Voices from Russia

Saturday, 17 May 2008

How and when did Afghanistan Turn into a Drug Centre?

Filed under: politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Peasant harvesting in a poppy field in Afghanistan

When meeting in Yekaterinburg in the Urals recently, the Russian, Indian, and Chinese Foreign Ministers agreed to form a security belt of sorts around Afghanistan. It would stand to reason to expect that the European nations and the United States would hail the decision by Moscow, New Delhi, and Beijing, since Afghanistan has long been known as the world’s number one drug producer. According to the United Nations, today, Afghanistan accounts for 93 percent of world opium production and produces 90 percent of the heroin in the world. From Afghanistan, the drugs are channelled via Central Asia to Russia and the European countries, whence, they spread further still.

Unfortunately, none of the western capitals seems to have appreciated the decision of Russia, India, and China. But, some western news media came up with what one could call some specific comment, to use an understatement. The Reuters news agency and NBC News alleged, for instance, that the Afghan economy was destroyed by the 30-year-long Soviet occupation and civil war, so, Afghan peasants have to continually increase their opium poppy plantations to survive.

Something must have happened to the memory and the vaunted impartial coverage of my western colleagues, but, the hard facts are as follows. Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in December 1979. They began their withdrawal in 1986, and left Afghanistan in February 1989. Incidentally, over 120,000 Soviet civil and military experts and construction workers worked in Afghanistan to build schools, plants, bridges, and roads.

It is likewise an open secret that once the United States and NATO launched their anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan in 2001 and toppled the Taliban regime, the production of drugs in the country shot up four or five times. Another hard fact is that the Afghan economy collapsed during the US and NATO operation, with more than 40 percent of the Afghan population now living below the poverty line. This is, of course, no reason for gloating over the impotence of the anti-terrorist coalition; although, of course, one should remember that Afghanistan has received only 15 billion US dollars (355.74 billion roubles. 9.675 billion euros. 7.665 billion UK pounds) of the 25 US billion dollars (594.035 billion roubles. 16.025 billion euros. 12.775 billion UK pounds) that have been pledged as financial assistance to the country. 40 percent of that amount, or 6 US billion dollars (142.566 billion roubles. 3.846 billion euros. 3.066 billion UK pounds), have been paid off to the donor nations for consulting services.

Unfortunately, this proves the inability of the US and NATO to bring Afghanistan back to normalcy and curb drug production in the country. It is certainly quite unpleasant to admit the fact. So, that must be the reason why some western news media are trying to put the blame on Russia, despite the fact that Russia heavily contributed to the coalition’s efforts in Afghanistan. Whether this is decent or not is for Voice of Russia listeners to judge.

17 May 2008

Viktor Yenikeyev



EP Bishop Gabriel bars parishioner of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice from Holy Communion for Article Critical of Parish Clergy

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Nice in France

The head of the so-called Russian Exarchate in Western Europe under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Gabriel de Vylder of Comnana, barred Lydia Plas from Holy Communion for an indeterminate period. Mme Plas is a parishioner of St Nicholas Cathedral in Nice and the former secretary of the church council of the Russian Orthodox Association of Nice (ACOR). The EP bishop took this step after Mme Plas wrote an article in one of the March issues of the newspaper Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought) entitled “A Russian Church of Surprising Beauty”. This piece dealt with the contemporary parish life of the cathedral in Nice. In particular, it explored the activities of its present rector, Archpriest Hans Heidt, and it looked at his relations with the parishioners.

In the opinion of Mme Plas, the rector and clergy of the cathedral took a frankly Russophobic stance, they wish to “obliterate Russian traditions and eradicate them”. As a result, in parish life, “anything that is Russian is blocked and restricted”. Furthermore, Fr Hans, who was assigned to St Nicholas Cathedral by Bishop Gabriel himself, undertook to establish a “new order” at the parish from the very first day of his arrival. Mme Plas noted that Fr Hans used “intimidation and threats, and humiliated all who disagreed with him”. The parishioners sent letters to both Bishop Gabriel and the Patriarch Bartholomew of the EP asking for the return of their former rector, Fr Vladimir Jagiello, but, their letters remained unanswered.

