Sergei Chapnin, chief editor of the religious Russian Press service "Metafrasis", writes about the increasing militant activities of Satanism in Russia and Beloruss
Spontaneous incidents of "spiritual" propaganda in Russia at the end of the eighties were obviously a consequence of the fact that the Communist Party lost its ideological monopoly. But coinciding with the rebirth of traditional religion - first and foremost the Orthodox Russian Church - the general whim of fashion led to a stormy growth of sects and Occult groups. It was characteristic that people going to a sect made the decision "with or without Christ." Manifest anti-Christian sects could not count on progress at that time.
Worship of Satan and obvious services to the powers of darkness seemed insane even to non-religious people. But within five years the situation changed dramatically, and in the middle of the nineties in the former Soviet a sudden change occurred in the activities of the Satanic groups. Quite undisguised the Satanists appeared in the former Soviet areas. Profanation of Christian sacred things, anonymous threatening calls to the addresses of the clergy, blasphemous publications in the press - all of this has happened several times recently. Here we are going to mention only a few cases.
In October 1995 Satanists burnt the Church of the Holy Aphanasij in the area of Brest. The inquiry disclosed that the fire raising had a ritual character. The suspects were students from the technical college and pupils from the tenth class. In the same town a group of young people was arrested which is occupied with the production and the distribution of pamphlets with anti-Christian content and Satanic symbolism.
In March 1996 a Satanist was arrested in Minsk. He had committed a ritual murder. The prisoner did not deny his guilt and admitted that he had prepared himself during many years by killing cats. When the number of "executed" animals reached the number "666", the Satanist killed a human being "in the name of his master." The Ministry of the Interior admitted reluctantly that it was the second case of ritual murder. It was reported that a law was prepared in Beloruss, banning Satanic organizations.
One of the most serious incidents was the profanation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Minsk. The night between the 23rd and the 24th of July 1996 the icons of the Holy Trinity, of the Holy John the Forerunner and of the Holy Cyril and Methodios were smeared with black colour. The walls were painted over with blasphemous writings with direct threats to physical annihilation of Christians, and Satanic symbolism. The Belorussian police very quickly accused two citizens from the republic. They appeared to be students from the local technical school. During the interrogation one of them openly admitted being a member of a Satanic sect and that he acted "based on his religious conviction."
Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk and Beloruss gives the following remark in his declaration that "the clash between people on the way towards witchcraft, sorcery, magic and Occultism is due not alone to the negligence of the civil authorities", - but also because far from all Christians bear testimony to their faith in their own lives.
The activities of the Satanists have been noticed in northern Russia in St. Petersburg. At a place where a church for disabled persons was build, a cross was twice cut to firewood. The first time a big bone from an animal was put at the place of the altar. Later one of the cemeteries of the town was desecrated.
In the Southern part of Russia, in Stavropol, somebody tried to burn a two meter high cross at a county hospital. The cross was consecrated by Patriarch Alexis II two years earlier and was erected by the staff of the hospital. The hospital chaplain considers the attempt to burn the cross to be "a sinful boyish trick."
These examples on profanation remind us about the tragedy that occurred in 1993 at Optina Pustina, one of the most famous monasteries in Russia. At Easter time that year two monks, Ferafont and Trofim, and the archmonk Vasilij were killed by a knife i with the mark "666". After the arrest the Satanist declared: "There is a war going on between God and Satan; the monks are the soldiers of God and especially hostile towards Satan. Therefore I killed them." In the charge the tragedy was classified as ritual murder.
But as a rule the investigators prefer to assume other motives - money, power and mental insanity - if a positive religious motive is not obvious.
Besides the authorities turning a blind eye to facts, Satanism enjoys sympathy in the mass media. Open propaganda for Satanism is not advanced, but information about the crimes of the Satanists is passed on sympathetically. Thus "Moscowskii Komsomolets" recounts about the ritual objects of the Satanists and about human remains found in the drains of Moscow. In the news broadcast the national Channel 2 quite neutrally told this story and in the same block to perfection they brought a sympathetic interview with the leader of one of the Satanic groups.
Simultaneously the Ministry of the Interior tells that there are about 30 organized Satanic groups in Moscow with estimated 2,000 members.
There is every reason to believe that both the press and the agency of the Ministry of the Interior are silent about a great many things.
Satanism is a militant, anti-Christian movement. The main enemy is the Christians and above all the Russian Orthodox Church. The open hostility, which the Satanists show against the Christian Church, points at that fact.
As it can be seen from the summary of the crimes and the description of the vandalism - as a rule it is youngsters which commit the crimes. Their knowledge of Satanism comes from video-film and from different trends within rock-music. Young people are just the most easily influenced. We do not have the necessary information to analyze the situation, but we are convinced that new crimes will be committed in the future.Translated from Russian by Morten Møbjerg.