The Forum’s main goals as set out by the organizers can be found on the site pokayanie1917.ru; the Forum is “a coalition of people for free and independent action with a clear conscience for the rebirth of the human person, our people, society and the church in Russia.”
“Our Forum is the continuation of a national initiative to repent for the horrors which befell our country during the 20th century,” said one of the forum initiators, the Chairman of the NGO Nuzhna Pomoshchj (Help Needed), Dmitry Aleshkovsky, speaking on the 19th of August at the annual Transfiguration Meetings Festival. “Without repentance and correction of Russia’s historical mistakes, there is no way we can have any future. This Forum is a society/coalition where people who are not indifferent to the future of our country, who love our country and wish it good and prosperity – can find like-minded friends to support their cause.”
In Aleshkovsky’s opinion, the only path useful for turning Russian society in the direction of “best things” is neither political nor economic, but an appeal to our own consciences. Conscience is capable of uniting people from different social strata, of different ages and political persuasions.
The Forum’s basic program is expressed in short theses that, among other things, suggest “compassion for all and calling oneself and everyone else to repentance for the crimes of the 20th century”, “to give birth anew to and strengthen the traits of a good neighbor vis-a-vis other countries and other peoples”, and “to overcome historical, spiritual and cultural lack-of-memory within specific families and in our people as a whole.”
“After the fall of Soviet power, our people changed a great deal,” says Fr. Georgy Kochetkov, Rector of Saint Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute. Those who have kept a healthy image of man alive within them are striving to begin a new and worthy life. They want to help our nation by returning goodness and beauty to it, by recalling our history and our culture.”
“Repentance isn’t only something for the church; it is an experience which is internally stamped on the heart of every man, even if he is entirely unbelieving,” added Fr. Georgy, clarifying the meaning of the Forum for church and society. Some people may call it something different or may not know that in the first instance they need to apply to God. But there is also repentance to each other – man to man – people can repent before each other, anyone and everyone. This is, in fact, a matter of conscience – to be able not only to repent internally, but also to ask forgiveness of your fellow man.”
Commenting on the topic of the Forum, poet Yuri Kublanovsky said that the task of returning Russian society to a state of health is made more difficult by the fact that people have no memory of their past. “Today we have to think hard about how to return our national identity. After all, the best of our heritage can be found in the beauty of our nation. This goes for any people group and any nation state. We know of the Immortal Regiment memorial march, when thousands of people take to the streets. But when those who suffered under Boshevism also come out and when we aren’t afraid to remember these things, too, then we can really begin to speak about the healing of our nation,” said Kublanovsky.
Chairman of the Transfiguration Brotherhood Dmitry Gasak, poet Olga Sedakova, the leader of the Russian “Dvorjanskoje Sobranije” (League of Aristocrats) Oleg Scherbachov, the Chairman of the Moscow Merchants’ Association Alexander Konshin, director of documentary films Darya Violina, and others took part in the Forum’s working group.
The “Those Who have Hope” Forum for National Repentance and Rebirth was launched on the 19th of August in Moscow at the annual Transfiguration Meetings festival, which brought together around 3000 people from 40 cities across Russian and the NIS, as well as guests from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Latvia, Switzerland and the USA.
Photo: Alyona Kaplina, Alexander Volkov, Evgeny Gurko