Written by Vladimir Moss



     Putin’s regime claims to be the successor not only of the RSFSR and the USSR but also of the pre-revolutionary Russian Orthodox Empire. It may be described as neo-Soviet and neo-Fascist, without the apparatus of conventional Marxism but with “Communist Christianity”, drawing support from a heady mixture of conflicting constituencies: nationalists and democrats and monarchists, Orthodox Christians and pagan mystics and dyed-in-the-wool atheists, westerners and capitalists, mafiosi bandits and Slavophile patriots. Putin aims to find a place in his all-embracing heart for all the Russias of the last century – and all its faiths going back to the tenth century. 

     One of those faiths is communism, and Putin has clearly not renounced that. As he said in 2016 to the Pan-Russian People’s Front: “You know that like millions of Soviet citizens – over 20 million – I used to be a member of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), and not just a regular member: for almost 20 years I worked for the organization called the Committee for State Security of the Soviet Union [KGB]. This organization derives from the Cheka [Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage], which was then called the armed unit of the Party. If for some reason a person left the Communist Party, they were immediately fired from the KGB. I did not join the party simply because I had to, though I cannot say I was such a dedicated communist, but I treated this with great care. As opposed to numerous party functionaries, I was not one of them; I was a rank-and-file member. As opposed to many functionaries, I did not trash my membership card, I did not burn it. I would not want to criticize anyone now – people had different motives and this is their own business. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union fell apart; my membership card is still out there somewhere. 

     I have always liked communist and socialist ideas. If we consider the Code of the Builder of Communism that was widely published in the Soviet Union, it strongly resembles the Bible. This is not a joke; it was actually an excerpt from the Bible. It spoke of good things: equality, fraternity, happiness. However, the practical implementation of these ideals in this country had little in common with what the utopian socialists Saint-Simon or Owen spoke about. This country had little resemblance to their City of the Sun.”[1]

     Andrei Melnikov writes illuminatingly on a more recent expression of these views:“Vladimir Putin’s words to the effect that the communist ideology is ‘very close’ to Christianity, were uttered in a documentary film ‘Valaam’ that was shown on January 14 of this year [2018] on the television channel ‘Russia 1’. They elicited a strong reaction even in spite of the fact that the Russian president had expounded similar views earlier. The head of the government’s thought has probably sounded particularly clearly now in view of the beginning of the presidential campaign. Let us not note that the maker of the film was the journalist Andrei Kondrashov, who was recently appointed head of Putin’s pre-election campaign headquarters. The president visited Valaam monastery in June, 1917, and he has been there before. 

     “’Faith,’ said Putin on the television screen, ‘has always accompanied us. It has become stronger when our country was suffering particularly intensely during the most God-fighting years, when priests were killed and churches destroyed. But at the same time, you know, they created a new religion’ – the communist ideology, - which ‘is very akin to Christianity’. ‘Freedom, brotherhood, equality, justice – all these are invoked in the Holy Scriptures, it’s all there. And what of the ‘Law Code of the Builder of Communism’? This was a sublimation, a primitive excerpt from the Bible, they didn’t think up anything new there’.

     “Let us recall that the president said similar things earlier. For example, during his speech in 2016 before the activists of the Pan-Russian People’s Front – a structure that had played the role of locomotive in the preceding electoral campaign of the acting president. ‘I very much like and to this day I still like communist and socialist ideas,’ said Putin then. ‘If we look at the ‘Law Code of the Builder of Communism’, which was published in large quantities in the Soviet Union, we see that it is very reminiscent of the Bible. This is no joke, this is in fact an extract from the Bible.’ ‘But the practical incarnations of these remarkable ideas in our country were far from what the socialist utopians expounded. Our country was not like the City of the Sun’, explained the head of the Russian state to the PPF activists.

     “However, this time Putin added one more ‘burning’ topic – the fate of Lenin’s body in the Mausoleum. The past year was marked, in connection with the 100th anniversary of the revolution, by a sharpening of the discussion over the burial of the leader of the world revolution. One of those who expressed himself in favour a ‘normal’ burial of Lenin was the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, after which he had a bit of a quarrel with the president of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Ziuganov.

