Fr Joseph Skinner, a priest at the Russian Orthodox cathedral in London, has urged UK ministers not to blame the Kremlin for an attack on a former spy in Salisbury, given the extent of mystery surrounding the case.
According to this report, the Director of Inter-Orthodox Relations for the Church in Great Britain and Ireland spoke before the UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
This attempted murder is a criminal and evil action but we should not rush to apportion blame before we know the full facts [and] before there is real proof.
He accused the UK Government appointing itself “judge and jury”, but insisted that the Russian Orthodox Church remains separate from politics. Instead it prays regularly for “peace of the whole world” and “tranquillity”.
He also explained how coverage of the incident – which is still be investigated by police and the military – has affected members of the Russian Orthodox Church in the UK, saying:
The climate, if you like, of developing Russophobia in the media is obviously something which is disturbing for people.
Last year Paul Goble, a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, revealed here that Russian Orthodox Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, above, former head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for relations between church and society, called for the creation of special death squads to hunt down and destroy emigres who, he suggested, are often traitors and enemies of the Russian Federation.
The Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin’s Russia have a long and notorious history of kidnapping and killing political emigres, but neither the communists nor the Putinists ever have boldly proclaimed that they have done so. Instead, both sought to cover up such crimes rather than to celebrate them.
Chaplin’s remarks are noteworthy because they suggest that in the current environment, there are people near the Kremlin who are prepared to move from taking such actions in the shadow to pursuing such goals boldly and baldly, yet another mark of the degradation of Russian life and morality under Vladimir Putin.
To struggle against “traitors to the motherland,” Chaplin calls for the introduction of “an entire system of punishments: to end the moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to “authorize special units” to go after traitor emigres, and even “to use targeted rocket strikes against traitors” …
“Our civilization is truly Christian, always ready to stand up for itself and not to give a single chance to the enemies of the people.” Russia recognizes, as Europeans don’t, that there are those who are “in principle dangerous” and must be destroyed.