Russia’s most radical presidential hopeful could spell disaster for religious freedom in former USSR
KIEV, Ukraine – The following interview was given to Hanuu Haukka, a Finnish missionary, in 1993. The interview originally appeared in a Christian newspaper in the former USSR called Predvestnik (or The Forerunner) located in Kiev, Ukraine. Alexei Salapatov, editor of Predvestnik, recently visited the Christian Coalition officers meeting in Brevard County. Alexei translated this interview for into English for publication in America. Evangelical Christians in America are concerned that strong support of Vladimir Zhirinovsky presents a serious danger for the freedom of religion. In this interview, Zhirinovsky expresses his point of view on religion in Russia.
Q.: – In the fall of 1993, there were attempts to limit or even stop work of foreign Christian missions?
V.Z.: – I support this. We’ll surely stop the work of all western Christian and eastern religions, and also Islam. Russia is an Eastern Orthodox country. We don’t need this religious cosmopolitanism. It’s no good. The Eastern Orthodox Church was in the foundation of Russia. It has united the nations of Russia. I’m an adherent of this. I demanded this [restrictions to Protestants]. We’ll limit in all ways the work of religious faiths which are foreign to us.
Q.: – What would be the role of the church in the state where you would be president?
V.Z.: – In my book, The Ride to the South, I wrote that my will is for the bells of the Russian Orthodox Church to ring from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. That is a chime which will bring peace for the heart and unite the state in strength.
Q.: – Will this be a threat to the Protestant Church?
V.Z.: – To what?… No, I’m not against Christian churches. I mean, in general, the danger is from Oriental faiths and Islam. And, for instance, Baptists, Adventists, Lutherans, Pentecostals – let them exist on line with others. I’m against the capturing of Eastern Orthodox temples [by other denominations]. Let Catholics build their own churches and works. I believe in full freedom for Christians of all denominations. The only thing I oppose is persecuting of Eastern Orthodox priests and temples. There is no problem with the opening of new houses of prayer for Lutherans and Pentecostals. As to Christian denominations, there should be total freedom. But do not seize Eastern Orthodox temples, I mean.
Q.: – People say you are against Jews …
V.Z.: – They behave very badly here in Russia. They attempt to destroy Russia. They are nice everywhere except in Russia. They are aggressive, cruel and, finally, they hate everything that is Russian.
Q.:- Americans are very religious and they have their own point of view on everything. What kind of relationship will you be seeking with the USA when you are president?
V.Z.: – Normal relations. Calm and equal ones. But we are against America’s pretensions to prevail in those areas of the world which are traditionally related to us: Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, the southern countries bordering Russia – Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey. That’s all. We do not pretend to have influence in Asia. You have China, Japan and India – no problem. You’ve got the American continent – no problem. We are not opponents to your intruding into Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Africa – we don’t care about them. We do care about our neighbors: Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Japan. They are our neighbors, ten countries. We’d like to have influence there and a normal, calm situation, including religious freedom.
Q.: – Some people think that you are possessed…
V.Z.: – Well, you know, some people need to be – those who try to lead those who got lost, those who stopped believing, those who have been intoxicated by the latest ideological teachings. So I think there must be a certain type of being possessed. Otherwise, you couldn’t lead those people, it wouldn’t be possible to take them out from the abyss where they find themselves now. Therefore, it’s probably needed. Otherwise, nothing else can be done…