Investigation launched into Russian priest’s blessing of Stalin statue

A Russian Orthodox priest is facing an investigation after a video emerged of him blessing a newly unveiled statue of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the city of Velikiye Luki. This incident has sparked controversy and anger, as Stalin’s reign was marked by brutal repression and the eradication of religion. The local diocese has distanced itself from the priest’s actions, emphasizing that they do not reflect the views of the church.

Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953, oversaw a regime that targeted religious institutions and clergy. Tens of thousands of clergy members were among the millions of people killed or sent to labor camps during this time. Many churches were destroyed or forcefully repurposed, as religion was deemed an obstacle to the socialist agenda.

The priest, speaking in an interview with independent Russian news site Sota, acknowledged the numerous clerics who lost their lives during Stalin’s reign, but argued that it resulted in the creation of martyrs. However, his diocese stated that his participation in the event was not approved and an “internal audit” has been initiated to investigate the matter further.

This incident brings to light the lingering wounds inflicted by Stalinism in Eastern Europe. The brutal and intolerant nature of his rule is still reviled by many, and numerous statues of Stalin have been dismantled across Russia. It is worth noting that it took three years to find a location for this new statue, following opposition from regional authorities in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad.

Interestingly, there is a growing faction of Russians who have adopted a more positive viewpoint of Stalin in recent years. This shift in perspective has been encouraged by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials who portray Stalin as the leader who brought victory to the country against Nazi Germany during World War Two.

The investigation into the priest’s blessing of the Stalin statue raises important questions about the role of religion in society and the ongoing legacy of Stalinism. It prompts reflection on the atrocities committed during his rule and the need for remembrance and reconciliation. By investigating this incident, Russian authorities have an opportunity to address the complex and contentious issues surrounding Stalin’s legacy.