The Battle for History – Part X

Author: Vladimir Karpets

Translator: Yulian Orlov

Zavtra no. 29 (922), 20 July 2011

Every year, at the beginning of July, my mental gaze turns again and again towards the Ipatyev basement [1]. Why? How could they have let this happen?

No, they knowingly made it happen. Not the Bolsheviks, who were but a blind tool, and not even the omnipresent masons or the British embassy – although, of course, the role and place of all these powers is known. We are speaking of that very same “Russia-that-we-lost” [2], which, or so it would seem, had been called to defend its Tsar and which, according to V. V. Rozanov, “faded away in two days. In three at most… It is striking that it disintegrated completely and all at once into fragments, into parts”. We will not discuss here the issue of whether the emperor’s “abdication” of the throne took place or not. Contemporary historians and researchers such as P. N. Multatuli, A. B. Razumov and others claim (and not without reason) that there was no abdication at all.

“I understood and understand the hatred which Guchkov, Kerensky and the others harbor towards us, but why are We so hated by persons like General Kornilov, who was shown so much kindness by Nicky [3]? You have known Me a long time and you know that I can keep myself under control, but at that moment, when General Kornilov came to see Me with a red bow next to the Order of Saint George that Nicky had given him, and said, ‘My dear citizen Aleksandra Feodorovna Romanova, please rise and listen to the decree of the Provisional Government’, something darkened in my eyes” – the martyr-tsarina Aleksandra Fyodorovna wrote in her diary. Later, one of those ensigns from the so-called “Kornilov Strike Battalion” composed a song in which the following words could be heard: “We do not pity the past, the Tsar is no idol to us!” Kornilov liked the song so much that he asked for the text to be copied. When a shell splinter struck down the general, his comrades found a scrap of paper with this song written on it on his bloody chest.

Or take Grand Prince Kirill Vladimirovich [4]: “Together with my beloved guard detachment I went to the State Duma, that popular temple… I dare to think that with the fall of the old regime, I, too, will finally be able to breathe freely in a free Russia… Before me I see only the shining stars of popular happiness.” And further: “Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional actions. This is why the arrest of Nicholas and his wife are justified by events…” Even M.V. Rodzyanko [5] said: “Red does not suit Your Highness’s face.”

But the most important, truly fateful landmark was the high clergy’s betrayal of the Tsar. “The will of God has come to pass. Russia has set out on the path of a new state life” – thus began the “Message of the Holy Synod to the Entire Flock of the Russian Church”, which appeared immediately after the Tsar’s “abdication”. Today, the phenomenon of the “clergy’s betrayal” is being studied in detail by the historian Mikhail Babkin, who has recently released the book The Clergy and the Monarchy. But even earlier as well, rediscovered (or simply hushed up) documents revealed the truth. Here are some words from the “Call to the Soldiers by Archbishop Agafangel (Preobrazhensky), the Priests and Adherents of the Orthodox Faith of the City of Yaroslavl” of March 19, 1917: “Valiant soldiers, glorious citizens of Great Russia! The hour of popular freedom has come… Soft rays of popular freedom, filled with light and strength, have started to shine everywhere: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association”.

On March 26, the archbishop of Novgorod, Arseniy (Stadnitsky) said at a gathering of priests in Novgorod: “On 2 March, an act on the abdication of the former emperor has been signed… The Orthodox Church has been enslaved for 200 years. It is now being granted freedom. My God, what vastness!”

