nations who like to lambast the West - to ridicule or disgust among the non-Orthodox nations. “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you”, said the Prophet to the Jews when they were still the people of God (Ezekiel 16.27); and these words were echoed by the Apostle Paul in reference to the Jews of his time, when they had already fallen away (Romans 2.21). Again, the apostle said that “if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged” (I Corinthians 11.31) – but honest self-criticism is very rarely found among the Orthodox nations today…

 

*

 

     From 1991 until 2014, in spite of abortive attempts to free itself from its Soviet past, such as the 2004 “Orange” revolution, Ukraine remained in the grip of the Russian KGB, which did not hesitate to use violence and assassinations in order to impose its will on its satellite and retain its control over Ukraine’s economy, army and secret services  (not to mention its nuclear weapons, which were handed over to Russia in 1994). However, when the most flagrantly mafioso of Ukrainian Presidents, Yanukovich, was ejected by the popular rebellion of Euromaidan in February, 2014, and the country began to move decisively out of the Soviet orbit again, Putin decided on more decisive measures. His consequent annexation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbass in 2014 remains the issue that most divides Russians, and that brings the arguments over the legitimacy of his regime into starkest relief.

 

     The planning for this invasion began several years earlier… In 2008 Russia invaded Georgia, punishing them for their revolution in favour of the West and annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “Moreover,” writes Armando Marques Guedes, “the Russian Administration signalled it was set for a sort of repeat performance. Toward the end of December 2008, the Kremlin announced an upgrade and an unexpected large-scale restructuring of its Armed Forces, along with a change in its military doctrine. All of this – as was later explained by the Russian Minister of Defence – was engaged in so that her Armed Forces would be ready to fight on ‘three fronts simultaneously in local and regional conflicts such as that of Georgia’. He thereafter defined the ‘post-Soviet space’ as the preferred location for such interventions, which he envisioned as coming to pass ‘during the year’ of 2009…” 

 

     This actually came to pass a little later, in 2014, with the annexation of Crimea, the military intervention in the Donbass and the creation of the Donetsk and Lugansk “people’s republics”. All of these acts were, of course, violations of international laws that Russia herself had signed up to only very recently. Thus in 1994, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom had signed the “Budapest Memorandum”, whereby they jointly guaranteed the territorial inviolability of Ukraine, Belarus’ and Kazakhstan in exchange for the nuclear weapons of those countries passing to Russia… However, on 4 March 2014, the Russian president replied to a question on the violation of Budapest Memorandum by describing the current Ukrainian situation as a revolution, when "a new state arises”. But  “with this state and in respect to this state, we have not signed any obligatory documents". Russia stated she had never been under obligation to "force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will." Russia suggested that the US was in violation of the Budapest Memorandum, describing the Euromaidan as a US-instigated coup.”  

 

     In November, Putin said that he would not allow the military defeat of the pro-Russian side in the Donbass civil war, and said that those western governments who were supporting Kiev were supporting Russophobes. On December 4, Putin stated that the March 2014 annexation of Crimean was a "historic event" that would not be reversed because Crimea is "Russia's spiritual ground".

 

     Both the actions of Putin in Ukraine and the quasi-spiritual justification given for them by him are strongly reminiscent of those of Milošević in the former Yugoslavia.  In both cases, the strategy was to rebuild a failed communist empire-state by stirring up ethnic conflicts in neighbouring states that had separated from the empire. Then troops were sent in on the pretence of “liberating” co-ethnics from their supposedly “fascist” oppressors. However, the most striking parallel to Putin’s actions in the Ukraine comes from the truly fascist state of Nazi Germany in 1938, when Hitler carved up Czechoslovakia on the pretence of rescuing the Sudeten Germans from their Czech oppressors. Nor is this the only similarity between the regimes of Putin and Hitler.  

 

     These similarities are the result not only of the general close similarity between the “twin totalitarianisms” of communism and fascism, but also of the fact that Russia never underwent a “decommunization” programme in 1991 comparable to that undergone by Germany in 1945. In fact, she is now actively “re-communizing” herself; both the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine and Russia herself have seen a flourishing of Soviet “culture”. Thus icons of Stalin and hagiographies of the great leader have become commonplace. Moreover, statues of Lenin have been re-erected, and the hammer-and-sickle and other communist symbolism again feature in many places (even in conjunction with the Cross of Christ!). 

 

     Ukraine, by contrast, has been tearing down statues of Lenin at a great rate all over the country ; genuine elections have been held; and most recently and significantly President Poroshenko and the Ukrainian parliament have passed legislation whose aim is the final decommunization of Ukraine.  

