Bishop Vladimir Denounces His Cablegrams of Recall.




Dr. Russell Is Accused of Being a Bigamist, Nihilist and a General Bad Man —The Russian Consul Talks.


Sokolovsky Vladimir, the Russian Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, stationed in this city, returned this week from his yearly trip to the churches of his diocese.

"As Bishop," he said last evening, "it is my duty to forgive those people who have traduced me. I want, however, to say that the most infamous forgeries have been foisted on the press, placing me in a wrong light. I have here (producing a clipping from an evening paper) what purports to be cablegrams from Pobedonostzeff, the Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod, to the Russian Consul and to Dr. Russel. They have been made out of the whole cloth and are the forgeries of a perverted man, Dr. Russel himself.

"That man is not only a bigamist, but a nihilist as well, and a refugee from Russia. I cannot understand why it is he is doing all this or what might be his next move."

The cablegrams the Bishop alluded to read:


ST. PETERSBURG, February 18, 1890.

Dr. Russel, 1529 California street, San Francisco: Letter received. Answer by mail. Bishop recalled. What want you more? Suit would be nuisance for all.


ST. PETERSBURG, March 6, 1890.

Russian Consul-General, San Francisco: Russel’s anathema found null and void by the Holy Synod. Bishop recalled. You may publish that in the local papers.


The Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod.

"Those are rank forgeries," repeated the Bishop. "Taking it for granted that there was an inclination in February and March of last year to recall me, it is not probable that the affairs of the Holy Synod would have been made common to Russel. As to the Consul having been informed of it, that would be nothing strange, but he never heard anything of the sort.

"Then comes another forgery in the shape of an alleged letter to Archimandrite Innocentius in June, 1890, from Pobedonostzeff. It is so absolutely foolish that it is a gem of stupidity. The facts are simply that two years or more ago charges of maladministration were made against me, and pending an investigation I took a leave of absence for a few months. The Holy Synod approved of my administration, and the Archimandrite was recalled to Russia, where he has been ever since.


"That is the best proof that the Father could not have received such a letter, since he was not here, and had Pobedonostzeff expressed the sentiments that appear in his alleged letter I would not have be here now as Bishop. As to the statement that I gave Priest Levin a strong letter of recommendation to the Ecclesiastical Consistory of Alaska, I can say that it is partly true. He had been let out of employment here and was going to Alaska. It was a mere matter of charity that I gave him a letter of introduction that he might procure the food and shelter that would not have been given him without it. The letter was not one of strong recommendation, as stated, but simply one of introduction."

Russian Consul Artzymovitz corroborated most of what the Bishop stated. "I have been here hardly three weeks," he stated, "and I have received the communications and complaints of whoever desired to make them. Less than ten days ago I was informed positively that the Bishop would never return here to face his accusers, and that he had made his escape East by way of Yellowstone Park. Since the Bishop has returned I have called on him twice, but failed to see him each time. I will continue to hear the statements that the subjects of the Czar desire to make, and in due course of investigation I will make my report to my Government.

"I am unable to find in the papers of my predecessor any cablegram announcing Bishop Vladimir’s recall, and I certainly have received no such notification."

San Francisco Examiner, Saturday Morning, August 29, 1891, p. 4.

Reprinted in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol. 1, No. 12, August 1994.