The author is a well-known academic historian of Russia and Ukraine, which he approaches from a Christian (Russian Orthodox) and nationalist perspective, arguing that nationalism and Christian Orthodoxy are inseparable. He also writes widely on current affairs. Rare for contemporary Western historians of Russia, he sources original materials in Russian, pulling back the veil on much misunderstanding, ranging from modern history back to Russia’s very beginnings in the Middle Ages.
His latest book, Ukrainian Nationalism (2019), (Amazon), is the definitive treatment of this topic and is essential reading to understand the current political turmoil in Ukraine. It argues that Ukrainian nationalism is real and legitimate, but needn’t be Anti-Russian, and that Russia and Ukraine are in fact natural allies. Here is his article on Russia Insider explaining some of the ideas in the book. There is no other scholar writing today about Russia and the Ukraine with this extraordinary command of historical detail and meaning. Johnson is a national treasure, and his works are highly recommended. For a fascinating audio podcast discussion of the book by Johnson and Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, see here.
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Vladimir Putin is fairly mute about his own religious views. Being a member of the Communist Party is no evidence of atheism. Its evidence only of conformity. Party membership was essential for having any a career of any substantial kind, especially in the security services.
Military and police careers were, as in all societies, attractive to patriots and nationalists, though it had to be a “Soviet” rather than a specifically Russian nationalism. However, he does say that he was secretly baptized by his mother at 18 months in Petersburg at the Cathedral of the Martyrs Alexandria and Antonia of Rome. From this, it is safe to say that Putin was secretly taught the faith from a young age.
According to his mother, it was the day of St. Michael and all the Angels, so it had to be November 21st. Putin’s views are, in hos own words, to be internal, and never the subject of a show. The cross that his mother gave him at the Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem he wears always. In his house many years ago, a fire broke out from the heating unit of the sauna malfunctioning. Worried that the cross, which he had left near his bed, was gone forever, once of the workmen found it perfectly intact in the midst of all the rubble.
Putin stated on Larry King that he sees this event as a miracle and a “revelation.” His personal commitment to Orthodoxy never wavered afterwards. Normally he goes to obscure, rural churches to spend the holidays, wishing to avoid the cameras and distractions of the major cities. His natural constituency is the Orthodox population, who, as polls have stated since the mid 1990s, trust the patriarch more than anyone else in Russia, even more than Putin himself.
Unlike Slobodan Milosevic, Putin is clearly comfortable and at home in an Orthodox setting, and his ritual movements are smooth and comfortable, not jerky and artificial as might be expected for a hypocritical display. Milosevic was noted for his awkwardness in Orthodox churches in the 1990s, suggesting he had no experience in them. The only time he seemed slightly stiff is when, upon kissing an icon, the background noise was of hundreds of cameras taking pictures.
This is one of the videos in which Putin reveals the origin of his faith.
It shows us the following:
Putin first speaks about his Baptism: 02:00
He believes in the traditional Russian family: 04:03
Over 65,000 Russians defend the Church: 08:02
The Orthodox bikers in the new Russia: 10:52
Putin’s acknowledges the saints and martyrs murdered by the communists: 11:45
Putin is far superior for the church than Peter the Great and many others. Non-Orthodox monarchs in Russia history include Peter I, who was a materialist Freemason. His successor, the mockery “Catherine I,” who was a former prostitute from Germany taken as war booty by Peter. She was placed on the throne in mockery, similar to the French Revolutionaries placing a prostitute on the throne of the Bishop of Paris during the terror. Lord Biron, a Freemason who ruled while the two “Empress Annas” tried on outfits), Peter III who was a Lutheran, soon murdered by, Catherine II, a Deist and vehemently anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian. Alexander I dabbled in the occult, while Alexander II was generally secular. At the same time, these and other monarchs placed atheists and masons as head of the synod on a regular basis. Putin is far more Orthodox than those monarchs.
Putin’s concern with ecumenism with Rome is puzzling. His constituency is Orthodox and nationalist. He has only to lose with this policy. Yet, no one else on earth right now has done more to strengthen and spread Orthodox than Putin and the Moscow Patriarchate. On February 13, 2012, Putin condemned the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. In 2012, 65,000 gathered at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to defend the church against Pussy Riot and other attacks on it. This is the new Russia.
Back in 2001, Izvestia interviewed Putin’s spiritual father, the Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) of the Sretensky Monastery. This was December of 2001, probably prior to anyone really knowing too much about his policy agenda. The Archimandrite stated:
Putin is really an Orthodox Christian really, and not nominally. He confesses, receives communion and is aware of his responsibility before God for the ministry entrusted to him from on high and for his immortal soul.