“There is no place for us in our native church; it is now filled with those who arrived with the new administration… We do not want this new ‘universal Orthodoxy’, which is pushed with such vehemence by our rector and archbishop. If we are so despised by our hierarchs that we are found unworthy of an answer, many of us are forced to leave our churches. These are churches where we spent all our lives, where we cried many a tear, where in the past we said so many prayers”, Mme Plas wrote. She also noted with regret that when the late Metropolitan Laurus, the head of the ROCOR, visited St Nicholas Cathedral on 16 February, “the rector and those about him did not even deign to inform the parishioners of this. In the words of the rector, this was a ‘special and private’ visit. The only people who met the metropolitan were the rector and his friends. But, we, the parishioners, were not invited. We deeply regret that not only did we not have the chance to receive a blessing from the metropolitan, but, we also protest the modest, if not pitiful, welcome shown to him. We ask Vladyki Laurus to forgive us for such a meeting”, Mme Plas stated in her article.

15 May 2008



Editor’s Note:

There one has it. This group in Paris is the idol of the OCA. Therefore, note the similarities in how the EP Parisians treated Mme Plas and how the OCA treated the Alaska situation and other things roiling at the moment. I note a similar contempt for tradition and the common faithful in the leadership of both bodies. Let those with eyes see.

Three Victory Days

Holy Rus

Mikhail Nesterov



This year, within three weeks, we had three great celebrations of victory. There were three days marking a great victory.

Firstly, on Sunday 27 April, there was the Feast of Feasts; the Church feted the Great Victory of Easter. This year, it was special. It was the first Easter that we celebrated in unity; it was an earnest of all the Easters to come when all we Russian Orthodox shall be as one and we heal all the divisions amongst us. Some of us have wandered along roads to the right, seeking a “tradition” that never was, seeking a “purity” that is unattainable. Perhaps, some NEED to make such a quest, and I believe that Batiushka Andrew Phillips is right, we can only keep patience and persist in prayer for such sorts. I’d say to them, your place is waiting, we do wish you back home. Our family circle is incomplete without you.

Others wandered unto roads to the left. Those on the right-hand roads are only indulging in a temporary (one hopes) detour, they haven’t changed any of the ancient rites and practises (albeit, usually with a neo-Calvinist intensity not found in the Church). Some of those on the left-hand roads dared to change aspects of the Church’s practices and teaching that they found “onerous”. Thus, it’s harder for them to find the way home to unity. Unfortunately, many follow new strange gods. Many give a dead theologian a position that only belongs to Our Lord Christ. In addition, most of these sorts have a touching faith in Therapeutic Positivism that’s greater than their Faith in the Church. To top it all, these groups crawl with Western phyletism of the most virulent and corrosive sort.

Therefore, the Church can afford to be patient as regards the right-hand wanderers, but it must actively intervene to save those whose leaders took the left-hand road. For instance, one group gives more power to an elected council of laity and married clergy than it does to the bishops. Oddly enough, when there’s a crisis, you hear complaints that the Holy Synod doesn’t act. Well, if you make the bishops eunuchs, pray tell, how CAN they act? You see things such as the arbitrary barring of laity from the chalice, priests openly communicating what they hear in confession and counselling, and the Holy Synod refusing to act in pastoral cases. Can you believe that some belong to bodies that hate monasticism and the group centres about a set of neo-Renovationist pseudo-intellectuals in a third-rate seminary? Many monastic elders are found on the list of saints. I don’t think that there is ANY seminary professor listed there!


Joyous Resurrection!

Ilya Kaverznev



To fully grasp the joy of Easter, we must get both elements back. True, we’ll never win back the leaders (barring a miracle, of course), but most of the rank-and-file are good Orthodox believers who belong in the full unity of the United Russian Orthodox Church. I believe that we must actively intervene in a current situation, in concert with our brothers in Moscow. There’s a group that must be told that it must conform to the practises of ordinary Orthodoxy, or lose its standing in canonical Orthodoxy. It won’t move the leadership and the clerisy, but most of the clergy and faithful are solid, and they’d answer the call, I believe. I heard one of the apparatchiki of this group boast that “Moscow was going to force the ROCOR to name our metropolitan at services”. There’s only one response to such rubbish, which is, “Metropolitan Hilarion shall never do such, and Moscow shall never force him to”.


