Voices from Russia

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Archbishop Mark Arndt of the ROCOR says that the EP Disgraces Orthodoxy before the Heterodox World

Archbishop Mark Arndt of Berlin and all Germany (ROCOR) (1946- )

Archbishop Mark Arndt of the ROCOR sharply criticised the actions of the EP. “It seems to me that (in relations with the MP: Interfax) the EP is contentious, this is unhealthy, and it contradicts the spirit of Orthodoxy. All this does is to disgrace Orthodoxy before the heterodox world. This is to no one’s benefit. They seem to do it for idiosyncratic reasons”, Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany said in an interview in the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta-Religii on Wednesday.

He believes that it would be constructive if a Pan-Orthodox Council discussed the EP’s juridical claims. “We have to clarify if the EP has any special rights in the Church, what is the basis for its claims to jurisdiction over the entire Orthodox diaspora, and why they claim the role of ‘the Eastern Pope’ in the Orthodox world”, Vladyki Mark noted. He also called the EP decision to accept under its jurisdiction the former head of the Sourozh Diocese of the MP in Great Britain, Bishop Basil Osborne, “a scandalous transgression”. Commenting on the actions of certain EP representatives who support schismatical factions in the Ukraine, Archbishop Mark said that “in this situation, even if one doesn’t understand anything about church politics, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that an explicit power-grab is underway”. He stated that the ROCOR, both in Western Europe and America, lived in peace with the EP and he expressed the hope that this situation would continue.

19 June 2008




Exhibition “Orthodox Icons of Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus” at the Tretyakov

Filed under: Christian,cultural,fine arts,history,Orthodox life,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

The Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign, as painted by the contemporary Russian iconographer Svetlana Rzhanitsyna

The world-famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow hosts an exhibition dedicated to the 1,020th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia. Entitled “Orthodox Icons of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus”, it represents the best items of religious art from leading museums such as the Tretyakov Gallery, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

These three Slavonic peoples, with very much in common from both the historical and cultural points of view, were baptised together in the Orthodox Church in 988, where an icon is not just a painting, it is a whole world that gives people spiritual strength and helps them grasp the idea of unity of the Slavonic peoples. At the same time, each of the three countries made its own contribution to the history of this world. An Orthodox icon is an inseparable part of the Christian world. This exhibition at the Tretyakov serves as good proof of this.

First of all, this collection unveiled the roots of Orthodox iconography, that is, Byzantium, from whence Orthodoxy was adopted in the 10th century. The Mother of God is the most beloved icon of all times. She appears in a great number of masterpieces. This image was borrowed together with the ascetic manner of Byzantine icon painting. It is clearly seen on the oldest Russian icons, dating back to the 14th to 16th centuries.

The Ukrainian and Byelorussian icons are mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. Art expert Irina Shultz of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra commented, “Unfortunately, very few old antiquities remain in the Ukraine. Together with neighbouring Belarus, we lived through many wars, right though World War II, and many artifacts were destroyed. But, I would say that the iconography of the Ukraine dates back to the 14th century, when Western Europe had a great influence on our country. Then, Ukrainian iconographers depicted real events from the everyday life”.

However, the Old Russian culture is the root of all the movements of religious art of these Slavonic states. Vladimir Prokoptsov, the Rector of the Belarusian Art Museum, believed that its main idea is to unite peoples. “This project is of great cultural, political and religious significance. Politicians should study culture to know how to work together”. Kiev shall host the exhibition from 28 July until 14 September. Then, the collection shall go to Minsk to be on display from 29 September until 9 November.

