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Russian Orthodox Church Slammed For Stalin Calendar


A controversial 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin published by the Russian Orthodox Church has sparked a flurry of outraged comments.

A controversial 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin published by the Russian Orthodox Church has sparked a flurry of outraged comments.

The Russian Orthodox Church is under fire for publishing a calendar devoted to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Pictures from the 2014 calendar have been making the rounds on the Internet, sparking a barrage of criticism and prompting a lively discussion on the Moscow Patriarchate's troubled ties with Stalin.

The calendar, published by the printing house of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius Monastery in Moscow, presents photos and biographical information documenting Stalin's evolution from a young seminary student in his native Georgia to the gray-haired Soviet leader.

The publishing house advertises the calendar on its website as a bestseller and "an excellent gift for veterans and history buffs."

It sells for 200 rubles ($6) online and in bookshops.

Mikhail Babkin, a noted Russian historian specialized in Russian Orthodox Church studies, fuelled the controversy on January 8 by posting photos on LiveJournal.

"The link between the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and Stalin," he wrote, "remains close to sacred."

His post has sparked a flurry of outraged comments.

"The Russian Orthodox Church has long turned into a business structure and churches into shops offering religious services," wrote one reader. "Worshippers are only considered to be sources of wealth."

"It's shameful, a disgrace and an insult against all those who died" under Stalin's rule, another one said.

Stalin had a complex relationship with the Orthodox Church.

He attended an Orthodox seminary in his youth but was expelled for reasons that remain unclear.

As Soviet leader, he oversaw a vast campaign of persecution against the Russian Orthodox Church that saw countless churches being destroyed.

After World War II broke out, however, Stalin softened his stance and allowed the Church to operate, albeit under close state scrutiny.

-- Claire Bigg

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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