Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Ukraine Torpedoes Strategic Deal with Russia

Filed under: diplomacy,NATO,politics,Russian,the Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko — 01varvara @ 00.00

In terms of cooperation with Russia, the Ukraine made a step back after President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree not to extend the lease for the Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol beyond 28 May 2017. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, Kiev torpedoed strategic talks with Moscow.

Over the past 2 years, Russian and Ukrainian experts have held intensive consultations on the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and managed to avoid a political scandal. But, high-ranking Ukrainian politicians were not satisfied with this productive cooperation between the experts and tried to do their best to worsen the situation. This rarely happens between true partners, Mr Karasin noted.

Political analyst Sergei Mikheyev thinks that the Ukraine is just implementing NATO plans, as the alliance hopes to have Black Sea bases in Bulgaria and Romania… “The aim is quite clear, to oust Russia from the Black Sea and not to allow its presence in the Mediterranean and southern seas. That is why Moscow is deeply concerned over the issue. In fact, even if Russia leaves its bases in Sevastopol, that won’t necessarily grant Ukraine membership in NATO and the EU. Every year, Russia pays 98 million dollars (2.311 billion roubles. 62.925 million euros. 49.759 million UK pounds) in rent and is ready to pay even more. Apart from this, according to the 1997 deal, the Black Sea Fleet is not obliged to leave its bases after the contract expires in 2017. It may be extended”.

Yet, the two countries have enough time to achieve a compromise on the issue since the fate of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is not due to be decided until 2016. Russian diplomats said that before the contract expires, the sides should better focus on the current issues of Black Sea naval cooperation.

24 June 2008



Bright Prospects for Russia’s Admission to WTO

The basic document on Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organisation, a report by the working group, shall be ready this autumn. This was announced by the Information Bureau on Russia’s Accession to the WTO after the presentation of another interim edition of the draft report. According to the Information Bureau, discussion on the document was successful. A small number of questions were raised, and they were basically technical questions. This means that larger part of issues raised at the negotiations have already been resolved successfully. The outstanding issues are linked with sanitary and veterinary control over imports. Disputes remain about new regulations concerning meat imports, which have been already introduced or shall be introduced in Russia.

According to economist Sergei Pyatenko, it is quite realistic to think that Russia might join the WTO shortly. “Both sides are keen on this. Consequently, when both sides display political will, a resolution shall be found sooner or later. This is proven by many facts in the world in several areas, including, what seem to be, the most difficult issues in disarmament. Currently, a normal process is going on where, on the one hand, Russia should not hurry and, on the other, it must pursue a firm policy in general. Most likely, this shall end sensibly”.

The officials involved in negotiations still have to complete their work on three parts of the report, on export duties, state-owned trading companies, and agriculture. Agricultural Minister Alexei Gordeyev met with the ambassadors to the WTO from the Kern group countries in Geneva. These countries pressed for liberalising agricultural markets. Here, the stumbling block is subsidies. The Kern group demands that Russia reduce annual farm subsidies to 3 billion US dollars (70.762 billion roubles. 1.926 billion euros. 1.523 billion UK pounds), while Russia insists that 9 billion US dollars (212.286 billion roubles. 5.778 billion euros. 4.569 billion UK pounds) is more realistic. Talks on the issue will be held at the level of technical negotiators for two weeks. Russia hopes to join the WTO early next year.

24 June 2008

Vyacheslav Solovyov

Voice of Russia World Service


We Can Do It!

Filed under: Christian,inspirational,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

We Can Do It!

J Howard Miller



After its rediscovery in the 1980s, this US World War II poster became an iconic depiction of “Rosie the Riveter“… oh, yes, the US won World War II under the Socialistic New Deal, not under Neoliberal “Trickle Upon” Voodoo Economics… I just thought that you’d like to know that…


The Church situation here in America is seemingly quiet. I would urge all not to be lulled by this. This is the proverbial “calm before the storm”. One proof of this is that the two Romanian bodies just issued the formal terms of their reunion. Those who wish to wade through it all can find it here. Of course, Herman Swaiko came out with a statement brimming with braggadocio. “We have to give approval to this before the Romanian Archdiocese can leave”. Indeed. When pigs fly, sir. The Romanians have decided on departure, and if Herman attempted to stand in the way, he would be steamrollered. The loss of some 24 percent of the OCA shall certainly cause comment at its next Sobor in October in Pittsburgh. If not, that shall cause even more trouble than if there’s a stormy session. If Herman uses sneaky parliamentary manoeuvres as he did the last time (using such stalking horses as Leonid Kishkovsky), or, attempts to finesse the seating of delegates, the chances of parishes or entire dioceses going over to ROCOR is very high. If there is a desire to “save” the OCA, then, Herman must either resign or be removed by the Synod of Bishops. The chance of either event happening is so slight, one can call it nil for all practical purposes. Therefore, this route is closed to us, realistically. However, we can still do it. The situation is not hopeless. When the OCA collapses, it won’t be the collapse of the Church; it’ll be the final gasp of a body that has been in rebellion for the past forty years. Many recent converts are unaware of this; they’re unaware of the actual events of the last two generations. Before we speak of my optimism concerning Christ’s Church on this continent, we should touch on the topic of “young eldership”. A scholar from outside the Church made an interesting observation lately. I wish to share it with you.

