Ihor Broda (Edmonton)
Fantasies are sometimes fulfilled in life, but often only realized in dreams. A recurring fantasy of mine has been to cross examine Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev (a.k.a. Kirill) titular head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), about his views on Christianity. After his meeting with Pope Francis, and ministering to his flock of penguins in Antarctica, he returned to Moscow.
On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the L’viv Sobor, which liquidated the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) and forcibly incorporated it into the ROC, I had a dream in which I approached Kirill for an interview and he surprisingly agreed. It started with negotiations as to how the interview would be conducted. Kirill indicated that he would never agree to be interviewed in the language of “cattle”. I confessed that I was not fluent in the Finnic-Tatar-Old Slavonic “tongue” of Russia. As a compromise, it was mutually agreed to conduct the interview in English with the Muscovite using an interpreter from his “tongue” into English.
I.B. (Ihor Broda) – Thank you for agreeing to this interview which is a rare opportunity for anyone outside of Russia. Do you mind if I call you Ayatollah?
A.K. (Ayatollah Kirill) – Nyet! In fact, I would be deeply honoured to be associated with the Ayatollahs of Iran, as Iran is a partner of Russia and large purchaser of Russian weapons. Also, the Iranian Ayatollahs share my nostalgia for the middle ages, and we agree on ideological synergy and “symphonia” between church and state, and theocracy. We have similar views on “holy war” and the treatment of apostates, infidels and heretics. The Russian equivalents are schismatics, heretics, fascists and enemies of the people. I admire their “fatwas”. It is the Ayatollahs who gave the world the slogans “Death to America” and “The Great Satan”, slogans which touch my heart. How can you not admire them?
I.B.-Why does the ROC so vehemently oppose the UGCC and her negation of the L’viv Sobor which took place 70 years ago?
A.K. – The Soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience and the reunion of the UGCC with the ROC was a voluntary unification of these two churches and the Union of Brest was legally annulled. How could the UGCC unilaterally refuse to abide by this Sobor and retake possession of hundreds of ROC churches in Ukraine and convert them to UGCC use? This showed them to be “Indian givers” and they aren’t even Indians; just khokhols, inferior to Great Russians. How dare they? The repossession of churches is what angers the ROC most, as these were valuable properties that the ROC could not replace, because other schismatic and uncanonical churches, the UOC(KP) and the UAOC took what few orthodox remained. God will punish them for these heinous acts!
I.B. Bat’ko Stalin is being rehabilitated in Russia and in 2014 the ROC published a calendar which honoured Stalin. How does this conform to your beliefs?
A.K. – Stalin was a great leader and unique in history, and a spiritual godfather of the ROC. The alleged crimes he committed are greatly exaggerated, and if anyone was repressed, imprisoned in the Gulag or killed, it was because they deserved it and were enemies of the people. Stalin was once a ROC seminarian and he revived the ROC during WW II, and arranged for the liquidation of the UGCC. We are thankful to him for allowing the ROC to continue to serve Holy Mother Russia. He devised plans for the ROC to become the leader of the Orthodox world, to fulfill its mission as the “Third Rome”. In appreciation, myself and other ROC hierarchs willingly served in the KGB, a patriotic organization dedicated to protecting Russia from foreign and domestic enemies. We viewed this as an act of patriotism and anyone who dares to criticize this will be damned by God.
I.B. – Putin is also a great fan of Stalin and has encouraged his rehabilitation. How does Putin compare to Stalin?
A.K. – President Putin is a “miracle of God” and he wears an Orthodox cross in public to profess his support for the ROC, which reciprocates that support, and supports the “holy wars” he has undertaken in Ukraine and in Syria. To show the solidarity of the ROC with our new Tsar, we have blessed his actions and actively condemned infidels from other religions, in Crimea and Donbas, and participated in the closure of non-canonical churches there. While we condemn the persecution of Christians in Syria and elsewhere in the Islamic world, we are also obligated to persecute Moslems and infidels of other allegedly Christian churches in Russia and in the territories that are part of the Russian World. It is our divine mission to support Russian imperialism. Non-adherents of the ROC are Western spies and a dangerous presence on our canonical territory. They are enemies of the people! Anyone who criticizes Putin or the ROC for supporting him, will suffer eternal damnation.
I.B. – Some have criticized the meeting you had with Pope Francis as the “Third Rome” meeting the “First Rome” to oppose the “Second Rome”. Was that the intent of your meeting?
