Russia

New statue of Communist ‘Red Terror’ chief in Crimea sparks anger from Russian Orthodox Church over persecution of Christians

A top Russian bishop has blasted a newly-erected statue of a Bolshevik secret police boss who oversaw the Stalinist purges that shook Soviet Russia and killed and imprisoned hundreds of thousands in brutal labor camps.

Arch-priest Leonid Kalinin told listeners of the Govorit Moskva radio station on Sunday that the monument, put up in Crimea in honor of Polish revolutionary Felix Dzerzhinsky, was an insult to all those who lived through the era. Dzerzhinsky founded the Cheka, the covert organization of armed revolutionaries that later became the Soviet Union's KGB security agency, and is considered the founding father of the so-called ‘Red Terror’.

“It will be demolished by local residents, for whom the memory of those terrible events is still alive,” Kalinin said. “These were decades of hellish torment that these ‘heroes’ plunged the country into, who first brought the country to complete collapse,” he said.

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According to him, the white stone bust of Dzerzhinsky is offensive to “the memory of millions of innocent victims of terror, hunger, cold, torment, torture, prisons and labor camps.” Large numbers of Christians, including members of the clergy, were targeted by the state-atheist Soviet regime.

The statue was unveiled in Simferopol, the second largest city on the Crimean peninsula on Saturday. Officials from the FSB, which in turn succeeded the KGB, are quoted as having told local news that it was timed to celebrate his birth, and that the man nicknamed ‘Iron Felix’ “fought not only against counter-revolution, but also raised the country from devastation and poverty.”

In February, residents in Moscow were split in a referendum over plans to install a statue of Dzerzhinsky outside the FSB headquarters on Lubyanka Square. The plans were later scrapped by the mayor over the deadlock.

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