Pyotr Krivonogov. Victory! 1948


Pyotr Krivonogov



Friday, 9 May, was Victory Day. This marks the defeat of Nazi Germany by Russia in 1945. True, other countries were in the Anti-Hitler Coalition, but, Russia engaged 75 percent of the Wehrmacht and inflicted more casualties on the Germans than anyone else. Indeed, the Red Army bled the Wehrmacht white on the steppes of Russia. The Russian army advanced from the suburbs of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad to the very centre of Berlin. However, that isn’t why we celebrate this day with such intensity. You see, 88 percent of all Russian families lost a relative in the war. THIRTY MILLION died.

Let that sink in.


Reflect on that.

If you said one name a second, 24 hours a day, it would take some 347 days, nearly a year, to read the roll. This toll included 7 million killed on the battlefield, 2 million POWs dead in German captivity (50 percent of those captured), and 21 million civilian deaths. Some of the civilian toll was from air raids or being caught in warzones, but, the most were due to Nazi brutalities. They executed people out-of-hand, deliberately starved them, worked them to death, or sent them to Germany to slave labour under the most degrading conditions. In this total were two million Jews murdered by Nazi Einsatzkommando units simply for being Jewish… they didn’t do anything; they killed them for simply being what they were. The mind staggers… the Germans considered us Untermenschtum, “sub-humanity”. In short, Germany committed one of the grossest enormities in history in Russia.

Of course, Germany and Russia hate each other today, no? If you thought that…



Russian veterans handing out St George ribbons


Russians have a great capacity for understanding and forgiveness, quite unlike suburban Positivist Americans. Of course, one reason is that Orthodoxy permeates Russian culture and godless Positivism permeates American culture (it taints most konvertsy, in one form or another). Today, Germans and Russians are friendly, both on the official and personal levels. The dead didn’t die in vain. They did bring a more peaceful world today, a world free of the barbarities of Nazi racism. The Church should place 9 May on its calendar as a day of remembrance of all fallen Orthodox warriors. This is already done in Russia; we should do it here as well. It reminds us of what the word “horror” truly means. When I think of the sacrifice, courage, and resolve of the Russian people, it makes me proud that I spring from them. However, it means that I have a high standard to live up to. I feel sometimes that I don’t quite make it… yet, I never cease to grasp for the prize. To stop, means that one gives up… one may as well lie down in the grave and die.


Bishop Merkury Ivanov of the MP and Bishop Gavriil Chemodakov of the ROCOR in front of St Nick’s on East 97th


Today, Saturday 17 May, is the first anniversary of the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Two weeks ago, we celebrated that unity in New York at St Nick’s on East 97th between Fifth and Mad. Can you believe that the city closed down portions of Fifth and Mad, both VERY busy thoroughfares, so that a religious procession could proceed? I was there; I saw it with my own eyes. We were so packed in the church that we jostled one another as we crossed ourselves. It was JOYFUL. However, this was only a partial unity; the reconciliation isn’t yet complete. Metropolitan Laurus Škurla and Patriarch Aleksei Ridiger put an end to eight decades of strife. No one had to abase themselves publicly in humiliation; no one brought up the wounds of the past. Rather, there was a sense of a healing of a breach that should never have been. I should state that I was always in favour of unity, even in the dark days of the Ustinovshchyna. I saw laity run out of parishes; I saw a priest attacked for simply being glad that the Reds were gone.

This is a sign of hope. If the ROCOR could overcome the malign influence of the Ustinovshchyna, a time when the ROCOR uncanonically founded parishes in Russia, people from the OCA can overcome the nasty influence of the Shmemannshchyna, a time when egotistical pseudo-intellectuals dared to substitute their own notions for the ordinary teaching of the Church. Yes, rebirth is possible, but the OCA must make the effort to rejoin the Mother Church. I, for one, believe that majority of the OCA faithful are open to such, but can’t speak openly for fear of censure (or worse) by the Syosset/SVS apparat. These are people living in an “Egyptian captivity”, and one must allow for that. However, a separate existence isn’t only harmful now, it always was. Shall the OCA overcome its American phyletism? God alone knows. I pray that such happens; for the sake of all the good people I know who deserve better than the thin gruel they receive now.


