We continue our Immigrant Deprogramming series by talking to Denis Lavinski, an artist in LA, who was raised in the White Russian/Vlasovite-influenced Russian Orthodox Church in California by his Soviet immigrant parents.
Denis’s childhood experience is interesting and relevant today because the ideology he grew up in is basically the ideology that Putin stole and has been repackaging to legitimize his rule. You can see it on full display in Russia right now being used to prop up his regime change war in Ukraine — a mixture of Russian imperialism, nationalism, and Russian Orthodoxy, with Soviet WWII glory moments thrown in to round out the mess.
A couple of notes and thoughts.
Denis opened my eyes to something I had no idea about: the Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond, which I passed or saw almost daily in my immigrant childhood out there, contains the mummified remains of an emigre priest who born in modern day Ukraine and was later canonized in America. St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Here’s what he looks like. He’s the White Russian emigre answer to Lenin!
Also, on the pod I forgot to mention a great recent book that puts the Russian Orthodox and White Russian community in America (and Europe) into a bit of weaponized immigrant historical context: