Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The New Inquisition: Defenders Of The Faith

God Save Russia!
With Belief in God, Freedom or Death!
Sodom will not stand!
We will not allow the corruption of our land
Let our distinguished academics see how Orthodox people treat their pseudo-theories
A new history has begun and the events in this history will occur under new laws of world conflict. In the beginning this war will not be nuclear, it will be conducted in the form of conflicts of low intensity and it will not only be a war of armed forces but also an information war.
We have declared a new holy inquisition that will fight all villains who oppose Christ, the sacred symbols and the Orthodox Church
I first came upon The Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers, sometimes translated from the Russian as The Union of Orthodox Flag Bearers or the more poetic Union of Orthodox Gonfalon Bearers when browsing a website of Russian photo-journalism. The site contained several images of the Union holding a demonstration against a concert given by Madonna in Moscow in 2007 and one could not fail to be struck by the dramatic, almost sinister appearance of this sect as they speared a large poster of the “American Satanist and Kabbalist” with a wooden stake. Dressed in black paramilitary fatigues, sporting thick beards and bedecked in the regalia of the Russian Orthodox Church, Tsarist military decorations and the occaisional deaths-head the Union possess a strong visual aesthetic that instantly captured my attention. I began to research the movement and found that information, at least information in English, was scarce but very interesting.
The Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers was co-founded in 1993 by Leonid Simonovich-Nikshich, who I have seen described in one place on the web as a pretender to the Serbian Crown – although how much credence can be given both to that statement and Simonovich’s claim is another matter. The Union is a radical organisation that seems to be comprised mostly of layeity although it would appear to enjoy at least tacit support amongst the more militant elements of the Orthodox clergy and follows the precedent of the Black Hundreds in calling for a return to the Old Russia of Tsar and God. For Simonovich and the members of his Union we are living in the Last Days and politics is an irrelevance as we await the final battle and the raptures of apocalypse. America in particular is castigated as a secular Satan whose crime in bombing the Serbs is not her interference in the affairs of another state but her decision to take up arms against an Orthodox country. Simonovich has resurrected a more important fundamental – the Patristic declaration that a synagogue is a refuge of demons and also seeks to resurrect the medieval myth of Jewish ritual murder as evidence of the Jewish threat, publicly calling for the canonisation of Andriushy Iushchinsky, whom Jews were accused of murdering in 1911, and declaring that the murder of Tsar Paul I bore the hallmarks of a ‘Masonic’ ritual killing. Further threats to the integrity of Russian Orthodoxy are offered by Roman Catholics, NATO and the West in general. As well as getting hot and bothered about Madonna’s gig The Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers has been active in violently opposing Gay Rights marches in Moscow, in which veteran British busy-body Peter Tatchell was soundly twatted, protesting about the publication of Harry Potter books in Russia, ritually impaling a toy monkey as a public denouncement of Darwinian evolution and joining forces with other groups on the far right of Russian parapolitics to protest about the radio station Echo Of Moscow, which it accused of broadcasting anti-Russian propaganda. So what? I’m unlikely to be visiting Russia any time soon and and shouldn’t we simply treat these people with as much contempt as our own homegrown religious cranks and crackpots? Well – yes and no. It’s certainly true that militant and confrontational as they may be The Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers is a small group on the outer fringe of the fringe of Russian politics and maybe we can all get behind somebody who wants to impale Madonna but is the enemy of your enemy really your friend? In this case I would say not. They probably don’t like Venom either.

2 comments:

J. Harris said...

They remind me a bit of the Legionari, or, The Order of the Archangel Michael. I admire their aesthetics and their balls, but they have misplaced enthusiasm. Thank you for the post.

J. Harris said...

Correction- LEGION of the Archangel Michael, the Order is something entirely different, and much less interesting.