Sunday, May 28, 2017

Western Missionaries Said Working with Nenets Shamans to Detach North from Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 28 – In 1986, Russian √©migr√© writer Eduard Topol published a novel, Red Snow, in which he described how Moscow’s oppression of the Nentsy, one of the numerically small peoples of the North – this nation numbers approximately 45,000 -- led some members of that nation to challenge Soviet power.

            Now more than 30 years later, life is imitating art at least in the overheated imaginations of some Russian Orthodox and nationalist activists who say that Western Protestant missionaries are seeking to use Nenets shamans to spark a Maidan and detach the Russian North from Moscow’s rule ( and

            The Bereg Rus portal, a Russian Orthodox and nationalist outlet in the Far East, reports on this in breathless tones: “The world community,” it says, is constantly trying to detach from Russia its territories in order to establish its own sodomite anti-order,” and it continues: “the most effective weapon in this regard is an anti-Russian ethno-cultural policy.”

            “While in liberal academic circles false notions about various kinds of nations – from civic to political – continue to circulate, our geopolitical opponents confidently are rooting themselves in strategically important territories.” News from Arkhangelsk is clear evidence of this danger, the portal continues.

            According to its authors, a conference in Arkhangelsk at the end of April by the Barents Secretariat, a body which they point out is “only partially controlled by the Russian Federation, featured speakers who repeatedly said that “there is no grater evil for civil rights, numerically small peoples and confessions than the Russian Orthodox Church.”

            That is because, the speakers said, the local bishop since 2011 has conducted a massive and “aggressive” missionary effort to prompt members of local nations like the Nentsy to turn away from their traditional shamanist faiths and become members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

            “Is Nenets shamanism a religious basis for extremism and separatism?” the portal asks, Unfortunately, it may be becoming so not because of the actions of the Russian church but rather because of missionary activity by Evangelical Protestants linked to and supported by Western governments.

            These missionaries have promoted the idea about the Nentsy and other Northern peoples that “American sectarians are their friends, but the Russian bishop is their persecutor.” And from such attitudes to a Maidan and secession from Russia is only a small step.

            “One must say,” the portal continues, “that at the beginning of the 20th century, the charismatic movement played on the territory of historic Russia the same role that Quakers and independents played in mid-17th century English. The social essence of their religious teaching is revolution.” And they played a similar role in Ukraine only a few years ago.

            “Charismatics and other sectarians,” Bereg Rus continues, “became the worldview nucleus of the first and second Ukrainian Maidans.”  And now this forces Russians to ask whether a similar scenario is possible in the Russian Arctic. That may seem absurd now but no more absurd than the Maidan appeared before it happened.

            And just as the West wanted to pull Ukraine away from Russia so too it wants to take control of Russia’s northern territories in order to ensure that the West and not Moscow is in control of the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia. And consequently, the portal says, the West is using exactly the same technique in the north. 

            No one inside Russia needs “a new Yamal uprising or a new ‘Mandalala.’ But there are people in the West who do and who are quite prepared to use Evangelical Protestants to link up with shamans in order to bring one off. Russians must be vigilant agains this threat, Bereg Rus suggests.


80 Years Ago, Stalin’s NKVD Began to Arrest and Shoot the Deaf and Dumb

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 28 – One of Hitler’s most heinous crimes was his execution of Germans with physical and mental handicaps, an action that few know even now that Stalin copied when his NKVD launched sweeping arrests and executions of many of the deaf and dumb in Soviet society.

            It has taken decades for many to accept the fact that Stalin’s crimes were not limited to attacks on people of different social classes, the usual defense of his system by many in the West in the past and many in Russia to this day, but instead were directed at people because of their national origins.

            Arresting and killing people only because of their class, nationality or religion is horrific and deserves universal condemnation, but doing so to the most defenseless members of a society, those who suffer from physical or mental incapacities, merits particular condemnation. A new article in Novyye izvestiya may open the way to that outcome.

            In August 1937, the Moscow paper reports, Stalin’s secret police arrested 55 people in the Leningrad Society of the Deaf and Dumb.  They were accused of forming “a fascist-terrorist organization” and distributing counter-revolutionary literature. This action became known as “the deaf and dumb terrorist group” (

                At that time, there were some 30,000 deaf and dumb people in the USSR, including some 6,000 in Leningrad alone. Following Soviet practice, they were treated largely in terms of their capacity to perform “socially useful labor,” with those who could treated much as other Soviet citizens were and those who couldn’t with suspicion and repression.  

            Most of the efforts to help these people were carried out by the All-Russian Society of the Deaf and Dumb, which provided special courses and interpreters.  But many had to make ends meet by selling pictures and pencils in railway stations – and that was enough to trigger the Stalinist terror machine.

            The militia started investigating deaf and dumb sellers for possible charges of financial manipulation, but then the NKVD got involved and came up with the invented charges about the existence of a terrorist group that the authorities said was planning to kill leaders of the Soviet state.

            Interrogating those arrested was difficult for the militia NKVD which did not have sufficient numbers of people capable of working with the deaf and dumb, and so these victims were even more likely to be tortured than others and even more likely than other categories of people to be sentenced to be shot.

            Thirty-four of the 53 deaf and dumb people arrested in Leningrad were sentenced to be shot, with the remainder dispatched to work in the Mordvinian or Karaganda camps.  The few of those who managed to survive were released in 1940, and all who were killed were posthumously rehabilitated in 1955.

            There is only one monument to the victims of this Stalinist crime: a simple stone one in the Levashov wastelands that was erected by the relatives of two deaf and dumb activists who were shot by Stalin’s henchmen. 

Spying is Far From the Only ‘Action Incompatible with Diplomatic Status’

            Staunton, May 28 – Tallinn has not yet provided an official explanation for its decision to expel two Russian officials from Moscow’s consulate in Narva, but Estonian experts say that such actions are typically taken because the officials involved are engaged in espionage, “an action incompatible with diplomatic service.”

            There is no question these officials may have been engaged in spying given Moscow’s interest in Estonia’s defense programs and especially in NATO forces exercising there.  But it is important to recognize that in the case of Russian missions in the former Soviet space – and not just there -- spying may be far from the most serious violation of the rules governing the actions of diplomats.

            That is because, as Estonian and Lithuanian security agencies have pointed out in the past, roughly a third of all Russian “diplomats” in the Baltic countries have links to Moscow’s security services, with many not only spying but working to undermine these states (

            Among these activities are active involvement with the Russian-speaking community there. Indeed, an article in Moscow’s Komsomolskaya Pravda yesterday suggests that such activites may be the real reason the two Russian officials in Narva were expelled (

            Estonia has compiled an impressive record in identifying and expelling Russian officials who violate the rules of diplomatic practice not only by spying but by working against the Estonian government. Lithuania and Latvia have also stepped up their monitoring of Russian diplomats but have not expelled them.