November 13, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7177

At The Opening Of Russia's Wall Of Grief, Patriarch Kirill Criticizes The Bolshevik Revolution On Its 100th Anniversary And Warns Against Fomenting New Revolutions

November 13, 2017
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7177

Vladimir Putin has tried to straddle the issue of the Bolshevik Revolution in an effort to forge a consensus between supporters and opponents of the revolution. He has described the fall of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and brought back the anthem used during Soviet times. On the other hand with the exception of the Communist Party that tried to launch commemoratives of the centennial anniversary of the revolution throughout the country and have the anniversary declared an official holiday, the event was officially played down. Lately Putin has become more outspoken against the revolution. In downtown Moscow, on October 30, the Russian President attended the opening of the Wall of Grief (known in English also as the Wall of Sorrow) memorial to victims of political repression during the Soviet-era government.[1] The ceremony was held as part of the official Day Of Remembrance For Victims Of Political Repression. During the event, Putin stated: "It is very important that we all and future generations – this is of great significance – know about, and remember this tragic period in our history when entire social groups and entire peoples were cruelly persecuted… This terrifying past cannot be deleted from national memory or, all the more so, be justified by any references to the so-called best interests of the people."[2]

A major participant in the solemn ceremony was Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who took the opportunity to express his views on the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The Patriarch stated that the events that ensued during the Bolshevik Revolution could explain the 20th century repressions that came later. However, the Patriarch's speech, was less an analysis of the Bolshevik Revolution and more an apparent warning against future color revolutions against the Kremlin. Indeed, he warned the new generations against repeating historic errors.

On November 1, in a lengthy address before the 21st World Russian People’s Council in Moscow, the Patriarch reiterated that Russian society should learn from its "mistakes" and remain united, avoiding the trap of fomenting new political revolutions as in 1917. The Patriarch further openly warned against color revolutions, which have become a "technological concept", defining the "forceful change of power" and justifying the "violation of the Constitution" and "norms of international law." Here he was very much on the same page as Putin and his surrogates.

Recently, on November 7, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion channeled Patriach Kirill's views when interviewed on the Rossiya-24 TV channel. "Russia could have achieved much more, if it had developed in an evolutionary, not revolutionary way," said the hierarch.[3]

Below are excerpts of the Patriarch's recent speeches on the Bolshevik revolution:

Patriarch Kirill and the Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the Wall of Grief memorial. (Source:

Patriarch Kirill and the Russian President Vladimir Putin at the opening of the Wall of Grief memorial. (Source:

Patriarch Kirill: 'The Dream Grew Over Into A Nightmare'; 'The Current Generation Does Not Have The Right To Repeat The Mistakes Of History'

During the ceremony, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill I said:

"The year of centenary of the Russian revolution offers an important occasion for understanding [repressions of the 20th century]. As we look into this tragedy, we’re asking ourselves how it could happen that children of the same country, neighbors, fellow-workers persecuted and killed one another, how the momentous idea of building a world of freedom and fairness led up to bloodletting and lawlessness? At that time, people dreamed of a world without exploitation, poverty or war, about a world of peace where science would resolve the problems and cure all the illnesses but the dream grew over into a nightmare for many, many people."

He then added: "Where did the error lurk? Was it because people were seeking to build a humane and fair society upon denial of spiritual fundamentals of human life and subjugating morality to ideology, which led to justification of acts of cruelty on the way to building the radiant future. Departure from the standards of morality always breeds crisis."[4]

The prelate warned Russia's new generations against succumbing to the same historic mistakes, i.e. starting new color revolution: "The current generation does not have the right to repeat the mistakes of history. Hatred should not lead us in our quest to build a peaceful, just, and prosperous life."[5] He then added: "The tragic pages of our history should not serve as pretexts for fanning animosity or for a buildup of tensions. And condemnation of terror should not turn from an act of morality into a political ritual."[6]

Patriarch Kirill: 'Color Revolutions Have Become A Technological Concept… Justifying The Violation Of The Constitution'

A few days later, on November 1, Patriarch Kirill returned to the topic when he delivered a speech at the 21st World Russian People’s Council in Moscow. In his speech, the Patriarch stressed that with the passage of years Russian society distanced itself from the Bolshevik revolution. Contemporary Russian society should cherish its national unity and steer clear of the "political radicalism" that could lead to color revolutions.[7]

The Patriarch said: "During the last 100 years our society reached a certain maturity and distanced itself historically enough from 1917 - this enables us to speak in a more balanced and meaningful manner without avoiding some judgment and without politicizing the issue superfluously.

"It is hard to deny that the revolution was a tragedy: a civil war, when one brother killed another, the death and expulsion of millions of people, huge spiritual and material losses. The most horrifying thing is that, during the revolutionary struggle, the seeds of hatred and evil were sown in human souls. Currently, we can only painfully observe how the same hatred is resurrecting itself in other regions of the contemporary world – both in faraway countries as well as amongst the most kindred peoples, amongst our brothers [apparently referring to Ukraine].

"But this hatred has a different ideological garb today and is connecting with drawing new and intensifying the old dividing lines on the planet, with the growth of global inequality and justifying it, by cultivating artificial differences in the societies. These processes are already unconnected to the ideas of the original revolution - they have different ideological roots.

"Despite the rapid growth in the number of conflicts, wars and revolutions in the world, Russia retains enough strength to be an island of stability in this dangerous stream and to continue along its historical path.

"Today, our society is consolidated and there is no tragic civil gap, which [back then] divided the people in two. On the contrary, today we learn again to cheer the national unity and reconciliation.

