Art and Faith

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Mikhail Khmelko. Forever with Moscow, Forever with the Russian People! 1951

00 Mikhail Khmelko. Forever with Moscow, Forever with the Russian People! 1951

Forever with Moscow, Forever with the Russian People!

Mikhail Khmelko

1951

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I wrote a letter to a young friend recently. He reacted quite positively to it. I’ve expanded it slightly (and removed personal references); I’d like to share it with you.

There are Ukrainians; then, there are “Ukrainian nationalists”. The former are just another of the nationalities in the old Empire; their history is intimately intertwined with that of we Russians. The latter are neo-Nazi fanatics that I’d avoid absolutely; they glorify those who attacked the motherland. The parvenu Yushchenko gave a posthumous medal to SS Sturmbannführer (Major) Roman Shuskevich. That was a heinous act. Unfortunately, this glorification of Nazi collaborators isn’t confined to “Ukrainian nationalists”, it’s also endemic amongst Balts as well, as the recent events about the “Bronze Soldier” in Estonia illustrated. One of the most disgusting facets of “Ukrainian nationalism” is its virulent anti-Semitism. For example, we should never forget that the Second General Congress of the OUN-B resolved in April 1941 in Kraków to label the “Jews of the USSR the most faithful supporters of the Bolshevik régime and the vanguard of Muscovite (sic) imperialism in the Ukraine”. A slogan put forth by the Bandera group was “Long live the Ukraine without Jews, Poles, and Germans; the Poles behind the river San, the Germans to Berlin, and the Jews to the gallows”. This concerns the FEOR (Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia) because it sees many contemporary “nationalists” applauding these sentiments, and I share (and approve) the sentiments voiced by Rav Berel Lazar (the Chief Rabbi of Russia) and Borukh Gorin on this topic. I should add that the canonical UPTs/MP echoes these views completely and without reservation. Let’s not forget that Ukrainian “nationalists” cooperated with the Nazis in deporting Jews to the death camps, and that UPA fanatics murdered some 100,000 to 500,000 Poles, Slovaks, and Rusins in areas that the UPA claimed as “Ukrainian”. On the other hand, many Ukrainians fought bravely in the Red Army against the Nazi fascists, not all Ukrainians accepted collaboration with the Nazis. I must add, in all fairness, that most Ukrainians today don’t praise the Nazi collaborators, only the “Orange” minority around Yushchenko and Timoshenko, and the Galician Uniate extremists, do so.

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00 Mikhail Belsky. A Portrait of the Composer Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyansky. 1788

A Portrait of the Composer Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyansky

Mikhail Belsky

1788

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That’s to say, it isn’t a simple subject, and we must avoid the simplistic distortions of “nationalists” at all costs. I believe that a future revival of the old empire (in whatever external form it takes) shall incorporate the Ukraine, and this won’t be a bad thing. Individual Ukrainians had more opportunity under the old Empire than a cramped “independence” gives, examples that come to my mind are the composer Dmitri Bortnyansky and the artist Vladimir Borovikovsky, both of whom developed their talent and worked in the court at St Petersburg. Their work passed into the heritage of Great Russia, and, now, it belongs to all of us. The nationalists who claim them as heroes are wrong, and Messrs Bortnyansky and Borovikovsky, if they were alive now, would disown them. They’d stay in Russia, they wouldn’t move to an “independent” Ukraine, as they could develop their individual talents and gifts to the fullest only in the richer cultural life of Great Russia. Today, figures such as the cosmonaut General Pavel Popovich, the former hockey star (and present RF Gosduma member) Vladislav Tretiak, and the artists Valery Badakva and Yelena Slyshchenko come to mind, and they’re doing precisely that. Our Great Russia is the richer for their presence, and they’re richer for their presence in Great Russia.

The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have walked together since the beginning. We share an Orthodox faith that binds us close. In fact, most Ukrainian Orthodox (some 85 percent) belong to the UPTs/MP led by Metropolitan Vladimir Sabodan, and the leader of the ROCOR is Metropolitan Lavr Skurla, who is Rusin, not “Russian” at all in the sense that the “nationalists” employ. The schismatic nationalist groups, thus, are only a small (albeit loud) minority. Sadly, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul uses them (both in the Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora) to further its ambitions to be the “Orthodox papacy” (an unwarranted innovation opposed by most decent Orthodox Christians). The Galician Uniate Catholics are an even smaller minority of the population, as they are less than 10 percent of the Ukrainian people (yet, they are the most virulent “nationalists” of them all!). As Catholics, they aren’t part of Holy Rus’; for that reason, their voices aren’t representative and all decent people should ignore them. There’s never been anti-Ukrainian sentiment amongst Russians, despite UPA propaganda to the contrary. There’s never been “Russian exclusivism” amongst Russophiles; however, the same isn’t true of exclusivist “Ukrainian nationalists”. Please… look at the historical record, and do NOT listen to the rants of nationalists. There’s an article on the VOR website you MUST read (see especially the section on Tchaikovsky’s ancestry). You see, Ukrainians only have maximum freedom as individuals when they’re part of a Great Russian state. Your place at table is waiting for you. We desire your presence fervently. Why delay?

BMD

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