ST: Finally, this is something I have asked others and never got a satisfactory answer. Why is the Russian intelligentsia so fascinated with the West and why does it still have this inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West which we could see even two hundred years ago and throughout the 19th Century?
EC: We were in isolation for seven decades and saw the evil and problems that Soviet rule has brought. And from this, came about the illusion – because a person cannot exist without hope – that wherever there’s no communism, everything is right and better. We are still dealing with this post-isolation effect, there is very little sober reasoning. People were too beaten down by communism and are recovering rather ineptly.
ST: But unfortunately, even after twenty-three years of being kicked around, this sense is still present. Will these people ever learn?
EC: I would say that the people who are still stuck in this, are more so, from my generation [born in the late 1950s and early 1960s] and a bit younger. The youth on the other hand, thinks more realistically and I am very happy to observe our young people who were raised after the collapse of the Soviet Union because they were brought up when Russian Orthodoxy rose up at least a little bit. These young people were raised in a world that became open and they can compare the negatives and positives, they do not have the pious admiration [for all things Western and foreign] that is so typical for my generation. I have great hopes for the post-communist generation of Russians.
ST: So, in a funny way, the generations that grew up under the Soviet Union were better equipped to preserve the spiritual legacy of Old Russia than those growing up in the consumerist, information society?
EC: I would say that everything depends on one’s family. I am the granddaughter of a man who was murdered by the Bolsheviks. In our family, there was nothing communistic, not during the Soviet Union and obviously not after. I was not even a member of the Komsomol [communist youth organization]. We had a family of scientists who distanced themselves from Soviet power. Every representative of a White (anti-Bolshevik) family has a great responsibility to educate Russian society and to make sure the ties between the generations will not be lost. This is extremely important and it definitely works.
I had a stunning experience in Yekaterinburg [where Nicholas II and his family were shot by the Bolsheviks]. When we were marking the 400th jubilee of the House of Romanov and I was invited to one of the commemoration events, a young priest approached me. He brought me my book about the White forces that was written when I was very young during Soviet rule. I could have been imprisoned for writing that book. Now, this book is in its fourth or fifth edition.
The young priest asked me to inscribe the book for him and said: “You know, I am from a Red family, my great-grandfathers were commissars. So, when I chose to become a priest, it was to atone for their sins”. This was a moment of great truth for me. I said to the young priest: “Father, please pray for God’s servant Konstantin [Elena Chudinova’s grandfather who was murdered by the Bolsheviks -EG]”. The fact that I could tell this to a descendant of the Reds means that truth grows and breaks through in our society.