The famous Russian ex-dissident priest, 88, defends the condemned blogger. He confesses that he is not a fan of Naval'nyj, but the court, as well as the police deployment against the protests, are wrong. "The violence of power" is transforming Russia into "a Soviet-pedia".
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The famous Russian ex-dissident priest, Fr. Georgij Edelstein, 88, released an interview on February 17 on the 7x7 site, which went on to be quoted by many national media, in which he comments on the events relating to the detention of Alexei Naval'nyj.
During the protests in January, Fr. Georgij was the only priest to sign the appeal to stop the violations of human rights, and for the release of Naval'nyj himself. Edelstein has been a leading figure in anti-Soviet dissent for a long time: in 1965 he signed a letter to the then patriarch Aleksij I, together with Father Nikolai Eshliman and Father Gleb Jakunin, in which he condemned the Russian Church for his connivance with the atheist Soviet dictatorship.
Since 1992 Fr. Georgij has been parish priest of the church of the Resurrection in the village of Karabanovo, in the province of Kostroma, and during the pandemic he isolated himself in a country dacha near his church. He is still an authoritative voice in Russian society, and says: “I don't think I have to go along with being an idiot, like millions of my fellow citizens, when they tell us that Alexei Navalny was jailed for missing a registration from five or six years ago".
The priest points out: "I have never been a supporter of Mr. Navalnyj, who has always limited himself to yelling at people accusing them of corruption, things that have never really fascinated me ... But the trial against him was just a spectacle, in which the prosecutor lied and the judge issued an unfounded sentence, while it was clear that it was a political trial against an opponent of the regime”.
Fr. Georgij insists on the evidence with regards the protests: “Why did they close the centre of major cities, filling them with tens of thousands of so-called National Guard policemen: also because they failed to register a few years ago? Who can believe these things? I like only one thing about Naval'nyj: he could feel comfortable in Germany, Switzerland, the United States, but he took the plane and came back here, knowing what awaited him ".
It must be said that Father Edelstein belongs to that generation of Soviet-era dissidents who did not like the pursuit of fame abroad, and was willing to suffer in silence in any corner of his country.
Naval'nyj has become "a hero because of the stupidity of his judges", and now tens of millions of people "know that courts and prosecutors cannot be believed: a beautiful form of education for the people in our state".
Edelstein also complains that all the television channels that lash out against Navalnyj, without ever giving a voice to his supporters: "Maybe they are afraid of what they would say ... in 88 years I have never gone to demonstrate in the streets, I am not a politician and I don't want to take part in political struggles, which I also recommend to my children. I am convinced that any revolution is bad, from the French to the Russian one, because in revolutions the wicked always win”.
Yet, he says, “I do not condemn those who protest, because every person has the right to freedom of choice… whoever has the power has the duty to talk to these people, ask them what they want. Even in ancient Rome there was the rule audiatur et altera pars. If people march peacefully, don't burn police cars and smash shop windows, I support their actions with my words”.
The elderly priest concludes by saying that "every man must have the right to believe or not believe, to go or not to go to church, to be a Buddhist or a Judaist, a Mohammedan or whatever else he wants: you cannot take a person by the scruff of the neck and force him to enter the church, or on the contrary dragging him out of the church, and this also applies to the opinions of young people protesting in the streets. When I see the violence of power, I refuse to call this country Russia: since we are in the age of information domination, I call it Soviet-pedia ".