Why Is It All the Russians’ Fault. Part 1

Archpriest Andrei Tkachev answers questions for a Serbian TV channel

This is an interview from January 5, 2022, before Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, which began February 24. Fr. Andrei Tkachev is from Lvov in western Ukraine, and was serving as the priest of a church in Kiev during the Maidan revolution, and therefore he is qualified to speak about events in Ukraine. Fr. Andrei did not support the violent revolution that resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and his and his family’s lives were threatened because of his outspoken stance. He now serves in Moscow.

Archpriest Andrei Tkachev Archpriest Andrei Tkachev     

Father Andrei, thank you for agreeing to speak with Serbian Sputnik. You are well known here and in Serbia, ten or more of your published books have been translated to Serbian, not sure how many you had published in Russian—probably a lot more. Well, the last time we saw each other was in Serbia; sadly, the pandemic has transformed our lives in so many ways. We live in challenging times, when people lose faith, feel lonely and isolated, there is such an awful division among us, and then our values... We are losing them, they are simply crumbling before our eyes. Tell me where we should find strength again.

—Over the last decade, we witnessed how this ideology of mindless comfort has taken hold of us. Everything, absolutely everything is allowed. Then, suddenly, it has given way to an era of mind-numbing fear for your own life. In fact, the rotten insides of a modern man have been exposed, as if pried open with a can opener. It turns out a modern man never prays or barely prays, and hardly ever places his hopes in God; he is so worried about himself, willing to give up all his rights and freedoms for his life to last longer, say, for a few more years. It was a lesson, a slap in the face, if you will, that puts all of us belonging to European civilization back in our place. There is always only one way out, no matter how many troubles we encountered—to be close to Him, our Creator, as everything is in His hand. All of it is like in the book of the Prophet Habakkuk who speaks of God, plague went before him, in other words, truly terrifying things… and pestilence followed his steps, that is, a drought or a disease or something else—all of it has to do with God. Modern man doesn’t do this, he doesn’t connect his life’s events—such as snow, ice, drought, rain, or disease—with God. Rather he explains it away (as some) other driving forces behind all of it. In fact, everything in life begins, so to speak, and connects with moral law and our attitude with God. So, come back, prodigal children! It means that in any troubles God is saying: Come back to me. You can’t do anything without Me. You are a cowardly, weak, lonely, and miserable man. That is, if you’ve forgotten about it, I’ll send you a reminder. That is, man should return to God in repentance, gratitude, prayer, and having a desire to change. If we are to return to normal life, it should be a better life. Not the one we had before—partying, clubs, restaurants, drinking, having fun, leading a carefree lifestyle. There should be no place for that lifestyle anymore. If we return back to normal, we should somewhat change for the better.

Is this some kind of a warning? I remember how you told me in an interview two years ago that the end of the world could be closer than we thought.

—Of course. It can happen overnight. Since the exact timing is hidden from us, we have to be ready, as it can happen instantly. We should have the fear of God. Without question, it is aimed to achieve only one great providential goal—to teach man to fear God. Whatever it is going to be, no matter what happens... And mankind has witnessed far more brutal things. There were times when the corpses would lay unburied, as there were so many dead people that they were littering the streets like bird droppings. And at that time, the people would come to faith, repent and help one another; they’d get their act together, never giving in to despair. So, judging from the times of trouble we had before, it’s obvious how much weaker we have become since then.

So, it is a sort of war, right? Besides this pandemic, the Russian people (are facing) countless challenges. A strange time has come because the Russians are getting blamed for almost everything, almost like during the Soviet times; it’s even their fault that the wind is blowing. They are portrayed as sinister and dreadful people...

—In the eyes of the society.

In the eyes of Western society. Russians are always seen in a bad light. What happened? Why is it so? How can it be explained? Because we know—a Russian man, as well as Russia, is the harbinger of Orthodoxy and a bearer of spirituality; that’s how it has always been.

—The Russian nation in its present capacity, and hopefully, ever more so in the future, is a living reproach for the modern West because we have regained what we once lost while they lost what they once had. Then, let’s say, in the 1960s or even 1950s, or before the era of “The Beatles,” so to speak, the USA was a truly devout Christian country. That is, today’s LGBT, BLM, and all the transgender movements, all these changes in social norms regarding sexuality were simply unthinkable back then. It was a puritan, pious country, everyone was at church on Sundays, everyone read the Bible, and so forth. Then, the time came when they lost it all in an instant. I mean, Europe was actually a pioneer of godlessness; as for America—it also sort of faltered and began to crumble from within.

