Written by Vladimir Moss



     A very interesting and important debate has arisen on the first Russian television channel. Konstantin Aranovsky, a judge of the Constitutional Court of Russia has declared that the Soviet Union was “an unlawful state” – a statement, of course, completely in accord with the judgement of the truly Orthodox Church of Russia since 1918, and of all truly Russian (as opposed to Soviet) patriots. But Konstantin Malofeev, founder of the television channel Tsargrad and deputy head of the Universal Council of the Russian People, said that the judge had to clarify his position. “As a lawyer, what he said was completely absurd. Because if he asserts that the Soviet Union was an unlawfully created state, then we must say that we must restore the Russian Empire in our long-lasting illegitimacy.”

     In Malofeev’s opinion, insofar as Aranovsky did not indicate this, it means that he believes that contemporary Russia “came out of the cosmos”. “So it has no right of succession from the Soviet Union. Either we must recognize that we are the successors of the Soviet Union. Or we must recognize that we are the successors of the Russian Empire, without any Soviet Union. He says neither the one thing nor the other. But that means that, by contrast with the East Europeans, who have joyfully returned and say: ‘Look, we lived for 20 years in the Baltic region, that was a real state, but in the last 50 years – that was not real.’ But we are in a different situation: for the last one thousand years we have had one and the same state, which ended with the Russian Empire. He does not recognize that.”

     Malofeev suggests returning to the juridical aspect of the question. Russia, he notes, is without question the successor in law of the Soviet Union, and it is impossible to deny this because we were all born in the Soviet Union.

     “We have Soviet passports, and accounts in the Sberbank, our membership in the Soviet Union has been confirmed by the United nation – all that has been confirmed for us…”

     The only other alternative for the judge, says Malofeev, “is that Russia is a young state that was born in 1991… 

     “I consider, and I think, that our state has lasted for a thousand years. And, whether happily or unfortunately, we had both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. This is our history. There were bloody episodes in it, and heroic episodes. And we shall allow nobody – neither a judge of the Constitutional Court, nor any enemy from abroad – to cut out one of these episodes,” says Malofeev.[1]


     This issue is indeed the existential issue confronting contemporary Russia, the “to be or not to be” question. Is the contemporary Russian Federation the lawful successor of the Soviet Union or of the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire? If the former, then it is unlawful, because in 1918 the Russian Orthodox Church anathematized it (what any other body, even the United Nations, declares is irrelevant). If the latter, then it is lawful. 

     Putin has characteristically tried to muddy the waters by declaring the contemporary Russian Federation to be the successor of both states – both the lawful Russian Empire and the unlawful Soviet Union. But that is impossible. Not only because the True Church has upheld the first and anathematized the second (while the false church did the opposite), but also because the two states did not recognize each other. For the pre-revolutionary Russian state, the Bolsheviks were antichristian rebels, accursed by God and abhorred by all right-thinking men. For the post-revolutionary Soviet state, the tsars were blood-sucking tyrants whose overthrow and murder was both lawful and absolutely necessary. But Putin tries to have it both ways. He pretends to be the Tsar of all the Russias, both the Christian and the anti-Christian.

     “Patriarch” Cyril Gundiaev’s concept of “the Russian world” fits well into this programme. Putin’s concept of the succession of the contemporary Russian Federation extends back in time through the Soviet period and into the pre-revolutionary period to the beginning of Russian history. Gundiaev’s concept of the Russian world extends laterally in space to include not only all the former republics of the Soviet Union, but also the whole Slavic Orthodox world and even all Russians living in the West. Even non-Russians and non-Christians are given honorary membership of this “Russian world” so long as they bow down to the myth of the legitimacy of the Soviet Union and its lawful successor, the Russian Federation. All others are cast into the outer darkness where “Russophobes” dwell…

     But no amount of ecumenist blurring and widening of boundaries can resolve an outright contradiction, and there is no more blatant and irreconcilable contradiction in the history of the world since Christ than that between the Orthodox Christian Russian empire and the state that destroyed it, the anti-Christian Soviet empire. The fact is that all Russians, whatever passport they were born with or state to which they belong, will have to choose which set of ancestors they venerate and declare their loyalty to: the right-believing tsars or the God-hating commissars and general secretaries. As for Putin, he long ago made his choice: brought up as a Soviet patriot, he has never renounced his allegiance to that state, whose downfall he calls “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century”; he claims he never renounced the Communist Party, having simply put his Soviet passport into a desk drawer; he refuses to denounce Stalin and allows Lenin to remain in the mausoleum, to the continual shame and defilement of his state.

     The resemblance of Putin’s Russian Federation to its progenitor, the Soviet Union, was not obvious at first (apart from the revival of the music of the Soviet national anthem and the return of the red flag to the armed forces), as Putin tried to curry contacts with the West for the sake of his and his comrades’ global business interests. But now, some twenty years since his accession to power, the family resemblance of the Russian Federation to the pre-perestroika Soviet Union is unmistakable. In marked contrast to the Ukraine, where the statues of Lenin have been falling everywhere, and where Soviet propaganda and symbolism is banned, in Russia there has been a revival of the Leninist cult. In the church, meanwhile, “ecclesiastical Stalinism” has flourished. Cyril Gundiaiev has even given an award to the head of the Russian Communist Party, Gennady Ziuganov, and in 2016 he had a cordial meeting with that long-time friend of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro…

     Recently a Moscow Patriarch protopriest, Fr. Dmitri Smirnov, incurred much abuse and even the wrath of the second most powerful metropolitan in the Soviet church, Hilarion Alfeyev, for urging Russian women to repent of their civil (“ZAGS”) marriages and seek a lawful marriage in the Church. Until then, he says, they are living in sin. Something similar needs to take place in the life of the nation as a whole. There will be no salvation for the Russian Federation and its citizens until they clearly and openly recognize that the state in which they live is the bastard offspring of an unlawful union, the Soviet Union, which is Russian neither in name nor in deed.

     Before the revolution, St. John of Kronstadt said that Russia without a tsar would be “a stinking corpse”. His prophecy has proved accurate, not only for the Soviet period, but also for the post-Soviet period, which should more precisely be called the neo-Soviet period. St. John’s opinion was echoed by the last true elder of the Russian Church Abroad, Archimandrite Nektary of Eleon (+2000): “For him, all governments in Russia after the overthrow of the Tsar on March 2, 1917 – whether the February-democratic government, the Bolshevik, or another – were enemies of God.” And it was confirmed again by the Holy Synod of the True Orthodox Church of Russia under Archbishop Lazarus (Zhurbenko), which as early as May 28 / June 10, 2004 called the Russian Federation “a regime that carries out the dechristianization of the Russian people, waging a campaign of moral corruption and encouraging its physical dying out”. To bless such a regime, the Synod concluded, would be “a grave crime against the Christian conscience”.


February 9/22, 2020.

Saturday of the Dead.




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