Voices from Russia

Monday, 24 March 2008

International Day of Poetry

Filed under: intellectual,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Today marks the International Day of Poetry, which was introduced by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. More than a hundred poets are expected to meet with the reading public in Moscow. Today’s celebrations will grow into a festival which will continue into next month. TV clips with modern verse will be shown. A poetry marathon, in which poets will be replacing one another, is the centrepiece event of the festival of poetry. The festival will close with the selection of the best poet.

21 March 2008

Voice of Russia World Service

http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=24563&cid=51&p=21.03.2008

Russia to Provide Humanitarian Assistance for Serbian Enclaves in Kosovo

Filed under: Kosovo,politics,Russian,Serbia,Vladimir Putin — 01varvara @ 00.00

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Russia shall provide humanitarian assistance for the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, which shall be available to all residents irrespective of nationality. Meeting with members of his government in Moscow on Monday, President Vladimir Putin said that in the past two weeks the humanitarian situation in the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo had seriously worsened. A few days ago, Serbia asked Russia for help, primarily in medicines, food, and personal hygiene items.

24 March 2008

Voice of Russia World Service

http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=24685&cid=48&p=24.03.2008

Serbia Honours the Memory of the Victims of NATO Aggression in 1999

Filed under: Kosovo,military,politics,Russian,Serbia — 01varvara @ 00.00

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On Monday, Serbia honoured the memory of those who killed and injured in the NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. Nine years ago, on 24 March 1999, NATO countries led by the United States began brutal aerial bombardments against the civilian population of Yugoslavia. The decision for a military operation was taken in circumvention of the UN Security Council by Javier Solana, then-Secretary General of NATO, after Slobodan Milosevic, the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, refused to make concessions to the West in the resolution of the Kosovo problem. In such a way, NATO attempted to provoke the Yugoslav people to topple the country’s legal authorities. Yet, the popular response to the air raids was unexpected, for the Serbs put up a tough resistance to the aggressor. Many countries supported the Serbs. For instance, Yevgeny Primakov, then the Russian Prime Minister, gave instructions to the flight-crew that the aircraft carrying him to the United States should return to Russia at once.

During the 78 days of the aggression, NATO aircraft delivered some 2,000 air strikes on 99 facilities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia using banned munitions, including those with depleted uranium warheads. According to different estimates, the NATO operation resulted in the death of 2,500-3,000 civilians and about 1,000 members of the Yugoslav army and police. Another 10,000 people were injured. Material damage caused by the NATO bombardments was estimated at 50-100 billion US Dollars. The bombardment ended on 9 June 1999 when Belgrade withdrew its troops from Kosovo. The region was occupied by NATO troops that protected Albanian separatists, who then launched genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Serbian population of Kosovo. However, the main thing is that this aggressive act was a stark kick in the teeth to the system of international security.

Here is more from Dmitri Rogozin, the permanent representative of Russia to NATO. “At present, the situation in Kosovo is developing in keeping with a scenario foreseen by Russia. No wonder that Russian leaders use such phrases such as ‘the Domino effect’ and ‘Pandora’s box’, forgotten since the end of the 1930s, on the eve of the horrifying events of World War II. It did not support the whipping up of the tension. What concerns us is not only recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the Western countries, but, also, the destruction of the whole security structure of today, and this is fraught with the risk of escalation of conflicts in various parts of the world”. Unfortunately, this forecast is becoming reality. Therefore, Moscow can justly call the NATO aerial bombardments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999 the strongest blow to international law in the post-war era.

24 March 2008

Voice of Russia World Service

http://www.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=eng&q=24667&cid=59&p=24.03.2008

Fr Andrew Phillips: In Memoriam Metropolitan Laurus Škurla

Metropolitan Laurus Škurla (1929-2008), Archbishop of New York and Eastern America, in the First Week of Great Lent 2008, the last week of his life

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On the Holiness of Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan and the Healing of the Russian Church of Extremism

Russian history is all about morality triumphing over difficulties, temptations, dangers, and enemies. That is how it always has been and how it always will be.

Ivan Ilyin

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Foreword

The truth is always persecuted, slandered, hated, or ignored, that is, killed by indifference. Our Lord Himself warned His disciples that this would be so. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15.20). Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake (Matthew 24.9). Naturally, we have abundant evidence of this in recent and present times, as well as in the past. In 2007, there took place the momentous and historic re-establishment of Eucharistic communion between the two parts of the Russian Church. They’d been divided by the forces of spiritual impurity and worldliness following the persecution of the 1920s and the compromises of Metropolitan Sergei Stragorodsky who had usurped power in Moscow with Communist backing. The re-establishment of canonical communion had been unthinkable only seven years previously. Why did it take place? What brought it about were the unambiguous statements of the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate at its Jubilee Council of August 2000. Then they rejected Sergianism, Ecumenism (in the generally accepted sense of the word), and accepted the glorification by ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) of the New Martyrs and Confessors. These acts were in fact the rejection of former positions, the rejection of extremism forced on the Church inside Russia by persecution. Having verified that these new policies were being put into practice, the re-establishment of canonical communion became merely a matter of time… not of “if”, but of “when”.