A.K. – The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople heads a very small church compared to the ROC. Moscow’s divine destiny was to be the “Third Rome”, and anyone who suggests that the “Third Rome has become the Fourth Reich” will be damned to hell. Who can respect a Greek church that allowed itself to be defeated by the Ottoman Empire, when Russia never suffered such a defeat? The ROC is by far the largest Orthodox church and this is proven by the fact that Russians almost unanimously declare themselves to be Orthodox on the national census. Adherents of other religions are also counted as Orthodox if they declare themselves to be orthodox Baptists, orthodox Evangelicals, orthodox Jews or orthodox Moslems. Even though they may be infidels, their sins are forgiven if they declare they are Orthodox. Orthodox atheists are the largest denomination in Russia, but they all count as Orthodox. God is impressed by our numbers, and the Ecumenical Patriarch should also be impressed and allow myself to be “primus uber alles” in the Orthodox world. God desires this!
I.B. – It has been suggested that the Ten Commandments have been repealed in Russia. Does the ROC preach adherence to them?
A.K. – They have not been repealed but historically adapted and modernized to conform to our unique Russian civilization which was inspired by the Mongol Golden Horde. Muscovy finally rid itself of the Tatar yoke, but hundreds of years of their rule left a desire for order and stability. The Ten Commandments are to be interpreted with this goal in mind, and there is no room for human rights and freedom of conscience. Human rights are a global heresy and the devil’s work, to drive God out of human life and the life of society.
I.B. – I am most interested in your modernized adaptation of the Ten Commandments, so let’s begin with the preamble: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
A.K. – The concept of bondage has been prominent in Russian history, and I am reminded of the recent comment of the Chief Justice of Russia’s Supreme Court who quite properly praised serfdom. Servility and bondage are historic traits of our unique civilization. There is no room for free choice and the ROC considers the ruling powers to be from God, and their power derives from God not from the people. Everyone must submit to the ROC and Mother Russia because God commands this.
I.B. – But it was the Jews that God brought out of Egypt, so let’s talk about the ROC’s attitude towards the Jews?
A.K. – Because Jews seem to be nostalgic about their Egyptian bondage, historically Holy Mother Russia and the ROC tried to recreate this for them, because they can’t seem to forget about it. We limited where they could live in the “Pale of Settlement”, and Emperor Alexander III, of blessed memory, enacted the “May laws”, motivated by the participation of Jews in the assassination of Alexander II, of blessed memory. It was Orthodox Russians that gave the world “pogroms”, the slogan “Kill Jews-Save Russia”, the anti-Semitic “Black Hundreds”, the concept of “Jewish Bolshevism”, and tsar Nicholas II’s secret police, the Okhrana, was behind the propagation of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which described the Jewish goal of world domination. These ideas were designed to protect Jews, and encourage them to convert to the ROC to save their souls.
Alas, they misinterpreted our intent and over 2 million immigrated from Russia, mostly to the United States, where Jews played a very significant role in the economic development of the US. Have the Americans ever thanked us for this? Nyet! Ingrates!
Russophobes often accuse Russia of being backward, but we were leaders in the modern era of institutionalizing anti-Semitism. Hitler was a neophyte of anti-Semitism, and used the Protocols to educate young Germans in anti-Semitism. Henry Ford in the US republished the Protocols to incite anti-Semitism in America. Many Arab countries have also used the Protocols to instill anti-Semitism in their people. Nobody has ever thanked us and nobody has ever paid us any royalties for infringing copyright and using the Protocols. Ingrates! Perhaps the ROC would not have had to resort to trading in tobacco, if all users of the Protocols had paid fair royalties. The ROC canonized Tsar Nicholas II as a saint, effectively making him the “Patron Saint of anti-Semitism”, and Jews have never thanked us for this. Who else has honoured anti-Semitism with a patron saint? Nobody! Ingrates!
I.B. – Enough about the preamble, let’s move on to the first Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me!” Some accuse the ROC of historically promoting Caesaropapism. Ivan the Terrible assumed the title of Tsar and subordinated the ROC to the state. Peter I, the Great Pharaoh, abolished the patriarchate and formally made the ROC a department of his government.
A.K. – While it is true that formerly the ROC was completely subservient to the Tsar, this gradually changed in time and the guiding philosophy became “Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality”. This is still the underlying philosophy of Mother Russia. I represent Orthodoxy, and Tsar Putin is the autocrat, and the philosophy of the “Russian World” is what unites Russians throughout the world. This is our policy of “symphonia”. Putin does not need to control the ROC as he knows it is completely loyal to him and his policies.
Some say that it is against the first Commandment to idolize Mother Russia. However, God is male and Mother Russia is female, and it was not forbidden to idolize goddesses. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is a weakling who adheres to the doctrine of “primus inter pares”. The first Commandment must be interpreted to be “primus uber alles”. There can be no other patriarch in the Russian world, which includes Ukraine and Belarus. None of the other Orthodox churches equal the ROC. It is God’s will that there shall be no other patriarchs other than me!
I.B. – The Second Commandment is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain!” How is this interpreted by the ROC?
