Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Metropolitan Kirill’s ‘Russian Doctrine’ Denounced as Anti-Semitic

Paul Goble

Vienna, September 5 – The new “Russian Doctrine” released last month by the World Russian Public Assembly and openly supported by Metropolitan Kirill, the second highest ranking prelate of the Moscow Patriarchate, is not only Stalinist and anti-Western but anti-Semitic as well, according to a leading Russian commentator.
Indeed, Aleksei Makarkin says in an essay published today, this document contains little or nothing Benito Mussolini or other fascist backers of “a corporate state” would not have signed onto. And it can thus best characterized as a manifestation of “Orthodox Stalinism” (
And that makes it all the more troubling that this document is being pushed forward by Metropolitan Kirill, who may be protecting himself from criticism from nationalists within his church but who does not credit to himself or to it by associating himself with the notions this new “doctrine” contains.
The Doctrine, Makarkin notes, might have passed unnoticed if its only support were the participants of the World Russian Public Assembly. But Metropolitan Kirill’s involvement not only guarantees that it will attract attention but also that the ideas it contains have significant support in the Russian elite.
In presenting the document last month, Kirill argued that its contents reflected what he calls “dynamic conservatism” – something the metropolitan has spoken about before -- but Makarkin suggests that in fact, the newly-released Doctrine is “reactionary, not conservative” in “an ultra-radical, retrograde form.”
According to the Doctrine, Makarkin continues, “the party-parliamentary system in the present-day world is degrading and degenerating into a cover for shadowy lobbying.” The only way out, its authors say, is “corporate representation for various classes and professional communities.
Such a notion, the deputy director of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies argues, is not only “incompatible with the democratic path of development of the country” but also represents “a variant” of the views of the followers of “a Russian Khomeini.”
The doctrine specifies – and here Makarkin quotes it directly – that “national power in Russia must become a combination of three state foundations in their concrete political forms – direct democracy … a competent aristocracy … and a single head (the Chief of State.”
In such a system, the doctrine says, the chief of state will have “almost dictatorial authority” while the lower-standing portions of state power will only have the opportunity to voice their support for what the leader says and does, “just as the Supreme Soviet of the USSR unanimously” approved what the Politburo decreed.
In addition to attacking democracy in this way, the doctrine also calls for reducing the importance of human rights as a measure of societal well-being and the use of censorship for both moral reasons and political ones: The media must not disseminate any ideas of “the traitors and enemies of Russia.”
Those who support this doctrine, Makarkin notes, will define exactly who those “traitors and enemies” are.
But what is certain to set off alarm bells in many quarters is the openly anti-Semitic content of the doctrine. Kirill, who for more than a decade has pushed the notion of “four traditional religions of Russia – Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism,” in this case supports a document that speaks about only three.
And as Makarkin notes, “it is not difficult to guess who has been left out.” Indeed, he says, the only role left for Jews in Russia is to support “the foreign political activities of the state” – again, a view very much like that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin who was eager to use the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee at one time and then killed its members.
That the authors of the Russian Doctrine have equally negative views about Jews is suggested by their open support for Stalin’s campaign against “cosmopolitanism,” a code word for his efforts at the end of his life to oust Jews from all prominent places in Russian life and even to exile that community to the Russian Far East.
But the Russian Doctrine does not limit itself to panegyrics to Stalin on this point alone. It also specifies something very much at odds with the historical record: “The former seminarist Stalin,” it says, did a great deal in order that the real ‘illegality’ in post-revolutionary Russia did not increase but on the contrary was seriously reduced.”
And the Doctrine suggests that Stalin was responsible for the revival of the Orthodox Church, with not a word about his own attacks on the clergy and believers before, during and after World War II. (For a summary of his depradations in this area, see
Makarkin suggests that this Doctrine is dangerous in two ways: On the one hand, its appearance suggests that there is growing support for just such “Orthodox Stalinism” in Russia, support that will only feed the current authoritarianism of the Kremlin and delay the appearance of democracy.
And on the other, however calculating Kirill may be – and he is one of the savviest politicians in the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy – he has discredited himself and his Church by associating with a doctrine that all those of good will should quickly and completely denounce.
But there is a third danger arising from such a Doctrine that Makarkin does not mention but that could prove to be even more fateful for the future of the Russian Federation: Its appearance could trigger other nations and regions to come up with their own national doctrines.
Indeed, there are suggestions that leaders in the North Caucasus are doing just that (see . And if they do, a Doctrine urging “a Russia for the Russians” may trigger not the rebirth of Russia but rather a new wave of national assertiveness by other nations instead.

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