The burden and severity of the problems he is undertaking to solve and his responsibility for these is truly enormous. Anyone who really loves Russia and wishes her well can only pray for Vladimir whom the Providence of God sent to deliver Russia.
The Archimandrite was himself sent to prison by the old KGB and had members of his family perish because of them. Thus, Putin’s background in this organization did not initially endear him to the President. However, he soon was convinced of Putin’s Orthodox mind. In his book, the Archimandrite writes:
Combining the modern Russian state with past forms, Putin has undertaken a huge effort to connect it to the heavens. The construction of churches, the reconstruction of destroyed parishes, monasteries and the revival of Russian shrines has become an urgent matter for Putin.
For the dark, soulless landscape that was imposed on Russia after 1991 – one dominated by nihilism, anger, and nonsense mercantile scams – Russia was in a condition completely unsuitable for any future development. Anything built in this context, any laboratory or university, immediately plunged into the abyss of a toxic lifestyle.
The restoration of churches and monasteries is truly the creation of huge sewage treatment plants which are to filter and processing the fetid waste of the 1990s. It is the construction of spiritual filters through which passes the poisoned spirit of the Russian people.
In his visit to Valaam, Putin stated that “without Orthodoxy, there would be no Russia.”
On the website of the Valaam monastery, they speak of the sincerity of the President’s faith. They state that visiting the northern shrines was a “turning point” for Putin and began a sincere conversion. He ensured that there was a minimum of meetings and no talk of politics. On August 16th of 2001 Putin first began his pilgrimage and acted like an “ordinary believer.” He walked the three kilometers to the main monastery to St. Nicholas’ skete. He then decreed that the island of Anzer be granted officially to the church and more specifically, the monastery of Solovki.
On the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus under St. Vladimir, Putin stated:
Today, when people are again looking for moral support, millions of our fellow citizens see their Russian Orthodox religion as a beacon.
Trust the wise pastoral words of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her selfless, educational and social service demand respect. Her public authority and peacekeeping efforts aimed at strengthening the harmony and stability of Russia, as well as her efforts to restore the historical ties among peoples, and especially with our compatriots abroad, has been her legacy.
It is also important that a new level of state-church relations has developed.
We act as genuine partners and as co-workers in solving the most pressing domestic and international challenges in the implementation of joint ventures for the benefit of our country and people.
On the 90th anniversary of the restoration of the Patriarchate, Putin stated:
The Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church helped the people survive the agony of the 20th century. It helped defend the faith, to unite the flock and to save not just the church, but the ideas of Christianity. And later, already in a revival of religious life, the Church has helped continue his tireless service.
And today, we appreciate the desire of the Russian Orthodox Church to return the ideals and values to Russian society that for centuries were our spiritual landmarks (Putin, 2007).
It is common to condemn Putin for being a “KGB agent.” the truth is that the security services of any nation attract nationalists. Few doctrinaire Marxists existed in the USSR. This is the exclusive domain of capitalist universities. Putin has condemned Marxism and communism. He has stated that the fall of the USSR was a great “catastrophe.” Indeed it was: Solzhenitsyn said the same. The destruction of the Soviet economy in a few years and its liquidation into the bank accounts of a few Jewish oligarchs is well known. The USSR was preferable to the 1990s in Russia. The life expectancy of the Russian male went down to under 60 years.
To be a career man of any kind in the USSR, one had to join the party. Spouting a few slogans that no one believed is a minor price to pay for the ability to feed one’s family. Putin clearly (albeit secretly) rejected the party’s atheism. He was and is a Russian nationalist. My book, Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin (TBR Press, 2012) shows this at great length. I’ve translated some speeches and writings that have not seen the light of day in the west. The revelations of Putin’s secret baptism make sense out of his post-soviet career and ideological development.
(NB: Readers should buy directly from The Barnes Review (the publisher of this book) due to the fact that Amazon and other retailers are deliberately charging outrageously high prices for it).
Владимир Путин посетил Ипатьевский мужской монастырь. Kremlin.ru, March 23 2005
Putin, BB (2007) Выступление В.В. Путина на встрече с иерархами Русской православной церкви по случаю 90-летия восстановления патриаршества. Doxa.ru
Valaam (2001) Finding Himself. “Вера-Эском” 16(394)
Путин и его семья – христиане. Это главное. Izvestia, December 7 2001
Читайте далее: http://izvestia.ru/news/255666#ixzz3udNeNBJg
Проханов А., Нарочницкая Н., Ивашов Л., Аверьянов В. (2014) Putin: The Keystone of Russian Statehood. A Publication of the The Izborsk Club
Путин, BB (2013) «Нравственные основы православной веры сформировали менталитет народа» Русская народная линия. Summer
Putin – Defender of the Faith, President Vladimir Putin, December 12, 2012 at St George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace on Constitution Day in Russia
Lewis Hamilton wins chaotic Saudi GP to draw level with Max Verstappen
After chaos, needle, misunderstanding and some absolutely uncompromising racing, it took a cool head to prevail and Lewis Hamilton duly delivered, his win at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ensuring there is now nothing in it going into the Formula One season finale.