A.K. – We strongly obey this Commandment and encourage the use of “matyuky”, which reflects the greatness and uniqueness of our culture. “Matyuky” are a substitute for using the name of our Lord in vain, and Russians strictly adhere to this commandment.
I.B. – The Third Commandment is “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day!” Church attendance in the ROC is only about 2%, and on Easter Sunday in 2013, only some 4 million people attended Divine Liturgy on the holiest day of the Christian calendar.
A.K. – Church attendance on Sunday is not compulsory as people can keep Sunday holy at home or elsewhere, as long as they identify themselves as Orthodox on the census. They can even receive communion at home by eating rye bread with vodka. Because Russia produces more grain and potatoes than grapes, vodka is an acceptable substitute for wine. Statistics indicate that vodka consumption is very great in Russia and so is eating rye bread. This shows that Russians are a very devout and pious nation.
I.B. – “Honour your father and mother, that your days on earth may be long!” is the Fourth Commandment. How has the ROC modernized this?
A.K. – As long as Russians honour and obey Mother Russia and the ROC, they adhere to this Commandment. All other nations are also called upon to honour and obey Mother Russia and her Holy ROC. As long as the days of Russians are long, God does not care how long other nations remain on earth.
I.B. – The Fifth Commandment is “You shall not kill!” Two of your most notorious Tsars annihilated the entire populations of cities. Ivan the Terrible perpetrated the Massacre of Novgorod in 1570, as described in the “Novgorod Chronicle”, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Russians. He looted and plundered ROC churches and monasteries, burned fields causing starvation, causing devastation similar to that of the Mongol invasion. Tsar Peter, the Great Pharaoh, in 1708 murdered the entire population of the Ukrainian town of Baturyn and later conscripted slave labour to build the city of St. Petersburg, “the city built on bones”. It is estimated that tens of thousands of these slave workers died while working on building the city, among them an estimated 50,000 Ukrainian Cossacks. Was this in adherence to this Commandment?
A.K. – The ROC respects both the Old Testament and New Testament. In Genesis 4:8, we see that Cain slew his brother Abel. We have throughout history waged the “Brotherhood of Cain” towards Russia’s neighbors in compliance with this example from the Old Testament. Also, God passed divine judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah destroying them by fire and brimstone, as divine retribution for the sins of those cities.
Ivan the Terrible did what he had to do, to prevent adherents of the ROC from defecting to the Polish Catholic Church and becoming apostates. He ruled by divine right and therefore this was divine retribution. As he was paranoid and mentally unbalanced at the time, God forgave him as the insane cannot be held accountable for their acts.
Tsar Peter I learned that Hetman Ivan Mazepa, cursed be his name, had made an alliance with the Protestant king of Sweden. Therefore, his capital of Baturyn had to be destroyed to prevent Orthodox Cossacks from possibly becoming apostates. Tsar Peter I showed his piety and devotion to the ROC by tying the corpses of dead Cossacks to crosses, and floating them down the Dnipro river to show the inhabitants of Ukraine that apostasy would not be tolerated. This was Tsar Peter’s way of venerating the cross.
St. Petersburg had to be built and slave labour was the only affordable way to do it. If Ukrainian Cossacks died they deserved this, because many had taken part in a rebellion against the Tsar. It also showed the single-mindedness of the Russian state and gave it a new capital for the new empire. Tsar Peter I also showed his allegiance to the ROC by placing it under his personal control, thereby giving it a higher status in Russian society.
Russians are a chosen and unique nation, embodied by the idea of “The Third Rome”. God forgives Tsars for eliminating threats against His protected regime and the killing of enemies of the people and extremists is justified. Killing the people of other nations is not a sin if done while Mother Russia is expanding its borders, and expanding the reach of the ROC. God condones and forgives this!
I.B. – The Sixth Commandment is “You shall not commit adultery!” How does the ROC interpret this?
A.K. – Russian men are often too drunk to make love to their own wives, never mind the wives of others. However, our great leader, Tsar Putin, has provided guidance on how to commit adultery without sin. You must wear a cross in public so that all people may see how deep your faith is. Then God forgives. If someone does not have a cross they may purchase one by contacting the patriarchal palace and sending the going rate for crosses. However, payment must in dollars or euros as the ruble has fallen in value. If payment is made in dollars or euros you will also receive a package of tobacco.
The ROC strongly believes in traditional values that a man must not lay with another man, nor a woman with a woman. Our greatest fear is of transvestites who have been forbidden from driving cars. Giving them the right to drive is like giving monkeys machine guns. We have passed laws against all of this deviancy, thereby leading the world and endearing ourselves to God.
I.B. – The Seventh Commandment is “You shall not steal!” Vladimir-Suzdal prince Andrei I, who the ROC calls “Bogolyubsky”, in 1169 plundered and pillaged Kyiv. His booty included the “Our Lady of Vyshhorod” icon which is still held in Moscow. For his efforts the ROC canonized him and he became the “Patron Saint of Plundering and Pillaging”. Please explain.