17 June 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


The Russian National Football Team is Amongst the Eight Best Teams in Europe

The Russian national football team has for the first time qualified for the quarter-finals of the European championship. On Wednesday, it beat Sweden 2-0 in a decisive match in Group D. The Russians needed a win to continue playing in the tournament, to go for the gold. Sweden would be satisfied with a draw, taking into account the results of the previous matches. In fact, it rarely misses a chance to play a draw. Moreover, the two teams have met five times already, and the Russians won only once and lost three times. Their impressive attacking helped the Russian team to overcome this psychological barrier. Russia dominated the whole match with aggressive-style play, resulting in a 2-0 win. This removed all questions concerning who was qualified for the quarter-finals of the European championship. Sweden failed to find a hole in the Russian defence, which has been considered the weakest area in its play. Sergei Semak, the Russian captain who made a significant contribution in the win, could hardly believe it. “It’s still difficult to understand what the team did since there was no such win for a long time in Russian football. The team’s quite happy that it pleased the country. We play next in two days, and, now, the players are very tired, but, they have to think about the next match. No time to celebrate the win”.

The Russian team confirmed its status as a “dark horse” since the experts and bookmakers gave it only the fourth place in the group after Spain, Greece (the defending champion), and Sweden before the start of the championship. Significantly, the Russian team coached by Dutchman Guus Hiddink is amongst the best eight teams in Europe for the first time. Coach Hiddink is considered lucky. Owing to this luck, the Russian side ended the matches in the selecting group successfully and joined the final tournament. After a severe defeat by Spain in the first match, the Russian team had no space to make a mistake. In fact, each next match was more difficult than the previous one. The Russian team has to defeat the Netherlands in the quarter-finals to really vie for the gold. Guus Hinddink coached the Dutch team for several years and he’s quite aware of its strong and weak points. He said this would be a special match for him. It’ll be a special match for the Russians, too. The reason here isn’t only the fact that the Russian fans expect only a win. The coach of the Dutch team is the famous player Marco van Bastan who scored a magnificent goal out of the two scored by the Dutch when the Netherlands defeated the Soviet Union in the final of the European championship in 1988. Perhaps, the Russian players will try their best to take revenge on the Dutch coach for this 20-year-old defeat.

19 June 2008

Konstantin Garibov

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

I asked a male European friend about Guus Hiddink. To say that I received an earful is an understatement. You’d think that Coach Hiddink walks on water, raises the dead, reduces your cholesterol level, and eliminates the heartbreak of psoriasis. The Dutch had best eat a double portion of their Wheaties, for, apparently, Coach Hiddink is the best football coach in Europe. Now, if only Russia could lure Nikos Liberopoulos to FC Zenit with a big enough pay-packet…


A Test for European Integration

Filed under: diplomacy,EU,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Leaders of 27 European countries gather today for the EU summit in Brussels, to search for solutions to current political and economic problems. After the ratification of the Lisbon treaty failed after the “no” vote in the referendum in Ireland, European leaders saw this as a challenge for the process of integration. The position of Ireland caused a deep political crisis. With the expansion of the EU, the region is becoming less controllable. Red tape is not the only problem of all European organisations. The main problem is that old and new members of the EU see the process of integration differently.

However, this is what Ireland warned Europe against in 2001, when it attempted to slow down the expansion of the EU. Then, they were forced to vote. But, the problem remained unsettled. Ireland has been very sceptical about the current model of united Europe. In an interview with Voice of Russia, Dmitri Danilov, an expert in European security, said, “Such a reaction to the Lisbon treaty may provoke new opportunistic political movements within the EU and abroad. Of course, many other leaders share the scepticism of the Irish. Thus, after failing to adopt a new version of the constitution, the EU is about to face another crisis of integration”.

Now, the European leaders have to work out a plan to bypass the referendum in Ireland and revive the Lisbon treaty. A second vote is very likely. After France and the Netherlands vetoed the EU constitution in 2005, making a third attempt to pass a draft constitution would just waste time. Great Britain, which always had its own view of a united Europe, hurried to approve the Lisbon Treaty, obviously trying to stop the agreement’s disintegration.

Apart from political difficulties, Europe is facing economic hardships. In recent months, Brussels witnessed many protest actions organised by people from many different professions. Small businessmen feel more insecure in Europe. To stop this negative tendency, the leaders have to take urgent measures.

19 June 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


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