Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

18 July 2018. Let’s End the Pietistic Claptrap About the Tsar’s Death

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One of the more scurrilous stories going about in recent days is that the killing of Tsar St Nikolai and his family was a “Jewish Ritual Murder”. I kid you not! Firstly, Ya M Yurovsky wasn’t a practising Jew. How could he carry out a “Jewish” act if he wasn’t part of the “Tribe”? Some sources detail that he dallied with Lutheran Christianity before becoming a Marxist. In short, those making such accusations know more about Judaism than Yurovsky probably did. He came from a non-religious Jewish family in Tomsk, in Siberia, far from the usual venues of Jewish community life. Today, this goofy submission mainly comes from one Tikhon Shevkunov, a Far Right cleric with political and oligarch connections. He embarrassed HH by bringing this fantasy up at a serious legal and historical forum at the Centre. HH didn’t take long to react. He “promoted” Shevkunov… he made him a metropolitan in charge of a minor metropolia that only covers Pskov Oblast. Pskov Oblast is a backwater that’s been in decline for many decades. HH had to determine the depth of Shevkunov’s real support amongst the siloviki*, and when he concluded that Shevkunov wasn’t as powerful as he seemed, he kicked Shevkunov out of the Centre. The Church rejects the “Jewish Ritual Murder” submission as anti-Semitic rubbish, unfit for Christian people. Yes… there are anti-Semites amongst us pushing this noisome theory… many in the ROCOR, of old White Guard families. A priest told me that this idiocy has become a “litmus test”, so many people who seemingly support it, don’t… they simply don’t want trouble with the elements who foster such nonsense.

  • silovik: “person of power”, an “operator” or “person of influence”… generally used of those in the political or military apparat

Secondly, V I Lenin and the VTsIK didn’t order the deaths of the imperial family and their retainers. According to the testimony of three telegraphists from the Yekaterinburg post office received later by Sokolov’s commission, Lenin in conversation with Berzin on direct wire ordered:

Take under your protection the whole royal family and don’t allow any kind of violence against them. If such occurs, you’ll forfeit your own life.

According to historian A G Latyshev, the telegraph communication between Lenin and Berzin is one of the proofs of Lenin’s desire to save the life of the Romanovs. Latyshev believes that Lenin, unwilling to spoil relations with German Kaiser Wilhelm, a close relative of the Romanovs, didn’t approve the shooting. If we proceed from the available documents, the fate of the royal family as a whole wasn’t discussed at any level in Moscow. The only discussions were on the fate of Nikolai, and most prefered to have a trial. According to a number of historians, there was a fundamental consensus that the former monarch was to receive a death sentence. According to investigator V N Solovyov, F I Goloshchekin, referring to the complexity of the military situation around  ​​Yekaterinburg and the possibility of the capture of the royal family by the Whites, proposed shooting Nikolai without a trial, but the VTsIK categorically denied this option. The Ural Soviet sent a telegram received in Moscow on 16 July at 21.22. G Z Ioffe suggested that the “justice” referred to in the telegram referred to the execution of Nikolai or even of the whole family. There’s no answer from the central leadership to this telegram in the archives. Indeed, Archpriest V A Chaplin, some years ago, confirmed that the VTsIK sent no telegram ordering the family’s death. A few hours before the shooting of the royal family, on 16 July, Lenin prepared a telegram as a reply to a Danish newspaper that asked him about the fate of Nikolai, which denied rumours of his death. At 16.00, the text went to the telegraph office, but the telegram wasn’t sent. According to Latyshev:

This means that Lenin didn’t even imagine the possibility of the execution of Nikolai (not to mention the whole family) the next night.

According to the RF Genprokuratura, the official decision to shoot Nikolai came on 16 July 1918 from the Presidium of the Ural Regional Soviet of Workers, Peasants, and Soldiers Deputies. No one preserved the original document of this decision. However, a week after the shooting, the Ural Soviet published the official text of the sentence:

Decree of the Presidium of the Ural Regional Council of Workers, Peasants and Red Army Deputies

In view of the fact that Czechoslovak gangs threatened the capital of the Red Urals, Yekaterinburg, in view of the fact that the crowned executioner might escape the people’s justice (a White Guard conspiracy was just discovered, aimed at kidnapping the entire Romanov family), the Presidium of the regional committee, in fulfillment of the will of the people, decided to shoot the former Tsar Nikolai Romanov, guilty before the people of countless bloody crimes. The decree of the Presidium of the Regional Soviet was carried out on the night of 16-17 July. The Romanov family was transferred from Yekaterinburg to another, more secure place.

