Voices from Russia

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Only Dialogue between All Religions Can Preserve Inter-Confessional Harmony

Patriarch Aleksei Rediger (1929- ) of Moscow and all the Russias


The meeting of Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias with Sheikh Allashukyur Pasha-zade, the head of the Caucasus Muslim Directorate, offers proof that inter-confessional dialogue not only between Orthodoxy and Islam, but, also between all spiritual organisations in Russia and the Commonwealth countries has become far more consolidated. A spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, Bishop Mark Golovkov of Yegorevsk, said as much with absolute certainty. On 9 April, the spiritual leader of Caucasian Muslims visited the Patriarch Aleksei’s residence at the Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow. Where politicians are unable to reach agreement, believers can easily do so, especially their spiritual leaders, Bishop Mark said. Some years ago, inter-confessional hostility emerged during the disintegration of the Soviet Union and conflict erupted in Nagorny Karabakh. It was thanks to the timely intervention of spiritual leaders such as Patriarch Aleksei and the Grand Mufti of Azerbaijan that this violence came to an abrupt halt. These relations continue today as well, and they promote reconciliation where political diplomacy is helpless and in places where it is necessary to halt inter-religious confrontations.

Muslim man at prayer in war-torn Chechnya


Sheikh Allashukyur Pasha-zade, the head of the Caucasus Muslim Directorate and Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all Russia are co-chairmen of the Inter-Religious Council of the Commonwealth States, which was established in 2004 as a project of the Moscow Patriarchate. Today, it unites representatives of all religious organisations that operate on the territories of the Commonwealth states. The Inter-Religious Council of the CIS is a very powerful mechanism for strengthening the ideas of peacekeeping and tolerance on the former USSR space, Bishop Mark said. “We are working hard, and close contacts continue. As a result, there’re no signs of xenophobia either in Russia or in the Commonwealth states. There’s no inter-religious fratricide there either. This shows how effective the work of the Inter-Religious Council of the CIS is. The former USSR republics occupy a large territory, which can be characterised as a huge multi-confessional and poly-ethnic space. Each nation has its own vision of God, faith, religion, truth, good, and evil. In order to preserve mutual understanding and peace between the peoples of Russia and the CIS, spiritual leaders should not only hold an intensive inter-confessional dialogue today, but, also do our utmost to prevent misunderstanding, extremism, and intolerance. This is the only way to preserve confessional peace between nations and countries and to preserve harmony between a large number of religions on a single huge territory”, Bishop Mark said in conclusion.

10 April 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


Moscow Sees Attempts to Boycott the Beijing Olympics as Unacceptable

Filed under: China,Olympics,politics,Russian,sport — 01varvara @ 00.00

Russia sees attempts to boycott the Beijing Olympics as unacceptable. A statement made by Vice-Premier Aleksandr Zhukov, in an address to a session of International Olympic Committee executives in Beijing, came out against the attempts to disrupt the Olympic torch relay ceremonies in London and Paris. Moscow is opposed to any attempts to disrupt the Olympics, which are an event of global importance, Mr Zhukov said. He added that Russia will participate in the forthcoming Games in Beijing. General support for the Beijing Olympics was proclaimed during the Olympic torch relay in St Petersburg last Saturday, an event that symbolised the strength of the Olympic movement and the relay grew into one of the major sport and cultural highlights in Russia that week.

The torch’s subsequent journey through Europe was less of a holiday, though. After running into protests in London, it encountered a political action in Paris. Anti-Chinese protesters formed a barrier in the way of the torch, so the flame had to be carried under strict security controls and was out most of the time, a fact unprecedented in history, which the Chinese side strongly denies. Gennady Shvets, the press secretary of the Russian Olympic Committee, expressed regret over the incidents, which sullied the European leg of the torch relay. “It’s so disappointing”, he said, “particularly in Paris, which played host to the Olympic Games and strived to host the 2012 Games, but, lost to London. However, the damage is not that great, so, the Olympic torch relay has suffered no great loss. Some tend to forget that the Olympic flame belongs to the entire Olympic community, that is, more than 200 countries. All countries, including France, Britain, the United States, and Russia and China in particular, want the Olympic Games to be a success”.

Nevertheless, clearly there will be more attempts to blow out the Olympic torch, for example, in Japan. Tokyo, although it condemned the disturbances in Paris, still plans to use the Games to exert pressure on Beijing. A similar stance has been taken by Washington and the European Union. Given the situation, millions of sport fans all over the globe are wondering what Games will prevail in Beijing this August… the athletic or the political.

8 April 2008

Konstantin Garibov

Voice of Russia World Service


Orthodox Service Held at the North Pole

Filed under: Christian,inspirational,Orthodox hierarchs,Orthodox life,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

An Orthodox Divine Liturgy was recently held at the North Pole. The three-hour service devoted to the upcoming Easter was the first such Orthodox service ever held on the top of the world. A small tent, a wooden cross… that’s about all there was to the improvised Orthodox chapel hastily erected on a giant ice floe floating above the place where all meridians come together as if symbolising the eternal continuity of the Lord Jesus’ teachings.

“A freezing temperature of -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit), a flimsy tent with snow piled against the sides to keep the wind out, a floor of pack ice under our feet, the priests wearing their traditional vestments without any fur coats on… it was really a hard thing to go through, it really was”, said Archbishop Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka who conducted the service. “All I can say is that when we started, we suddenly had that amazing feeling of God’s Grace descending upon us, sending away the cold and making our freezing fingers go warm and then even hot”, Vladyki Ignaty continued.

During the three-hour service they performed five out of the seven Orthodox sacraments, baptism, confession, communion, anointing, and ordination. They also consecrated a 2 meter wooden cross that will forever remain on the North Pole as a symbol of the first Orthodox service ever conducted there. “We also wanted to draw public attention to the problems facing the region and ask the Lord to lend a helping hand to the researchers and travellers attempting to conquer the North Pole”, Vladyki Ignaty added.

“There’ve been a whole lot of people who at various times attempted to conquer the North Pole but never did”, the archbishop said. “You can get to the pole, but, not necessarily conquer it. What was driving all these people to the very centre of the Arctic Ocean? This is a question only those who’ve been there can answer. There is an amazing magnetism in this white silence, the sparkling snow, the bright sun, the unbelievable beauty of the icy blue skies overhead, and the piercing wind you have nowhere to hide from. Still, despite all the hardships we encountered on the way, our hearts were overflowing with joy. It’s now safe to assume that, moving down the meridians from North to South, God’s Grace will descend upon all people no matter where they live and what they believe in”, Vladyki Ignaty said in conclusion.

8 April 2008

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service


US Opens Embassy in Pristina

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

Birds of a feather… a Kosovar Albanian Muslim kisses the picture (this time) of George Bush… like DOES call unto like, after all!

The Bush Administration announced it is setting up an official US embassy in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February. Serbia, as well as Russia, China, India, Spain, Greece, and many other countries refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence, stating that the unilateral move constitutes a flagrant violation of the existing standards of international law.

9 April 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


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