Staunton, August 20 – Russian Orthodox activists have announced plans to create a Center for the Struggle with Atheist Extremism, the latest example of one of the more troubling phenomena in the Russian Federation and other former communist countries: the continuing use of Bolshevik-style measures in the pursuit of explicitly anti-Communist goals.
Often those who support the new goals both in these countries and in the West are inclined to overlook or even approve such approaches as necessary or laudable even though such methods themselves often have the effect of undermining the goals as well, however laudable the new ones may be.
And this problem is exacerbated or at least extended into the future because many of those now engaged in the pursuit of new goals are the same ones who avidly pursued the old ones in Soviet times, a situation that reduces the confidence one might have that any particular shift is likely to be permanent.
A clear example of this is the announcement by Russian Orthodox activists, students and instructors from Moscow State University, and officials of the Russian capital’s Western Administrative District of plans to create a center whose very title resembles with the change of a single word the kind of institution the Soviets used (interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=52396).
According to a resolution adopted by the supporters of this idea, “’atheistic extremism’ sponsored by various foundations and NGOs whose roots are to be found beyond theborders of Russia have raised its head. These ‘atheistic extremists’ work against the legal rights of citizens guaranteed by Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.”
Some Russians, the resolution continues, oppose the construction of churches, “having created an artificial psychosis and spreading hysteria by means of confusion citizens” by referring to “non-existent laws which supposedly do not allow churches to be closer than a kilometer from residences.”
Moreover, such Russians complain about the supposed destruction of parks to allow for churches, although these same people, the resolution says, never complain about “all other construction.” Moreover, such “’atheistic extremists’ present themselves as representatives of local residents by creating self-proclaimed ‘social councils’ and ‘initiative groups’ while keeping themselves in the shadows.”
Such language, albeit directed against religious belief instead of opposition to religion, could have been found in almost any Soviet newspaper, yet another way in which the confusion of ends and means continues to affect life in these countries and the evaluation of it by those who live elsewhere.