 

     The legislation consists of four bills. The first acknowledges a long list of movements and organizations that fought for a Ukraine independent of the Soviets. The “taboo” on these organizations is now lifted, and their deeds can be openly and freely analyzed by historians and others without fear of reprisals. The second bill opens the secret police archives, thereby making possible impartial historiography and the prosecution of communist criminals. The third bill says that Second World War began in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, rather than in 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The fourth bill prohibits the “propaganda of the Communist and/or National Socialist totalitarian regimes” in Ukraine. “In addition,” writes Alexander Motyl, “to advocating the removal of Communist monuments and public symbols and the renaming of streets and cities, the bill attempts to distinguish between materials that promote Communist and Nazi regimes, which is prohibited, and those that express pro-regime views, which would not be deemed illegal… The assumption underlying the [four] bills is that since communism and Nazism were equally evil ideologies, condemnation of one necessarily entails, both logically and morally, condemnation of the other. If de-Nazification is crucial, so too is decommunization.” 

 

     Of course, legislation is one thing, and its full implementation is another; and it must be admitted that the influence of the robber-barons is still strongly felt in Ukraine, and not only in the occupied areas.  In particular, there is evidence that the Russian KGB still has strong influence in the Ukrainian armed forces.  Nevertheless, these bills are precisely the kind of legislation that provides proof that a country is serious about decommunizing itself. 

 

     Naturally, this represents an extreme ideological threat to those who have no intention of being decommunized. As Sergei Yekelchyk writes: "The Ukrainian revolution of 2014 threatens the ideology of Putin’s regime. It questions Russia’s identity. It challenges Russia’s plan to restore its influence in the region. It also shows that a Putinite regime can be destroyed by a popular revolution. No wonder Russia has recalled its ambassador from Ukraine and refuses to recognize the country’s new government..." 

 

     Patriarch Cyril of Moscow supports Putin’s Ukrainian policy to the hilt, even though it is even more disastrous for his church than for the state, since it divides his flock down the middle. There is a real possibility that a large part of the Ukrainian part of the MP, at present the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in the country, might leave the MP and join other jurisdictions (such as the Kievan Patriarchate). This would be a shattering blow to the MP, engaged as it is not only in a struggle with what it calls the Ukrainian schismatics, but behind them with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who supports them. The Ukrainian bishops appear to be standing loyally behind the new government in Kiev (even if the sympathies of some are probably with Moscow); they have been pleading with Putin not to invade the sovereign territory of the Ukraine, and have blessed Ukrainian soldiers to defend their homeland against invasion. Patriarch Cyril, by contrast, has been 150% behind Putin, saying that he hopes the Ukrainians will not resist the Russian army! Moreover, according to Russian media, the press-service of the MP has declared that “the Russian people is a nation divided on its own historical territory; it has the right to reunite it in a single state organism”. What can this mean if not that the whole of the Ukraine should be absorbed into the Russian Federation? But this is something that not even Putin (or “Putler”, as he is now often called on the Russian internet) has been so bold as to affirm – although he does not mind his acolytes, like Zhirinovsky and Dugin, floating the idea in public…

 

     But if Ukraine falls out of the Russian sphere of influence, then there is a further danger that separatist movements will break out inside the Russian Federation itself. This could begin among the Crimean Tatars , and then spread to other regions such as the North Caucasus and Tatarstan. Turkey may then decide to take up the cause of the Russian Sunni Muslims… This in turn creates the further danger that Putin will form an alliance with the Iranian Shiites and declare a holy war on Sunni Islam, beginning with the Caucasian tribes on his southern border, continuing with the absorption of already half-conquered Georgia, and then going on into war-torn Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia (which he vowed to “destroy” in August, 2013) and Israel… Indeed, Putin’s propagandist, Alexander Dugin, who believes that Putin is literally “all”, was probably acting as his master’s voice when he said, on January 4, 2016: “The Culture of Awaiting Solidarity with Shiites, the common struggle together with them against our common enemy -- American based ultra-radical pseudo-Islamism in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrein, everywhere -- is our duty as Russians. Russian-Shia alliance is not only the geopolitical necessity, it is based on the deep spiritual roots. One Ayatollah in Qom during conversation with me has called it The Culture of Awaiting. We are waiting indeed the coming of Better World and final appearance of our divine Guide. The USA, NATO and its Middle East proxies and puppets (Saudi or Qatar as well as Israel) are the obstacles on the way of Second Coming. They are doomed. The Saudi regime must die first. They are but usurpers and liars. It is a kind of Eurasian fatwa. Glory to the Sheikh Nimr an-Nimr [the Shia leader executed by the Saudi authorities on January 2, 2016].”

 

     The signs are that Putin is already preparing for such a regional war, which will certainly turn into a world war; and the population is being stirred up into a bellicose state by the state media. Putin is undoubtedly primarily moved by geopolitical and mercenary motives: but this is not to say that he will not gladly use “spiritual” propaganda as well. And the spiritual propagandists argue in this vein: “Little Russia” was for centuries part of the Russian Orthodox state, and therefore the restoration of Ukraine to Russia – and especially of Crimea, where Russian Orthodoxy began with the baptism of St. Vladimir in Cherson in 988 – is simply historical justice, reinforced by the multiple ties of language, blood and religion that unite the two countries; Ukraine is an inalienable part of the “Russian world”. 

