Staunton, August 17 – Mass repressions don’t just start; the groundwork has to be laid in advance. And that task is being carried out by among others Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who until a year ago was a close aide to Patriarch Kirill but now judging from his remarks is most accurately characterized as “the Zhirinovsky from the Orthodox Church.”
In the course of an interview on Ekho Moskvy, Chaplin effectively gave his blessing to the idea that national leaders, Russian otherwise, have the right to destroy their opponents. “What in the final analysis,” he asked rhetorically, “is bad in the destruction of a certain part of internal enemies?” (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalnovash/1818964-echo/).
Indeed, he said, invoking several cases from the Old Testament, “it is sometimes necessary to destroy a certain number of those worthy of destruction.” And in support of that notion, he argued that Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin were among those who had demonstrated the truth of that proposition.
His words touched off a firestorm of criticism. Numerous commentators denounced his words (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57B3FA34AC1B8). And Ekho Moskvy to its credit announced that the churchman would no longer be welcome as a guest on their programs (mk.ru/social/2016/08/16/prizvavshego-k-massovym-ubiystvam-chaplina-bolshe-ne-pustyat-na-ekho.html).
But perhaps the most thoughtful and important conclusions were drawn by the editors of Moscow’s “Gazeta” newspaper who pointed out that Chaplin’s words along with those of some other religious and secular leaders were dangerous because they helped make cruelty into an accepted norm of thought and action(gazeta.ru/comments/2016/08/16_e_10134365.shtml).
After Chaplin lost his position as a senior aide to and frequent spokesman for Patriarch Kirill a year ago, the paper noted, the archpriest has become a kind of “Zhirinovsky from Orthodoxy,” someone who will say openly what others are only thinking. But even for him this “direct justification of mass murders” takes things to a new level.”
But just as with Zhirinovsky, there is good reason to think that Chaplin’s words reflect more than just his own thoughts, especially since the archpriest was close for so long to Kirill and shares his former bosses hated of humanism, a trend of thought the patriarch blames for “almost all the ills of the 20th century from bolshevism to the bombing of Yugoslavia.”
Thus, the editors of “Gazeta” say, “the role of Father Vsevolod here is not to be reduced to that of a banal provocation. He is saying what others risk passing over in silence” but what they too think and may even be glad to have said by someone else so that certain actions will follow.
Many in Russia and elsewhere are accustomed to think that no one really believes in the use of force and violence as a means to political ends at least in domestic affairs. But such people exist, and Chaplin is articulating their point of view. The fact that he has, the paper suggests, will make it easier for others to say the same and ultimately to act on that as well.
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