"This unity and reconciliation ensure us that the country and the society won't stumble and won't rupture into the historical divide as happened back in 1917. Russian history does not go round in circles. We learn from our mistakes. We received immunity to all forms of political radicalism – for us as never before, consensus, is important shared values are important. What unites us - is important rather than what divides us. By cultivating and building the internal peace Russia may serve as an example and moral support for anyone who wants to survive the current crisis.

"The international community is very close today to the historical features, defining the beginning of a new epoch – an age of a great change in peoples' lives, especially the change of the worldview. The new age is coming inevitably, because the limits of globalization have been reached, thus the crisis in its unifying criteria has already emerged. This does not mean that the values of democracy, humanism, and human rights will totally disappear from our lives, but they will cease depending on some abstract, global standards. Every cultural – historical subject will have to seek internal support in its own traditions, a support, necessary for development and progress and will have to seek its own model of modernization, roots of its social institutes system.

"The same thing that applies to the life of a private individual applies to the life of a nation – the belief in social institutions and legal mechanism is dead without moral praxis, without an ability to do the right thing. In this case, this belief leads only to chasing the chimers, the elusive mirages of happiness and freedom. And it leads to uncountable human victims.

"We witness eloquent examples of faith without deeds and deeds without faith - both in the history of Europe and in our Russian history. These are world wars, and revolutions unleashed by the world's powerful. It begins with the French Revolution, which solidified new values in the minds of European peoples, and ends with a series of revolutions of the 20th century. This topic is all the more important because revolutions are currently being mass produced. The so-called 'color revolutions' have become a technological concept, defining the change of power by force and justifying the violation of the Constitution and norms of international law.

"However, despite the fact that the revolution has become just a common technique, its ideologues still rely on quasi-religious rhetoric, they try to justify the revolution as a spiritually lofty, and morally justified act. At the same time, modern revolutionaries, like their predecessors, always sacrifice a part of their own people - through the very logic of the revolutionary process - for the sake of achieving abstract benefits.

"The selective approach of such revolutionaries and their handlers to international norms shows that behind the beautiful facade of legal justifications there are in fact double standards, the desire not to subordinate to the power of laws but, on the contrary, to subordinate others to the right of the strongest, to interfere in internal matters of the sovereign states.

"Revolutions are generally conducted 'from above' – by the elites, which are driving and intoxicating people with their destructive energy. It may be the people's "own elite", uprooted from the traditions, and it may be a foreign elite, driven by colonial interests. The common people are organically disinclined to conductions revolutions – on the contrary the common people are the guardian of traditions without this hindering their desire to attain social justice…

"So, here the question arises regarding the quality of the elite that must be faithful to their own people and be replenished by talented people 'from below', without being constrained by the interests of external global players.

Today Russia looks for the 'shape of the future'. I think the shape of the future is a shape of people and elites which are mutually complimentary. The elites are not above the people. The elites are individuals who take the responsibility for the fates of the country, who equate their own interests with the interests of the state. The elites and the people should be a single undivided whole.

"Thus, it's impossible to 'appoint elites artificially. We need a base from which the current elite is drawn. In order to nurture the elite we need to nurture the people, to nurture society, to invest resources in it. If we don't nurture our own people – others will [he refers apparently to foreign/external forces]…

"Revolutions pretend to create a 'new man' – they strive to break the traditional, Christian core inside a man, to 'reforge him. The struggle of the revolutionaries with traditions and culture stem from this very logic. But this is a dead end, it leads to denial and fragmentation…

"If in the 21st century we want to be a flourishing country, respected by other states and which has a future, if we want to avoid revolutionary catastrophes and civil confrontation – we should not forget our historical experience, we should not renounce our historical fate."

Patriarch Kirill: It All Began 'When People Lost Their Internal Sovereignty'

On November 4, after Saturday's liturgy in the Kremlin, the Patriarch went on speaking about the revolution. He stated that the cause of the Bolshevik revolution had its roots in events that took place 200 years earlier, when people began denying the sovereignty of states and governments.[8]

The Patriarch said: "If we sweep aside the entire political environment connected with the events of a century ago, if we detach ourselves from this ideological view, then by this impartial view we will see a great deal, and we will understand that the beginning of our national illnesses, which led to the catastrophe a century ago, began not a year, not five years, not ten years, but at least 200 years, and perhaps even more, beforehand, when they began to destroy the spiritual foundations of the life of our enlightened society, of the so-called elite."

According to the Patriarch, it all began "when people lost their internal sovereignty, giving their minds and souls to that which came from outside, receiving these signals from outside uncritically, exposing their faith, worldview, and view on life to these ideas."

Patriarch Kirill: 'If There's Liberty, Then There Can Be No Equality'

During his Pastor's Word television program, the Patriarch also commented on the slogan of the French revolution "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (Liberté, égalité, fraternité). The slogan, as mentioned by the Russian news agency Interfax, became "rooted in the psyche" of the Russian intelligentsia.[9]

The Patriarch said: "If there's liberty, then there can be no equality. Because liberty is just a meadow upon which flowers and grass grow, with each blade rising to the best of its ability. There is no equality: one is stronger, the other is weaker, and there is no sign of the third at all. But equality, it is a mown lawn, everyone is equal but there is no freedom…

"If our unfortunate intellectuals had thought of it earlier, if this kind of comparison had occurred to them, if this kind of comparison could have been disseminated in mass consciousness, then maybe one would have paid closer attention to this seductive motto - equality, fraternity, liberty - because then the revolution would have been carried out primarily for the sake of liberty."


[1] The monument depicts faceless victims of the Soviet-era. The monument was realized by sculptor Georgy Frangulyan, who designed the monument.

[2], October 30, 2017.

[3], November 7, 2017.

[4], October 31, 2017.

[6], October 31, 2017.

[7], November 1, 2017.

[8], November 7, 2017;, November 4, 2017.

[9], October 30, 2017;, October 31, 2017.

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