Voices from Russia

Monday, 2 March 2015

RBTH Video… A Glimpse at the Holy Land in Novy Ierusalime Monastery



Click here for page with an embedded two-minute vid with English subs

Patriarch Nikon Minin founded the Novy Ierusalime Monastery  in 1656. He based its design on the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Nikon intended to build a series of holy places in the Moscow suburb of Istra as replicas of the sacred sites of Palestine. The Patriarch lived for eight years in the monastery, devoting all his energy to the construction so that Russians could familiarise themselves with the Passion of Christ without needing to take a long and expensive journey to the Middle East.

2 March 2015

Pavel Inzhelevsky

Ruslan Faizulin

Russia Behind the Headlines



Saturday, 18 May 2013

18 May 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. The 17th Century Church Schism: How Did It Divide Believers?

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The 17th Century Church Schism. How Did It Divide Believers. 2013


During the reign of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, Patriarch Nikon Minin launched new studies of Russian sacred texts, comparing them with Greek models to identify discrepancies. The reform started with the convening of a Sobor in Moscow in 1654, which decided to bring the liturgical books in line with Greek manuscripts. The Great Moscow Sobor of 1666-67 approved new rites of worship and ranks. The authorities began a crackdown against the opponents of reform, which lasted for about two centuries. The Old Ritualists split at various times, the monarchy varied in its approach to them. At times, the government was lenient; at others, it was severe. Sometimes, the Belokrinitsky Old Ritualist hierarchy could serve legally at the Rogozhskoe Cemetery in Moscow, but at other periods, during the so-called “sealing of the altars”, the state forbade the Old Ritualists to serve the liturgy.

In 1800, some of the “priested” Old Ritualists sought rapprochement with the Holy Governing Synod, which established a special structure for the so-called Yedinoverie (“One-Faithers”, “Unionists”)… maintaining the pre-reform ritual, they submitted to the jurisdiction of the canonical Church, recognising that ritual differences don’t affect general dogmatic teaching. For example, in comparing the sign of the cross, although they used different constructions, both usages symbolise the unity of the three persons of the Holy Trinity and of Christ‘s dual divine-human nature. In 1905, Tsar St Nikolai Aleksandrovich issued a decree on religious tolerance, removing all civil restrictions on the rights of the Old Ritualists, and, in 1971, an MP Sobor adopted a resolution to lift the oaths and anathemas from the old rites.

12 February 2013



Click here to read more on the Raskol

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.


Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.