Meanwhile we did an about-face switching from being the Reds and the Soviets to start a new era, and no matter how hard or slow—we did return to the God of our fathers. That’s why we are a living reproach to them because we are trying to protect everything that lay at the root of the Western civilization and gave it power. That is why we are their ideological enemies. Moreover, Russia holds an enormous potential of mineral wealth and vast territory it never actually conquered but rather spread its soft power across, in most cases. So, our potential wealth, plus our return to biblical values, makes us enemies of Western man, as that man is an expansionist. Look at Europe, how small it is. Look at the world map and how much the Europeans owned there. Portugal, say, owned half of Africa, and England had half of the world in possession. This little Europe—it’s truly expansionist; in fact, their character is one of an invader, like Japheth who wished to own the world. So, their character hasn’t changed and they will always view us as an obstacle and an ideological enemy. For this purpose, the power of informational weapons is “on” at its full capacity to denigrate the image of Russia and present us as some kind of world villain and so on. But that’s not who we are. We maybe wish we were the ones, or we sometimes want to play a stronger game and act with greater force, but we aren’t like that. We are kinder and gentler than we are portrayed. This is what the ideological and spiritual hostility is about. There is a spiritual and ideological enmity towards Russia. It isn’t going to end.

This so-called gentle manner; is this what really brings the Russian man to victory? Because he doesn’t retaliate?

—The Holy Hierarch Nikolai of Serbia (Velimirovich) used to say that Christ’s Beatitudes, such as blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, and he knew Russia very well having visited it more than once. He said—look at the Russian people, you won’t find a more gentle nation anywhere else in the world. Look at a Russian peasant or a Russian woman—they are the gentlest people in the world. So they, the meek, shall inherit the earth. That’s why they own the biggest territory on earth, I mean, on the planet. That is, the meek do inherit the earth. Not the strongest who will inherit the earth but the meek. Those who are strong and powerful will come and make some noise only to disappear later, whereas the meek will stay to live long ever after. So it’s true that the Russian man is powerful in his gentleness, endurance, and long-suffering. Bismarck, who also lived here for a long time, warned his fellow countrymen that it was hard to fight Russia because its people can live on a shoestring. They can make do with so little and endure hardship for a long time. It’s not enough to kill a Russian soldier, but you have to still strike him down to the ground because he will keep standing even if he is dead already. So, the Russians do retain a certain potential threat to the West, and we simply have to accept it: Our enemy will not calm down. As the same prophet Habakkuk writes, Because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man… and cannot be satisfied.

Aftermath of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Aftermath of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.     

In this, of course, there is a great resemblance to the Serbian people; because, at one time, the West also considered us the “bad guys” and perhaps still does.1 All they saw was: the Serbs are bad; they had viewed us as at fault before and, unfortunately, they still do today, as we can sadly see how they consider us the “destabilizing factor”. I get the impression that the Russian people are repeating the fate of the Serbian people, or perhaps vice versa, in a tangle of circumstances.

—Yes. We saw our history repeat itself as we equally share a great psychological resemblance and equal historical destiny [with the Serbs]. The same Holy Hierarch Nikolai (Velimirovich), when he heard of Tsar Nicholas’s murder along with his family, his wife and the children, said: “Here is our new Prince Lazar, and here is our new Kosovo.” That is, both the Serbs and the Russians know that you can lose yet win. You can win but lose. And, of course, in Europe, the Serbs are viewed, as I understand, as brothers of the Russians; so they see you in us, and us in you. That’s why you’ll be treated just like us. I see it in Western churches. For example, only Romanians go to Romanian churches, for the most part; or, for example, there are only Bulgarians in Bulgarian churches and Greeks in Greek churches.2 But everyone goes to the Russian churches, including the Serbs, of course. Everyone also goes to Serbian churches, including the Russians.

I know there’s a choir in the Serbian church in Chicago where the Russians also sing.

— New Gracanica, that one?


—Oh yes, it is under Vladyka Longin. He is a very good man and it’s a very good monastery. Overall, we share a similar destiny and our national characters are very much alike. That’s how Prince Lazar received a message from an angel on Kosovo Field that his people will keep faith forever and will be Orthodox till the end of times. Apparently, the Russian people will also face the same destiny and therefore we will be treated the same way.

