The Veliky Luki Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church will check the actions of the rector of the church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God All Tsaritsa in the village of Rusanovo, Fr. Antoniy (Tatarintsev), who on August 15 took part in the opening of an eight-meter monument to Joseph Stalin on the territory of the local factory “Mikron”, announced the press service of the diocese.
“Clergy took part in this event without blessing and agreement with the diocesan leadership. It should be noted that their actions and statements are not an expression of the position of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church and reflect their personal views and convictions,” the diocese said.
During the opening ceremony earlier this week, the Orthodox priest consecrated the monument and also said that during Stalin’s rule “the church suffered” but “thanks to that now there are many new martyrs and confessors”.
The priest’s words were condemned by Ep. Savva (Tutunov), deputy administrator of the affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, who called them “outrageous” and “blasphemous”. “Yes, the Lord turned evil into good, revealing in the days of persecution the steadfastness in faith of many Christians who now serve as an example to us. But that doesn’t make the atrocities any less evil, and we shouldn’t feel gratitude towards the persecuted and the persecutors,” he said.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation came out in defense of the priest.
Alexander Yushchenko, spokesman for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), said in a commentary for V-K Podem that Stalin was an “emblematic figure” for the Russian Orthodox Church. “Stalin restored the patriarchal institution in 1943. It was Stalin who restored the relationship between the state and the church that had been severed. That is why, in particular, it is to Stalin’s credit that today the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia serves,” said the spokesman of the Russian Communists.
On August 15, an eight-meter monument to Stalin was erected near the entrance hall of the Mikron plant in Veliki Luki, Pskov region. Originally, the monument, created in 2019, was supposed to be installed in Volgograd, but the local authorities refused. After that, the initiative group considered options for installing the monument in the Moscow region or Voronezh, but did not receive the consent of the authorities.
In recent years, monuments to Joseph Stalin have been erected more and more often in Russia. The first monument to Stalin in the history of modern Russia was erected in 2015 on the territory of the Zvenigovsky meat processing complex in the village of Shelanger, Mari Republic. It is placed next to the Lenin monument.
Despite the reaction of the church administration in this particular case, the blurring of the boundaries between today’s Russian Church and the communist operatives of Soviet Russia is a very powerful process. Recently, a group of priests scandalized Christians not only in Russia with a photo around the bust of the Soviet communist Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the sinister Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka (Chresvychnaya kommission), whose name has become a byword for the methods of the Red Terror. The restoration of the Soviet Union, with the same repressive domestic methods and bellicose foreign policy, is the guiding political ideal of the Putin regime, which is propagated at all levels. Unlike the times of the Bolshevik regime, today the Russian Orthodox Church is assigned the role of an official ideological ally. This policy makes inevitable the “blurring of borders” in the minds of many Orthodox clergy who try to combine the “greatness of the Soviet Union” with its bloody anti-Church repressions. This process is not only characteristic of Russia, but also of other post-communist countries.