Voices from Russia

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Orthodox Clerics say that we should ponder the Lessons found in the Russian History of the Early-20th Century

Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia called upon all Russians to ponder the lessons found in the Russian history of the early-20th century so that they could give a clear-cut assessment to the tragic events that coloured the later events in our national life. The Patriarch said this on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the horrific massacre of the imperial family and its servants in Yekaterinburg. There are still disputes in Russia over the personality of Russia’s last tsar, who was murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad in Yekaterinburg in the Urals in the early-morning hours of 17 July 1918. Some believe that he was weak-willed and too gentle to be a ruler of such a huge country. Others, on the contrary, confidently assert that Russia scored unprecedented successes in the economic and socio-political spheres in the reign of Tsar Nikolai II.

A majority of scholars are inclined to think that the peculiarities of the tsar’s style of government were the reason for the revolution and the subsequent events that determined the course of Russia for the next 80 years. However, simple Orthodox believers are convinced that the personality of Tsar Nikolai II and his style of governance are not sufficient grounds for the crime committed on that horrible July night when the Bolsheviks killed not only the tsar himself, but, also his wife, children, and servants. In Soviet Russia the circumstances of the tsar’s death were long hushed-up, and no assessment was given to the tragic massacre of the imperial family. This silence on the part of the state led to a split amongst the Russian people and can in future give rise to more tragedies and conflicts.

In the opinion of Fr Mikhail Prokopenko, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, “Disclosure of the truth about any event in history never does harm. But, there are lies and deceitful historical distortions afoot. This, on the contrary, contains the danger of new conflicts and clashes of opinion and discord, not to mention the risk of a schism in our society. Until a just assessment is given to the evil crime committed of the summer of 1918, an enormity that affected not only Russia, but, the entire world, there will always be people enslaved by ideology, being guided by false ideas in their everyday choice of behaviour. Therefore, it is necessary to say point-blank, directly and clearly, that it was a murder, an inhuman act, and a crime. It does not matter that the victims were members of the imperial family. Today, the state must give a clear judgement of this tragedy and condemn the tyrants who killed innocent people. This is the only way to avoid subsequent conflicts, misunderstanding, and discord in our society in future”.

Tsar Nikolai II, his family, and his servants, were canonised by the MP at the Jubilee Archpastoral Council in 2000 (they were canonised by the ROCOR in 1981: editor’s note). Recently, all Russian parishes served moliebens to the royal martyrs. Fittingly, Yekaterinburg is the centre of the events remembrance of the royal martyrs. On the night of 16 July, a religious procession was held in the city which ended in an all-night vigil service in the memorial church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, built on the site where the imperial family was murdered.

17 July 2008

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service


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