 

     However, this begs the question: is the present Russian Federation the lawful successor of the Russian Orthodox empire? And the answer, clearly, is: no. In fact, neither Russia nor Ukraine can claim to be successors of the Russian empire on their territory. For neither State is truly Orthodox; both are struggling – Ukraine more successfully than Russia at the moment – to liberate themselves from their Soviet heritage, on the way to restoring, hopefully, that truly Orthodox statehood that they both betrayed in the Russian revolution… 

 

     The “spiritual” propagandists argue that since Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, Putin has the right and duty to “reclaim” it and force it back into the historical Russian empire. Thus the Orthodox publicist Mikhail Nazarov writes: “Ukraine (Little Russia), as the historical cradle of Rus’, is a part of thousand-year-old Russia that is dear to us, and for us it is not a foreign state, but is a part of our people that has been artificially and unlawfully cut off from us by its enemies against its will.” 

 

     “Against its will”? Certainly not. Whether or not one likes the Ukrainians’ decision to stay separate from the Russian Federation, there can be no doubt that this is what they chose – and freely. In 1991, when the Soviet Union began to fall apart, the Ukrainians voted decisively in favour of independence. 

 

     It is worth recalling the poll figures in order to understand how decisive this decision was in every part of the Ukraine, including the Russian-speaking regions of Crimea and Donbass. Thus 92.3% of the population as a whole voted for independence. In the Russian-language provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk the majorities were 83% and 77% respectively, while in Crimea the majority was 54%...

 

    Nazarov’s defence of the invasion was made in the context of an illuminating dialogue on the war in Ukraine between himself and Prioress Euphrosyne (Molchanova) of Lesna monastery in France. His position is, in essence, that since contemporary Russia, for all its undisputed evils, is still the Third Rome, and therefore the last bastion of True Christianity – potentially, if not actually – against the real and greatest threat to civilization in the modern world, the Jewish-American Antichrist, it should be supported against Ukraine, America’s satrap. Let us look at his argument in a little more detail.

 

     In some ways, Nazarov’s anti-Americanism recalls the polemic of Alexander Dugin, who also plays with the concept of “Moscow – the Third Rome”, and who expresses a hatred of America so intense as to demonstrate that, while he may have abandoned the ideology of the Soviet era, he has by no means been exorcised of its ruling spirit: “An ominous and alarming country on the other side of the ocean. Without history, without tradition, without roots. An artificial, aggressive, imposed reality, completely devoid of spirit, concentrated only on the material world and technical effectiveness, cold, indifferent, an advertisement shining with neon light and senseless luxury; darkened by pathological poverty, genetic degradation and the rupture of all and every person and thing, nature and culture. It is the result of a pure experiment of the European rationalist utopians.

 

     “Today it is establishing its planetary dominion, the triumph of its way of life, its civilizational model over all the peoples of the earth. And over us. In itself and only in itself does it see ‘progress’ and ‘civilizational norms’, refusing everyone else the right to their own path, their own culture, their own system of values.

 

     “How wonderfully exactly does all this remind us of the prophecy concerning the coming into the world of the Antichrist… 

 

     “To close down America is our religious duty…”  

 

     Nazarov does not speak about “closing down” America (still less about reducing it to “nuclear ash”, as does another Putinist propagandist, Dmitri Kiselev). But he accepts the Putinist theory that in the Russo-Ukrainian war it is really America that is fighting Russia under the Ukrainian flag, and that America is the Antichrist. And for that reason alone, in his opinion, it is right – indeed, vitally important and one’s duty as an Orthodox Christian - to support the Russian side, in spite of the fact, as Molchanova rightly points out, that it is Russians and Ukrainians who are suffering and dying, not Americans. For “I can agree with your understanding of what should be,” he writes to Molchanova, “but not in your apprehension of what is really happening and could be in contemporary Russia.” 

     And so he begins his argument thus: “It was pleasing to God, for the uncovering of the spiritual meaning of history to mankind, that the most antichristian people, who was preparing the kingdom of its messiah-antichrist, should find itself on the territory of the most Christian kingdom, the Third Rome, and enter into apocalyptic conflict with it. In order to crush the Orthodox Kingdom, all the external and internal anti-Russian forces were mobilized. Also multiplied were the apostatic sins of the Russian upper classes, which became the inner reason for its fall. But it was allowed by the Lord as a final means of our sobering up ‘from the reverse’.

     “Such a sobering up has not yet taken place at the level of the state, and perhaps will never take place. But is there in the world another people with such experience of resisting the forces of the Antichrist and with such knowledge of the meaning of history as the sobered-up part of the Russian people – albeit a very small part (the three percent mentioned above)? Where in the world are there more favourable conditions for the creation of the Camp and the City [Revelation 20.9]?...”