This suffering of the Russian and the Serbian people—it is what brings them together, through our cross-bearing history.

—Yes, bearing the cross through the centuries. As they say, the people of Serbia bear their cross through the centuries; and likewise, the Russian people are cross-bearers as well.

We can draw a lot of parallels between our peoples. One of them would be that the Ukrainians in Ukraine are called to repeat the scenario played out in Serbia and Croatia during Operation Storm. They are simply repeating it in Ukraine. What do you think—is it possible?

—You mean the operation in Serbian Krajina?3 The ethnic cleansing unequaled to anything else that took place in Europe since the end of the Second World War? It can only be compared to acts of the Croatian Ustaše or Hitler’s concentration camps, as it was an ethnic cleansing of a huge number of people. [This applies to] the Ukrainian authorities of today, not the people, no. The Ukrainian people are divided into factions, whereas the country’s authorities in power are Nazified. Of course, they enjoy the idea of lightning-fast mass extermination of a large number of people and a clearing of the territory “down-to-nothing.” But the thing is they can’t do it. In this case, it won’t work that way.

The Russian-speaking population, the Russians in Ukraine also stand strong in spirit.

—The people of Donbass are strong, very powerful people. They’re of a special mold. Anyway, the cards we’ve been dealt aren’t the same as before. I mean, these thugs aren’t going to make it. That’s just how it is.

Part 2

1 This is a reference to the Kosovo war of 1998–1999, which ended with the NATO bombing of Serbia in June, 1999. The bombing resulted in up to 528 civilian casualties, and NATO deployed depleted uranium ammunition that left an enduring radioactivity contamination in Serbia.—OC.

2 Of course, this doesn’t necessary apply in the US, for example.—OC.

3 Known as “Operation Storm”, the final battle for Croatian independence during which the Croatians carried out an ethnic cleansing of the Serbian villages of Serbian Krajina.

