Date: Wed, 2 Sep 98 00:42:38 CDT
From: Louis Proyect <>
Subject: Russian Church Leads the March to Fascism
Article: 42377
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;
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Russia's clergy are reaching extremist conclusions

By Victoria Clark, London Times, [2 September 1998]

Church leads march out of Western path

AFTER seven years of sporting Western styles, there are signs that Russia plans to slip into something more traditionally comfortable—something more akin to an Orthodox priest's garb.

Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Prime Minister, is creating a new government that few doubt will boast the unhealthy “red-brown”, or national socialist, complexion of the Communist and nationalist Opposition. A key to understanding how these two—one led by Aleksandr Lebed, the nationalist general, the other by Gennadi Zyuganov, the Communist leader—can work together lies with the Orthodox Church, repository of Russian values.

The burial of the bones of Tsar Nicholas II in July was an early warning. There was no mystery in Patriarch Aleksi II's refusal to share a platform with President Yeltsin and officiate at the burial service. As Father Vsevolod Chaplin, spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, said in July, Aleksi II simply wanted to “stay with the mood of the flock and his clergy”.

Father Chaplin defined that mood. “Our over-naive enthusiasm for the West has been replaced by a very negative attitude because our Government promised to effect these reforms overnight, and it seems to be acting with the authorisation and permission of the West,” he said.

It is a mood of bitter outrage at everything President Yeltsin has stood for, be it failing to ensure wage payments, allowing the rouble to crash, or allowing Nato to expand in the direction of Russia's frontiers.

The old Church-nurtured distrust of the “heretical”, soulless and money-mad West; the old Messianic belief in Russia's special mission, and the nostalgia for a God-the-father of a ruler is the common ground between Church, Communists, nationalists, the far Right and monarchists. They all want Russia out of her Western fancy dress.

The more Russian churchmen one talks to, the clearer it becomes that they believe Jews are responsible for “deliberately engineering” trouble. Abbot Tikhon, head of the Sretenskovo Monastery in Moscow and a regular on a religious TV chat show, plucked a dollar from his cassock to show me a “Jewish cabbalistic symbol” on one side. He claimed it was proof Jews control the West and, increasingly, Russia.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the reformist Prime Minister sacked by Mr Yeltsin, has Jewish blood. So does Boris Nemtsov, the former Deputy Prime Minister and stalwart reformer. George Soros, the wizard financier who first suggested that Russia devalue the rouble, is a Hungarian Jew.

In such a traditionally anti-Semitic and conspiracy-minded society, a youthful and under-trained clergy is leaping to the old conclusions and the prospect of national socialism is not ringing alarm bells. Far from it. Father Tikhon is happy to see his articles reprinted in the newspaper of the growing fascist paramilitary “Barkashovtsi” movement, whose badge is a barely modified swastika.

Father Dmitri Dudko, a dissident who served eight years in Communist camps, is now an apologist for Stalin. “When I see the destruction and decay all round me, I know I’d prefer to be beaten up in prison,” he said.

Scores like him have no trouble reconciling their nostalgia for a firm hand with the fact that the Communists were atheists who murdered the God-appointed Tsar. Today's Communists have embraced Orthodoxy. Furthermore, churchmen say the Bolsheviks were not “real Russians” but Jews. If the Church is anything to go by, Russia is unlikely to thrive until its powerful Jews have been ousted, with Mr Yeltsin.