Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orthodox Fundamentalists Now Threaten Russia as Much as or Even More than Islamists Do, Usachyov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 21 – Those in the West who have sought to divide Russia by introducing democratic values into a society where they are alien or by setting Muslims against Orthodox Christians have discovered that neither has “destroyed” Russia as much as they expected these things to do, Valery Usachyov says.

            And consequently, the Moscow journalist and commentator says, they have decided to “split [Russian] society via a different path,” setting what can be called Orthodox Christian fundamentalists against ordinary believers and thus setting a trap he urges Russians not to fall into (

            By means of badly drawn laws about protecting the feelings of believers, these outside forces, he says, have achieved many of their goals of dividing Russian society into two camps, “the truly believing (the fanatics) and the poor believers” who can’t understand why the former want to go to extremes in banning or destroying what they don’t like.

            In this, Usachyov says, “Orthodox fundamentalism is in no way different from the Islamist kind.” There is no difference between those who destroyed the ancient monuments in Palmyra and those who defaced the face of Mephistopheles in St. Petersburg or those who want to ban a movie because they bow down to “the sainted martyr Nicholas II.”

            Because those seeking to divide Russian society have the law on their side, he continues, they are able to flood the courts with cases and the media with stories about these splits, developments that are fundamentally changing the nature of Russian society and threatening its future.

            “In the history of our state,” he writes, “there were for example Jewish pogroms. Tehre were inter-ethnic conflicts. There was a civil war … but there was nothing like this in the Russian Empire, the USSR or the Russian Federation,” although there have always been people interested in playing on religious differences.

            According to Usachyov, “religion as a means of running a crowd is the greatest invention of humanity, even greater than the wheel …and now in the name of one and the same God, they force us to hate one another simply because only the true believers see sinfulness in an ordinary art film.”

            Don’t fall for this, he warns. Follow instead the Christian injunction not to judge lest you be judged.  Otherwise the future for Russia is dire indeed. Russia will be split into “the correct and the incorrect Orthodox,” just as in the time of Nikon, and then “we will not be able to turn the clock back.”

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