     So far we can agree with Nazarov. The Russian people have indeed had unique experience in resisting the power of the Antichrist in the form of Soviet power, and therefore it is reasonable to suppose – and fully in accord with the prophecies of the saints – that Russia in the future should constitute the last refuge of True Christianity during the reign of the personal Antichrist. The problem is: the number of those who are “sobered-up” is far smaller than the three percent he mentions, the Soviet Antichrist is still in power in its Putinist mutation, and the vast majority of the Russian people are now following Putin with unashamed enthusiasm. So at the moment they are not in the Camp and City of the Saints, but in the camp and city of Gog and Magog – the Antichrist. The implication must be that Putin’s regime must be destroyed before the resurrection of Holy Russia can take place…

     “However, let us examine the essence of the post-Soviet regime of the Russian Federation. You write: ‘The contemporary and Soviet authorities are one and the same. The Putinist regime at all times and in all place confesses itself to be the direct heir of the Soviet regime, which, in the words of Archbishop Nathanael (Lvov), ‘justifies, whitewashes and praises the greatest cruelties, deceptions, violence and in general trampling upon all the Divine and human laws, the greatest crimes that have ever been committed in human history.’ 

     “I share your rejection both of the Soviet regime and the unworthy rulers of the Russian Federation, but I see their essence in something else. So as not to waste time (I’m already tired of writing), I shall cite an excerpt form the final, 25th chapter of ‘The Mission of the Russian Emigration’ (2014) which I should have shortened here, but did not succeed in doing. I consider this analysis important for the understanding also of the essence of the whole present world balance of forces, and for a correct relationship to this clergy ‘brought up from childhood in ROCOR, living in the West, but always considering itself Russian’.

     “’Of course, the present regime in the Russian Federation contradicts the Russian national tradition and historical truth, tramples on spiritual values and corrupts the people. Everywhere they are carefully preserving Soviet symbolism and the monuments to the God-fighting executioners, the Vandal destroyers of Russia (while their destruction is called ‘vandalism’), the communist festivals are celebrated as usual or given a new face in a cunning manner. This is nothing else than a continuing resistance to God, which is depriving our country of God’s help.”

     True, too true. And the question then naturally arises: if God is depriving this accursed state of help, why should any Russian support it? Do not the supporters of Putin’s regime in this way resist God? How can good come from supporting such manifest evil which God – by Nazarov’s own admission – refuses to support?

     “Nevertheless, to call this regime ‘Soviet and Chekist’ is not accurate. This is another form of resistance to God that is closer to the Western type.

     “During the years of the Cold war between the West and the USSR, the well-known ROCOR ideologues Archbishop Averky (Taushev) and Archimandrite Konstantin (Zaitsev) foresaw this regeneration of the Soviet regime (cf. chapter 24), and already at that time they noted: ‘God-fighting Marxist Communism, or Bolshevism, the struggle with which is placed by all nationalist Russian patriots as their main task, is only one of the children of this ‘world evil’. To struggle against it means to cut off the branches without noticing the trunk and the root that gave them birth and nourished them’ [Archbishop Averky (Taushev). The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God over Russia and the Russian Church Abroad // Contemporary Life in the Light of the Word of God. Sermons and Speeches, Jordanville, 1975, vol. II, pp. 514-515]. Since then the regime has changed still more in the direction of this basic ‘trunk’ from which it grew. Here are only a few of the basic differences between the former and the present regime.”

     Three great lying ideologies predominate in today’s world – the ideology of individual human rights, or liberalism, the ideology of individual national rights, or nationalism, and the ideology of collective human rights, or communism. They are like the three unclean spirits seen by the God-seer: “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (Revelation 16.13). While all of them have roots going way back in human history, they all came out into the open together at approximately the same time and place – France during the French Revolution. In this sense they are all children of the same world evil, and it is perfectly true that in order to fight evil at the root, it is necessary to be aware of all three of the evil branches.  

     “1. The communist ideology in the Russian Federation is not the state ideology. ‘No ideology can be established in the capacity of a state ideology’ (article 13 of the constitution of the RF), - although in practice it merges into the state ‘democratic’ ideology in imitation of the liberal principles of the legalization of sin. In the RF because of the conservatism of our people, things have not gone so far as the introduction of one-sex marriages, incest, euthanasia, etc. – this, in the eyes of despairing normal Europeans even makes the RF a bastion of ‘Christian values’…”

     Earlier we discussed the way in which Putin has tried to include all constituencies in his doctrine of “sovereign democracy”. This doctrine means, in effect, that Russia is a “democracy” and Putin is her sovereign. Thus, as Roger Bootle writes, “In place of the tired and rotten value system of Communism, the prime value and objective of the modern Russian state is quite simply pro bono Putino…”  But this, too, is quintessentially communist; for in the last analysis Lenin and Stalin did not rule for the benefit of anyone other than themselves, as absolute dictators who were prepared to kill anybody to remain in power…

     Certainly, Putin’s regime is not Marxist-Leninist. However, the spirit of communism is still palpable; and the resurrection of Soviet symbolish and the veneration of communist heroes, including Stalin, hardly gives ground for believing that old-style communism is dead. Above all, the retention of Lenin’s mausoleum with its rotting corpse is a clear sign that the past is just waiting to leap back into the present… 

     “2. The economic system of the RF is not socialist, but its complete opposite – so-called Capitalism in its worst, criminal-oligarchial variant. The people’s heritage was seized after the fall of the USSR by the nomenclatura of the CPSU and its trusted representatives. Moreover, the state sector of the economy in the RF is in many profitable branches even smaller than, for example, in Germany or the Scandinavian countries – in the RF everything that was most valuable (in spite of its value to the state) was immediately farmed out to the newly created billionaires close to the authorities, whom the state even supports from the state budget in crisis moments.