The Presidium of the Regional Soviet of Workers, Peasants, and Red Army Deputies of the Urals

Genprokuratura investigator V N Solovyov, who conducted a criminal investigation into the death of the royal family, examined the memoirs of those personally involved in the shooting, as well as the testimony of other former Ipatiev House guards, concluding that their descriptions of the shooting didn’t contradict each other, differing only in small details. He didn’t find any documents that directly proved the involvement of Lenin and Sverdlov. However, if he thought that Lenin and Sverdlov accepted the shooting of the royal family, he said:

I believe, of course, they did. On 18 July 1918, having learned that the whole family had been shot, they officially accepted the execution, punishing none of the organisers and participants in the shooting.

Meanwhile, Latyshev noted that the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, under the chairmanship of Sverdlov, approved (recognised as correct) the decision of the Uralbolsovet about the execution of Nikolai II. However, the Sovnarkom, headed by Lenin, only “took note of it”.

Solovyov completely rejected the “Jewish Ritual Murder” thesis. He pointed up that most of the participants in the discussion of the shooting were Russians, only one Jew (Yurovsky) took part in the murder, and the rest were Russians and Latvians. The investigation also disproved the version advanced by M K Diterikh about “chopping off heads” for ritual purposes. According to the conclusion of forensic medical experts, the cervical vertebrae of all skeletons show no traces of post-mortem separation of the heads. In October 2011, Solovyov decided to end the investigation. The official conclusion indicated that the investigation didn’t find documentary evidence of the involvement of Lenin or anyone else from the top leadership of the Bolsheviks in the shooting of the royal family.

In short, the shooting was a panicked decision by the local authorities. The Whites were on the doorstep, so to speak, so they decided to put an end to the family, to avoid their liberation by the Whites. It wasn’t a “foreign killing” nor was it a “Jewish murder”… the facts simply don’t support such moonshine. Besides, many of those pushing such nonsense today are those who whitewash fascist collaborators such as Vlasov and Krasnov. You can see that their anti-Semitism, although not identical to that of the Nazis, was similar enough to it so that they were comfortable with collaboration with the German fascist persecutors of the Rodina. Does it surprise you that most of them went to work for the USA after the end of the VOV?

The Church considers the royal family “Passionbearers”, those who met their fate in a Christian fashion, NOT “martyrs”, as they didn’t die in defence of Christianity. As for me, I believe it a great historical tragedy, one that we besmirch by bringing in such nonsense as “Ritual Murder”. Let them rest in peace. The Romanov dynasty died with them… the actual chance of a “restoration” is next to nil. Let history and the Almighty see and judge.

BMD

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

25 October 2017. Romanov Sainthood… Passionbearers NOT Martyrs

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The Imperial family and their retainers are NOT martyrs. They didn’t die because of their Christian faith. They’re passionbearers… people who met an undeserved death in a Christian manner. This isn’t a minor point. Some irresponsible elements in the ROCOR (often under the influence of such Sergianist clergy as Potapov) are claiming that the Imperial family are martyrs. This isn’t so and the Centre hasn’t changed its position. Not only has the Centre not changed its position, it has no plans to do so, nor does it even have such a move under discussion. One of my interlocutors at the Centre said that we shouldn’t be too harsh on ROCOR clergy for going along with this goofiness. After all, if a clergyman were to go against Potapov and his clique, it wouldn’t be pleasant and it could affect a clergyman’s mission. Have forgiveness on such men… the times are evil and corrupt men such as Potapov and Alfeyev have undue influence. Ordinary priests and deacons find themselves in positions where they must “toss a pinch of incense upon the altar” to be left alone. That isn’t culpable.

The imperial family lost their lives because the Upper Middle class turned against them in February 1917. If that hadn’t occurred, at worst, the tsar would’ve had to make peace with a victorious Germany (more likely, it would’ve led to a stalemate in the East). If you want to find the culprits who laid the groundwork for Red October and the murder of the Romanovs (recall who imprisoned the Romanovs in the first place), look amongst the families of the Golden 400 (that is, clans such as the Potapovs and Schmemanns). Reflect on that whenever you hear Potapov’s lying rants…

BMD

Friday, 20 October 2017

20 October 2017. Tsar St Nikolai Wasn’t a Great Ruler… His Critics Were No Better

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For those who hold power, there’s no sin greater than the cowardly evasion of responsibility.

