File photo of the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moskva, formerly known as the Slava. Photo Credit: George Chemilevsky, Courtesy Photo, DoD
Was ‘Moskva’ Carrying Piece Of The True Cross? – OpEd
By Paul Goble
A Western news agency is now reporting that a February 2020 TASS story said that commanders of the Black Sea Fleet planned to put what if true would be one of Christendom’s holiest relics, a piece of the true cross, on board the Moskva, the Russian warship that Ukrainian forces have just sunk in the Black Sea.
(For the original 2020 TASS report, see tass.com/society/1123855; for the revival of the story after the Moskva was sunk in current reporting, see businessinsider.com/sunk-russia-warship-may-have-carried-holy-relic-on-board-2022-4.)
Russian officials have neither confirmed nor denied this report, and it thus remains an open question whether they may have been directly or indirectly behind its appearance and whether they hoped earlier that the relic would protect the ship or now that its destruction might be used to whip up support for Moscow against Ukraine in Russia and the West?
But regardless of the answers to those questions, it raises an even more fundamental one: What did the Russian government of Vladimir Putin and Russian Church of Patriarch Kirill think they were achieving by putting such a relic on a warship rather than in a shrine to which the faithful could make pilgrimages?
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org