EDITORIAL: The Russian Kremlin Hides in Plain Sight


The Russian Kremlin Hides in Plain Sight

Proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin must be given credit for making two signficant innovations in neo-Soviet Russia as he seeks to recreate the Soviet dictatorship and empire but without its former vulnerabilities.

First, where the USSR saw an enemy in the Orthodox Church, Putin sees only a friend.  Installing a fellow proud KGB spy as primate, Putin realized he could use the church as a weapon against dissent, invoking the power of the divinity in much the same way that the institution of the Tsar used to do.

And second, where the USSR saw only risks in the publication of bad news, Putin sees opportunity for further repression.  Thus, far from enforcing a total crackdown on news about the brutal killing of Sergei Magnitsky while behind bars in the Kremlin’s custody, Putin actually encouraged both the media and his sidekick Dima Medvedev to spout off about the event.

Putin gains two clear advantages from this coverage.

First, Putin makes it known how dangerous his dungeons really are, without having to do the dirty work of talking about them himself.  Nobody hearing reports about how Magnitsky met his end could fail to appreciate the shocking level of barbaric, inhuman suffering he endured, or why.  Who wouldn’t think twice about following in Magnitsky’s footsetps?

And second, putin makes it known that a firm hand is required on the tiller of the ship of state in order to prevent chaos.  His firm hand, of course.  He’s happy to let Medvedev take the principle blame for such events, to let everyone understand that when Putin is in charge such things don’t happen.  Well, at least they don’t get reported.

In other words, coverage of Magnitsky’s killing both reinforces and justifies Putin’s dictatorship.  The only risk Putin faces is that the reporting would generate popular disgust and outrage that would transform into blowback against his government.  But what practical evidence is there that Russian voters are capable of any such action? There is no widespread organization against Putin, and even if there were it’s clear Putin has a total chokehold on the electoral mechanisms, meaning that elections themselves cannot threaten him. Only open revolt in the streets could do so, and Putin has shown a clear willingness and ability to kill, arrest and imprison those who dare to engage in such behavior.  They know they’ll meet a fate similar to Magnitsky, so only the hardiest of them will dare to do so.  In Russia these days, such people are too few and weak to worry Putin much.

11 responses to “EDITORIAL: The Russian Kremlin Hides in Plain Sight

  1. Just a few added comments: Firstly, the Moscow Patriarchy was already, by-in-large, under the direction of the Kremlin and it’s departments, since Lenin and then more so under Stalin, up to thhe start of the Yeltsin government ….when their was a brief window of hope, that it might have been purged and freed from that old communist domination. However,though there were ups and downs in the on-going short-term and long-term goals of the communists regarding the end-fate of that churchly entity: they saw as their end-game, the eventual total elimination of ALL religion in their soviet-space, while temporarily USING their captive-state ‘church ‘(indeed, all churches and religious entities under their control in their soviet space), to promote their internal soviet goals, a main foreign one of which was to fool the outside world, that their wonderful soviet ‘Peoples’ Republic,’ allowed all sorts of freedoms, especially of expression and religion, etc.
    Of course, this was always the big lie.
    Why, I strongly suspect, that their last ‘Patriarch Alexius II’ did …NOT…die ‘naturally’ (& that the circumstances of his death are highly suspect, as he was found, dead on his toilet, with his head having a large bloody wound!) because he was just getting too old & too much affraid of negatively offending the many religiously- conservative Russian masses, and because he was no longer as an effective KGB agent, for changing times and for the changing Putin agenda…i.e. the Kremlin wanted a more younger/energetic/less timid/less old-fashioned, fresh ‘Patriarch’…i.e. KGB agent Mikhail-Gundaev, ‘Patriarch Kyrill’.
    So, before the current ‘Patriarch’, the Kremlin largely already called the shots, in their captive ‘church’. Now, however, their aggressive neo-soviet political/military agenda is upfront and aggressively being pushed by their new ‘Patriarch’. Alexius II was a stick- in- the- mud, old-fogey, in comparison.
    This is especially evident, today, in the new/dynamic/open ‘ecumenical relations’ of the Moscow Patriarchy, (and of the Putin government) with the Vatican, and also towards western Protestants., and also aimed at world-Jewery and the Moslem world as well.
    Is this to ‘save souls’…? DOUBTFUL!
    Kyrill…..and…his boss, Putin, are reaching out their hand of friendship to world-wide religious entities, simply, to further their neo-soviet political/military agenda, and for no other reason.
    Now, it is true, that among the ranks of mostly the lower Moscow Patriarchy’s clergy, (and even from a FEW bishops) and also among the laity, there are indeed pockets of anti-government sentiments. And occasionally, such voices are briefly heard….and then usually quickly suppressed.
    So, in reality, the basic framework of ….using….the official state church, for the CURRENT interest’s of the communist ruling elite, the nomenklatura, (STILL! in power today, just wearing different hats and bearing different titles from their soviet-past days), this dark fact has not changed.
    It has only been amped up to a more frenetic level, under Putin and his fresh/younger ‘Patriarch’ Kyrill.
    Alexius II was just too-pooped-out, to participate, that’s all. But he was for most of his life, a loyal Kremlin stooge. His life bears witness to that fact.
    Just my thoughts…….Reader Daniel