     “3. In contrast with the USSR, the freedom of the word in the RF is not under total control with the threat of repressions for any dissident paper, while it is effect in the western manner: that is – complete control over the main media while ‘a squeak of freedom’ is allowed in small-circulation publications and internet-blogs. Although this private sphere of freedom is also being (‘what is not in the media does not exist’) constantly restricted, and the list of banned literature is increasing and article 282 of the Criminal Codex of the RF works unceasingly, nevertheless every thinking man, if he wants it, can find and read truthful information on the internet. Even on Central Television channels, which are filled with Soviet and neo-Soviet films (for example, on the Civil War) truthful versions sometimes break through, as also documentary films on pre-revolutionary Russia, the revolution, collectivization and the GULag. True, ‘antisovietism’ is generally given out in westernising interpretations, and it is usually westernisers and communists (for example, Svanidze vs. Kurginian) who take part in television discussions of the Soviet period, while the Russian Orthodox evaluation is not allowed, for it would demonstrate the lie of both sides. 

     “There is undoubtedly a general ‘Soviet patriotism’ tendency among the present rulers; they preserve their succession from the USSR both in symbolism and in the system of school education and in external politics. However, to call this ‘the re-establishment of the Soviet regime’ is also not true. Putin’s aims and those of his ruling elite, which emerged from the CPSS and the KGB, is different: to launder and ennoble the past Soviet order as being their own past and the legitimate basis of succession of their own power, exalting its scientific-technical, military, sporting and other achievements, and especially its victory in the Second World War, which has been turned into some kind of hysterical-religious ritual. This neo-Soviet mythology, with its evident harmfulness for the prestige of our country in the eyes of our Eastern European neighbours, has been implanted not for ideological, but for pragmatic ends, our of a refusal to offer personal repentance for their complicity in the strengthening of the God-fighting Marxist regime and for serving it. Therefore the people continues to be fooled, its ‘Sovietism’ is encouraged, as is its spiritual illiteracy together with its debauchery by western liberalism through television – for it is simpler to rule this people by means of material goods given in doses. After all, this is the basic principle of western democracy, but not of the communist order with its ‘Moral codex’. (By the way, it is in approximately the same way, without any repentance, that the USA by means of Hollywood ‘ennobled’ and laundered its racist genocide of the American Indians, and the French – their God-fighting French revolution.)”

     Here Nazarov makes a very eloquent case against Putin. How, after all this, can it be argued that his regime, which claims to be, and in essence and spirit is, the successor of the Soviet regime, should be supported in a fratricidal war against a nation that is struggling to escape its Soviet past? Let us remind ourselves of certain facts that Nazarov appears to have forgotten.

     The Russian Orthodox Church was faced with the question of whether it was right to obey and support the Soviet state very shortly after the revolution, and came up with an unequivocal answer: the Soviet State is cursed by God, and no confessing Orthodox Christian can recognize it. Already on November 11, 1917 the Local Council of the Russian Church meeting in Moscow declared that Soviet power was “descended from the Antichrist and possessed by atheism”: “Open combat is fought against the Christian Faith, in opposition to all that is sacred, arrogantly abasing all that bears the name of God (II Thessalonians 2.4)… But no earthly kingdom founded on ungodliness can ever survive: it will perish from internal strife and party dissension. Thus, because of its frenzy of atheism, the State of Russia will fall… For those who use the sole foundation of their power in the coercion of the whole people by one class, no motherland or holy place exists. They have become traitors to the motherland and instigated an appalling betrayal of Russia and her true allies. But, to our grief, as yet no government has arisen which is sufficiently one with the people to deserve the blessing of the Orthodox Church. And such will not appear on Russian soil until we turn with agonizing prayer and tears of repentance to Him, without Whom we labour in vain to lay foundations…”

 

     This attitude was confirmed and sealed by his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon in his famous anathema against the Bolsheviks on January 18 / February 1, 1918, which was enthusiastically endorsed by the whole Council some days later. The holy patriarch, who was martyred for the Faith in 1925, exhorted the faithful to have “no dealings whatsoever” with “those outcasts of humanity”, the Bolsheviks. Some have argued that this anathema was addressed only to individual Bolsheviks who carried out acts of sacrilege against the Church and believers. However, in 1923 the patriarch confirmed that he had anathematized precisely “the Soviet state”. Moreover, the anathema fell not only on the Bolsheviks, but also on all those who cooperated with them.

 

     An anathema on a state is unprecedented in Orthodox history. The only possible parallel is the virtual declaration of war on Julian the Apostate by SS. Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. The truly Orthodox Church and the Soviet state were – and are - irreconcilable foes…

     Nazarov continues: “5. This ‘neosovietization’ is also based on the people’s psychological nostalgia for the state order in the USSR, its more solid standard of life, its lower rate of criminality and greater social equality, and also on nostalgia for its lost ‘imperial’ state might (military, geopolitical).

