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Marvelous column by Agnieszka Tennant at Christianity Today on the state of the Russian soul, inspired by her own experiences there

Putin’s PR people joined the Beslan parents in a collective sigh of relief last July, when Russian forces killed Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who planned the siege.

But neither ingenious PR firms nor swift military coups can awaken Russia’s soul. Only a lover can do it. Only a Lover can. Someone angry enough to look a conniver in the eyes and tell him the truth, or to throw over a few tables.

Someone furious with love.

Related: The LATimes is running a series on the dire physical condition and declining population in Russia.

Although the problems are surfacing in the post-Soviet period, some argue that their cause can be found in communism’s willful destruction of generations of the country’s most capable and adaptable people.

"Seventy-five years of Bolshevik life in this country led to the formation of a tribe of people which was cultivated to listen to orders, and fulfill them," said Alexander Gorelik, a St. Petersburg physician. Stalinism, he said, aimed for "the planned and gradual physical destruction of the most moral, the most creative group of the population."

"There is such a thing as a will for life. And the whole trouble is that the Russian public in general, and especially the male population, has a big deficiency in this area."

Vyacheslav Pushkarev, a Russian Orthodox priest who oversees several congregations in Siberian villages now too small to have a full-time cleric, said the Soviet system destroyed bodies and spirits in equal proportion.

"We are left with this infection in us, this sickness of degradation in everything around us because we were all part of it," he said. "We’re living in a huge bowl here, and we’re all getting boiled together."

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