Wednesday, July 11, 2018

‘Churchifying the Revolution' – Orthodox Chapel Opens on the Aurora

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 10 – Vladimir Putin’s effort to combine the incompatible continues unabated in his drive to promote the idea of a single stream of Russian history: the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has opened a chapel on the battleship Aurora, one of the most well-known symbols of the Bolshevik revolution. 

            The absurdity of this action, Sergey Putilov writes in a commentary for the religious affairs site Portal-Credo, is obvious if one recalls that shots from this ship, at least in the minds of most Russians  because of films about those events, opened 70 years of godlessness and militant atheism in Russia (

                Some especially those who support the Kremlin’s current line may see this as an act of “historical justice,” as an assertion of a role for the church even among the revolutionaries, he continues.  But it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that “the Putin empire from its outset has tried to combine that which cannot be combined.”

            And that in this “post-modernism,” as some say, that the fundamental weakness of his regime is reflected rather than overcome. That is because it reflects the deep divide between those who remain loyal to the Soviet system and denounce the current one and those who recall the Soviet system as the most bestial of regimes.

            Lenin is still in the mausoleum on Red Square even as the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian believers show respect to the deaths of the Imperial Family in Yekaterinburg that the Bolshevik Party leader was responsible for, Putilov continues.  But this inherent contradiction is not limited to such high-profile situations.

            Recently, he recounts, in the village of Chkalovsky near Moscow, Russian military veterans put up an enormous statue of Lenin. On the very first night, it was attacked by vandals who covered the red leader with green paint.  Local KPRF members then established a round-the-clock guard to prevent that from happening again.

            Meanwhile, in the very same village, there is an Orthodox Church named for Nicholas II whom Lenin ordered killed.  It is guarded by so-called “Cossacks” whose real ancestors were used by the tsar to disperse demonstrations by students and workers in pre-revolutionary Russia and who themselves attacked demonstrators on May 5 of this year.

              The American Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner once observed that “the past wasn’t over; it wasn’t even the past.” His words have taken on a new and absurd shape in the actions of the Putin regime which instead of recognizing the fundamental divides that have always existed in society is trying to paper them over.

            Not only will that not work, Putilov suggests; it will make each side angrier and make it even more difficult to find the reconciliation that Putin and his kind say they seek.

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