     “Such nostalgia is nourished by the present blatantly anti-Russian politics of the USA and their European vassals, with their cynical ‘double standards’ and egging on of all the RF’s opponents against her. In rejecting such western russophobia, the rulers of the RF usually resort to the inertia of the recent Cold war, ‘patriotically’ whitewashing and justifying its external politics – defensively now, not aggressively, as in the past (hence the re-establishment of pragmatic unions with communist and leftist regimes). But this in its turn is nourished by western affirmations that the RF is continuing its Soviet aggressive politics.” 

     Which, of course, it is! In fact, there can be little doubt that since the invasion of Georgia in 2008 Putin’s regime has become no less aggressive than the Soviet Union was, albeit from a weaker power base. The major difference, in fact, is in the West’s response, which has been much more hesistant and divided than in the past, largely because of the successful propaganda war waged by Putin’s propagandists all around the world. 

     “Most of all, the ruling elite of the RF would like to be accepted in the western, ‘pan-human family’ with its apostatic course. In the 1993 constitution of the RF, article 15, point 4, the primacy of international law over Russian laws was affirmed. The rulers of the RF are even dreaming of joining the membership of the world’s behind-the-scenes elite (forgiving it all its crimes against historical Russia) – as was openly recognized by the general director of the Information-Analysis agency for the administration of President Putin’s affairs, A.A. Ignatov:

     “’The critical factor influencing contemporary globalization processes is the activity of the World government. Without going into the distressing details that are sketched by numerous conspiracy theories, we must recognize that this supra-national structure carries out its role as the staff headquarters of the ‘New World Order’ completely effectively. However, this organization orients itself in its work on the interests of a small elite, which is united by ethnic kinship and initiative in the lodges with destructive intentions. This circumstance – the usurpation of power in the World government by a Hasidic, para-Masonic group – needs to be corrected as soon as possible… The Russian elite must join the World government and its structures… and have the opportunity to influence the decisions taken by the secret international structures of power’ (A. Ignatov, Strategia ‘globalizatsionnogo liderstva’ dlia Rossii (The Strategy of a Globalized Leadership for Russia), Nezavisimaia Gazeta (The Independent Newspaper), September 7, 2000).”

     However, this news is surely out of date now. In the 1990s and early 2000s, it certainly made sense for the KGB to infiltrate Russia’s leaders into the global elite, since Russia’s leaders were heavily involved in globalization for the maximisation of their ill-gotten and criminal gains. And there is little doubt that the global elite would have given, and probably did in fact give, the Russians “a place on the board” - as long as they played according to their rules. (We must remember that Yeltsin became a Freemason in 1992.) But when they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they broke those rules. And so the G8 group of top economies expelled Russia - it is now the G7 – and sanctions followed. Now Russia has the choice: play by the West’s rules or force it to do Russia’s will by coercive means… 

     “Therefore the present ‘neosovietization’ of Putin is just a simulachrum (from the Latin simulo, ‘I give the appearance, I pretend’) – a copy having no original in reality. By its resort to Soviet symbolism (as by its parasitism on pre-revolutionary history, ‘reburial’ of the heritage of the Russian emigration), the present authority is only trying to cover up its destructive essence and receive legitimacy in the eyes of its own people. And it is necessary to rebuke the present leaders of the RF precisely in this, main point – its western-oligarchical, Compradorian resistance to God (it’s still worse in Ukraine)… The present ‘democratic’ corruption of the people is even more dangerous than was the crude and lying Soviet dictatorship. The lie of ‘communism’ with its partisan stupidity was easier to recognize than the present lie, which has hundreds of new masks of ‘good’, of new manifesations in which the truth simply drowns in an ocean of lies, and is not crudely banned by the former methods. And unfortunately all this is covered up in a conformist manner by the church leadership, which is itself interested in ‘laundering’ the Soviet regime, so as not to repent of having served it.”

     If, under Putin, the Soviet lie has been replaced by a still subtler and more dangerous one, then of course his regime should be still more firmly rejected! However, Nazarov points here to the worst lie of all, whose origin is by no means the West, but the East: that his regime goes under the name of “Orthodox”. Archimandrite Konstantin (Zaitsev) of Jordanville once said that the greatest crime of the Soviet State was to create the Soviet church, the MP. Putin’s neo-Soviet regime has trumped the old one in claiming to be Orthodox itself. This is the biggest lie of all – and an extremely successful one so far.

     “9. However, too often criticism of the present authorities by the ‘true anticommunists’ does not distinguish the simulachre from the essence of the power, and its interests from the national-historical rights of the people. Hence the very striking phenomenon of the ‘true anti-communists’’ support for the Ukr-American revolution in Ukraine and its punitive war against rebellious New Russia (‘O God, give victory to the Ukrainians and Russians over the Chekist RF’). That is, this blind, haughty ‘trueness’ is being turned into the same Russophobia, which differs little from the western variety; and the realization of its calls can lead in fact only to the overthrow of one group of oligarchs by another (which is what happened in Ukraine in 2014).”

