Saturday, September 23, 2023

Regional and National Liberation Movements in Russian Federation Denounce Recent Russian Vote as Fraudulent

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 17 – It has long been a commonplace that elections of virtually any kind can inflame nationalist and regionalist sentiments in Russia. Even the fraudulent votes in the regional elections in the Russian Federation and in Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine have that ability.

            A sign of this is a statement released by 21 leaders of the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia denouncing the Putin elections as a fraud and reminding everyone that as long as Putin is in power, there cannot be any real expression of the popular will through ballot boxes the Kremlin controls (

            Below is an informal translation of this document:

“On September 8-10, 2023, pseudo-elections were held on the territory of Russia and the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, organized by the criminal Russian regime led by the international criminal Putin.

“Regionalist and national liberation movements representing indigenous peoples and colonized regions of the Russian Federation strongly condemn this fraudulent vote and do not recognize this brazen political farce.

“Carried out under conditions of war, the establishment of a dictatorship, the deprivation of citizens of democratic rights and freedoms, the liquidation of free media and civil society institutions, the use of political repression and reprisals against dissidents, the Russian pseudo-elections once again clearly showed that the aggressor state, the Russian Federation, has no future, that the Putin regime does not enjoy real support from the people and that it is living out its last days.

“The fraudulent vote, organized by the bloody occupation regime in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, once again demonstrated to the world community the entire chauvinistic nature of racism and the irrefutable fact that the Russian Federation is a terrorist country led by war criminals.

“The pseudo-elections of 2023 once again showed that resistance to the Putin regime and the struggle for independence of indigenous peoples and colonized regions of the Russian Federation are possible in different ways, including through forceful resistance, but definitely not through imitation of ‘a struggle’ within the criminal Putin system .

“We have extensive experience in the struggle for free, fair elections under the Putin regime and declare that fair elections in fascist Russia are impossible.

“The existence of this state in this form poses a threat to all civilized countries, and a necessary condition for guaranteeing peace is its complete dismantling through the creation of new independent states based on national republics and regions colonized by Russia.”

Patriarch Kirill Says Peter the Great Built St. Petersburg Not as Window on Europe but as Bastion Against Pernicious Influence of the West

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – For more than two centuries, Russians have taken it as a fundamental truth that Peter the Great built his capital in St. Petersburg as a window on Europe to integrate Russia into Europe. But now, in yet another rewriting of Russian history in the Putin era, Patriarch Kirill has offered an alternative explanation.

            The Russian churchman says that the tsar “recognized that the capital would be an advance post of Russia in the West. He knew well that enormous influence, cultural and anti-cultural and pseudo-spiritual would come from there, from the West” ( and

            The tsar also knew, Kirill continues, “how under the guise of liberating the holy places the crusaders came who stole the holy land” and that “Peter did not believe in the goodness of the neighbors” of the city and even recognized that “Petersburg could be occupied by a foreign force.”

            The outrageousness of Kirill’s argument and even more the unfortunate direction it suggests Russia is moving under Vladimir Putin helps to explain the appearance of a manifesto by the European Petersburg social-political movement, a manifesto that stands in opposition to everything Kirill and Putin are about.

            Below is an informal translation of the text of this manifesto which has been signed by some of the leading intellectuals and activists of the northern capital ( reposted at

“St. Petersburg is a European city. St. Petersburg was originally created as an integral part of centuries-old European civilization. St. Petersburg was conceived as part of a necklace of European capitals. St. Petersburg was brought to life by Europeans from different countries and cultures. These natural facts have been confirmed throughout the 320 years of our city’s existence. Difficult. Controversial. Bright. But always meaningfully European.

“St. Petersburg is impossible without Europe. In urban planning, Peter the Great laid the gene of European identity in St. Petersburg. The basis of St. Petersburg’s Europeanness can be destroyed and turned to the east only by destroying the city. By destroying its spirit. Its walls. Its meanings.

“A city of all religions. The city of all Russian revolutions. A city of blockade suffocation. A city of freethinking. A city of creation. A city of the most important universal human meanings.

“The aggressive, unjustified war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine and its European choice has deprived St. Petersburg of hopes for any further integration into European civilization. All modern European connections restored and acquired by Leningrad-Petersburg from 1953 to 2021 were destroyed in a year and a half of a monstrous, senseless war.