Beating title rival Max Verstappen into second, the pair are now level on points after a race of complexity and confusion fitting perhaps in a season that has been impossible to predict. The two protagonists endured an ill-tempered race and both left with differing views, Hamilton accusing his rival of being dangerous and Verstappen aggrieved. What it made clear is that neither will leave anything on the table next week in Abu Dhabi.
The investigations and debriefs will go on long into the night after this staccato affair interrupted by red flags, safety cars and the two leaders clashing repeatedly on track but ultimately and crucially for his title hopes it was an exhausted Hamilton who came out on top.
Hamilton had gone into the race trailing Verstappen by eight points, they are now level. The lead has changed hands five times during this enthralling season, which has ebbed and flowed between them but of course Hamilton has experience in tense showdowns, pipped to his first title in the last race of 2007 and then sealing it in a nail-biting showdown in Brazil a year later.
Verstappen is in his first title fight but has shown no indication of being intimidated, instead eagerly grasping his chance to finally compete and he still has it all to play for despite his clear disappointment at the result at the Jeddah circuit.
Hamilton admitted how hard the race been. “I’ve been racing a long time and that was incredibly tough,” he said. “I tried to be as sensible and tough as I could be and with all my experience just keeping the car on the track and staying clean. It was difficult. We had all sorts of things thrown at us.”
Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington credited his man with how he had handled it, noting: “It was the cool head that won out”. It was a necessary skill beyond that of wrestling with this tricky, high speed circuit, given the incidents that defined the race as it swung between the two rivals.
Hamilton held his lead from pole but an early red flag due to a crash left Verstappen out front when Red Bull had opted not to pit under a safety car. Thus far at least it was fairly straightforward.
When racing resumed from a standing start Hamilton, off like a bullet, had the lead into turn one but Verstappen went wide and cut the corner of two to emerge in front. Esteban Ocon took advantage to sneak into second only for the race to be stopped again immediately after several cars crashed in the midfield.
With the race stopped, the FIA race director, Michael Masi, offered Red Bull the chance for Verstappen to be dropped to third behind Hamilton because of the incident, rather than involving the stewards. In unprecedented scenes of negotiations with Masi, Red Bull accepted the offer, conceding Verstappen had to give up the place, with the order now Ocon, Hamilton.
Verstappen launched brilliantly at the restart, dove up the inside to take the lead, while Hamilton swiftly passed Ocon a lap later to move to second.
The front two immediately pulled away with Hamilton sticking to Verstappen’s tail, ferociously quick as they matched one another’s times. Repeated periods of the virtual safety car ensued to deal with debris littering the track and when racing began again on lap 37, Hamilton attempted to pass and was marginally ahead through turn one as both went off but Verstappen held the lead, lighting the touchpaper for the flashpoint.
Verstappen was told by his team to give the place back to Hamilton but when Verstappen slowed apparently looking to do so, Hamilton hit the rear of the Red Bull, damaging his front wing. Mercedes said they were unaware Verstappen was going to slow and the team had not informed Hamilton, who did not know what Verstappen was doing. Hamilton was furious, accusing Verstappen of brake-testing him. Both drivers are under investigation by the stewards for the incident and penalties may yet be applied.
Verstappen then did let Hamilton through but immediately shot back up to retake the lead but in doing so went off the track. He was then given a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage and a lap later Verstappen once more let his rival through, concerned he had not done so sufficiently on the previous lap. After all the chaos, Hamilton finally led and Verstappen’s tyres were wearing, unable to catch the leader who went on to secure a remarkable victory.
It was all too much for Verstappen who left the podium ceremony immediately the anthems concluded. “This sport is more about penalties than racing and for me this is not Formula One,” he said “A lot of things happened, which I don’t fully agree with.”
Both teams had diverging viewpoints on the incidents but both must now look forward. After 21 highly competitive races, the last a febrile, unpredictable drama, the season will be decided in a one-off shootout where both drivers have without doubt earned their place but just when the respect between them appears at its lowest ebb. – Guardian
Covid testing rules for all arrivals into State come into force
New Covid testing rules for travellers arriving into the State have come into force today.
At the start of the week the Government announced that all incoming travellers except those travelling from Northern Ireland will have to present a negative test result in order to enter the country irrespective of the vaccination status.
