Russian Archbishop Hilarion Calls Stalin “a Monster”

Presbyterian Outlook | Sophia Kishkovsky | Aug. 4, 2009

Comments by a senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church condemning Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, accusing him of genocide, shortly before a European security forum equated the crimes of Stalin and Hitler, have stirred heated debate in the Russian media and blogosphere.

“I think that Stalin was a spiritually-deformed monster, who created a horrific, inhuman system of ruling the country,” Archbishop Hilarion had said in a June interview with the news magazine Ekspert. “He unleashed a genocide against the people of his own country and bears personal responsibility for the death of millions of innocent people. In this respect Stalin is completely comparable to Hitler.”

Hilarion is head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, a post Patriarch Kirill I held before he was elected leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in January.

His comments came shortly before a session of the parliamentary assembly of the 56-member, Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Lithuania. At its July 3 meeting, the organization in a resolution stated that both Nazism and Stalinism “brought about genocide, violations of human rights and freedoms, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”

The resolution called on member states to mark each August 23, the day of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union, as “a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.”

The Russian foreign ministry denounced the resolution as “an attempt to distort history for political purposes.”

The Second World War is considered a sacred topic in Russia, where it is called the Great Patriotic War. In May, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the creation of a commission to fight the “falsification of history” and defend the official account of the Soviet past.

Stalin is portrayed by top officials, and also in a study guide for high school teachers approved by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when he was president, as an effective manager, comparable to the Russian tsars or to Bismarck, who united Germany in the 19th century. Putin has also continued his efforts to unite the pre-revolutionary and Bolshevik strands of Russian history into a seamless narrative.


Archbishop Hilarion in his interview said that “the number of victims of Stalinist repressions is completely comparable to our losses in the Great Patriotic War.” Yet, Hilarion also warned against idealizing pre-revolutionary Russia.

“If everything had been right in the pre-revolutionary church, then there wouldn’t have been a mass retreat from it during the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period,” he said. “Maybe the revolution itself wouldn’t have happened.”

Today, said Hilarion, the situation requires a different approach to relations between Church and State.

“Of course, there were many positive things as well in the pre-revolutionary status of the Church in the State,” said the archbishop. “But under no circumstances must there be an attempt to recreate the pre-revolutionary situation. We must create a new model of Church-State relations that would exclude those negative phenomena in church and public life that led to the revolution.”

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1 thought on “Russian Archbishop Hilarion Calls Stalin “a Monster””

  1. Archbishop Hilarion is right and he’s speaking with great moral authority in labeling Stalin as the monster and enemy of God, the Orthodox Church, and the people he truly was. Stalin’s unimaginable evil and hatred of the Creator, His creation, and human life should never be glossed over, minimized, or excused away, ever!

    “One has to realize what communism is,” insisted Father Seraphim Rose. “Not merely a power-mad political regime, but an ideological-religious system whose aim is to overthrow and supplant all other systems, most of all Christianity. Communism is actually a very powerful heresy whose central thesis . . . is chiliasm or millennialism: history is to reach its culmination in an indefinite state of earthly blessedness, a perfect mankind living in perfect peace and harmony.”

    “Communism specifically attacked the lands which had most nearly retained their ancient Christian traditions – Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, etc. Propaganda portrayed Bolshevism as a political/social uprising, which is what gullible individuals throughout the world still imagine it to have been. But the “revolution” was far more than this – it was actually a battle against Christianity.”

    This 92+ years battle against Christianity and humanity, started with the French Revolution, was strengthened by Marx and Engels, and had Lennin and Stalin as their main cheerleaders and perpetrators. Now these same Satanic ideas have infiltrated the mainstream and many of the same corrupt ideologies (sometimes disguised as other “movements”) are being embraced and passionately promoted by many in academia, the government, and even many of the Christian churches, including Orthodox ones too.

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