  2. About comparisons of the old (Imperial) relationship of the Russian Church with the Czars ,and with the Soviet Union’s relationship of the totally ruined and debilitated, post-revolutionary Moscow Patriarchcate:
    Sure, one can make, some, correct comparisons.
    Yet, the differences are astounding.
    In Imperial Russia, the Emperor/Empress was the protector and defender of the state-church. He or she, did not attempt to destroy it, as the communists have tried.
    Also, no Czar! ever! interferred with the internal life or running of the church (especially not! in regards to doctrine or the every day practice of the faith), as the comminusts have.
    True, from (westernizer) Czar Peter The Great, he did indeed try to submit the church’s higher administration, UNDER his control, but he was a very religious Orthodox believer himself. And, he only partially succeeded.
    Before his rule, it was the church, often, which told the Czar what to do or not to do. The church was often more socially powerful than the civil rulers. The example of Patriarch Nikon, is a stunning example.
    So, in fact, the power-struggle between church and state, was a historic ON-GOING struggle, from Byzantin, Emperor, Constantine the Great onward, in both the Orthodox East, as also in the Christian (Catholic or Protestant) West as well, not just in Russia.
    Also, regarding the thorny subject of: the historical civil government’s treatment of religious/political-‘dissenters’, in both the Christian East and in the Christian West:
    (as also in most of the world!): Most, but not all, Russian Czars, or Czarinas, were tolerant of other expressions of Christianity as well as of Jews and Moslems and Budhists, etc, as long as those religions: 1) did not ‘prosletize’ among Russians (who were seen as the spiritual property of the Russian Orthodox Church), and 2) they were loyal subjects of the sovereign monarch.
    But, those who tried to divide or weaken the official state church, yes…..they….were persecuted. (The dear communists, try to 100% mass murder-off, any and all who object to them!) Yet, such is the general pattern in all the world: any individual citzen of any country, of any religion, had BEST belong to and observe the official religion of the rulers,(or shut-up!) OR one would expect to be crushed!….unless one fled the country!
    Universally, with few historic exceptions, to go against the official religion of the nation, was seen as TREASON to the nation,and especially to the Head of State, i.e. a threat to the powers that be, etc. So, that is not just a Russian cultural problem, it is universal.
    Peter the Great, as well as Catherine the Great, invited into Russian territory, many many non-Orthodox people, as Germans and various others, and even funded their clergy and built churches for them.
    But, yes……obedience to the civil authorities, was always paramount in old Russia, and in the communist-hell, that was established after the bloody bolshevik revolution, & in that regard, sadly, basic Russian life has not changed.
    The culture is an autocratic culture, no question.
    Too bad, that the hoped for transition from the old monarchy into a more open and democratic Russia, under the Provisional Kerensky government, did not become a reality. Perhaps then, an Emperor might still have been retained, but only as a figure-head, as the Queen of England is largely?
    Had that occured, the Russian Church would also have become freed from governmental control. Many in the old Russian Church wanted that to happen, they were very sick and tired of Czarist control over them!, as was evidenced by the 1917 Moscow Sobor (Council).
    But, no! old Czarist Russia, was just no where near as bad a country (generally speaking) as what the WESTERN political mass-murder teachings/theories of Marx/Engels/Lenin/Stalin perpetrated on poor mostly rural old Russia and it’s inhabitants.
    Just my thoughts……

  3. Well, the Russians were not really very tolerant of the religion of ethnic minorities.

    See their crushing of the ancient (and I mean ancient, the west Georgian Church founded by the Apostles St.Andrew the first called and St.Simeon, and the founding of the east Georgian Church by St.Nino equal of the Apostles and cousin of St.George), nearly 1000 years older than the Russian church, Georgian Orthodox Church in the 19th through to late 20th centuries.