The Soul of the Russian People

Mikhail Nesterov



It is time for all of us who share the heritage of Holy Rus, both those of us born to it, and those who came to us as “strangers”, to stand as one, as God intended us to. Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Latvians, Estonians, Japanese, Chinese, English, Germans, and many others stand under the spreading branches of the good tree of Moscow. So, why shouldn’t Americans and Canadians do so as well? There’s room… plenty of it! In any case, we desire your presence. Your place at table is waiting; a place-card with your name on it marks your seat. Why wait? As the Easter Sermon of St John Chrysostom said, “feast ye bounteously”. We won’t be able to celebrate the Feast of Unity on 17 May fully until such happens. Shall you come? I, for one, would be overjoyed. Do you truly wish to disappoint Christ and His Saints? I’d hope not.


World Doesn’t End, Russian Doomsday Sect Members To Head Home

Filed under: religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Member of the Penza doomsday sect

The members of a doomsday sect who quit on Friday the dugout in central Russia where they had been waiting for the end of the world for around six months are to pack their bags and leave for home with the planet still intact. “Documents are being prepared by immigration officials to allow those [three] sect members who are from Belarus to return to their homeland”, said Alexander Provotorov, the head of the Bekov raion in Penza oblast. “The rest, Russian citizens, also plan to go home. They have all agreed to leave the area voluntarily”, he added, also saying that none of the sect members were from Penza oblast.

The story has gripped Russia since 35 members of the sect went underground in November to wait for the end of the world, which they initially claimed would come in May. The group’s leader, Pyotr Kuznetsov, is reported to have said that they would be given the power to decide who would be sent to hell and who would go to heaven after the Apocalypse. The sect pledged to commit mass suicide if any attempt was made to force them to come to the surface. Following the collapse of the dugout’s roof after heavy rain in late March, 24 members of the group quit the shelter. It was subsequently revealed that two members of the sect had perished in the dugout, one from malnutrition brought about during fasting, and another from cancer. Both bodies were buried in the shelter. The remaining nine sect members then said they would come to the surface after a religious holiday in mid-June.

The end of the sect members’ wait for the End came on Friday as the stench from the dead bodies led to them agreeing to rescue workers’ proposals to remove the corpses. As the corpses were being pulled out, rescuers suggested that the sect members also come to the surface, and they agreed. After spending some six months underground, the sect members are, surprisingly, said to be in good health. “After leaving the dugout, they [the sect members] were examined by a doctor. They have no health problems. They also have no eyesight problems, something that doctors had been worried about”, Mr Provotorov said. Mr Kuznetsov, who did not join the group underground, speaking of “another mission in life”, remains in an asylum in Penza, about 600 km (370 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Despite one member of the sect claiming that the group is an offshoot of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the sect has generally been considered part of a wave of extreme Russian Orthodoxy in Russia and some former Soviet republics. Adherents of this radical form of Christianity refuse to own passports, as they “contain the number of the Beast”, and will not handle money or consume products packaged in containers bearing “Satanic” barcodes. Russia has seen a great number of sects throughout its history. One of the most famous of these was the Skoptsy, who castrated themselves and cut off women’s breasts “to avoid sexual temptation and sin”. The sect was first reported in the 18th century and is known to have still existed in the 1920s. Another notorious sect was the Khlysty, an offshoot of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Khlysty believed that the way to salvation lay through the repentance of sins. The greater the sin, the greater the repentance, the Khlysty reasoned, and following this logic they rejected conventional doctrines of “’right and wrong”, indulging in sins that they could later confess to, being in this way “pleasing to God”. Grigori Rasputin, the mysterious monk who had a major influence on the Tsar and the Tsarina prior to the 1917 Russian Revolution, is believed to have had links to the group, which was active from the 17th century to the early 20th.

16 May 2008



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