     One has to admire the ingenuity of Nazarov in supporting the anathematized Chekist regime of Putin even while providing a host of excellent reasons why it is destroying the Russian people! He thinks that the overthrow of Putin and his oligarchs will only lead to the instalment of another band of criminals. Possibly – although it is difficult to see how things could be any worse than they are now. One thing is certain: if Putin remains in power and conquers the Ukraine (with the help of ‘untrue anti-communists’ like Nazarov), then the progress already being made in the decommunization of the country will be reversed – at the cost, probably, of hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian lives. Moreover, it is almost certain that the West would intervene before the whole of Ukraine has been conquered – leading without fail to the greatest and most destructive war in history.

     “10. In such a situation, remembering the experience of the Russian emigration and remembering ‘the fragility of Russia’, the morally justified choice is not that of one of the two sides in this confrontation between the plans of the world’s secret government and the plans of Putin, but that of the Russian Orthodox ‘third force’ in its defence of the historical rights and traditions of our people in hoping on God’s help…””

     At first sight, this sudden turn in Nazarov’s argument is attractive. Why should we not reject both Putin’s “sovereign democracy” and Ukraine’s “western democracy” in this war, adopting a neutral stance behind this Orthodox “third force”? The trouble is: apart from the fact that neutrality is impossible, and Nazarov himself is by no means neutral, it is by no means clear what this “third force” is. It cannot be the thoroughly Sovietized and heretical MP. It cannot be ROCOR-A (which has expelled Nazarov!). Does he mean the future True Orthodox Tsar, which several of the prophecies speak about? If so, why doesn’t he mention him openly? 

     The truth is: the Russian people today are like the Israelites in Egypt, but without a Moses. Nazarov’s task seems to be to reconcile them to the rule of Pharaoh without mentioning the possibility of a Moses. It is as if he is saying: “Yes, Pharaoh is evil and oppressive; but we must obey him and support him in all his evil wars because there is in fact a still greater threat to our faith and nationhood coming from across the Tigris and Euphrates…”

     But however great the threat posed by western civilization, the immediate and far greater threat to the salvation (in both a personal and a national sense) of the Russian people has to be the threat coming from inside Russia, from the neo-Soviet state of Putin and the neo-Soviet (and ecumenist) church of Gundiaev. God is not expecting the Russian people to save (or destroy) the West before they have saved themselves; charity begins at home, as does resistance to evil (David said: “Depart from evil” and then “do good”). The Russian revolution was created mainly by Russians, 80% of whom voted for socialist parties in 1917 without any significant encouragement from the West. Their task now is to repent thoroughly of that, and cast the last remnants of the rotten leaven of the Russian revolution out of their lives. Then, and then only, will it be the right time to turn to the wider world and extirpate it of Eurosodom and other related evils, if this is the task God gives them.

     “In this polemic, honourable Mother Euphrosyne, I see the basic watershed in the following. My older instructors in the emigration at the beginning taught me, ‘a simple anti-Soviet’, to distinguish between the anti-national rulers and the people with its historical, lawful interests. In the tradition of ROCOR and the whole Russian Orthodox emigration it was always accepted that the Russian people with its historical rights should be distinguished from the criminal government. That is how the fathers of ROCOR acted, denouncing western Russophobia, the ‘Law on the enslaved nations’, the separatist politics of Radio Liberty. ROCOR always defended the territorial integrity of the Russian people and historical Russia even under the Communist God-fighting authorities, which had destroyed tens of millions of people. The ROCOR Synod also released a declaration against NATO’s aggression in defence of Serbia in spite of the fact that its then leader was the Communist Milošević. And could the real historical ROCOR today stand on the side of the ‘ATO’ punishers, the defenders of the Leninist-Khruschevian boundaries of a state of ‘Ukraine’ that never existed independently, of the Ukronazis of the ‘Right Sector’ and their western protectors?”

     Nazarov should be careful: the language of “rights”, whether human or national, is a western language deriving from the French revolution: it has no place in discussions of God’s judgements about the nations. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof”, and He gives it to whom He wills – temporarily and on trust. If we are believers, then we know that God changes the boundaries of the nations in accordance with His justice and for the sake of the salvation of the peoples – all the peoples – living in them, not because of any specious “rights”. Do the Jews have the right to rule present-day Israel. No they do not! Not even the King of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ admitted them that right before His death, having given “to Caesar what is Caesar’s”; still less did He accord them that right after they had killed Him, but scattered them in exile across the face of the earth. Do the Russians have the right to the whole of the former Russian empire now? Absolutely not! “The owner of the Russian land” under God was Tsar Nicholas II. But the Russians killed the lawful owner of the land and seized it for themselves. As a result, part of the Russian people was exiled like the Jews of old, while the rest were subjected to tortures in Russia herself, now given over to new owners and under a new name.