    This was accomplished by Tsarist decree, the banning of the liturgy being held in Georgian, the mass executions or expulsions of Georgian clergy, the looting of Icons and historical church artefacts, the execution of resisting Priests and laity, and the destruciton of many Churches.

    And that was just the Tsarist period.

    • And then there was the deportation of Muslims from the strategically important Caucasus.

      • To Andrew and all, Well, my brief words regarding a small snapshot of the long Russian history, was not meant to say that all was good, with old-Czarist Russia….absolutely NOT!
        As with all absolute-monarchies of the past,(not only the Russian one) , the personal whims and policies of the ruling monarch, could swing any way that he or she choose, with virtually little or no restraints on them. And so, yes!…..the former Russian Imperial Empire, was indeed an autocratic governance. Therefore, when it suited the Czar, he permitted some (especially, foreign-European) religious & ethnic minorities to settle in his kingdom, IF he saw them as a possible benefit to his rule. But, others (as apparently, Georgians….at least at some time frame,) he suppressed….also…because he believed that that policy was best for his Empire’s interests, etc.
        My main point is that: this historical despotic monarchial rule, was common to virtually ALL abosolute-hereditary monarchies, in ALL countries. The king held the life or death power over his subjects, in his hand.
        Unfortunately too, in the modern world, this situation is not much changed, except that we now have elected-tyrants, despotic communist bosses, etc…..who also invade countries/imprison/slaughter people…as it suits them.
        In our time, I see this neo-soviet ‘Russian Federation’ of Putin and his KGB fellow gangsters, as in this modern-despotic group.
        This is the ‘human condition’, sorry to say.
        On this earth, we shall not see a perfect society, untill Christ comes in His Glory, bringing this evil old world as we know it, to a final end, and ushering in the Heavenly Kingdom on earth.
        In the mean time, all that we can do ,as individuals, is….our best, to fight for what is right and good, to acquire virtue, to be righteous ourselves….no matter what the other fellow is or does.
        The history of all nations, is thus, a hodge-podge
        of evil/good/justice/injustice/mercifulness-or-unmercifulness/good times/bad times, etc.
        On Nativity, I greet you back: Christ Is Born! Glorify Him!
        And, a blessed and Happy New Year to all!
        Reader Daniel (an American, not a Russian, but one who sees some good in old traditional Russian culture,…not necessarily in all the Czars!, as I do also see in all other cultures, the Georgian included).

        • Well, you have made some very valid points, but I don’t necessarily agree with a couple of them.

          First, you think that the historical despotic rule, was common to virtually all absolute-hereditary monarchies, in all countries.

          True, but remember that that was a very long time ago. In England such a rule was over after the death of Charles I and the Cromwell regime; in France after Napoleon for sure, and perhaps even right after 1789. In many European countries the worst abuses happened last time in 16th, 15th or even 14th centuries. While the Czar continued his bloody oppression till the very end, i.e., 1916 or so. Their revolution was not just a historic accident.

          Happy people don’t revolt; no wonder that so many ethnic minorities such as Balts, Jews, Ukrainians and Georgians were ardent revolutionaries. Jews and Ukrainians were particularly viciously oppressed, on religious or cultural or linguistic grounds. Czarist anti-Semitism as a state policy is well established, and as to Ukrainians, I think they were prohibited to have church services in their native language. I also read somewhere that publishing anything in the Ukrainian language was forbidden as well as having Ukrainian language schools. Even the existence of the Ukrainian ethnicity as such was denied by the Czar. Our Ukrainian posters may confirm this, they definitely know more about it than I do.

          And all that was happening in the 20th century, when such abuses were already long forgotten in every developed country in the world at that time.

          So, no, not every absolute monarchy was the same and the Czar-type despotism was really exceptional by European standards at least.

          And second, you noted that in the modern world, this situation is not much changed, except that we now have elected-tyrants, despotic communist bosses, etc.

          True, and this is the crux of the matter. While tyranny is repugnant to every liberty seeking nation, this is not so in Russia today. They have “elected” the tyrant, and not only don’t mind his ways and their loos of freedom, they almost masochistically enjoy this and welcome the tyrannical regime.

