Russian Orthodox Church store in Minsk sells books about “Banderite junta”

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2014/08/13 • Political News

“Defense of Donbas: Igor Strelkov: The Horror of Banderite Junta,” “Ukraine: Chaos and Revolution – the Weapons of the Dollar,” “Ruin in the Minds: Information War Against Russia” – according to father Georgiy Latushko, these and other publications appear on the shelves of the Minsk St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral book store with the clergy’s approval. 

A member of the congregation who belongs to the Belarusian exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Natallia Vasilevich, posted a photo showing books with dubious content on her Facebook page. The photo was immediately shared all over the Internet and republished by numerous webpages.

Radio Liberty made a phone call to Georgiy Latushko of St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral to receive an explanation as to why the bookstore sells these types of books.

Father Latushko obviously knew about the problem since he made a short comment immediately after hearing the name of the correspondent and the publication.

“I am telling you directly: read and think about these books. For the people here to read and think – this is the first point. And second, for Belarus not to be made into a rabbit for the U.S. boa. That’s it. Over and out. Good day to you,” he said.

In order to achieve this goal, the cathedral proposes that all willing should read the biography of one of the leaders of the “DNR” group: Russian colonel Igor Girkin (Strelkov), who was declared wanted on charges of terrorism in Ukraine.

Another book that can be bought at the store is “Ukraine: Chaos and Revolution – the Weapon of the Dollar,” written by Nikolay Starikov. According to the blurb, “the novel” uncovers the part U.S. intelligence played in “the fall of the Ukrainian state after the coup in Kyiv in February 2014.”

On his website the author writes about Russia’s exemplary part in fighting against the U.S. “We have to be strong, for chaos to leave the ‘Russian World.’ For the U.S. to leave Ukraine in peace, for blood to no longer spill in our streets. Because we are one nation. And because Russia’s mission is to preserve the balance of justice in the world.”

It is interesting to note that many of the books for sale at the cathedral merit Starikov’s trust and sympathy. A special page on his website is dedicated to the author’s literary interests, which correspond exactly with the books offered on the shelves at the St. Paul and Peter’s Cathedral in Minsk.

Belarusian Christian website “Tsarkva” emphasizes the formal side of publicizing these books in its statement: “There is the routine issue of carrying out the current order of the ROC Synod (journal 114) of 2011 that ‘all literature shared through the system of clerical book selling has to have the approval mark’ of either the ROC Editorial Council or (within the Exarchate) the BOC Editorial Council, whose members, by the way, include some workers and active members of the St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral congregation. It is clear that the scandalous goods presented here have no marks. Just like many others. It is unlikely that Ron Paul, whose book ‘Down with the FRS’ [End the Fed] is presented on the shelf below here, petitioned for a ROC Editorial Council mark.”

“The church is not a place to spread political ideas,” says the author of the photo, blogger Natallia Vasilevich. “Any political ideas are contradictory, they divide people. I am personally sorry that such extremist ideas are present there. But this is not the place to spread ideas that are even personal to me, such as ideas about Belarusian statehood, about the white-red-and-white flag.”

“There are those who have a completely different opinion on the Ukrainian conflict,” – Vasilevich

Taking into account the fact discovered earlier about the Mohylevskaya eparchy website reprinting news from the leaders of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” which are considered terrorists in Ukraine, Radio Liberty asked Natallia Vasilevich whether many people in the congregation support the idea of the “Russian World.”

“You know, when a ‘Russia-centric’ person enters this bookstore, it has, for example, a big shelf dedicated to Belarusian literature. They will take a photo, upload it to Facebook with the words: ‘Look, they are spreading Belarusian nationalism in the cathedral. This church has to be saved from the plethora of Belarusian speakers that are settled inside.’ A conservative person enters. They see the works of father Sergey Bulgakov, Berdyayev, such “orthodox liberals,” and write under their photo: ‘Look, church liberals have centered there, they should be suffocated.’ I came in, took a picture – and interpreted it this way. Therefore it is difficult to say whom the church supports more. There are those who support Russia’s policies, obviously. But it is difficult to evaluate in the ‘information soup’ and with such abundance of Russian television. And priests also watch Russian TV. Where would they get their news? I think it is not an accident. There is a correlation. And so far nothing can be done,” notes Vasilevich.

She approves of the church’s wish to control information through its sources. Congregations and monasteries have frequently been and remain the centers of spreading extremist, anti-Semitic literature, and the church is battling this by its own means – for example, by demanding according ‘marks’ for distribution.

“Girkin’s biography is a quite adequate text, as there was a lot of horrible literature. A lot of books were aimed against ruling episcopal bishops. For example, our metropolitan bishop Filaret had a bad reputation among the so-called ‘extremists,’ and they frequently issued books about the ‘heresy of extremism,’ that Filaret was a ‘hidden Catholic’ and so forth. And thanks to the ‘blessing’ these publications had from episcopal bishops either from Chukotka or Ukraine, not Belarus, they distributed these books on the canon territory of Filaret himself. This had to be dealt with,” said Vasilevich.

She remembered the scandal with the “Orthodox Initiative” publishing house led by Vladimir Chertovych.

“They published an extremist book, for example ‘War by Murphy’s Law’ under the orthodox church. And these publications cast a shadow not on Chertovych himself, but the entire church. And the church even took Chertovych to court, trying to close his publishing house. It is necessary to educate the people, for this kind of literature to stop being in demand. As bookstores are governed by this: they will sell what people are buying. And there is an idealogical aspect here as well: ‘We sell books we agree with’,” noted blogger Natallia Vasilevich.

Source: Radio Liberty
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina, edited by Elizabeth Martin

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