Staunton, December 20 – As the centenary of the Russian revolutions of 1917, the past year has been one that divided Russians in their assessment of that event and its consequences; and many expect that the new year will prove less divisive. They are going to be proven wrong, Andrey Melnikov of NG-Religii says.
That will be true for many issues in Russian history, he suggests; but nowhere will it be more so than in the assessment of two events, the centenary of which will occur next year: the Bolshevik decree on the separation of church and state in Februar and the murder of the Imperial Family in July (ng.ru/ng_religii/2017-12-20/16_434_past.html).
The second of these is already becoming a source of conflict, with some in the church and society wanting to speak of the killings as a ritual murder and to recognize the remains as genuine and others outraged that the place where the killings occurred now is the site of the Yeltsin Center, a bastion in their view of all the things that they oppose.
“In the 1990s, it was supposed that the restoration of justice in regard to the tsarist family would be ‘the last nail in the coffin of communism,’ after which Russia would calmly turn to free democratic development,” Melnikov says; but the last year with the Mathilda scandal and the protests about churches in Yekaterinburg shows how far from the truth that is.
But the second approaching anniversary, on February 2, not only is coming sooner but will likely be even more significant. The Bolshevik decree on the separation of the church from the state and the school from the church still touches a nerve among Orthodox Russians and the church which believes it has a special role to play in education.
Consequently, both because and despite the fact that that decree in large measure brought Russia into line with European standards, it is going to trigger controversy, especially since so many in the Moscow Patriarchate want to reverse it completely and so many other Russians fear what that would mean.