ANALYTICS

A triple blow to symbolic places on Trinity Sunday: Crimea, Dagestan, Abkhazia...

24.06.24 20:48


Hardly anyone doubts that, despite the widespread increase in the number of religiously indifferent people practically all over the world, the future global conflict or World War III will have a "religious" basis. Therefore, on the eve of such a global catastrophe, the "blows" will go to religious symbols and religiously symbolic places. And the role of religious leaders has increased dramatically in recent times. In the Republic of Armenia, for example, the main "moderator" of political activity and revanchism is Echmiadzin, whose functionary, Archbishop Bagrat Galstanayan, is trying to undermine the position of the current government of Nikol Pashinyan. And if the revanchists succeed in toppling the government and Armenia ends up organising a new aggression against its neighbours, there is no doubt that it will be under religious slogans.

 

Echmiadzin's long-time patron, the Vatican, has also become more active recently, gradually becoming the main "peacemaker" in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Recently, it has also become known that, at the request of Patriarch Kirill, the Ukrainian authorities, through Pope Francis, pardoned Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin and Bratslav, who had been sentenced to five years in prison. The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that Metropolitan Jonathan was a consistent opponent of strengthening the role of the Vatican in Ukraine and of ecumenism, of which the Pope is known to be the conductor. And the persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, especially of such "irreconcilable ideological clergy" as Metropolitan Jonathan, is, according to experts, "at the behest" of the Vatican. That is to say, the Pope first did everything he could to have the Orthodox Metropolitan condemned, and then obtained a showy "pardon" for his "enemy".

 

The situation in Armenia is almost the same: the Vatican influences the Pashinyan government through France and the United States, and the opposition through Echmiadzin. Therefore, as in a "controlled reactor,"  the most catastrophic political processes can be "launched" at any moment.

 

Therefore, what was done and where on the Orthodox feast of the Holy Trinity or Pentecost makes us think about which regions can be "set on fire" shortly. Or "light a bigger fire" where there is already war.

 

It all started with the tragedy in the occupied Ukrainian Crimea, where, according to the Ukrainian version, a Russian anti-aircraft missile exploded over a beach in Sevastopol, and according to the Russian version, a Ukrainian missile hit a gathering of people. As a result, 5 people were killed, including the 9-year-old daughter of the deputy mayor of Magadan, and more than 120 people were injured.

 

Crimea and Sevastopol are, in many ways, "symbolic" and sacred places for both Ukraine and Russia. In Russia, the " sacredness " of Crimea is also underlined by the fact that it was from Chersonese (Sevastopol district) that the baptism of Russia began (Prince Vladimir of Kyiv was baptised there). But Crimea is also important for Muslims (the memory of the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate) and for Jews (as a historical part of the Khazar Khanate).

 

No sooner had Russian propaganda launched a new campaign of hate against Ukraine, with calls for 'retaliation', than new attacks followed. In Dagestan too, in the ancient city of Derbent and Makhachkala, on "sacred" territory.

 

Dagestan is known not only for its long Muslim resistance to the Russian Empire (during the time of Imam Shamil), but also for being part of the same Khazar Khaganate. In addition, Derbent was once the residence of the Catholicos of the oldest Christian church in Caucasian Albania.

 

On 23 June 2024, almost simultaneously, at 19:30 local time, terrorists set fire to a synagogue and carried out armed attacks on Orthodox churches and a police station in Makhachkala and Derbent. In Derbent, 66-year-old Archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov, who had served at the Church of the Intercession in Derbent for over 40 years, was killed.  Derbent is a symbol of the peaceful coexistence of different religions in Dagestan. In the centre of Derbent there is a monument dedicated to the brotherhood of three religions: Judaism, Orthodoxy and Islam, which includes the figures of a rabbi, an Orthodox priest and a mullah, each of whom had their real-life prototype. The priest at the centre of the composition was Archpriest Nikolai Kotelnikov. In addition, Nikolai Kotelnikov was for several years the clergyman of the Baku diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, and thus also the "spiritual heir" of the oldest Orthodox Church of Caucasian Albania.

 

Here it is not superfluous to remember who was and is against the historical truth about Christian Caucasian Albania-Echmiadzin and the Armenian extremists. And with the murder of Father Nikolai Kotelnikov, Armenian propaganda is now using it in its traditional Islamophobic context. However, if we "dig deeper" and look for those who ordered the attack on religious symbols in Derbent, it is not excluded that it is possible to find the forces that are now fomenting religious extremism in the Republic of Armenia. Especially if we take into account that Dagestan is a republic that is close to Azerbaijan not only territorially, but also historically, ethnically (a significant part of the population of Derbent is Azerbaijani) and spiritually. Perhaps destabilisation aims to prevent trade and transport arteries and the north-south corridor from passing through Dagestan and Azerbaijan.

 

At the same time as the attack on the Orthodox churches in Dagestan, a synagogue in Derbent was set on fire and a police post near the synagogue in Makhachkala was attacked. It should be remembered that it was Dagestan that was the "epicentre" of anti-Zionist sentiment in the Russian Federation during the outbreak of the war in the Gaza Strip.

 

Finally, the third "significant place" where there was an exchange of fire and one person was killed on 23 June 2024 was occupied by Georgian Abkhazia. Officially, the incident was written off as a "local dispute". This may have been the case, but it should be noted that there is now a trend towards a settlement of Russian-Georgian relations, which is impossible without the de-occupation of Abkhazia and the return of the refugees. The Armenian lobby is categorically opposed to this. The reason for this is the "maritime Armenia" project on the territory of Abkhazia. With the aggravation of the geopolitical situation in the world, there is a growing risk that this occupied region of Georgia will want to "set fire" to prevent its de-occupation and start reconciliation.

 

Grigol Giorgadze

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