Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is Talk about ‘Ritual Murder’ of Tsar a Prelude to a New ‘Doctors’ Plot’?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 29 – Many have drawn parallels between the new suggestions that the murder of the Imperial Family involved ritual murder and the infamous 1913 Beilis case, but a more powerful if equally horrific analogue is to the 1953 “doctors’ plot” that Stalin launched in the last days of his life, Svetlana Solodovnik argues.

            (The doctors’ plot is the term used for Stalin’s outrageous charges against nine doctors, six of them Jewish, that opened the way for an upsurge in anti-Semitic propaganda and that, had Stalin not died when he did, might very well have led to the expulsion of all Jews from the European portion of the Soviet Union or worse.)

            The current “’struggle with cosmopolitanism’ – identification of ‘foreign agents affecting ever more parts of society – has still not acquired the form of anti-Semitism, but, the Yezhednevny zhurnal commentator argues, “it is the first serious indication on the possible direction of the powers moving in that direction” (

            Controversies about the tsarist remains and consequently about the murder of the Imperial Family have been swirling in Russia since 1991 and have pulled in the upper reaches of the Russian Orthodox Church because of the centrality of the tsar for many of its hierarchs, the commutator says.

            The Moscow Patriarchate has formed commissions of various kinds to look into the matter. The most recent, led by Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov (Putin’s supposed spiritual advisor), contains a significant number of church leaders who believe in the version of the ritual murder of the family (

            “It is possible of course,” Solodovnik continues, “that this is a clever maneuver in order to protect the church hierarchy from the attacks of the fundamentalists” by suggesting that the church had carefully considered their arguments before rejecting them, something that has not yet happened.

            But now the government in the person of its investigation committee has been drawn in, something that makes this far more than a “church” issue alone. That opens the door to several possible future courses of development. “Either the church hierarchy feels itself so uncertain that it has called for the authority of the powers” to protect it against these fundamentalists.”

            “Of the [secular] powers that be need the version of ‘ritual murder’ as a new ‘binding’ for the further consolidation of society on ‘patriotic’ grounds,” Solodovnik says. “‘Rootless cosmopolitans’ could in this case be very useful” just as Stalin imagined it to be with his attack on the doctors, “’the murderers in white coats,’” in January 1953.

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