          Every poll shows that Putin is almost universally beloved figure in Russia, and sometimes it seems to me that this is not despite of his despotism but because of it. The more the Russians are abused by him, the less they realize they are and the more they adore Putin. Don’t you find it bizarre? Unless they really cannot live without having a Czar.

          Maybe Russians are truly exceptional and freedom is not welcome there? How many Russian posters commented here to the effect that they couldn’t care less about liberty, and free speech, and democracy and all that?

          • To RV and all, Sure! I do agree that Russia, the old one, and the current one, was and is, a baffling enigma, at least to outsiders…if not to many Russian people themselves.
            Yet, every nation has it’s peculiarities and odd/rough edges, all combined with it’s positive aspects. With the relatively longand very complicated Russian history: pre-Christian, Christian, soviet, and now ‘post-soviet’ and with all the many many varied influences that have shaped it’s culture, is it any wonder that current Russia has…..problems?
            And is it ..’.behind’……in developing into a modern/progressive/democratic society? Sure!
            And perhaps, it may NEVER do so!
            Could ‘progress’ and ‘moderninity’ be ….myths?
            I personally think so. To my view, the world in general is not getting better….but worse. And that includes Russia.
            However, in all the many many articles and posted comments and re-comments on this blog, or on any other sites which delve into attempting to understand the mysterious quagmire swamp which is present Russia, we who are struggling to understand what precisely ALL is wrong with Russia, and then…how to fix those problems,….what are we left with?
            True too, other past absolute monarchies developed earlier into modern states. And too, each of those western nations that you mentioned, also had their dark times and dark ups and downs….and they still are far from perfect.
            Still, no one person has THE full analysis of the faults, and (worse yet) what and how to FIX the flaws, of present Russia.
            And in the meantime, the rest of the world has to continue on, with each country’s own problems, etc.
            However, untill some sort of a peaceful regime can take power there, all the rest of us must be vigilant and on our guard.
            The current ‘Russian Federation’ gangster ruling class is a very dangerous and imperialistic despotism. They are war-mongers.
            As to what ‘the Russian people’ (as if they all think the same about any subject….which I firmly believe, they do not!) think about ANYTHING…….AH! on that murkey subject we outside Russia must still examine. But it is not easy to do so. However, I heartily disagree with those who say that ‘the Russian people’ don’t want freedoms. I truly think that that is true only for a few of brain-dead Russians. Their problem is that….they are not USED TO personal freedoms.
            May that change…..somehow. Yes, I too am dissappointed with what all is going on over there, when there seemed to be so much promise of major changes for the better, when Yeltzin first took power.
            I greatly fear, that some sort of world-war looms ahead for us all, IF Russia cannot free itself of it’s current tyranny.

            • In other words, the place is a d-d mess, and who knows if it even can be fixed ever, especially since many Russians don’t seem to be particularly interested in fixing anything.

              Did you notice how thin skinned they are and how they lash back at any criticism, even a mild one, and how they justify and defend that quagmire of theirs? Well, if things are so honky dory, why would one need to fix anything?

  4. Just like they have annual Darwin Awards, they should have weekly propagada awards.

    And last weeks winner iiiiiis:

    Patriarch Kirill wins the Person of the Year prize

    Person of the Year 2009 was also given to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,


  5. A major problem for us outside of present Russia, is accurately determining exactly what the common Russian….truly… knows or thinks, about virtually any subject, most especially about their current government. Of course, we read those official ‘opinion polls’, but how on earth can we trust such propaganda? We do know that only a very small proportion of them have access to the world-wide internet as a source for truthful information or of criticism of their government, etc.
    Their Kremlin-captive news media is a complete propaganda sham.
    Where else, they can get the facts, I am not sure.
    The typical Russian, since the bolsheviks took over anyway, is famously….cynical and doubting of those in authority, (perhaps, they always were?).
    I believe that that Russian cynicism is one bright
    factor that we can put some hope in, for an eventual change over there.
    Because, to my view, it is only those in Russia, who are at the feeding trough of the system, and thus a part of it, who want things to stay the way they are. Those who are suffering from that repressive/destructive system, …who are under it and who are being destroyed by it, CANNOT possibly be content or happy with it.
    The Russian dissidents give testimony to that fact.
    Russian people, after all is said, are PEOPLE, like you or me.
    And there is only so much repression and suffering that any people can endure, before something gives.

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