P A Stolypin

These days, one sees a great deal of rot written about Tsar St Nikolai. He wasn’t his father’s son… he lacked his father’s force of personality, physical prowess, and worldly experience. On the other hand, he wasn’t an oblivious incompetent ninny, as some would have it. He was an average man who had an excellent education. He was a man of good impulses and decent upbringing (he was no amoral monster). However, he didn’t have the “touch”. He lacked charisma and he lacked personal insight. His father was a consummate autocrat. No one dared contradict Aleksandr Aleksandrovich. After all, we’re talking about a man who could bend wrought-iron pokers with his bare hands! Interestingly, Tsar Aleksandr was a bit less intelligent than his son was, but he more than made up for that with good-sense, intuition, and a thorough knowledge of people and their (often nasty) motives.

In my view, Tsar St Nikolai’s momentous mistake was in leaving Petrograd in 1915. As Russia was (and is) a centralised state, the leader has to be at the Centre in times of crisis. Nikolai flouted this reality… as Gorbachyov did in 1991. The outcomes were similar, weren’t they? Nikolai’s place was in Petrograd… Gorbachyov’s place was in Moscow… but both ran away from the Centre. In some ways, St Nikolai tempted the Upper Middles of Russia (the Potapov, Schmemann, Ousorgine, and Meyendorff clans amongst them) to seize power. Remember this well… the Reds did NOT topple the monarchy and imprison the imperial family… the Whites did.

No White faction in the Civil War was for the restoration of tsardom… all were for an Upper Middle dictatorship over all other classes. That is, the Potapovs and Schmemanns would tell their “inferiors” what to do (it’s a major reason why the Reds won… the Whites were feral and amoral). That sounds like the Golden 400 in our diaspora Church, doesn’t it? None of the Golden 400 families was for a Romanov Restoration then. Their present caterwauling is empty wind and disgusting posing. They overthrew the tsar, put him under arrest, and threw the state into anarchy at a time of war and crisis. Yet… they pose and preen as the leading lights of our diaspora community.

Tsar St Nikolai remains a tragic figure of rare proportion. However, he was neither an inept dunderhead nor a great leader. He was a rather average man who had to pay for his mistakes to the last kopeck. Many have thought him the ideal constitutional monarch. His poor luck was to be in quite another position. He met his death bravely and without cowardice. There’s something to be said about that. He’s a Passionbearer… not a Martyr…

BMD

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

From February to October

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In his Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President Putin placed special emphasis on the anniversaries of the February Revolution and the October Revolution:

This is a good moment for looking back on the causes and nature of these revolutions in Russia. Not just historians and scholars should do this; Russian society in general needs an objective, honest, and deep-reaching analysis of these events.

Indeed, history is a great teacher giving us a variety of cases and making us draw numerous lessons. However, we need to learn from our experience and apply our knowledge to specific circumstances and particular landscape for these lessons to be more than just a tribute to the memory of the events. We must learn from our historical, political, and social errors and contribute to the state’s development. The available data shows clear evidence that the February Revolution and the October Revolution had roots in a complex mix of internal and external factors. We should particularly emphasise that problems leading to a coup or a revolution aren’t exclusively domestic ones. Still, A M Gorchakov, an outstanding diplomat and Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, who studied the French revolutions that broke out in 1789, 1830, 1848, and 1871, quite rightly noted:

Unless the government has made an error, a revolution won’t break out; the government is to blame for every revolution.

Therefore, let’s consider the contemporary internal political situation in the Russian Empire. 1917 became a turning point in the period of Russian history that started with the 1861 Emancipation Reform abolishing serfdom. Although it was the most important of the “Great Reforms”, however, it laid a foundation for future social upheavals. In fact, the emancipation of the serfs impoverished them. The reform took 20 percent of land away from serfs, and the size of land allotment almost halved, shrinking by 43 to 50 percent (5.24 hectares per person earlier against 2.84 after the reform). Meanwhile, those people had trouble assimilating into urban life, so numerous serfs were on the edge of survival. In retrospect, one can justifiably state that the events of 1917 were the direct continuation of the events of 1905 and completed earlier processes.

