Bulgaria’s row with Russian Orthodoxy is about Russophobia and historical revisionism

7 1,326

The March 3rd visit and speech by Moscow’s Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to celebrate the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule was seen publicly as a sign of a growing understanding between Bulgarian President Radev’s administration and modern Russia. Bulgaria, as both a member of NATO since 2004 and the EU since 2007, has seen its relationship with Russia deteriorate as a result, particularly in light of the US imposed sanctions regime which quisling EU governments put into force on behalf of Atlanticism. After the visit, a war of words erupted, once the stark differences between Kirill’s and Radev’s public statements that day were understood for what they were. 

President Rumen Radev commented that “Patriarch Kirill came to Bulgaria as a spiritual leader but chose to leave as a politician.” According to the Bulgarian head of state, however, the important question was, ‘Who tried to turn the common celebration of the Liberation of Bulgaria into an issue of division, exploiting the crisis in Bulgarian-Russian relations?’ This is how the question was posed by Bulgarian state-run media as well as by most European news agencies.

- Advertisement -

But the Liberation of Bulgaria wasn’t a European one which leads us towards a justification of the present Bulgarian regime, rather, it was Eurasian. Nadia Bazuk weighs in to give some historical perspective that explains the details and the real story, behind this war of words. – J.Flores



By Nadia Bazuk – a freelance journalist from Ukraine with an MBA degree. Her writings have been published by ModernDiplomacy.eu, OCP Media Network, GolosPravdy.com, Union of Orthodox Journalists and others.


Russian professor, Doctor of History Sergey Perevezentsev has touched upon the hidden historical and political motive for the scandal caused by the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow’s speech at the celebration of Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman yoke.

It would appear at first glance that Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said everything right in his speech – he called for people to honor the memory of the soldiers of many nations killed on the fields of those old battles: Russians, Romanians, Finns, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Polacks, Lithuanians, Serbians and Montenegrins. “Historical tolerance” is preserved, and principle of “multiplicity of truths” is not broken.

However, as Dr. Perevezentsev explained, in 1874 military service became obligatory in Russia. In regular military units comprised soldiers of different nationalities, but a regiment included mainly Russian soldiers. In addition, very often the name of the regiment would not match its permanent location.

Some subjects of the Russian crown, in particular the habitants of the Great Duchy of Finland and the North Caucasus at the beginning of the Russian-Turkish war were free from military service. But in these regions there were military units comprised of volunteers from the locals.

So a question arises: why is the number of the nationalities mentioned in the Bulgarian president’s speech so limited?

In fact Chechens, Avars, Kumyks, Kabardians, Ossetians, Ingushes fighting in the Russian army brought a huge contribution to that victory over the Ottoman Empire. And if we recall that the officers of the Finnish battalion were Swedes, then it is necessary to add them too to this list. Add also Baltic Germans, in the large number represented in the officer corps of the Russian army. And many others.

Then another question: why is there a self-contradiction in this list? In fact besides Polacks battling with Turks in the Russian army, there was the Polish Legion that, vice versa, participated in fights on the side of the Ottoman Empire.

So why was it necessary to distinguish certain nationalities, ignoring the merits of others? Why was it impossible to simply say, the “multinational Russian army”?

The answer for these questions for Dr. Sergey Perevezentsev is found not in the past, but in our times: the Bulgarian president mentioned exactly those people that once were a part of the Russian empire, but today are title nations of independent states. Otherwise speaking, this list has a hidden “anti-imperialistic” meaning: commemorated should be only those people, who “broke out” of the “Russian imperial yoke”. Historical events are used first to underline the rightness of the “European civilization choice” and, second, to minimize the role and value of the Russian state in history and in today’s events.

As Doctor of Political Sciences, Alexander Shchipkov, noticed in his article on the Bulgarian speech of Patriarch, the western politicized historiography constantly promotes the idea that “Russia did not take part in all its important historical victories, but individual nations being a part of it”. And the aim of such a manipulation with history is to “deprive Russia of its right on its own great history and, as a result, the rights on the modern big politics”.

His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill also stood against this hidden anti-Russian rhetoric.

Russia did not look at Europe: moved by her love of the Bulgarian people, still weakened by the previous war and having no political support in the world, she began her struggle for the liberation of the Bulgarians. It was a great example of how spiritual, cultural and religious solidarity overcomes political pragmatism. Bulgaria was liberated by Russia, not Poland, nor Lithuania, nor any other countries but Russia.

I would like to say frankly that for me it was difficult to hear references of the participation of other countries in the liberation of Bulgaria. Neither the Polish Sejm, nor the Lithuanian Sejm made the decision to start a war against Ottoman Turkey. We stand for historical truth; we won it by our blood and there can be no political and pragmatic reasons for which this truth should be hushed up or interpreted falsely “


According to Professor Perevezentsev, the row flared up after these words, and within the speeches of some Bulgarian politicians saying quite a few loathsome and embarrassing things unacceptable for a decent person, only confirmed the reality of this hidden meaning.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.