Vladimir Putin: His Religious Belief
His Role in the Union of the ROCOR with Moscow
Archbishop Chrysostom made several statements when speaking to a group faithful in xxx late last year. These statements are frankly lies and your archbishop is quite plainly a liar. ...In one statement he claimed that Vladimir Putin was raised an atheist and came from a communist family. In fact he was raised by a pious Orthodox mother and secretly baptized an Orthodox Christian. He openly and courageously confesses his belief in God and his dedication to the Russian Orthodox religion. ...In the other one, he said that the ROCOR was joined to the Mother Church in Moscow by efforts of President Putin. The indisputable fact is that the millions of Russians in the Church Outside Russia wanted to join their Mother Church once that communism had fallen. Vladimir Putin played no role in this at all, except by helping to overthrow the Soviet regime.
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Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2010
To: Exarchate Clergy, Faithful, and Friends
From: Archbishop Chrysostomos
The writer of this comment, an educated and otherwise reasonable man, has simply let his ethnic sensitivities and lack of objectivity with regard to the matter at hand cloud his vision. He sent his commentary to a professor in our jurisdiction [SIR, Royal Path] who is equally erudite and reasonable, and he sent it on to me, asking that I reply to it. He did so, not because he endorses the comment [he observed that my critic's words "are shamefully and uncharacteristically rude", just as his views are incontrovertibly refuted by the factual record.] But he asked me, for the sake of supporting my claims, to write a response for a general audience and for his friend. I did so and am sharing my response with those of our clergy and faithful who may be interested in it. The matter is important and timely. This is what I wrote:
"My comments about Mr. Putin were quite accurate. While it is said that his mother was an Orthodox Christian and secretly baptized as a baby (a claim that cannot be confirmed or denied, since it is shrouded in secrecy), he was reared an atheist. As for his family's communist background, his patrilineal grandfather was also an atheist and a communist, having served as a cook for Lenin and then Stalin (a position of some importance, given the poisonings that marked the communist political world). I might note that I had a mentor (a KGB defector) who had personal knowledge of Putin's father, who was a member of the communist party, a militant atheist, and an active member, during World War II, in a sabotage and assassin squad of the NKVD (the predecessor of the KGB). These claims are not disputed in any biographical works about Putin or his father, to the best of my knowledge.
"Mr. Putin's claims to a 'religious awakening' came (conveniently or otherwise) only in the early 1990s, after the fall of communism. They were supposedly sparked by an automobile accident in which his wife was very seriously injured in 1993 and after his discovery of a Cross that his mother gave him in the ashes of a fire that destroyed his summer home (in 1996). As for his courageous confession of God, Putin is famous for a comment that he made in an interview with 'Time Magazine' when it named him its 'Man of the Year' in 2007. In it, he replies to a direct question abut his belief in God as follows: '... There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease.'*
"When, in this same interview, he was asked to describe his faith, he said: 'You could say that it is my deep conviction that the moral values without which humankind cannot survive cannot be other than religious values. Now, as regards a specific church or other establishment, that's a separate matter. As somebody said once, if God exists, he does know that people have different views regarding church' (ibid.)
"While Mr. Putin was admittedly playing politics by claiming to adhere to the Russian constitution's separation of Church and State, this is hardly a courageous confession of his faith in God or of his 'Russian Orthodox religion.' I think that, given his background and despicable espionage in East Germany, he is very likely also playing a political game in his other, less official, endorsements of belief in God and in Eastern Orthodoxy. Whatever the case, statements like, 'There are things I believe...,' or recognizing that mankind cannot survive without moral and religious values are not a ringing endorsement of anything but a lukewarm statement about religion in general.
"As for the ROCOR and its union with Moscow in 2007, one would have to be blind and deaf not to have seen and heard Putin front and center, not only in activities that led up to the union, but at the union ceremony in Moscow itself. Another article in "Time Magazine," in May of 2007, rather convincingly supports my claim (vide infra**). As for the millions of Russians who belonged to the ROCOR at the time of the union (this second "Time Magazine" article reports its faithful as 1.5 million in number), since our Church was a Sister Church of the ROCOR before its union with Moscow, I am quite aware that these numbers are absurdly exaggerated, as the ROCOR faithful themselves fully well know.
"I make mention of this statistical misrepresentation, not because I think that numbers measure truth but, because so many believe so, population exaggeration also played some role in the 'hype' that led to the public reports on the ROCOR-Moscow union. Mr. Putin was not only pivotal to the union, but he and his colleagues employed the typical propaganda of the murderous organization in which he was formed, the KGB, which had a long history of overstating the importance of certain events and groups, when it served their purpose, and doing the opposite when it did not. Ask the Russian Jews!
"Our sensitive critic may disagree with me in my assessment of the ROCOR-Moscow union, which I believe that many naive people were duped into accepting it for something that it was not. But that disagreement does not make me a liar; nor, indeed, do any supposedly 'indisputable facts.' The factual record would seem to be on my side. In saying that, I do not mean to disparage those who supported, for whatever reason, the union between the ROCOR and Moscow. I simply mean to state that those who feel that this was a correct move should do so without invoking facts that are not facts and without dismissing as liars those who, in the face of facts that ARE facts, have substantial misgivings about the wisdom of this move, not just for the 'Russian Orthodox religion,' but for catholic Orthodoxy, of which Russian Orthodoxy is a part."