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Patriarch Sergei Stragorodsky of Moscow and all the Russias (1867-1944) blessing troops of the Dmitri Donskoi Tank Brigade during the Second Great Patriotic War

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In the World

This Jubilee Council marked the departure of the Patriarchate from the position adopted by the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergei Stragorodsky in 1927. Essentially, that Declaration had been a compromise by the Church administration with the Soviet Atheist State, showing an Erastianism and servility of extraordinary proportions. It implied that the triumphs of militant atheism were the triumphs of the Church. For a long time senior individuals within the Soviet Union had lied in order to justify Metropolitan Sergei’s compromise and been forced to put that lie into practice. The shift in 2000 was to take the compromises of Metropolitan Sergei out of the spiritual centre and put them back to where they belonged… on the political left. This “revealed the Renovationist nature of Sergianism”.

Renovationism was a form of modernism, or apostasy from the Orthodox Faith and Tradition that had begun mainly in St Petersburg before the Revolution. It had been promoted by pro-Revolutionary left-wing groups and was espoused by Gnostic philosophers and aristocrats. It was actively encouraged inside Russia in the 1920s by both the Communist Party and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, the abandonment of the Renovationist positions of Metropolitan Sergius in the Year 2000 left the remaining Renovationists in Moscow and abroad, notably those who for decades controlled the Sourozh Diocese in Great Britain, high and dry, despite their efforts.

For it should not at all be imagined that Renovationism existed only inside Russia, its scars affected the life of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Diaspora very deeply. This was despite the fact that most of the Renovationists, semi-Orthodox aristocrats and intellectuals in Paris and elsewhere, had left the Russian Church for the Patriarchate of Constantinople some three generations before, in search of a westernised Orthodoxy with its personality cults of dubious intellectuals. After 1945, the Paris Renovationists exported their ideology to Great Britain and North America, where they are still very active. In this way, Moscow Renovationists in Great Britain at least found the ground taken from under them and were faced with the opportunity of repenting and following the disciplines of the Church or otherwise rebelling and leaving for isolation.

Sadly, but exactly as predicted, the largely Anglicanised Renovationist group decided to rebel and leave the Russian Orthodox Church… all the while, incredibly enough, claiming to be “Russian Orthodox”. Thus, 25 years after being cast out, slandered and exiled to our Siberia, we faithful Russian Orthodox were charged with translating into English the documents from His Holiness in Moscow re-establishing Orthodoxy in the Sourozh Diocese. We were able to re-enter the Ennismore Gardens Cathedral of the Sourozh Diocese in London and find our rightful place there once more. In a historic concelebration, we were able to proclaim the long-awaited Russian Orthodox Church unity in the British Isles, in a Church now free of alien influences, our generation-long confession of the Faith vindicated.

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Metropolitan St Iosif Petrovykh of Leningrad/St Petersburg the New Martyr (1870-1938/1940)

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Not of the World

Of course, it’s true that the Renovationist Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius of 1927 had also provoked sectarian reactions at the other extreme inside Russia. These included extremists, self-proclaimed “traditionalists” and westernised moralists, who fell into Donatism. Among them were those who falsely proclaimed that they were only following the holy Metropolitan Iosif Petrovykh of St Petersburg, martyred for Orthodoxy in 1940, who had strongly opposed the compromises of Metropolitan Sergei. This was not the case.

They used the good name of Metropolitan Iosif as an excuse and justification for extremism. As a reaction to the servile attitudes of Metropolitan Sergei, some of these right-wing ideologues were actually willing to see a Crusade of the West against Russia, as preached by the Pope. These were those who considered Sergianism a “heresy” and stated that the Moscow Patriarchate had no grace, welcoming Hitler’s 1941 invasion as a deliverance and even fighting alongside Hitler’s Orthodox-hating and Slav-hating forces. This was a tragic error.

So great had their hatred been that they found themselves hating their own, unable to allow for the miracle of repentance, like the elder son, who was unable to forgive his prodigal brother. They didn’t understand, as the last Rector of the Optina Monastery had predicted after the Revolution, that Communism would not fall through military intervention, but by itself, through its own economic and moral bankruptcy. Thus, they accused other Orthodox, including those who, willingly or unwillingly, followed Metropolitan Sergei, of having no grace. This was devilish pride, a form of self-flattery and sectarian exclusivism. For in denying others grace, they were in fact granting themselves all grace, setting themselves up as the judgement of God.

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The Martyrdom of Metropolitan St Kirill Smirnov of Kazan the New Martyr (1863-1937)

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In the World, But, Not of the World

However, there were those who stood in the middle ground, following the royal path, veering neither towards the administrative Renovationism of Metropolitan Sergius, nor towards sectarian Pharisaism, which asserted that all other Russian Orthodox had “lost grace”. Adopting the position of the ever-memorable Patriarch Tikhon, those in the middle ground followed the spiritual lead of the holy figure of Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan, the holy Patriarch Tikhon’s first deputy.

