Staunton, January 31 – The city government of St. Petersburg, in support of its deparment for work with religious groups, has purchased on a single-source contract the entire print run of a book that advances racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Western views and that constitutes the kind of “provincial obscurantism” one wouldn’t expect in Russia’s northern capital.
While Petersburg has been the place of “scandal after scandal” in recent months, Aleksey German, Jr., a film director, writes in his blog on Echo Moskvy today, it is “difficult to understand,” regardless of one’s political leanings, how such offensive views could thus be given a kind of official approval there (www.echo.msk.ru/blog/agermanml/1002020-echo/
St. Petersburg’s “Fontanka” newspaper broke the story a week ago when it reported that city officials had bought for 250,000 rubles (8,000 US dollars) the entire print run of Orthodox Petersburg historian Yury Mikhaylov’s “The Moral Shape of History” in order to hand it out to religious groups there (www.fontanka.ru/2013/01/24/153/).
Trained as an engineer and then a psychologist, Mikhaylov relies heavily on religious literature and presents his views in a far from academic manner, the paper said, noting that the author felt this decision of city officials to purchase and thus give sanction to his ideas constituted “an exceptionally positive” development.
As the paper pointed out, however, most people would question that, given that Mikhaylov says that the white race is superior to the black race, that the Jews and the West have always worked against Russia, and that the ideas of the Renaissance and Enlightenment are a threat to Russians, the last “God-bearing” people and the defenders of “the Third Rome.”
“Our Motherland,” Mikhaylov says in his book, may be partially “divided” but it has not been “humbled” and is “building up its strengths for a dawning renewal.” It thus constitutes “the last bastion of resistance to the Anti-Christ,” and consequently, the outcome of Russia’s struggle will define the future not only of Russia but of the entire world.
Roman Dobrokhotov on Slon.ru describes Mikhaylov’s ideas in greater detail. He says that Mikhaylov appears to be trying to “to teach [the city leaders of St. Petersburg] to struggle with liberals and ‘the Judaizing,” to understand “the sinful nature of dark-skinned people, and to recognize that humanism and democracy and all such things violate the norms of Orthodoxy (slon.ru/russia/istorik_nauchit_smolnyy_borotsya_s_liberalami_i_zhidovstvuyushchimi-880366.xhtml).
The Slon.ru journalist offers more than a 1,000 words of quotations from the book the St. Petersburg city officials plan to distribute, including passages about “sodommizing Judaism” in Europe, “’the superiority’ of Aryans over ‘cursed’ Negroes,” “the devils of Western civilization,” and humanists and democrats as “religious scoffers and perverts.”
That some people at the margins will always believe such patently absurd and offensive things is an unfortunate reality, but that government officials at any level and in any country would promote them in this way is a tragedy, one that people of good will in Russia and elsewhere can only regret and condemn in the strongest possible way.