Friday, 20 January 2017

Wild Wild East

We have discussed before the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox church in both the running of the state, and the private lives of ordinary Russians. This influence is not necessarily benign, and in point of fact, is more often than not very reactionary - in much the same way as the Wahhabi mullahs control much of the social discourse in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Unholy Alliance ......

They seem to have adopted the idea that there is in fact a Czar (Tzar?) of 'All the Russia's' back in power again, this time in the form of President/Premier (take your pick .. power is retained whatever role he takes), Putin, and that their holy mission is therefore to support his government, and direct the lives of the ordinary 'peasants' (perhaps 'serfs' is the correct term in this case?).

To this end we are seeing more and more 'pronouncements' on social matters, especially out in Russia's 'Wild East', Siberia. These announcements are similar in many regards to the Mullahs 'Fatwah', but don't quite, yet, have quite that power of enforcement i.e. rent a mob lynchings.

A recent example was the row over the statue of David in St Petersburg, but now its 'The Nutcracker Suite' ballet that has fallen foul of the churches gimlet eye. Apparently Metropolitan Tikhon in the Novosibirsk region has pronounced that in his opinion is not a children's Christmas treat but rather a "work of the occult" and also that the nutcracker that comes to life in the ballet, is in fact a "prince shape-shifter" no less.

I can See Why He Was A Nutcracker

Apparently Metropolitan Tikhon has previous on this kind of pronouncements. Two years ago, he accused the same theatre of desecrating Christian symbols, in a, to him, controversial staging of Wagner's opera Tannhauser. Is nothing sacred one has to ask?

On that occasion, although a court ruled that the production hadn't broken the blasphemy law, the staging was still dropped and the then director sacked, after a round table discussion by figures from the Church, culture ministry and regional authorities. Strangely, the only director they could find to condemn that version of Tannhauser as "offensive" to his religious sensibilities, in order to get the now vacant directors job, was the current director, Vladimir Kekhman.

Now however he has said he won't be dropping the ballet, saying that the archbishop was only joking, and accused the media of "stirring itself up into a frenzy" whenever the Orthodox Church comments on the arts. "The devil is the father of lies" .... well he would know.

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