“Without a European future, we will lose St. Petersburg. We will lose our city.

“We will lose as an informal community of people. We will lose the historical heritage of our ancestors. We will lose as a unique socio-cultural phenomenon.

“This cannot be allowed.

“With this manifesto we declare civil, intellectual and moral disobedience to the policies of Russian President Putin. With his policy, he is purposefully destroying everything European in St. Petersburg, destroys the destinies and meanings of future St. Petersburg generations.

“We are creating a broad socio-political coalition ‘European Petersburg.’. The goal of the coalition is victory in the first democratic elections and the return of St. Petersburg to the European choice originally laid down by the city’s founder.

“We invite like-minded people to join our manifesto. At the same time, we remind you of the danger of the repressive millstones of Putin’s power.

“The Tsar Carpenter, having created St. Petersburg, cut a window to Europe. Gave our city the granite identity of northern European cities. Putin cannot be given the chance to destroy the historical purpose of our city. Spirit of St. Petersburg. Walls of St. Petersburg. Meanings of St. Petersburg.”


Sergey Saved Not Only the ROC but Also the USSR, Patriarch Kirill Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – On the 80th anniversary of the date when Stalin permitted the election of Sergey as patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1943, his successor, Patriarch Kirill, implied that Sergey deserves credit not only for saving the church but also for saving the Soviet Union.

            Kirill’s words are likely to be read by many as an apologia pro sua vita and a justification for his own slavish support of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Consequently, they deserve to be quoted more fully because of what they say about the direct continuation between the ROC MP under Stalin and its position under Putin (

            The key passage in Kirill’s remarks is as follows:

“This turning point in the relationship between the Church and the state occurred during the war, when I.V. Stalin eventually realized the enormous spiritual and patriotic role of the Russian Orthodox Church and realized that largely thanks to the patriotic position of our Church, what could have happened if the Church had entered into blind opposition to the authorities, especially in the occupied territories, did not happen.

“It is difficult to imagine how our people would have behaved if the Church had called them to fight the godless government of that time. But the Church did not do this - everything was aimed at preserving the Orthodox faith in our country and, of course, overcoming the alienation that took place between the authorities and the Church.”

Aleksandr Soldatov, who now writes as an observer for Novaya Gazeta, refers to this speed in an article describing the way in which Stalin and the Soviet security services played a key role in taking control of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and how that role has continued to this day (

“The classic narrative,” Soldatov writes, “that ‘Sergey saved the church (and where in all this was Christ?) has now been expanded to include the thesis that he also saved the USSR.” Consequently, the current patriarch is a worthy or at least perfect successor of the head of the church Stalin imposed.

In US, Orthodox Christianity Making Inroads among Southern Evangelicals

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 19 – On Sept. 16, the Philip Ludwell III Orthodox Fellowship, which seeks to recruit Southern Evangelical Christians into the Orthodox Church on the basis of what the organization’s leaders say are common values, held its inaugural conference in a small town in North Carolina.

            According to Meagan Saliashvili of the Religious News Service, there were 125 people from ten states in attendance. There would have been more by fire code restrictions limited attendance (

            The RNS reporter says that “many of the conference attendees and speakers call themselves traditionalists, advocating for young marriages, home schooling and trade schools over universities. Many also believe monarchy is the best form of government but grudgingly accept liberal democracy.”

            She adds that those in attendance are “unhappy with both political parties; but for most, Donald Trump is the favored option for president.”

            Rebecca Dillingham, one of the co-founders of the group and the organizer of the meeting, said that “we love Jesus, we honor our ancestors and we want Orthodoxy to grow in our homeland.” In her blog, Saliashvili continues, Dillingham has called for the South to secede again and “attempted to show parallels between Southern and Russian identity.”

            Moreover, she has “compared what she sees as American authoritarianism imposed on the South to the suffering inflicted by Bolsheviks and has likened figures such as Lee, wrongly demonized in her opinion, to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”

            John Whiteford, the other co-founder of the fellowship, “is a priest from Spring, Texas, at the St. Jonah Russian Orthodox Church” there, also part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which is now in communion with and partially subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

            He shares Dillingham’s views; and at the conference, he “emphasized that Southern culture and American culture are different. ‘The American way is to impose our democracy and make everyone lie us … but not everyone wants to be American.” Moreover, “the foreign policy of the South generally has been isolationist … but American provokes incidents, starts wars.”