Born in 1863, Metropolitan Kirill was a widowed priest who had gained immense experience as a missionary both among former Nestorians in Persia and then in Russia, working against sectarian movements in Tambov. He was also the hierarch who had presided over the funeral of St John of Kronshtadt, the centenary of whose repose we celebrate in 2008. Having lived for 37 years in the nineteenth century, he lived for 37 in the twentieth century. Of the twenty years he lived under the Bolsheviks, seventeen were spent in camps, prisons and exile and he was martyred in November 1937.

Metropolitan Kirill was an outstanding practical pastor and also spiritual figure. He was one of those who had the discernment to see between the strictness of akrivia and the dispensation of oikonomia. He saw that although Metropolitan Sergei was wrong and therefore communion with him should be avoided, the Metropolitan was not a heretic. His error was due to his personal sin and weakness, it was not a sin of the whole Church.

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The New Martyrs of Solovki

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The Royal Path

This perception came from the fact that Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan was neither a bureaucratic administrator and academic theologian like Metropolitan Sergei, nor a zealous but simplistic and ill-educated ideologue like some of the extremists in the anti-Sergianist movement. He was a pastor and, at that, a holy pastor. Little wonder that Metropolitan Kirill was recognised by those in freedom as the true head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Thus, of Metropolitan Sergei, Metropolitan Kirill wrote:

“I acknowledge it as a fulfilment of our archpastoral duty for those Archpastors and all who consider the establishment of the so-called ‘Provisional Patriarchal Synod’ (by Metropolitan Sergei) as wrong, to refrain from communion with Metropolitan Sergei and those Archpastors who are of one mind with him. By thus refraining, for my part, I am not in the least affirming or suspecting any lack of grace in the sacraments performed by Sergianists (may the Lord preserve us all from such thought), but I emphasise my unwillingness and refusal to partake of the sins of others”. He considered that the talk of sacraments as being without grace was “zeal not according to knowledge”.

A little later, in October 1929, Metropolitan Kirill again wrote to Metropolitan Sergei on the subject of the latter’s extremist attitudes towards those who could not accept his unacceptable compromises with the atheist State, “How bitter it is, Vladyki, that you too, to an equal extent, reveal the loss of spiritual balance…the whole fullness of my abstention (from concelebration with you) concerns only you and the hierarchs who are of one mind with you”. For Metropolitan Kirill, as for the whole of the free Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Metropolitan Sergei was “a usurper of Church authority”. In 1934, he wrote again: “The disorder in the Russian Orthodox Church I view not as concerning the teaching which She holds, but as concerning administration”.

Afterword

Over thirty years ago, the ever-memorable Hieromonk Seraphim Rose summed up these events in Orthodox wise, “A correct ‘Orthodoxy’ deprived of the spirit of true Christianity… this is the meaning of Sergianism, and it can’t be fought by calling it a ‘heresy’, which it isn’t, nor by detailing its canonical irregularities, which are only incidental to something much more important”….“Metropolitan Kirill’s position… is nothing but the balanced ‘royal path’ of Orthodox moderation between the extremes of Renovationism and Sergianist legalism on the one hand, and a too-hasty accusation of Sergianist heresy or lack of grace on the other”. Metropolitan Sergei’s error consisted in his “exceeding his powers”.

It is in the figure of the true Churchman, Metropolitan Kirill, martyred in 1937, that the Church finds its spiritual centre of balance again. Through him, we clearly understand the aberrations of Metropolitan Sergius. The voice of the Church spoke through him and it was he, and not Metropolitan Sergius, who has since been glorified and canonised by the whole Russian Church. His voice is that of the New Martyrs and Confessors, the voice of unity, the voice of the Truth of God, the voice of the “spiritual sobriety of holiness”. His was the voice of the spiritual purity of living Orthodoxy against the impurity of the Renovationist legalism of Metropolitan Sergei and also against the impurity of the sectarianism of those who declared that his sacraments possessed no grace. For it is only holiness that heals and it is only through holiness that Orthodoxy has been fully restored within the Russian Church.

Today, this should be particularly apparent to us in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, who mourn our Metropolitan Laurus, the Restorer of Church Unity in the spirit of the Holy Hieromartyr Kirill of Kazan. For his lifelong struggle was also for the spiritual purity of the heritage of Holy Russia against extremism, against the dead letters of laws, against the abuse of canons in the interests of self-justification. This includes both the laws and canons of Renovationism, including the administrative Renovationism of Metropolitan Sergei, and the laws and canons of Old Calendarist ideologies which lead straight to the sectarianism of groups, which split away from the Church both inside Russia and outside Russia.

To His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the Restorer of Church Unity:

Eternal Memory!

10/23 March 2008 Sunday of St Gregory Palamas The Preacher of Grace Second Sunday of the Great Lent 2008

Priest Andrew Phillips

East Anglia

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