Click the title for the Full article. Hat tip to R.D., J.H., A.A.
Last week the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) Synod pronounced general Andrei Vlasov, who fled to Hitler’s side, a patriot. “Izvestiya” observer, Boris Klin, discusses this unpleasant event, which astonished the Russian public, with archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), superior of Sretensky Monastery. So who was Vlasov in reality, and why is this new myth trying to penetrate society?
Q: Father Tikhon, you have to admit, the ROCOR Synod announcement caused a real shock.
A: At one time the Church Abroad revealed for us the destinies of the last Russian Emperor and his family, the New Martyrs, members of the White Army Movement. Now the Church Abroad presents us with a different figure – general Vlasov… On the one side, this was unexpected, on the other – we suspected that this discussion would arise sooner or later. When preparing for the Unification with ROCOR, we were holding meetings; it was silently agreed not to raise this matter. We looked at it too differently. After all, it was a question no more or less as of our fathers and our grandfathers battling on different sides of the front …
Q: By the way, the reason for the Church Abroad’s statement was due to the publishing of a book by protopriest Georgy Mitrofanov, the dean of the History Department of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, under the name, Forbidden Themes of Twentieth Century History”. In this book author rehabilitates Vlasov and makes him a hero.
A: With reference to this book the words “forbidden themes” are nevertheless a big stretch and more of a commercial trick: the matters raised by the author, including Vlasov, have been openly discussed from different sides for more than twenty years in Russia. It is enough to check the internet in order to confirm it. I mean something else when speaking about “forbidden themes.” It is as not simple; it is like in a big family that lived long through tough times: there are subjects and problems which would not be raised by loving and sensitive member. It seemed to me, in this process of dialogue between us and descendants of Vlasov’s followers, that this problem should be one of these themes. But I can see that I was wrong. After the latest developments and more than persevering accentuation of this question (as it is known, two documents devoted to the published book and Vlasov were accepted at the Synod session and published in the press) it is impossible to refrain from stating my position. Moreover, recently here in Russia, even people on the street approach me with the question: “Father, please explain it? But Vlasov is a traitor! Or is he not anymore?”
Q: The ROCOR statement discusses this: “We are saddened by the glaring vitriol in the arguments surrounding this book, and the contentious and disturbed spirit expressed by some of the critics of this book.” Is the Synod’s objective to tame the passions?
A: Their objective is wonderful. What has been done in order to heal “vitriol,” to cure the “contentious and disturbed spirit”? Two mentioned documents were written. Though it is enough to look into last week’s newspapers or Internet, to read furious disputes, indignation and resentment of many, even to hear or read last extreme measure – damnations, in order to understand that healing has not come about.
Q: “The tragedy is indeed a great one surrounding those who are commonly called “Vlasovites,” that is, the participants in that movement upon which the Russian Freedom Army [Russkaya Osvoboditel’naja Armija, ROA] was founded.” – one more quote from the ROCOR Synod communication. Is it pertinent hear to speak about a tragedy?
A: No doubt, there are a lot of human tragedies behind the Church Abroad announcement, which includes the fates of people who were betrayed and left imprisoned by the enemy. And it is hard not to agree with this. But if only we can put an end to this! Unfortunately, something else happens today: persistent appeal to recognize Vlasov’s choice as the only correct one and that he himself is, a matter of fact, the real hero of the last war; moreover, to recognize him as the hero of the future Russia. And Collaboration is not only possible, but the only right path to serve Russia. Therefore, all others who dare to disagree with this position — those who died on the battlefield, those who worked in the rear, those who died after the War and those who are now living – are no more than rascals and traitors. This is well stated in the declared author’s credo of the mentioned book, which again raises before us the spirit of Vlasov: “Our society consists of people, the majority of whom live with lies, who served evil, and who are now making it seem that they served the truth all their lives. They “served Russia” – whether it was called the Soviet Union, or the Russian Federation; but in reality these people can not honestly andconsecutively cross out their previous lives, like general Vlasov and his followers, and they have been serving not Russia, but only themselves.” Thank God, I will emphasize, that this extreme is not at all the position of the Church Abroad. Today this is our own –be it untamed, unfeasible, imposed; it is an internal dispute.