Secondly, the integration of largely agrarian Russia into the world capitalist system, which started in the 1850s, adversely affected most of the population. The country experienced two opposite trends. On the one hand, foreign investment allowed introducing new technologies and constructing plants, factories, and roads, with foreigners owning 90 percent of Russian mines, 50 percent of chemical enterprises, 40 percent of metallurgical and machine-building plants, and 30 percent of textile mills. On the other hand, the rising export of resources, including capital, needed to support economic development, stood in the way of the emerging Russian bourgeoisie. To put it differently, foreign capital was both an engine and a brake on domestic savings, and the country gradually gave up its financial and resource independence. As a result, industrialisation was in its initial stages up until World War I. Industry earned 6 billion roubles, whilst agriculture remained the major source of national wealth, earning 24 billion roubles, accounting for 75-80 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the population worked in agriculture, and the rural population constituted 87 percent of the total.

Thirdly, the state’s growing dependence on foreign loans provoked revolutionary upheavals. Russia accounted for 1.998 billion USD, or 31.2%, of the total external debt accumulated by all countries, and amounted to 6.317 billion USD by early 1914. However, the state remained the largest landowner, factory-owner, wholesale merchant, creditor, and so on. Naturally, capital-owners strongly opposed the situation, which fuelled tension between wealthy capitalists and the state. The big bourgeoisie mainly aimed to reduce the role of the state in the economy and limit it as much as possible; their idea was to transform capital into power. The fourth reason translating into large-scale demonstrations across the country was a logical extension of the above-mentioned causes. On the one hand, the difficult socioeconomic situation aggravated by the war provoked political disgruntlement. On the other hand, wealthy capitalists actively backing workers’ councils and establishing an extensive network of organisations fuelled popular resentment. Since 1916, prices rose four- or fivefold, and Russia saw a four-time increase in cash, with gold, in fact, withdrawn from circulation. Strike movements, unrest in villages, and rebellions on the periphery were exhausting and destabilising the state.

Weak government enjoying little popular support constituted a fifth, and perhaps most important, cause of the February Revolution, with the enrichment of the few accompanied by the impoverishment of the many. Specifically, Carl Fabergé received an unprecedentedly high number of orders in the crisis year of 1916. Thus, the paralysis of the state, mostly of the national security agencies, gripped the country. Already at war, Russia had a systemic crisis, resulting in the élite’s inability to perform its basic functions, infrastructure disruptions, and ultimately overt sabotage. As such, the revolution didn’t break out until the Tsar’s abdication, specifically until Nikolai II left his people and army to their own devices. Until then, one could see events as a plot or a rebellion, quite reversible phenomena. However, the Emperor’s abdication unleashed irreversible, and at the same time, most radical, processes, with the February Revolution followed by the October Revolution.

Finally, one should again point up that the internal factors of the February Revolution emerged full blown in the context of the world political game. The February Revolution came to be of crucial importance in the struggle for European and global primacy waged by Great Britain and its allies. Specifically, the fight aimed at erasing Russia from the geopolitical map and reducing it to a resource source, which was impossible to accomplish without the deposition of Nikolai II. At the Tsar’s abdication, Lloyd George actually said in Parliament:

[Through this], Britain achieved one of its major war aims.

Finally, yet importantly, the February events have a special meaning amid more frequent coups, more broadly known as “colour revolutions”. Current seizures of power fit into the structural pattern of the 1917 February Revolution, as they tend to capitalise on popular discontent to cause political destabilisation and breed opposition groups. Globalisation-shaped technological innovations also affect this. Whilst anti-monarchy propaganda circulated via newspapers and leaflets, today’s new mass media network takes the place of the press, revolutionary clubs, and strike committees. At the same time, the “Februarists” and contemporary “revolutionaries” share similar tasks and objectives, namely the overthrow of the state. Moreover, the February events and putsches have another important aspect in common, particularly their essential requirement to neutralise, even liquidate, the political leader. His or her deposition (or assassination) presages chaos, civil wars, and economic and political devastation, rather than the triumph of freedom and law.

8 April 2017

Yelena Ponomareva

Professor MGIMO

Rethinking Russia

http://rethinkingrussia.ru/en/2017/04/from-february-to-october/

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