Marc Bradley12/29/2023 6:49 pm
JJ: Here are are some facts that back up your statement that Russian religious adherence is similar to the West. https://www.levada.ru/en/2020/03/19/attitudes-to-religion/. In 2020, 3% of Russians who identify as Orthodox planned to fully fast during all of Lent (see the table about 3/4 from the top). The faithful of both East and West should pray for one another.
Panagiotis4/29/2022 5:10 am
To Orthodox Brothers Oliver, Afanassy, and Utrecht: All three of you have made valid points and God Bless You. The Antichrist or false Messiah will indeed be an internationalist, and that is why there has been a movement for many decades now to destroy National sovereignty, patriotism, borders, nationalism, etc. At the same time they are attempting to destroy the Christian Faith and the Islamic Faith in order to weaken the people so they will accept this false Messiah. They are pushing sodomite marriage, abortion, transgenderism, legalization of drugs, etc. Put the pieces of the puzzle together and use the brain that Almighty God gave to you! It is the no good liberals who are behind this. The same sinister ones who used communism as a tool to decapitate the Orthodox Monarchies and try to destroy our Orthodox Faith ...... . One has to be very careful about believing everything that Western news media, Western educational institutions, Western entertainment industry, etc say about our people, our Faith, and about Orthodox Nations. Do you ever hear them mention the Holocaust of tens of millions of Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, etc? When are people going to wake up? ...... .. Just my humble opinion.
Utrecht4/4/2022 12:58 am
Blessed Elder Athanasios, homily, 13a mixed marriages and love your countrymen ~45:00. "...a phemomena of internationalist. But it is common knowledge that this unification of the entire world - the elimination of national boundaries will be the work of the antichrist. Gods will is for different people to live in different countries. God wants boundaries as we will see very shortly. Yes, all people are descendants of Adam and Eve - who lived many hundreds of years and gave birth to many sons and daughters. But God also created the family unit - and the family unit must have boundaries. A number of people - members of the same family, live in one house with doors and keys. There are boundaries. Here, only the members of the household can go in and out of the house freely; the father, the mother, the children of the house. They have their own identities in the family unit, and their roles. So there are boundaries in the family unit. There are limitations and rules that keep this very small family unit viable. The husband will only have one wife, and vice versa. The parents will be the parents, and the children will have rules. They will not use the house like a motel, no - a family unit has its boundaries. Now if these boundaries become eliminated, and strangers come in and out and the house is used as a hotel by the estranged husband and wife and children, then the family unti will soon self-destruct. In the same way, our country serves as the macro-family. Our extended family. And God wants each country to have its own boundaries."
Afanassy3/31/2022 8:37 am
Mary - - - You said, "Also we need to pay attention to the fact that communism and world wars were mainly propagated and began in predominantly Orthodox churches. That’s very troubling." Where in the world did you ever get this "information"? Neither WWI not WWII had anything to do with Orthodox churches. The first was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand (and his wife) of Austria by a Bosnian nationalist; the second was initiated by Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland. What is "very troubling" is that your assertion is unfounded. Please furnish references to support your claim. ================================
Mary3/22/2022 8:09 pm
Dionysius, That’s the off putting and downfall Of the Orthodox churches, unfortunately. Also we need to pay attention to the fact that communism and world wars were mainly propagated and began in predominantly Orthodox churches. That’s very troubling.But the people responsible for all this nationalistic junk don’t care what you or I think. As long as converts pay their dues to the mother country that all that counts. The We’re tolerated unless we steep ourselves in the mother country culture and disavow our own country and culture like Fr. Seraphim Rose did. Truth.
Oliver3/19/2022 4:45 am
Every nation has it's sinners, Serbian nation is not worshiping land or blood, Serbians defending their land, faith, Church, country,etc, with their blood. Serbians never invaded no one. Some of you are listening only propaganda against Serbians and helping occupiers of Serbia while so called democratic nations giving terrorists parts of Serbian country. It is sad, Serbians suffered so much for centuries, God will revenge.
Afanassy3/18/2022 5:28 am
Fr Andrei said, "The Russian nation in its present capacity, and hopefully, ever more so in the future, is a living reproach for the modern West because we have regained what we once lost while they lost what they once had." I realize that Fr Andrei did first zero in on a moral and religious resurgence as a causative factor. But Russia has been treated with suspicion leading to mistrust for >900 years. And that mistrust has led to invasion by Mongols, Swedes, Teutonic Knights, Tatars, Finns, Danes, Germans, French, and Nazis. It's almost as though the world needed to make sure that Russians were punished or conquered for their perceived misdeeds. What were those misdeeds? ANS: Simply being different, --- in culture, religion, societal norms, language, and other factors. They were also perceived as more primitive in their legal system, government, courtesies, and etiquette. They were suspected of having brutal punishments and a bad temper, -- merely an assembly of unworthy tribes who were liars and thieves. So, why not blame them for everything? If anything on this planet goes wrong, it must somehow have come from these delinquent Russians. Besides, their country is big. And nobody could get THAT big fairly..... =====================================
Dionysius Redington3/18/2022 4:34 am
Every nation is good and every nation is evil. Britain is Logres and Albion, as C. S. Lewis remarked somewhere. Fr. Daniel Sisoyev said that we should not be Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc. but 'Ouranopolitan', citizens of Heaven. Unfortunately, the leaders of world Orthodoxy seem to remain mired in nationalism/phyletism, with very few exceptions. --Dionysius Redington
Mary3/18/2022 1:59 am
Why do you bring up BLM without discussing why it exists?That’s just typical racism. Why am I surprised at all? It’s Orthochristian.He needs to stick to what he knows and not talk about what goes on in other countries unless he truly knows his stuff. Stick to Russia. What is no mention made of the neo-
JJ3/17/2022 11:51 pm
Nobody was blaming the Russian people in the late 20th century or early 21st century. Russia had favoured status after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many aspects of their culture were / are admired - the literature, the ballet, the music. In the 90s many European nations sent food relief, because of food shortages in the country (because they valued Russia and its people); just as the USA did during Stalins induced starvation. The Russian people were not seen as an enemy. The Russian nation is not a living reproach to the West - "we did return to the God of our father" - barely 5% of Russians attend church regularly, although the majority might claim to be Orthodox. Church attendance / adherence in Russia is at a similar level to that of the West. Why get into this mind set / mentality - this mythology of "A Russia pitted against the rest of the world by its sombre destiny". (Andrei Makine). This mythology of destiny, of being set apart - it is time to stop propagating this mythology.
Justina3/17/2022 7:24 pm
While there are many holy Serbian people as individuals, mostly they are worshipping their land and blood not Christ. Their iconography some of it even looks odd. We hear from thens of things like Krajina, but ignore the ethnic cleansing inclduing more rapes and massacres and girls forced into prostitution than the other two contenders in the Bosnian horror.When I researched this I made a point of relying as much as possible on Serbian sources, individuals who told what went on. Not just the Croatian account.
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