August 27, 2014

Russian Orthodox Church Urges Political and Legal Treatment of Crimes Committed by Bolsheviks

Moscow, April 18, Interfax – Proposals on de-totalization recently made by the President’s Council for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights have long come to a head, the Moscow Patriarchate believes.

“It is quite evident that such proposals should have been made long before. It is necessary to give legal and political treatment of the crimes committed by the Bolsheviks’ regime. Not only do they include Stalin’s crimes, but also those committed by Lenin, Dzherzhinsky and Trotsky,” Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations said in an interview to Rossiyskiye Vesti weekly.

He believes it is necessary to commemorate the victims of the bloody Bolsheviks’ coup and “stop glorifying the butches by naming streets in their honour.”

“At the same time, we should avoid replacing the Soviet society, despite its distorted attitudes, with the consumer society which prevents people from having any big goals,” Father Vsevolod believes.

Commenting the assertion of the above proposals that “the civil war lasted 70 years”, he said “the civil war did not last 70 years: it has been a civil confrontation caused by the Bolsheviks’ coup and still pending. We are here to stop it.”

Father Vsevolod disagreed with the statement that “the whole Europe is responsible for launching World Wars I and II.”

“Governments of several Western countries are responsible for launching World War I. However, I would not release some members of the Triple Entente from responsibility as well. It is not the German people, but the Nazi government of Germany which bears responsibility for unleashing the Second World War,” he said.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    It is important to make an observation about the nature of Russian society and politics today. Politicians have constituencies – - as do church leaders. Politicians want to secure as many votes and as much popularity from the masses as possible. Whatever degree of truth or falsehood lies behind it, many Russians give Stalin credit for winning WWII. That fact that he blundered his way into inviting a German attack notwithstanding. Also, the price of bread in Russian remained the same for a number of decades. Everyone simply knew, over a couple of generations, that a loaf of bread cost a fixed price – - i.e., no inflation (albiet intermittent scarcity). Also, you hear Stalin’s name invoked regarding the difficulties with the Chechens, Ingush, etc.; i.e., that he would know how to deal with them.

    So the Russian political leadership needs to speak as though the move from Communism to whatever-they-have-now was a “departure from a system that no longer served the interests of the people”. I.e., “mistakes were made and we’re moving on”.

    The Church is a bit different. Not many communists standing in the sanctuary. So the constituents of the Church’s leadership are not so nostalgic for certain aspects of Soviet life. And the fact is that the Church needed time to be able to even begin the process of confronting Soviet history because it was compromised so thoroughly by the KGB. Sifting out those who merely cooperated from those who collaborated or were simply agents infiltrated into the Church I’m sure was a dicey process.

    Now, in the West, there are other motivations behind wanting to dredge this stuff up. Some of it is aimed at attacking the present Russian government. Some of it is motivated by the desire of American conservatives to use the history as a way to score political points against the left in America and Europe (as the article below seems to do regarding, for example, Joe Biden).

    The odd thing about it is this: Broadly, everyone knows what happened. The number of murders was enormous. Though the left won’t talk about it, it’s not really a matter of serious dispute. I mean, if I had suffered in Soviet Russia and managed to survive and get out, I could simply try to live the rest of my life in peace, grateful that that evil goverment no longer exists. Or I could chase my tail for the rest of my life shouting from the mountains the details of what everyone who takes any interest knows to be true.

    In Russia, it’s more complicated. Essentially, the system changed but the personnel largely remained; i.e., the only people who actually knew how to run things had been communists because that was the only show in town. What Russians seem to be concentrating on now is to build up their society and their sense of national and cultural pride after long dark decades. So they choose to focus on the brighter aspects that occured even in the midst of the darkness (such as we recently saw, for example, with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight). Most reasonable people probably believe that an acute bout of national grief and self reproachment will hinder rather than further the enterprise of restoring some sense of national self respect and normalcy. All the more so because, at its height, the Communist Party was composed of only about 5% of the Soviet citizenry.

    A Romanian woman at my church came up to me one day at coffee hour and observed that until she encountered Russians in America, she didn’t know that Russians could be so nice and friendly. She had memories of having to learn Russian in school and God knows what other unpleasantries. She said her eyes were opened when a Russian said to her, “You suffered under communism for over 40 years. We know. We suffered for over 70.”

    The dead are dead, the past is past (and in the broad strokes, widely known). It’s just like a funeral: Yeah there’s grief involved but you don’t wallow in it and in the end you bury the dead, divide up the property and move on. What else is there to do?

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Atheism – A License to Kill

    The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited.
    .
    The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools.
    .
    Actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals. Christians were also subjected to psychological punishment or torture and mind control experimentation in order to force them give up their religious convictions.
    .
    Many Christian believers in the Soviet Union were imprisoned for no other reason than believing in God. Many have recently been canonized as saints following their death at the hands of Soviet authorities.
    .
    An intense ideological anti-Christian campaign was carried out throughout the history of the Soviet Union. An extensive education and propaganda campaign was undertaken to convince people, especially the children and youth, not to become believers. The role of the Christian religion and the Church was painted in black colors in school textbooks.

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    The Soviet Union — which began with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and ended in 1991 under the leadership of Gorbachev — had a communist government which was very hateful and punitive towards the Russian Orthodox Church and indeed all of the religious faiths in Russia.

    Because the communist government in the Soviet Union was atheistic, places of worship were permanently closed and priests and rabbis were imprisoned. Joseph Stalin, who actually attended a seminary with the intention of becoming a priest, instead became an atheist and was responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent Russians during his many years as the dictator of the Soviet Union. Trotsky and Lenin also were evil communist leaders of the Soviet Union.

    None of the leaders of the Soviet Union deserves to be recognized, as a result of their atheistic and anti-Christian beliefs and policies. On the contrary, the Russian Orthodox Church should condemn them for the sacrilegious and inhumane activities that they carried out during the Soviet era.

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