     “’Look,’ said Putin, ‘they put Lenin in the Mausoleum. In what does this differ from the relics of the saint? For the Orthodox, or simply for Christians? When they tell me: there is no such tradition in the Christian world, how come? Go to Athos and look. There they have holy relic. Yes, and her (on Valaam) there are also holy relics, those of Sergius and Herman.’ ‘In essence, the authorities at that time thought up nothing new. They simply adapted what humanity had already long ago invented to their own ideology,’ explained the head of the state.

     “These words on ‘relics’ received a stormy reaction from the State Duma Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya, who in the course of the past year, in unison with Kadyrov, spoke out for the burial of Lenin. ‘In my view, it would be incorrect and a consciously self-interested distortion, for political or other motives, to use and interpret ‘in one’s own way’ the words of the president on a certain parallel between the dead body of Ulyanov in the Mausoleum, on whose conscience are millions of murdered people, and the holy relics in the monasteries and churches. The opinion he voiced is not about that, but about government regimes and the attempt to create a false religion at a definite stage of history,’ wrote Poklonskaya in her account on Facebook.

     However, the words on the Mausoleum were received with rapture by the communists headed by Gennady Ziuganov. On the one hand, this is understandable: Ziuganov has himself expressed analogous idea about the similarity between the moral imperatives of communism and those of Christianity. ‘If you take the Moral ‘Code of Law of the Builder of Communism’ and the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus Christ and put them side to side, you will be surprised: the texts coincide completely,’ declared the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in 2012 in an interview on the same ‘Russia 1’ channel. On the other hand, the rhetoric of compromise addressed to the older generation, who are not indifferent to their memories of the Soviet past, contributes to the rising popularity of Pavel Grudinin, a candidate for the presidency from the CPRF.

     “If all this is understandable for the communist electorate, there remains the question: to what extent do the thoughts of the president chime in with the point of view of the church? If we are to take the opinion of Patriarch Cyril of Moscow and All Russia as the official position of the ROC, then it is impossible for us not to register the striking consonance between his sermons and the speeches of Putin on the issue in question, with the exception, perhaps, of his words on Lenin. On April 6, 2011 in Kiev the head of the ROC said: ‘Even the years of life in the conditions of unbelief did not root out in us that very programme which was laid as a certain Code of development of our Orthodox peoples. And in this sense the unbelievers of the Soviet period were in a rudimentary way Orthodox Christians – they remained in the same system of values… At that time atheist ideology wanted to reform the system of values, but did not encroach on morality. Take the very ‘Code of Law of the Builder of Communism’ – it was dictated from the Bible. Without God, but the same morality.’ However, with regard to the burial of Lenin, the representatives of the Church in 2017 more than once said that it was necessary to wait with that.

     “’Putin’s real ideas about Christian values are hidden from us,’ thinks the leader of the Centre for the Study of Problems of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe RAN, Roman Lunkin. ‘The president has not spoken about fulfilling the Gospel commandments or about his parish life.’ ‘For Putin the important things in public are formalities – his baptism in childhood, Orthodoxy as an element consolidating society, his principled visits to a simple church service at Christmas and more officially – at Pascha,’ said the religious expert of ‘NGR’. 

     “A leading expert of the Centre for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin, pointed to the fact that ‘in his interview Putin did not say that this was Christian tradition in its pure form, that would have been strange: he spoke about copying tradition, and the striving of the essentially antichristian party to borrow something.’ ‘In this way each auditorium can read what it wants,’ explained the political expert. ‘The main auditorium – nostalgic Russians – can read in it the main thing that Putin is against – that Lenin should be take out of the Mausoleum, at any rate now. At the same time there is another variant for people holding other views, in the first place believers: who, from the point of view of the believers, will copy Jesus Christ? He will be copied by the Antichrist, who will try to make out that he is Jesus, being in actual fact his most terrible enemy. For the Christians there could be the following interpretation: since the president recognizes that the communists can copy certain Christian traditions, that means that everything is in fact like that – the enemies of Christ are trying to copy, while at the same time distorting, ‘ said Markarkin of the ‘NGR’.” [2]

     This article goes a long way to answering the question that has exercised and divided Russian True Orthodox Christians: is Putin’s regime a reincarnation of the antichristian Soviet regime, or something new (and supposedly better)? If the former, then it lies under the same anathema of the Moscow Council of 1918 that fell on the obviously antichristian Soviet regime and all those who cooperated with it. If the latter, then it does not fall under the anathema and is acceptable and legitimate. However, this “either/or” formulation of the question is misleading; it fails to take into account the possibility that Putin’s regime is worse than the Soviet regime, being antichristian in a different, more subtle and more profound manner.

