Monday, December 17, 2018

Only 10 of 30 Ingush Deputies Attend Shariat Court on Border with Chechnya

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 16 – Only 10 of the 30 deputies of the Ingush parliament attended the shariat court session called to consider whether the September 26 border accord between Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov, fewer than reportedly voted against the accord in the first place and a clear defeat for the Ingush opposition.

            The organizers of the shariat court session said that they would query the deputies who did not attend as to how they would vote on the border accord and also ask them why they failed to attend a meeting that enjoyed the support of the Ingush religious leadership as well as the population of the republic (

            Those deputies who did take part as well as the religious leaders who participated were unanimous in declaring that the parliament’s reported vote in favor of the Yevkurov-Kadyrov accord had been falsified and that in any case it was a violation of the republic’s constitution which requires a referendum on any shifts in the borders of Ingushetia.

                In another development affecting relations between Ingushetia and Chechnya and between the two and Moscow, it was reported that new research shows that Ingush and Chechens travel less often to other federal subjects than do the residents of any others, a reflection both of poverty and of their isolation from the Russian Federation (

Sunday, December 16, 2018

‘A Church without Putin, without Kirill, and without Prayers for the Aggressor’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 16 – The unification council of the Ukrainian Orthodox has ended with the election of a new metropolitan and promises by the Universal Patriarchate to offer his church the tomos of autocephaly on January 6, a major victory for Ukraine and Ukrainians and a stinging defeat for the Kremlin.

            The fight for Ukrainian autocephaly is not over: Moscow can be counted on to do whatever it can to continue to interfere because what Kyiv has now achieved is the destruction of the Soviet-style concept of the former Soviet space as “the canonical territory” of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the Kremlin.

            Consequently, what is taking place in Ukraine in church affairs just as what has been occurring there in all other spheres of life is going to echo across not only the former Soviet space, leading other churches and other nations to escape from under Moscow’s imperial grip, but also among Slavic groups more generally.

            Many things can and will be said about this event and about the difficulties Ukraine and the Ukrainian church will face.  But the words of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko better than anything else sum up what this means.  They deserve to be remembered on this turning point in Ukrainian history (

                “What kind of church is [the new autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church]? It is a church without Putin. What kind of a church is this? It is a church without Kirill. What kind of church is this? It is a church without prayers for the Russian powers and the Russian forces. Because Russian power and Russian forces kill Ukrainians.”

            “This is a church with God. It is a church with Ukraine.  You and I are now establishing an independent Ukraine. And this event is just as important as the referendum on our independence which took place 27 years ago.” 

            “The Kremlin does not hide that it views the ROC as one of its chief instruments of influence on Ukraine. The situation in Ukrainian Orthodoxy has been discussed in Russia’s Security Council under the leadership of its president. In contrast, the Ukrainian state demands that it not interfere in Ukrainian affairs.”

            When Moscow talks about Ukraine as part of its “canonical territory,” it is natural that Ukrainians must reject that and form their own church, with headquarters on Ukrainian land and a commitment to the Ukrainian nation rather than the Russian imperial project, Poroshenko continues.

            “It is obvious,” he continues, “that the issue of autocephaly goes far beyond the church. It is a question of our national security. It is a question of our statehood. It is a question of world politics. Not surprisingly, all chiefs of tate with whom I have met in the last six months have asked me: ‘How are things with your church?’ And we have the most powerful and important support from the entire world.”

            Then Poroshenko concludes: “Autocephaly is part of our state’s pro-European and pro-Ukrainian policy which we have been consistently implementing over the course of almost five years.  All this is the foundation of our own path of development, the development of the state of Ukraine and the development of our Ukrainian nation.”

When the League of Nations Expelled the USSR for Bombing Finland

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 16 – Seventy-nine years ago, on December 14, 1939, the League of Nations expelled the Soviet Union from membership for its actions against Finland, an act of principle by an organization most people consider to have been incapable of that and one that has not been equaled by international bodies for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Georgia and Ukraine.

            The motion to exclude the Soviet Union for its actions was introduced by Argentina on the basis of the League’s own 1933 resolution defining aggression, Russian commentator Yury Khristenzen recalls, along with information about Stalin’s bombing of Helsinki that has an all-too-disturbing echo in the words of Putin representatives now (

            At the time that Soviet planes were bombing the Finnish capital, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov insisted that the Soviet bombers were not dropping bombs but rather “food for starving Finns.  That led the Finns in turn to refer to Soviet bombers as “Molotov’s bread delivery trucks.”

            In a similar way, the Finnish army began to refer to homemade weapons it used to fight the Soviet invaders as “Molotov cocktails,” a name that has survived. Unfortunately, the principled position of the League of Nations has not. To be sure, the League’s actions did not stop Stalin, but they did underscore that the international community viewed him as a criminal.

            The great Russian memoirist Nadezhda Mandelshtam famously observed that “happy is the country in which the despicable will at least be despised.” Sometimes despising evil is all that someone can do; but at the same time, it should be the minimum.