A.K. – This Commandment does not apply to our Tsars nor to those under their protection, when they govern Mother Russia. They are all under the protection of the ROC and God. Therefore, this icon properly belongs in Moscow as it was taken under divine protection. Common Russian people should not steal from each other, but should limit themselves to stealing from people of other nations. God forgives this!
I.B. – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour!” is the Eighth Commandment. Eminent Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev, wrote that “Russians are the greatest and most brazen liars in the world”. What is the ROC position on lying?
A.K. – Turgenev is Russian and therefore how can he be believed? Without vodka this cannot be understood. God despises when Russians are called liars and hypocrites. Eternal damnation awaits those who say such things. Other nations are not true neighbours of the chosen people and therefore God forgives lying to and about them. God condemns fascists who deceive people about Russia, the ROC and its rulers. The Tsar and his regime are justified in lying to enemies of Russia in self-defence. Russia had honoured the Stalin-Hitler (aka Molotov-Ribbentrop) pact and this taught us the valuable lesson that international treaties and agreements should only be selectively honoured and only when they coincide with Russia’s perceived interests.
I.B. – The Ninth Commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife!”
A.K. – Mother Russia’s sons are more interested in stealing goods from their neighbours than coveting their wives. Our men die prematurely and there are far more women among us than men, who often don’t even covet their own wives. Alcoholics prefer vodka over women and therefore obeying this commandment is easy.
I.B. – The Tenth Commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods!” How does the ROC understand this?
A.K. – The sin is in coveting. When we have robbed our neighbours of their goods, then we no longer have to covet them. Plunder suppresses covetousness and make us more pleasing to God.
I.B. – Christ himself taught another commandment, “Love thy neighbor, as yourself”. How does this apply to the ROC and Mother Russia?
A.K. – Russia is surrounded by enemies and therefore there are no neighbors to love. God has shown his mercy in giving us so many enemies that we are not obliged to love anyone. All nations should understand that God is with us, and therefore all nations should submit to us and not expect any love.
I.B. – Is there anything else you would like to add about the ROC’s vision of Christianity?
A.K. – I hope that I have explained the ROC’s political Orthodoxy both historical and current. Our vision is to offer a messianic and prophetic voice to the world of an alternative civilization to the godless and decadent West. We seek the victory of true faith over false teachings. Our sacred duty is symphonia between church and state. Human rights are a global heresy and a deviation from God’s will and submission to God. The ROC opposes such deviation to save humanity from the Apocalypse. Khokhols should understand that there is only one canonical church in Little Russia and that we are one nation indivisible. All schismatic, non-canonical and ecclesial communities should harken to our vision. There must be a “primus uber alles”. You shall have no other patriarchs but myself!
I.B. – Thank you for sharing the ROC’s views on Christianity. I’m sure that all readers will now have better insight into the true nature and precepts of your unique faith and civilization. As a token of my appreciation for granting this interview, I will send you a song popularized by an American singer, Mac Davis. “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way”.
A.K. I appreciate this kind gesture and will have it translated into Russian, and perhaps it will become a hymn to be sung in ROC churches during liturgies.
I.B. When I awoke, I realized that the fantasy was really a nightmare, and the views of the Ayatollah Kirill represent the historical role of the ROC within Russia and the weaponization of religion. This political Orthodoxy continues today. Kirill is a satrap of Putin and accepts and preaches that the proper role of the ROC is to serve the regime and state, rather than serving God and the Russian people. The people are expected to serve the state before God, and obey and serve a state that does not serve them.
God sent his only begotten Son to save and redeem humanity. Putin, with the Ayatollah’s blessing, sends Russia’s sons into Ukraine to save his regime and inflict suffering. We believe God to be merciful and a lover of humanity. Putin, blessed by Kirill, on the pretext of saving Russian speakers in Ukraine, has unleashed a humanitarian crisis on Donbas and Crimea, generating millions of refugees and causing massive economic devastation. Christ expelled merchants and money-changers from the Temple of Jerusalem, accusing them of converting a house of prayer into a “den of thieves”. Putin with Kirill’s blessing has converted Russia into a massive “den of thieves”.
Putin and his henchman, Kirill, expect people to believe that Christ who taught us the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray for God to “deliver us from evil”, is the same God who would inflict a fascist autocratic kleptocracy on Russians and their neighbors. In reality, the ROC is an imperialist cult that perverts and defiles religion to serve political goals, through “Pretend Christianity”.
And yet, some religious leaders have come to believe that Kirill is working towards a spiritual reawakening in Russia, and have even embraced him as a “brother in Christ”. The question not being asked or answered is “Who defends Christianity?”