     The word “Antichrist” has a dual meaning. The preposition “anti” in Greek can mean either “against” or “in the place of”. The Soviet regime was clearly “against” Christ – it murdered millions of Christians, and persecuted the faith in word and deed. However, it did not pretend to “take the place of” Christ or God. For how could it take the place of a being that, according to communists, does not exist?

     But the Soviet regime came to an end in 1991, and with it so did the open persecution of Christians. There was nobody left in Russia who was openly “anti” – in the sense of “against” – Christ. There were still very many atheists and heretics, but no more “God-fighters”; all the surviving former God-fighters were living on their pensions; “God-fighting” was no longer legal or in any way approved.

     But in 2000 Putin came to power. Now Putin was director of the FSB (KGB), the executive branch, as it were, of the Soviet government’s war against God. For such a man to become president was therefore a profound shock and a stern warning for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It was as if the head of the Inquisition had become head of the World Council of Churches, or Himmler – the president of Germany after the war. Nothing similar would have been even tolerated in a western country. But it was tolerated in Russia, first, because, as surveys showed, most Russians still considered the Soviet Union to be their native country, and Lenin and Stalin to be heroes; and secondly, because the West clung on to the stupid belief that over seventy years of the most terrible blood-letting in history – far longer and far more radical than Hitler’s twelve years in power – could be wiped out and reversed without any kind of decommunization, without even a single person being put on trial for the murdering of innocent people in the name of the “collective Antichrist” of Soviet power. The tragic farce has reached such a stage that the KGB has become a hero of Russia literature cinematography, with its own church in the middle of its chief prison, the Lubyanka in Moscow – not, as it might be thought to commemorate the martyrs who suffered so terribly within its walls, but for the executioners! The West concurred with this filthy whitewash; the official Orthodox Church (itself ruled by KGB agents) concurred; the masses of the Russian people concurred by voting Putin into power repeatedly. 

     And then the “rebirth” took place: without repenting in the slightest of his communist past, and while gradually reintroducing more and more Soviet traditions and symbols, Putin underwent a conversion to Christ! Or rather, from being part of the body of the Soviet Antichrist, which was “anti”, that is, “against” Christ, he is now preaching a form of Communist Christianity that, as Makarkin puts it, “copies” Jesus Christ, placing its own ideas “in the place” of Christ’s and passing them off as His. And if the “copy” is a poor one – just as Lenin’s stinking body is a very poor imitation of the fragrant relics of the saints, and the murderous “Code of Law of the Builder of Communism” is a very poor imitation of the Sermon on the Mount - this does not matter, so long as the masses are taken in by it, or, if not taken in by it, at least convinced that Christ and the antichristian state are now on the same side...

     So the Russian revolution has mutated from one kind of Antichristianity to another, from Lenin’s Antichristianity that was openly against Christ, to Putin’s Antichristianity which pretends not to be against Christ but to copy Him and take His place…

    There can be no doubt that this new, more sophisticated kind is more dangerous than the former – and closer to the kind that will be practised by “the personal Antichrist” himself at the end of time. For of that Antichrist the Lord said: “I have come in My Father’s name and you do not believe Me: if another shall come in his own name, him you will believe” (John 5.43). In other words, you have rejected the real Christ, and as a direct result you will accept an imposter, a man-god, for the real thing, the God-Man.

     But we must not be deceived, remembering Putin’s words: “Once a chekist, always a chekist…”

February 10/23, 2018.



[1] http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/page/130.

[2] Melnikov, “Valaamovo otkrovenie dlia chetvertogo sroka” (A Valaam Revelation for a Fourth Term), N-G Religia.

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