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"Conversion of Russia" Update:

Neo-Stalinism Rises in Russia

by Christopher A. Ferrara

What more will it take to get the neo-Catholic establishment to admit that its version of the “conversion” of Russia is a farce? Perhaps a recent story by Zenit.org (January 25, 2003) will do the trick. The story, entitled “Russia Reversing Itself on Rights”, provides a handy summary of evidence that would lead any sensible person to conclude that whatever benefits the 1984 consecration of the world might have produced, the conversion of Russia promised by Our Lady of Fatima is certainly not one them. And why is this? Because God does not change His mind. If God sends His Mother to earth to call for the consecration of Russia, no compromise devised by men will ever be acceptable to Him. Hence we witness the accelerating deterioration of Russia, rather than the promised conversion.

The article begins with the observation that “Restrictions on the Catholic Church in Russia are ‘a cause of great suffering’ for John Paul II. These words came in his Jan. 13 address to the diplomatic corps when he spoke of the difficulties facing Catholics in Russia, who ‘for months now have seen some of their pastors prevented from returning to them for administrative reasons’.” Notice the words “cause of great suffering for John Paul II” — as in “the Holy Father will have much to suffer” if the consecration is not done, to recall the words of Our Lady of Fatima.

And then this: “John Paul II concluded his frank remarks by saying: ‘Russian Catholics wish to live as their brethren do in the rest of the world, enjoying the same freedom and the same dignity’.” So, nearly 19 years after the non-consecration of Russia, the Pope is now reduced to expressing the hope that in Russia the Catholic Church will be granted the same “freedom and dignity” it has in the rest of the world. That is, the rest of the world accords more freedom to the Catholic Church than Russia. Yet the neo-Catholic establishment persists in its inane contention that Russia has undergone a “miraculous” transformation since 1984.

The article goes on to note: “The short-term prospects for the Church don’t look good. In fact, the evolution of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin is showing an increasing tendency to disregard basic human rights and democratic liberties.” No kidding! We’ve been pointing this out here at the Fatima Center and fatima.org for the past 19 years.

Zenit’s article also details Putin’s systematic muzzling of Russia’s “free” press: “Along with widespread restrictions on the freedom of religion, the media have been progressively muzzled. The latest move, reported Jan. 20 by the Wall Street Journal, came with the sacking of American financier Boris Jordan, who had been chief executive of Gazprom-Media…. Jordan’s position had been in doubt since President Putin publicly criticized NTV for its coverage of October’s hostage crisis, when Chechen gunmen seized 800 people in a Moscow theater, the Journal said. Up until recently NTV had been an independent station. Then, shortly after Putin came to power in 2000, its previous owner, media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky, was detained briefly on fraud charges. In April 2001 the state-run Gazprom seized control of NTV and Gusinsky’s other media holdings.”

Furthermore, as Zenit notes, “When Gazprom took over the media group Media-MOST from Gusinsky, it not only obtained control of NTV. It also closed the newspaper Sevodnya, fired the staff of the weekly Itogi, and took over Ekho Moskvy radio, the last independent outlet of Media-MOST.”

The Zenit piece (citing The Economist) also points out that “The government has also muzzled other independent media sources, The Economist reported in its Jan. 11 issue. Boris Berezovsky, who along with Gusinsky is now in exile, lost his two TV stations, ORT and TV-6. The former, according to The Economist, is now ‘a state pet’, while the latter was closed down a year ago.” What is more, according to The Economist, Russia has enacted “numerous laws that restrict press freedom. Among them is a ban on the press from campaigning for or against candidates. But the law does not make it clear exactly what comes under the ban, thereby leaving the media vulnerable to government action if the authorities take a dislike to coverage. As well, broadcast licenses can be revoked after two official warnings. And raids by the FSB (the internal security service) or tax police are also common forms of pressure, noted the magazine.”

But it doesn’t end with persecution of the Catholic Church and suppression of the free press. Now Russia is acting to expel any foreign presence that might run counter to the program of the Putin regime. Zenit cites a report in The New York Times that “Russian authorities refused to allow Irene Stevenson, an American labor activist, to re-enter the country after a Christmas holiday visit home. She had lived and worked in Russia since 1989. It seems that the government was not pleased with the organization Stevenson directed. The American Center for Labor Solidarity, which provided educational programs and legal advice for Russia’s unions, had recently counseled the air-traffic controllers union as it threatened to strike.” The Putin regime has also expelled the entire contingent of the Peace Corps (30 volunteers in all) because it was working under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been critical of Putin’s handling of the conflict in Chechnya.

Particularly telling is the case of Jennifer Sutton May, who has lived in Russia since 1974. Zenit notes that May, who is one of the four leaders of the group Baikal Environmental Wave, “was visited by local FSB officers. They seized a number of computers and a list of foreign volunteers and contacts. A little later her flat was burgled and her car stolen.” According to Zenit, the London newspaper The Guardian “said that this was only the last of many official actions taken by Russian security services, in an attempt to hamper the work of ecologists. In December 2001 Grigory Pasko, a military journalist who revealed illegal nuclear waste dumping by the navy, was sentenced to four years hard labor for treason.” Convicted of treason for writing a news story!

In short, we are witnessing the rise of neo-Stalinism in Russia. Yet again the Russian regime has appeared to open the door to liberalization and democracy, only to slam the door shut in the faces of gullible Western leaders — including, this time, leaders of neo-Catholic opinion within the Catholic Church. And now the Pope himself publicly pleads with Russia to be less hostile to the Church than the rest of the world! Such are the fruits of the neo-Catholic revision of the Message of Fatima.