Russian Rebirth

This year, the West’s Christian Easter, Islam’s Ramadan and the Jewish Pesach all coincide. This, in itself, is cause for joy, as is the blooming or flowering trees and bushes. It is the time of resurrection, but unfortunately, not only of what needs to be resurrected, but that which does not. Case in point: there is a rebirth of militarism that borders on fascism, a resurrection taking place and not without help from the church.

Recently, in the main cathedral of the Russian armed forces (erected in honor of the Resurrection of Christ), Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev, the patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the entire Russian homeland, found it appropriate to deem military service in general an act of heroism, and reminded people that Russia “broke the backbone of fascism” before. The reference is clear: Russia will do it again, specifically in Ukraine, where citizens together with their brothers in Belarus and Russia, are part of a united Russia, and united in the trinity as well.

Two years ago, in the town of Kubinka near Moscow during the dedication of the cathedral on the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, there was so much excitement that a mosaic depicting the “trinity” of President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian Federation Sen. Valentina Matviyenko was dedicated to them celebrating their effort in achieving the successful occupation of Crimea in 2014. The Kremlin probably did not approve the dedication as the plaque was removed not long afterward. Another mosaic, displaying a portrait of Joseph Stalin at a parade on the day of the victory suffered the same fate. Generals and bishops had thought it was fine since Stalin won not only the war but brought back religion. However, the believers, usually so pious, were outraged. They remembered why religion had to be restored and where Stalin, the generalissimus, had to bring it back from after the world war broke out.

On Tuesday, in the Far East and at a safe distance from the war, Putin met with Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Putin’s self-righteous tone resembled that of Patriarch Kirill. Russia “had been left with no choice but to launch the invasion” or “special operation” but its aims are “noble,” Putin said. Russia was merely helping the people of the Donbas region overcome Ukrainian oppression and the attack against Kyiv was necessary to paralyze the opposing forces. Putin said that operations are progressing according to previously established plans and it was prudent not to move too quickly in order to avoid unnecessarily high losses.

Just like Kirill, Putin is lying. The people of Ukraine exist independently from Russia in their own right. It is not an act of heroism to engage in an immoral fight, it is a sin. This war should have never started, its purpose is foul, and operations are not at all progressing as previously planned. Ukrainian citizens don’t even understand why Russians are killing them and tend to refer to them as “the Germans.” It looks like Putin will face Stalin’s fate. The world will primarily remember him as bloodthirsty, but the Russian political-ecclesiastical elite, and let’s not kid ourselves, some of the Russian people as well, will see him as an iconic figure standing in a cathedral. We will have to wait many springs and many Easters before there is a rebirth in Russia.

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