05/04/2024, 11.24
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Easter of Victory

by Stefano Caprio

During the Holy Thursday service, Patriarch Kirill recited a special prayer ‘for the victory of holy Rus’", which intensifies the war litanies imposed on priests, on pain of deprivation of clerical status if they refuse to pronounce them. The Easter celebrations must recompose the people of believers to show that Russia has defeated the evil within, finding the right path to sobornost.

This year's Orthodox Easter in Russia falls on a date particularly suited to celebrations of the religion of war, the ‘holy war’ that for over two years has stretched from Ukraine to the ends of the earth, between Resurrection Sunday on 5 May and the Victory Day on 9 May.

The entire centre of Moscow is closed to traffic after the Sunday liturgies, to leave the streets free for the repetitions of the great parades that will culminate in Red Square, in reality the ‘Beautiful Square’ (Krasnaja Ploščad means both) where President Vladimir Putin will dominate the scene together with Patriarch Kirill, in a blaze of proclamations of triumph over ‘Ukrainian Nazism’ from the stage above Lenin's mausoleum, a relic of the past from which one cannot free oneself.

In reality, the great victory merely records the Russian advance in the western half of the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, which Moscow has controlled in various ways since 2014, and which after the 2022 invasion risked being retaken by the Ukrainians in the 2023 counter-offensive. In 2024, however, the great advance of Putin's troops began again.

Between January and May, they managed to retake a truly impressive slice of territory between Avdeevka and Časov Yar, which if we were in Lazio would be the equivalent of the area between Guidonia and Rieti, or in the United States between New York and Somerville.

In these few tens of kilometres, where there is no longer a living soul, the destinies of mankind are being played out in the epic confrontation between the West and the global East, between opposing worldviews, between History and Apocalypse: if the Victory against Nazism of the Great Patriotic War affected the broadest front of all wars, the two thousand kilometres of ‘Operation Barbarossa’ between Leningrad and Stalingrad, the reduction to the seventy kilometres of the Donbass in the ‘Special Military Operation’ shows how much the worldview has shrunk beyond proclamations and parades.

The war in Ukraine is not a war of conquest, but only one of destruction and desolation, as evidenced by the constant bombardment of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city after Kiev, which is also now reduced to a ghostly heap of ruins.

The Kremlin says it wants to reduce it to a de-militarised ‘neutral zone’, also to avoid incursions into the Russian region of Belgorod on the border, and the fate of the whole of Ukraine seems to be that of becoming a ‘neutral state’ between East and West, where life is reduced to a minimum to indicate the nullity of reciprocal relations.

Moreover, the Middle East is also moving towards a similar prospect, with similar distances between Gaza and Jerusalem in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, involving the entire international community in a scenario of apocalyptic devastation.

In this context, the Forum of 1 May in the Baku Congress Centre between heads of state and religions on the theme of ‘Dialogue for Global Peace and Security’, organised by the Presidency of Azerbaijan and the Administration of Caucasian Muslims together with the ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ of the UN, UNESCO and other international institutions, is at least paradoxical.

Metropolitan Antonij (Sevrjuk), the 39-year-old director of the Moscow Patriarchate's external relations department, also attended the meeting to emphasise ‘the importance of the idea of bringing together representatives of religious communities and organisations from different countries, against the backdrop of the deep crisis in international relations’.

Patriarch Kirill's young right-hand man claimed the Russian Church's idea of creating a consultative body of religious leaders from around the world, uniting Christians and Muslims in particular, to find ‘an effective response of traditional religions to this destructive and inhuman challenge’, seeking to ‘consolidate all traditionally oriented social forces’ to avoid ‘the victory of evil and the establishment of the international cult of sin and selfishness’, to which it is necessary to ‘give an adequate spiritual response, because only the union of efforts will be able to save the world from self-destruction’.

The common front of the true believers against the onslaught of the Antichrist has been Patriarch Kirill's warhorse since his enthronement in 2009, while as bishop and metropolitan he preferred, still in Soviet times, to be open to ecumenical dialogue.

