01/17/2018, 09.24
RUSSIA
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Putin: Lenin's 'relics'. Communism and its Christian origins

by Vladimir Rozanskij

In a recent film interview, the "most orthodox" of Russian president’s tries to link early Christianity, Valaam's monasticism, communism and Lenin, as unified components of the Russian soul. The Orthodox barter: Lenin's burial for the recognition of the relics of Tsar Nicholas.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Since the end of communism in Russia, the question of the burial of the body of Lenin, or of what remains of it in the mausoleum of the Red Square, is constantly on the political radar. In recent months an umpteenth parliamentary proposal has been dropped and the question remains unanswered.

The problem has resurfaced recently, due to President Putin's statements on the links between communism and Christianity, comparing the exposition of the body of the leader to the devotion of saints and relics in the Christian tradition. Putin's interview was actually recorded last summer, during a visit to the monastery of Valaam together with Patriarch Kirill, and now broadcast in a documentary film about the monastery itself, by the director Andrej Kondrashov.

Communism: 'sublimation' of the Bible

The film, entitled "Valaam", shows the history of the oldest Orthodox monastery in the north of Russia, the land of the first encounter with the Norman " Varangiansin the ninth century. The precise date of foundation of the monastery remains mysterious, but in its subsequent destinies the whole history of the Russian people is reflected in some way, as the president-pilgrim himself observed.

Even the communist ideology, which wanted to destroy the Church, did not have the courage to erase the sanctuary of Valaam from history. When the Soviet army decided to invade the archipelago of islands on which the monastery stands, they gave the monks a few days' notice to collect the relics and icons, and save themselves. This has led Putin to deduce: "I think that certainly, in the most difficult days of civil war and militant atheism, which sowed discord in Russian society, the seeds of the fraternal union remained, above all thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church ". This union also extends beyond the confines of the Church, and of Russia itself: "There is much in common among the religions of the world, at the base there are values ​​such as mercy, justice, honesty, love . We are a pluri-confessional state, but these moral values ​​are common to all the ethnic groups of our people, they make us a unitary reality ".

According to the Russian president, the same communist ideology is not so far from religions, and can be compared with Christianity: "Freedom, fraternity, equality, justice, are all written in the Holy Scriptures, everything is there". The codex of the creators of communism, beginning with the texts of Lenin, would be, according to Putin, a "sublimation" of biblical ethics, a primitive extrapolation of it: "Lenin was put into a mausoleum. In what way does this distinguish itself from the exposition of the relics of the saints of the Orthodox, or Christians in general? ". The communists, therefore, did not invent anything, but re-adapted the ancient religious traditions to their own purposes.

Lenin’s relics

The number of those in favour of Lenin’s re-burial grows year by year. According to various surveys, a significant majority of Russians have long since ceased to consider the mausoleum on the Red Square as a "holy place". In any case, throughout the post-Soviet period, the comparison between the exposure of Lenin's mummy and the orthodox use of the devotion of the relics of the saints was a workhorse of the Russian Communist Party secretary, Gennady Zjuganov. Comparing Putin's words with the views of Zjuganov, the arguments of both lead to the exaltation of the patriotic roots of the communist ideology, and the continuity between Soviet Russia and its previous historical manifestations, including its original Christian roots. The difference, if anything, lies in the fact that Zjuganov has always insisted on the primordial example of the Kiev Caves Monastery, which was founded in the eleventh century after the Baptism of Rus': but today this comparison creates considerable embarrassment, due to conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. Putin has therefore tried to move further back in time and much further north, the sources of the "Russian soul", extolling the superiority of Valaam over Kiev itself. Not surprisingly, the Russian president also often speaks of the original bond of the Russian monks with Mount Athos, whose first convents were founded at the same time as the baptism of Prince Vladimir in 988.

Electoral propaganda?

In this way, Valaam and ancient Russian Christianity acquire not only spiritual significance, but also a political and propagandistic one, particularly as the "orthodox president" par excellence launches his electoral campaign. It is no coincidence that analysts believe that is the only of the Communist Party candidate capable of challenging Putin is 57-year-old Pavel Grudinin, to whom the old leader Zjuganov left the scene amidst general surprise. Grudinin, leader of an agricultural holding company in the Moscow province, has never been a member of the party, moreover he was not even a member of Putin's "United Russia" until 2010. Between the left and the ruling party, there has always been a race to steal the slogans and ideological arguments: with the comparison between Lenin and the saints, Putin has skillfully subtracted a strong point from the "reds", whose link with the "belly" of the electorate is undeniable.

Meanwhile, Kondrashov's film has become a spokesman for the Putin campaign: while using material a few month old, it was quickly assembled and launched, perhaps to exploit the echo of the heated discussions on the recognition of the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Several commentators - such as Anton Sviridov on portal-credo.ru - believe that there could ultimately be an agreement between the government and the authorities of the Orthodox Patriarchate. The State would undertake to resolve the question of the burial of Lenin, leaving the Church full responsibility for the definitive word on the authenticity of the imperial remains, as requested by Patriarch Kirill and the Synod of the Russian Bishops. Both Lenin and his great enemy, Tsar Nicholas, are therefore united according to Putin, for the sole cause of today's Russia.

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