     Nor is Nazarov being accurate in saying that the ROCOR Fathers made a strict distinction between the “bad” rulers of the USSR and the “good” people. On the contrary: both Archbishop Averky and St. John Maximovich declared that the whole of the Russian people were guilty of the sins of oath-breaking and regicide, thereby subjecting themselves not only to the 1918 anathema on those who cooperated with Soviet power but also to the curse of the Sobor of 1613 on those who would betray the Romanov dynasty. Of course, true repentance wipes out all sin; and the Holy New Martyrs, together with the best Christians of the Catacombs and Abroad, have proved by their confession and deeds that they are no longer under the curse. But not the whole people by any means…   

     On the first day of Great Lent, the Church reads the following words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints; from the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it” (1.5-6). And if it be objected that the leaders are worse than the followers, we may agree – with this important qualification: that “if the blind follow the blind, they both fall into the pit” (Matthew 15.14). For as Isaiah says again: “The elder and honourable, he is the head; the prophet who teaches likes, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men, nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows, for everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly” (9.15-17).

     So let us put away all talk of “rights”. The people that has sinned as the Orthodox Russian people sinned has no rights! It can only beg for mercy from the Just God, realizing that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.22). Indeed, it is precisely because of the priveleges God gave them in the past – being subjects of a truly Orthodox king, with access to the true faith and true sacraments – that they have been punished more severely than any other nation and been deprived of all their former rights and priveleges, being more guilty than the surrounding nations (even the Americans!). For “to whom much has been given, of him much will be demanded” (Luke 12.48).

     “No other people in the world has, even to a minimal degree…, that understanding of the meaning of history which has been preserved in the Orthodox teaching… This is revealed even among the spiritually illiterate Russian patriots and politicians, albeit in naïve, utopian, chiliastic beliefs and hopes in a special ‘messianic’ role for Russia in human history. It remains for us, in spite of everything, to preserve and spread a truly Orthodox understanding of Russianness and a true evaluation of what is happening in the hope of becoming worthy of God’s help. This hidden potential of the Russian people, which is able to reveal itself if it acquires a spiritual leadership, worries the secret world government exceedingly, since it is the indestructible Russian archetype, incompatible with the New World Order. Therefore the world system of evil continues to this day its preventative war against Russia independently of her regime.” 

     Here we come to the core of Nazarov’s faith in Putinist Russia. The Russian people, in his view, have a special “historiosophical” understanding of history, and a special continuing role in it. Surely he means here that Russia is still, now, the Third Rome, the only power capable of resisting the Jewish-American Antichrist; it is, or will be, “the City and Camp of the Saints”. However, he refrains from saying this openly because he does not want to be identified with “the spiritually illiterate Russian patriots and politicians” and their “naïve, utopian, chiliastic beliefs and hopes in a special ‘messianic’ role for Russia in human history”. But surely he should be more honest: as his writings have shown, he himself has definite beliefs and hopes in Russia’s messianic role, although his hopes and beliefs are, of course, not “native, utopian, chiliastic”?

     The fact is: it is perfectly possible to believe in a special messianic role for Russia while rejecting completely the Putin regime and all its works, both within and outside the country. Indeed, the complete rejection of the Russian revolution in all its phases and incarnations, including the present one, is an absolute condition of the resurrection of Russia as a truly Orthodox state. For in no other way can the curse of 1613 and the anathema of 1918 be lifted from the Russian people. 

     Before the revolution, St. John of Kronstadt said that Russia without a tsar would be “a stinking corpse”. His prophecy has proved accurate, not only for the Soviet period, but also for the post-Soviet period, which should more precisely be called the neo-Soviet period. St. John’s opinion was echoed by the last true elder of the Russian Church Abroad, Archimandrite Nektary of Eleon (+2000): “For him, all governments in Russia after the overthrow of the Tsar on March 2, 1917 – whether the February-democratic government, the Bolshevik, or another – were enemies of God.”  

 

     But is it too much to hope that the stinking corpse of Lenin may finally be cast out of its mausoleum on Red Square, as that of the false Dmitri was cast out (through the barrel of a gun) in 1612? Could a real regeneration then take place, as it did in 1613, so that the purified, renewed and reinvigorated body of Orthodox Russia will shine forth again in all its splendour, as the holy prophets said that it would? Could we be on the eve of that radical searching and repentance of Russian minds that, as the holy elders said, is the essential prerequisite of the resurrection of Holy Rus’? 

 

     It is indeed possible, but only if we remember that cancer remains dangerous and life-threatening even when only a few cancerous cells remain in the body; it has to be thoroughly extirpated. In the same way, the present recommunization led by Putin has to be extirpated completely. “Do you now know,” asks the Apostle Paul, “that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened” (I Corinthians 5.6-7). For, as Metropolitan Anastasy (Gribanovsky), first-hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, wrote in 1938: “There is nothing more dangerous than if Russia were to want to assimilate anything from the sad inheritance left by degenerate Bolshevism: everything that its corrupting atheist hand has touched threatens to infect us again with the old leprosy.”

 

February 16 / March 1, 2017.

 

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