Staunton, May 12 – Metropolitan Ilarion, head of the Synodical Department of External Relations and generally viewed as second only to Kirill in the Moscow Patriarchate, says that Russians should not give Joseph Stalin credit for victory in World War II or revive the cult of personality around the late Soviet dictator.
In a televised interview, the senior Orthodox churchman says that the church has already made “very clear” its attitude toward Stalin’s repressions in the 1920s and 1930s by canonizing as “new martyrs” many of those who fell victim to his regime (znak.com/2019-05-11/v_rpc_prizvali_ne_stavit_pobedu_v_velikoy_otechestvennoy_voyne_v_zaslugu_stalinu).
With regard to Stalin’s role in the war, Ilarion reminds his listeners that Stalin shot many senior commanders leaving the country’s defenses in far worse shape and that the Kremlin leader ignored warnings from Soviet agents, like Richard Zorge, that Hitler was about to attack, something that made the situation even worse.
“Therefore,” the metropolitan continues, “there is simply no reason to declare that the victory of the Soviet Union in the Great Fatherland War was the result of Stalin’s work. I think this was the to the credit of the entire people, something mistakenly given to Stalin as a result of the cult of personality.”
“I do not think that there is any need to revive this cult of personality in our time.”
Given how often the Moscow Patriarchate as marched in lock step with the Kremlin, Ilarion’s words are striking. But for some Russian nationalists, they are deeply offensive. And they are responding with anger. Mikhail Khazin, one of their number, says “it would have been better” if Ilarion had kept his mouth shut” (publizist.ru/blogs/26/31006/-