Patriarch Kirill's comments about Stalin stir a row


RIA Novosti, 11 November 2015


The director of the patriarchal press service, Deacon Alexander Volkov, called reports of some news media that the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church supposedly supported Stalin's regime and justified crimes of the soviet period the result of incorrect quotation of the words of Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill.


He said that a number of news media distorted the words of Patriarch Kirill about the soviet period and Stalin's government, which the RPTs primate spoke on 4 November at the opening of the exhibition "Orthodox Rus" in the Manezh. As a result, the impression was created in the audience and readers that the first hierarch was justifying the crimes of the stalinist regime.


"The discussion that developed in a number of publications. . . forces one to call the attention of journalist colleagues to obvious rules of quotation. . . . What can one be talking about if the patriarch explicitly speaks about the unacceptability of justifying the blood and suffering of our people in the 20th century? Rather the colleagues take what was wanted and even, apparently, expected by some as reality, quoting only what they want and unfinished sentences. Because in reality the patriarch called for viewing our difficult history of the twentieth century honestly and objectively," Volkov's statement says.


He emphasized that the church insists on taking Russia's past not "only from the direction that pleases us in light of one or another political conviction."


Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, the RPTs primate first noted the importance of remembering the difficult 1930s, the injustice and blood of which "never should depart from our memory," and the suffering of our people in these years "should not be minimized in any way."


At the same time, the first hierarch noted that we cannot erase from the history of Russia the common victory in the Great Patriotic War which became possible by, among other things, the country's leadership of the time.


"In this sense it is quite regrettable that seemingly professional journalists of a certain radio station along with a columnist of a respected magazine, trying to manipulate as they desire, just did not bother to continue to quote the patriarch to his logical conclusion. Because, as is obvious, . . . the problems formulated in extremely harsh expressions simply do not exist in the patriarch's quotes," the head of the patriarchal press service added. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 November 2015)



by Valeria Markova

Moskovskii Komsomolets, 10 November 2015


In discussion of Patriarch Kirill's book Seven Sermons about the Russian World, which occurred on Monday in the pro-Kremlin ISEPI center, experts analyzed his public statements which, according to the collection's composer, Alexander Shchipkov, "are taken as preaching, as they are." The latest of such sermons by His Holiness—about Stalin—was not included in the book, but it definitely remains on the pages of history.


"The successes of one or another statesman who stood at the sources of the revival and modernization of the country cannot be subjected to doubt, even if this leader was distinguished by iniquities," the patriarch declared at the opening of the exhibition and forum "Orthodox Rus. My History. From Great Shocks to Great Victory," speaking about the 1930s.


Such a statement on the topic of stalinist repressions that is painful for the church, from the mouth of the patriarch, is at least unexpected and at most even obnoxious.


After all, it was clergy who were one of the chief victims of political repressions: by 1937, 80% of the bishops had been shot and Orthodox publishers have regularly produced to this time dozens of books about the anti-church terror and the new martyrs.


How is this statement to be interpreted? As the ordinary spiritual and intellectual symphony of church and state? One of the participants in the discussion noted in conversation with MK: "Only the patriarch himself knows what he had in mind." However His Holiness did not participate in the discussion at the site of ISEPI and the participants spoke quite evasively about the meaning of the statement.


"Possibly he wanted to say that any person, whoever he may be, can do something useful," one of the participants in the discussion reasoned. He said that the church should deal with everyone similarly, both "United Russia" and socialist revolutionaries and communists. And this applies to both Stalin and Lenin and the tsar.


"In this book, the patriarch calls attention to the fact that even in these difficult turns of fate, like the revolution and the stalinist period, one can find value," Professor Leonid Poliakov, a member of the Expert Council of the ISEPI foundation, explained for MK. "He says that a thirst for justice is exposed in the revolution and a thirst for solidarity in the Soviet Union." In the professor's opinion, if one proceeds from such an approach, then an exaggerated perception of Stalin and stalinism goes by the wayside and they are perceived as a part of the historical context. He should be viewed as a historical figure and we cannot solve the problem of Russian identity simply by erasing him from history. "It is a different matter when we evaluate him morally," Poliakov says. "This is the personal affair of each person." (tr. by PDS, posted 11 November 2015)

Russian original published by Interfax-Religia, 10 November 2015

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