Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Skoptsy and Striking Off the Serpent

Khylst ritual ecstatic dance… note the identity of the practise of this anti-Christian sect with its analogues in modern American Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism… Satan doesn’t have any new tricks under the sun, kids…


I had the chance to talk on the radio this week about one of my favourite subjects in the world… weird Russian 18th and 19th century sects. I spent most of my allotted time expounding on the Skoptsy, a castration sect. Up until the mid-17th century, the Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed complete spiritual authority. However, in 1666, Patriarch Nikon decided to bring the Russian Church in line with Greek Orthodoxy, and ordered the rewriting of ecclesiastical tomes. His move, in a country where dogma and tradition had always played a large role in religious life, caused uproar. Nikon’s assertion that Orthodox believers should use three fingers instead of two to cross themselves led to him being labelled the Antichrist by opponents of his changes. Pious Russians had long feared the year 1666, with its satanic associations, and Nikon’s actions seemed to them to be a sign that the Apocalypse was fast approaching. Those who refused to accept changes were labelled Old Believers {the Russian is more correctly translated “Old Ritualist”: editor}, and many of them fled to Siberia and other remote areas of Russia to escape persecution and await the end of the world. Some of the groups cut themselves off so effectively that Soviet geological expeditions were still finding isolated communities that knew little of developments in the modern world in the 1960s and 70s.

This 17th century rejection of the Church’s authority laid the roots for a subsequent explosion of sects and cults, many of them fixating on a single piece of scripture, or an interpretation of scripture, and basing their entire belief system around it. The two most notorious of these cults were the Khlysty and their offshoot, the Skoptsy. The Khlysty believed that the way to salvation lay through the repentance of sins. The greater the sin, the greater the repentance, the Khlysty reasoned, and following this logic they rejected conventional doctrines of “right and wrong”, indulging in actions that they could later confess to. Grigori Rasputin, the mysterious monk who had a major influence on Tsar Nicholas II prior to the 1917 Revolution, is also thought to have had links to the group, which was active from the 17th to the early 20th century. “I whip myself, I seek Christ” (Sebya khlyschu, Khrista ischu) the Khlysty chanted, while flagellating themselves. They were also famed for their dervish-like dances, during which they believed they were communicating directly with the Holy Spirit.

From the Khlysty came the Skoptsy, who believed that Adam and Eve were created sexless, and that reproduction organs only appeared after Satan had tempted humanity. Accordingly, in order “to avoid sexual temptation and sin” the group’s men castrated themselves. Just to be on the safe side, they also cut off women’s breasts. The sect also distorted biblical texts, referring to Christ not as the redeemer (iskupitel) but the castrator (oskopitel), and stated that Jesus had himself been relieved of his sexual organs by John the Baptist. The late Russian academic Andrei Sinyavsky claimed in Ivan the Fool: Russian Folk Belief that the Skoptsy believed that anyone who castrated twelve people was guaranteed a place in heaven, irrespective of any other sins he may have committed. Soviet dissident Sinyavsky, in his quite remarkable study of Russian religious history, wrote that they even went so far as to pay peasants to let them “strike off the serpent”. The sect’s leader and founder, Kondraty Selivanov, considered by his many followers to be a castrated Tsar Peter III, despite the latter’s assassination in 1762, was granted an audience with a curious Tsar Pavel Petrovich towards the end of the 18th century. Predictably, the Russian leader turned down Selivanov’s proposal that he castrate himself and establish the Skoptsy belief as state religion, packing him off to an insane asylum instead. Despite Tsar Pavel’s unwillingness to embrace the group’s teachings, the influence of the Skoptsy grew and, by 1863, official state statistics showed that the group was some 110,000-strong. The Khlysty were also said to boast similar numbers.

While the Khlysty and the Skoptsy were the most notorious of the new sects, they weren’t the only ones. Other sects included the Molokans (known for their habit of drinking milk on fast days), the Dukhobors (Spirit-Wrestlers), and the Beloritsy (who only wore white), to name but a few. Although these groups have largely ceased to exist, their rejection of the mainstream Church had a massive influence on Russian religious life, and paved the way for the appearance of the myriad modern-day sects and cults that emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991… but that’s another story.

19 December 2011

Marс Bennetts



Editor’s Note:

Did you see the cover image? GOOD… that’s what some in the Church wish to ally us with… with such rabidly anti-Church sectarians such as Evangelicals, Pentecostalists, and Mormons. Ignorant formally-converted semi-Orthodox such as Fathausen, Pat Reardon, Freddie M-G, Rod Dreher, and Terrence Mattingly (amongst others) wish to ally us with such slimy anti-Christian elements… to further the hate-filled, money-grubbing, and warmongering agenda of the rightwing of the Republican Party.

They all drool on command for Sarah Palin… a Pentecostalist who denies Christ through her participation in worship services that are no different from Khlyst revels. They all bow before Rush Limbaugh, a four-times-married pill-popping amoral coward who refused to serve his country. They all drop their jaws in awe at Rick Santorum, a former lawyer for the WWF who claimed that his clients were exempt from anabolic steroid regulations and who uses his handicapped daughter for political purposes (Mr Santorum is another chicken-hawk who refused to serve his country). In short, I’d rather sit across the table from a frank sectarian than with an Orthodox who is squishy about such anti-Christian blasphemy.

Don’t forget where the Khylsty and Skoptsy came from… they were both direct outgrowths of the Raskol. That’s why we must NEVER allow either the Renovationists or the “Traditionalists” full access to the levers of power. Hasn’t the experience of the HOCNA people or the Schmemandorff fanatics taught us ANYTHING? If we don’t beat back BOTH… we won’t have a Church, and that’s that.



Russians Expect Protests and Political Upheavals but No Coup in 2012


As Russia enters 2012, a presidential election year, the majority of Russians expect to see protests and political unrest, but they expect no coup in the country, according to the Yuri Levada public opinion website. Last month, Russia saw a series of protests against alleged fraud in the 4 December parliamentary elections, which brought victory to the ruling United Russia party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a presidential candidate in the elections due in March. Hence, 50 percent of respondents said more protests were likely to take place after the elections against 25 percent who said there might not be any further protests. 49 percent of respondents said the political situation was likely to deteriorate after the elections and 26 percent said the situation wouldn’t get worse. However, 45 percent said that protests were unlikely to reach the point of a coup, against 17 percent who said that they might. According to the Levada Centre, only 36 percent of respondents polled between 16 -20 December said that they’d vote for Putin if the elections were held in the next few days, which is a significant drop in the politician’s ratings, which were at a 79 favourability level in 2007. The Levada Centre conducted the opinion poll on 16-20 December amongst 1,600 people over the age of 18, both rural and urban residents, in 130 towns and villages in 45 oblasts.

3 January 2012



3 January 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012!

Sergei Yolkin



All of us at RIA-Novosti wish you a Happy New Year!

30 December 2012

Sergei Yolkin



3 January 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Hey, Capital-Dwellers! On New Year’s Eve, Drink Reponsibly!

Hey, Capital-Dwellers! On New Year’s Eve, Drink Responsibly!

Sergei Yolkin



According to Dmitri Deynichenko, the Deputy for Public Order of the Moscow Municipal Main Directorate of the MVD, the police won’t nick drunks in public places on New Year’s Eve unless they’re being rowdy and disorderly.

30 December 2011

Sergei Yolkin



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