The turn towards ‘sovereignist orthodoxy’ then began in 1997, when Kirill inspired the new law on religious freedom, proposed to the Duma by the resurrected Communist Party against President Yeltsin's Westernism. It imposed the ‘sovereign’ superiority of Orthodoxy over the other ‘minor’ traditional religions, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, understood in its Catholic and Protestant variants.

These confessions must align themselves in a hierarchy of roles to curb ‘false faiths’, not only sects and groups of more or less modern formation, but above all misinterpretations of religious truth: there is a schismatic orthodoxy (that of Constantinople) and a radical Islam (that of Isis) to be rejected and replaced, and there is the ‘international cult of sin and selfishness’, according to Antonij's definition, which points to the unacceptable lifestyle of the immoral West, from which to defend the holy people.

The Holy Alliance failed to amalgamate, leaving room for the heretical and globalist drift, to the point of forcing Russia to take the field with bombs and tanks, as the weapons of prayer appeared powerless. So today, prayers are said for soldiers and war, with no longer any distinction between the spiritual and military realms; during the Holy Thursday service, the Patriarch recited a special prayer ‘for the victory of holy Rus’", which intensifies the war litanies imposed on priests, on pain of deprivation of clerical status if they refuse to pronounce them, as has already happened to several Russian priests.

The Easter celebrations must therefore recompose the people of believers, and Kirill insisted on frequent Eucharistic communion, possibly daily, which is not a very habitual practice for the Orthodox: ‘We must repent daily of our sins, not only in confession, but in the prayerful request for forgiveness, so as not to fall prey to the temptations of the Evil One and be united to Christ forming one body’.

Already in his homily on Palm Sunday, at the beginning of Authentic Week, the Patriarch had thundered that ‘faith cannot be uprooted from the hearts and minds of men’, as pagan emperors and then many other politicians attempted to do in the early centuries, as ‘in our recent past, when the terrible aim of building a perfect society without God, without the spiritual component, was announced’.

Today, Russia has defeated the evil within, finding the right path to sobornost, communion instead of communism, but it must ‘resist the assaults from outside’ by reminding everyone of ‘the true meaning of life, educating our children in faith, loving one another and loving our victorious homeland’.

Kirill's homilies and Antonij's statements were confirmed in a ‘pre-Easter’ interview with presidential ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, given to American-Putin journalist Tucker Carlson. Dugin would now like to be entrusted with a ‘Higher School of Politics’ in Moscow to train the new ruling classes in the spirit of Eurasian sovereignty, a decision contested by many for its references to the philosophy of Ivan Il'in, Putin's favourite thinker who expressed his admiration for Hitler and Mussolini in the last century.

Dugin also warns of the ‘danger of the self-destruction of the whole of humanity’ if the drift of the Anglo-Saxon states, which he explicitly lists, is not curbed: USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand (winking at the more tame Europe), all suffering from the ‘contagion of individualism’ that leads them to ‘turn against themselves’.

Individual freedom, according to the ideologue, is an ‘erroneous understanding of human nature, which separates the individual from the whole community’, a scourge that has been widespread since the Protestant Reformation and nominalist philosophy, going back to medieval times to indicate the beginning of the ‘disappearance of collective identity’.

According to the Russians, the West has been left without an identity, ‘it has refused even to recognise itself in the Catholic Church’, explains Dugin, and today it no longer even recognises the specificities of states and nations, ‘there is only the ghost of civil society’ from which the last remnants of identity, those of gender and the human, are eliminated, which ‘will disappear in transhumanism and artificial intelligence’.

Resurrection and eternal life, however, will be guaranteed by Russia, in the Victory of Orthodoxy in a world now reduced to a great Ukraine or a great Gaza, an endless heap of rubble.


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See also
Wars, world order, synodality: Putin's friends and the 'just multipolarity'
07/10/2023 08:48
Israel, the Jews and the 'real Russians'
11/11/2023 19:54
Putin's programme to rewrite history
18/05/2024 09:47
The de-colonisation of Russia
20/04/2024 10:24
The ecumenism of imperial Russia and the 'threats' from East and West
06/04/2024 10:30


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