“But the Church?”— asked V. V. Rozanov – “Earlier, there were the ’32 hierarchs”\’ who wished for a ‘free Church founded on the canons’. But there are now 33333… 2… 2… 2… 2 hierarchs and sub-hierarchs and super-hierarchs… they have begun to yell, speak, and invent that ‘the Church of Christ always has been essentially socialist’, and that it had never been monarchist, only Peter the Great ‘forced us to lie’” [6]. What is the problem here? Where did that “union” between the Tsar and the clergy that Soviet propaganda spoke about with one goal in mind, and anti-Soviet propaganda with another, disappear off to? It seems that it didn’t exist. What is more, in contrast with, for example, the military, the rejection of the Tsar from among the clergy was of a totally ideological character: it based itself mainly on the Old Testament with its clear preference for “kritarchy” over monarchy in ancient Israel [7]. There were other motives as well. The modern historian of theology N. K. Gavryushin says of the most famous arch-hierarch of the period, Metropolitan Antonius (Khrapovitsky): “Antonius’ battle for the restoration of the patriarchy was pregnant with invisible, papist ideals. His barefaced dream was a position of the Church in the state, under the auspices of which the patriarch could ‘eclipse the Tsar.’ In his ‘Report Memorandum’ to the Holy Synod on the patriarchy, he claimed that it was not worth ‘speaking about any kind of councils, renaissances of the spiritual school, or the rebirth of the parish until a patriarch is reinstated.’” Gavryushin speaks of “Nikonian papism.”

Everything ended in the basement of the Ipatyev House. This was the midnight of Russian history.

Today, when they force upon us the heirs of “emperor Kirill” or the idea of a so-called “strong Church” (not in the sense of spiritual strength, but in the numerical-material, organisational, and even financial dimensions – which is not an Orthodox or apostolic idea), we ask ourselves again and again: “On whose hands is all that blood?”

Translator’s notes:

[1]: The basement of the Ipatyev House in Yekaterinburg is the scene of the execution of Nicholas II, his family, and several of their attendants by members of the Ural Soviet. The house was demolished in 1977 and the site currently plays host to a chapel commemorating the murdered royals. It is interesting to note that the name of the house is identical to that of the monastery from which Mikhail Romanov came to the throne.

[2]: “The Russia that we lost” (Россия, которую мы потеряли) is a conservative slogan and meme in post-Soviet Russia. It is an idealization of life under the monarchist regime.

[3]: Aleksandr Ivanovich Guchkov (1862 – 1936) was a businessman and liberal politician of the Octobrist party. He became minister of war in the Provisional Government until his forced resignation. He later supported General Kornilov and, when the Russian Civil War broke out, gave financial and political support to the White Movement. Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky (1881 – 1970) was a lawyer, erstwhile revolutionary, politician, and freemason who played an instrumental role in the February Revolution. Kerensky’s Provisional Government attempted to continue fighting against Germany on the Eastern Front. However, due to internal disarray, a series of crises, and military fatigue, the Provisional Government lost control of the country and was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. Kerensky himself tried unsuccessfully to curry favour with the White Movement and was eventually forced to emigrate. General Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov (1870 – 1918) was a military intelligence officer who is best remembered today for the 1917 Kornilov affair, an attempted military coup against Kerensky’s Provisional Government which ended in failure.

[4]: Grand prince Kirill Vladimirovich (1876 – 1938) was a cousin of Tsar Nicholas II. During the February Revolution, he was one of the first members of the royal family to betray the Tsar. Kirill supported the Provisional Government and later the White Moment. While in emigration in Paris, in 1924 the grand prince declared himself Emperor Kirill I of All Russias, a decision that was (and is) contested by the surviving members of the royal family.

[5]: Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzyanko (1859 – 1924) was a liberal politician who played a key role in Nicholas II’s successful abdication. He later supported the White Movement and was forced to emigrate.

[6]: The “enslavement of the Russian Church” refers to the Synodal period of Russian ecclesiastical history. As part of his reforms, Tsar Peter the Great removed the office of the patriarch and placed the Church under the auspices of the Most Holy Governing Synod. This move effectively made the clergy into civil servants and gave the Tsar an almost caesoro-papist position in Russian society.

[7]: Kritarchy is a system of government in which judges hold supreme political power. A system of this kind was most famously in place in ancient Israel prior to the establishment of a unified monarchy. Modern kritarchies can be found in several Islamic countries.

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