Russian Civilisation?

If you were thinking that human rights are a reality in post-Communist Russia, you would be very mistaken. The former KGB officer serving president may claim to be a devout believer, but with another KGB agent leading the Holy Synod in which at least another two members were also KGB agents, perhaps its not surprising that things haven’t changed much in Holy Mother Russia.

When a Chechen meat wholesaler named Zaur Talkhigov helped the security services to negotiate the release of hostages in the Moscow theatre siege, he was arrested for terrorism and sent to Siberia. Investigating his case is one of the reasons investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya was murdered. As reported in The Sunday Times:

Talkhigov is now in a cramped cell with 18 inmates sharing one lavatory in Komi, a remote and forbidding region that became infamous under Stalin for its many forced-labour camps. In winter, temperatures drop to -30C. In summer, the cell is a stifling 30C plus.

He is allowed out of his cell for just an hour a day and permitted to wash once a month. The food consists of buckwheat porridge, rancid fishbone soup and the occasional plate of boiled meat.

His mother Tamara can visit him only once a year, for three days. The return train journey to the prison from her home in Chechnya takes 84 hours.

“Conditions in the prison where I am now are relatively good,” said Talkhigov. “In Moscow I was held in a cell so cramped that we took it in turns to sleep. Tuberculosis was rampant. In another prison, where I was held in solitary confinement, two guards came into my cell shortly after I arrived and beat me all over my body with their truncheons as their way of welcoming me. I’ve been under constant psychological pressure.”

Yet this is a country that wants to be treated as an equal with the G7 nations. Putin has cooled relations with the US over NATO missile defence systems in free nations that have aligned themselves with the West, rather than their previous compulsory alliance with Russian under the Warsaw Pact.

In terms of law and justice, Russia still has a long way to go to be considered a civilised nation. The other question is whether the Church in Russia is going to be an agent of reform or of collusion.

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2 Responses to Russian Civilisation?

  1. handmaidmaryleah says:

    David, I don’t disagree that Russia is brutal on human rights, especially by western standards; but you seem to be intimating that the Church, our Orthodox Church has something to do with putting people in prison with this post. Is that what you mean to do here? I am surprised…

  2. Dave says:

    I am saying that the Holy Synod has hierarchs with same dodgy past as the Russian president and that they are supportive of his regime and its methodology, which is more and more reminiscent of the old Soviet ways.

    I feel no obligation to pull punches when I think there are serious issues and problems in the Orthodox Church, just like I am happy to point them out amongst those who are separated from her. I may be more critical of Moscow more than other Patriarchates having been on the receiving end of their methodology, but I have no problem taking to task the Ecumenical Patriarch for appointing a pro-abortion Senator as an archon of the Church or for his principle theological efforts being in the area of environmentalism.

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