The move came in response to concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The test requirements were due to be introduced from midnight on Thursday. However the system was postponed at the last minute to midnight on Sunday in order to allow airlines prepare for checks.
For those with proof of vaccination they can show a negative professionally administered antigen test carried out no more than 48 hours before arrrival or a PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival. Those who are unvaccinated must show a negative PCR test result.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary had described the move as “nonsense” and “gobbledygook”.
Meanwhile more than 150 passengers have departed Morocco for Ireland on a repatriation flight organised by the Government.
The 156 passengers on the flight from Marrakech to Dublin included Irish citizens as well as citizens of several other EU countries and the UK.
The journey was organised after flights to and from Morocco were suspended earlier this week until at least December 13th, amid fears over the spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The repatriation flight on Saturday was operated on behalf of the Government by Ryanair.
Responding to news of the flight’s departure, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney hailed the efforts of the Irish Embassy in Rabat in the operation, tweeting: “Well done and thank you!”.
On Saturday the number of Covid patients in hospital has fallen to 487, the lowest level in almost four weeks, the latest official figures show. The number of Covid patients in hospital fell by 41 between Friday and Saturday. There were 5,622 further cases of Covid-19 reported on Saturday.
Tweeting about the latest hospital figures on Saturday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the “plan is working – 3rd doses, masks, test & isolate, physical distancing. Thank you for what you are doing. Please don’t lose heart. Let’s all have a safe Christmas.”
The figures come as the Government on Friday announced its most wide-ranging introduction of new restrictions this year after “stark” warnings from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) to take immediate action in the face of the threat from the Omicron variant.
From Tuesday until at least January 9th, indoor hospitality will be limited to parties of up to six adults per table, while nightclubs will be closed and indoor events limited to half a venue’s capacity. Advice has been issued that households should not host more than three other households in their home, while the use of the vaccine pass is to be extended to gyms and hotel bars and restaurants.
Trinity College immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill said the main reason for the new restrictions was the new Omicron variant, and he thought they were needed as the “next three to four weeks are going to be tough”. Speaking to Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ radio, he said it was “strange” that restrictions were being introduced when things are stabilising, with the lowest hospital numbers since November 6th.
Prof O’Neill said he was “hopeful” at news that the Omicron variant may have a piece of the common cold virus in it which could make it more like the common cold.
Divock Origi delivers late delight as Liverpool see off Wolves
Wolves 0 Liverpool 1
Divock Origi’s last-gasp strike sent Liverpool top of the Premier League with a dramatic 1-0 win at Wolves.
The substitute fired in from close range in stoppage time just as it looked like the Reds would fail to score for the first time in eight months.
He spared Diogo Jota’s blushes after the forward hit Conor Coady on the line following Jose Sa’s second-half mistake.
Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham gave the Reds a path to the summit and they went top thanks to Origi’s late show. Resilient Wolves were left with nothing despite another battling display and sit eighth.
Liverpool had blown away the majority of their rivals this season, having scored four in each of their last three Premier League games before arriving at Molineux.
They had, simply, been too good but found Wolves at their resolute best until the death.
Only Chelsea and Manchester City have conceded fewer goals than Bruno Lage’s side prior to the game and there was strong resistance to Liverpool’s threat.
The visitors failed to find any early rhythm, thanks largely to the hosts’ determination. Aside from Leander Dendoncker slicing a clearance from Jota’s header the Reds made few first-half inroads.
Three straight clean sheets had given Wolves’ defence renewed confidence and they continued to keep it tight as Liverpool slowly began to turn the screw.
Trent Alexander-Arnold volleyed over after 28 minutes and then turned provider for Jota, who headed his far post cross wide.
Liverpool had control but only managed to open their hosts up once and, even then, Romain Saiss’s presence ensured Mohamed Salah just failed to make contact with Andrew Robertson’s low centre.
Yet, they were still searching for a goal. Having scored in every Premier League game since a 1-0 defeat to Fulham in March more was expected after the break.
Salah’s knockdown caused some penalty box pinball which saw Thiago Alcantara twice denied but Jürgen Klopp’s men lacked the fluidity and precision to break Wolves down.
They needed a mistake from Sa to create their best opening on the hour and even then Jota missed it.
The goalkeeper raced out to the left after Jordan Henderson’s searching pass for Jota but collided with Saiss to give the forward a clear run to goal.
He advanced but from just six yards belted the ball at the covering Coady on the line.
Alexander-Arnold drove over as Liverpool’s frustrations grew and Sa denied Sadio Mane late on.
But Origi had the final say deep into added time when he collected Salah’s pass, turned and fired in from four yards.
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