            There is no public indication that Moscow has anything to do with the group and its activities, but the views the leaders expressed are certainly not at odds with those of the Russian government and the Russian church. Moreover, a check of the Yandex news index shows that Russians are paying a great deal of attention to a group few Americans have ever heard of.

One in Every Three Residents of Russian Far East Wants to Leave Regardless of Age

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – Just how much of an uphill struggle Moscow has in boosting the population of the Russian Far East adjoining China is highlighted by a new poll that shows one in every three residents of that region wants to move to somewhere else and that there is no statistically significant difference among young people and pensioners.

            Typically, young people are more ready to leave and older ones less so, but according to a Platform poll, the difference between the two groups in that respect is only three percent, with 36 percent of those between 18 and 34 as compared to 39 percent of those over 55 saying they want to move elsewhere (

            Of those who say that they want to leave, roughly half say they are prepared to do so more or less immediately while a second half indicates that they would like to leave but not necessarily right now.  But leaving they are: 61,000 from Primorsky Kray in 2022 and 49,000 from Khabarovsk Kray. Even with subsidized immigration, both lost population.

            Officials are considering additional subsidies and benefits for those who agree to move to the region, but such flows appear likely to be overwhelmed by the outmigration of people already there, unless economic conditions in the Russian Far East change dramatically in the coming years. 

Putin Promises New Weapons Based on New Physical Principles Now that Moscow is Running Out of Both

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 13 – Vladimir Putin is promising that Moscow will develop new weapons based on entirely “new physical principles.” These principles, Russians say he said, “will be developed by a group of  our sovereign scientists under the leadership of Academician Kadyrov” – and that is a good thing because both old weapons and old physical principles are running out.

            That is just one of the Russian anecdotes that Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova has collected and posted online this week ( Among the best of the rest are the following:

·       When Russians wake up and see that the lead item on the news feed isn’t what they hope for most, they sigh and sadly go back to sleep.

·       It took Putin 24 years to decide that officials need to drive only domestic cars. Perhaps in another 20, it will dawn on the Kremlin that these domestic cars should in fact be manufactured in Russia.

·       By accepting pardoned prisoners from the Wagner PMC, the Russian Guard has shown that the Kremlin has stopped pretending and really is building an organized criminal group to suppress the population.

·       Even the destruction of Russian ships and personnel are no cause for alarm, but they like everything else are part of Putin’s carefully-developed plan for the war in Ukraine.

·       What is being shown on Russian television shows that those who say the powers that be don’t care about people with disabilities are guilty of slander. For the mentally regarded and disabled, Moscow is doing everything it can with round the clock TV, newspapers, films and so on.

Russia Risks Becoming Leading Transshipment Route for Chinese-Controlled Heroin to the West

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 12 – Chinese-controlled organized criminal groups have expanded rapidly over the last two decades and are now far too powerful for Russian siloviki or judicial authorities to cope, a survey of expert opinion finds. Chinese criminals are seldom investigated let alone convicted and given real sentences, these experts say.

            As a result, a very dangerous situation is arising, journalist Sergey Shvets says, one in which Russia is likely to become the major transshipment route for sending Chinese-controlled heroin from southeast Asia to Europe and the West and itself a major consumer of such drugs, especially in the St. Petersburg area (

            Russian experts have been warning about this prospect since the first Chinese organized criminal groups emerged in the northern capital two decades ago. Now, they say, the situation is even worse than they expected because sanctions have reduced cooperation with Western police about the drug trade and prompted the Chinese to focus on Russia more than earlier.

          Western countries have had far more success in recruiting ethnic Chinese citizens to penetrate and expose such Chinese criminal groups than has the Russian Federation because they have native Chinese nationals who place loyalty to their country over ties to their ethnic group. The Chinese in Russia in contrast aren’t native and so see themselves as Chinese first of all.

           Unless these things change and unless the Kremlin is more prepared than now to crack down on Chinese drug dealers, the prospects for Russia and for Western countries who will be the recipient of heroin flowing through Russia are certain to be increasingly dire, Russian experts suggest.