In 1986, Russian émigré writer Eduard Topol published a novel, Red Snow, in which he described how Moscow’s oppression of the Nentsy, one of the numerically small peoples of the North – this nation numbers approximately 45,000 — led some members of that nation to challenge Soviet power.
Now more than 30 years later, life is imitating art at least in the overheated imaginations of some Russian Orthodox and nationalist activists who say that Western Protestant missionaries are seeking to use Nenets shamans to spark a Maidan and detach the Russian North from Moscow’s rule (beregrus.ru/?p=9337 and pravoslavie-nord.ru/2007/1/16439).
The Bereg Rus portal, a Russian Orthodox and nationalist outlet in the Far East, reports on this in breathless tones: “The world community,” it says, is constantly trying to detach from Russia its territories in order to establish its own sodomite anti-order,” and it continues: “the most effective weapon in this regard is an anti-Russian ethno-cultural policy.”
“While in liberal academic circles false notions about various kinds of nations – from civic to political – continue to circulate, our geopolitical opponents confidently are rooting themselves in strategically important territories.” News from Arkhangelsk is clear evidence of this danger, the portal continues.
According to its authors, a conference in Arkhangelsk at the end of April by the Barents Secretariat, a body which they point out is “only partially controlled by the Russian Federation, featured speakers who repeatedly said that “there is no grater evil for civil rights, numerically small peoples and confessions than the Russian Orthodox Church.”
That is because, the speakers said, the local bishop since 2011 has conducted a massive and “aggressive” missionary effort to prompt members of local nations like the Nentsy to turn away from their traditional shamanist faiths and become members of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“Is Nenets shamanism a religious basis for extremism and separatism?” the portal asks, Unfortunately, it may be becoming so not because of the actions of the Russian church but rather because of missionary activity by Evangelical Protestants linked to and supported by Western governments.
These missionaries have promoted the idea about the Nentsy and other Northern peoples that “American sectarians are their friends, but the Russian bishop is their persecutor.” And from such attitudes to a Maidan and secession from Russia is only a small step.
“One must say,” the portal continues, “that at the beginning of the 20th century, the charismatic movement played on the territory of historic Russia the same role that Quakers and independents played in mid-17th century English. The social essence of their religious teaching is revolution.” And they played a similar role in Ukraine only a few years ago.
“Charismatics and other sectarians,” Bereg Rus continues, “became the worldview nucleus of the first and second Ukrainian Maidans.” And now this forces Russians to ask whether a similar scenario is possible in the Russian Arctic. That may seem absurd now but no more absurd than the Maidan appeared before it happened.
And just as the West wanted to pull Ukraine away from Russia so too it wants to take control of Russia’s northern territories in order to ensure that the West and not Moscow is in control of the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia. And consequently, the portal says, the West is using exactly the same technique in the north.
No one inside Russia needs “a new Yamal uprising or a new ‘Mandalala.’ But there are people in the West who do and who are quite prepared to use Evangelical Protestants to link up with shamans in order to bring one off. Russians must be vigilant agains this threat, Bereg Rus suggests.