“Some people are like butterflies that go from flower to flower, going from religion to religion, and, frankly, they don’t get that deep into any of them”, said Rev Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

This hits the nail on the head, especially for the Again lot, the AOCANA convert mafia in general, and the pseudo-intellectual arrivistes who cluster about SVS. Such sorts are the majority of voices on the internet today, and one would think that Orthodox Christians went about quoting Scripture and the Fathers in an Eastern version of Protestant proof-texting. One of the things that we must do in order to clean out the Augean Stable that is American Orthodoxy is to pull such sorts down to earth. Ideally, such should be prohibited from publishing. Better yet, they should be reminded that they are babies in the faith, and that they need to learn the ABCs before they can read even “A cat sat on a mat”, let alone Milton or Shakespeare.

To end this section, what strikes me is that such people refuse to heed more grounded believers when we tell them of the mistakes of the past, in an effort to warn them. We’re told to “move on”, “forgive and forget”, and “don’t be judgemental”. That’d be fine, if these people had faced the same storms as some of us have (those who remember the “jurisdictional wars”, the silly conceits of the Ustinovshchyna (parishes of the ROCOR INSIDE Russia-ridiculous!) and l’affaire Mayfield know what I mean). However, it’s an attempt to bring Therapeutic Positivism into our midst, and these poor souls don’t realise that they are spiritual “Typhoid Marys”. We need to close their mouths for their own good, so that they can learn what Orthodoxy truly is (a ten-year process, at least). This caveat regarding ignorant converts notwithstanding, I’m OPTIMISTIC concerning the future of the Church. The OCA performed an invaluable service. It showed us what didn’t work, and did so in graphic terms so vivid that even the slow learners can grasp it. Its failure is so obvious that it’s left most faithful with the realisation that the only way forward is to go back home. It’s the moment when the Prodigal understands, “the least of my father’s servants live better than this”. I believe that most Orthodox clergy and faithful have come to this point. When one makes the resolve to return, when one has committed oneself irrevocably to this path, that’s more important than the actual first step. For if there’s no resolve or commitment, the first step’s never made.


Nursing Sister Vivian Bullwinkel (1915-2000), distinguished Australian World War II heroine


Let me tell you a true story to illustrate what I mean, and this can be taken as an allegory for the faithful of the OCA. During World War II, a woman named Vivian Bullwinkel was an Australian army nurse. She was stationed with the forces in Malaya in 1942 at the time of the Japanese invasion. When the British Imperial forces were forced to retreat, Sister Bullwinkel and 24 other nurses were evacuated on board an old steamer. It was sunk by the Japanese near Banga Island and the nurses fell into enemy hands. The Japanese forced the nurses to march into shallow water and they fired at all of them until they were all dead. Or, so it seemed… Vivian Bullwinkel was still alive. She managed to lie doggo and pretended to be dead, so, the Japanese troops left. She crawled off and hid on the island for a short time. She had to give herself up to the Japanese after a short while, but she had to conceal her wounds, for if it became known that she was the sole survivor of the massacre… I needn’t continue. She survived the horrors of the Japanese POW camps and lived to testify against her tormentors. Indeed, Ms Bullwinkel lived a full life until her death at the age of 85 in 2000.

That is what the faithful and loyal clergy (I don’t mean the apparatchiki here) are like. They’ve been battered and left for dead. They aren’t. They’re merely lying doggo to prevent further damage from Herman and his minions. Just as Sister Bullwinkel did, they’re alive, and they’ll stand again to testify against their tormentors when the time comes. Again, just like Sister Bullwinkel, they’re going to live full and fruitful lives after it’s all over. We know that an attainable unity is within our grasp. It isn’t the dreamy and utopian “pan-Orthodox unity” of the Again lot. It’s the hard and concrete unity of going back to our respective Mother Churches. This isn’t a step backward, it’s a step forward. Because of the confusion of the past two generations, it’ll take us quite a long time, quite possibly a century or two, to repair it all. All that we can do now is to start digging the foundations. Our great-great-grandchildren may live in a united Orthodoxy in America, but they’ll only do so if we reject the prelest of immediate “union” offered by Modernists and immature converts. We must roll up our sleeves and get down working at a task that we’ll not see complete on this earth. Unity isn’t a dream, but it’s a labour that’ll take generations to bear fruit. I’m ready, are you?


Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Tuesday 24 June 2008

No Chance to Reverse Russian Democracy

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

The US-based Human Rights Watch analysed moves by 29 countries to revamp their political and economic systems. It censured moves by some post-Soviet republics, including Russia. If one is to believe what the Human Rights Watch said, today’s Russia lives up to the Communist definition of the early 20th century Russian Empire, a prison house of all the nations, that’s what it is. Quick to coin flashy but meaningless definitions, human rights champions from the other side of the ocean seem to live in a nebulous wonderland, feed on old myths, and refuse to see today’s Russia.

They were unhappy to hear that Dmitri Medvedev won the Russian presidential race with active support from outgoing President Vladimir Putin. They seem to forget that members of one political party or movement have traditionally supported one another in any part of this planet. They raise no objection to President Bush’s efforts to bring another member of the Republican Party, Senator John McCain, to the White House. I cannot help chuckling when I hear claims that America is so transparent that it treats all comers to its inside news. The Human Rights Watch makes no mention of that big lie about Iraq, of what US troops did… or have been doing?… in Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo. No mention of the three years of third-degree interrogations in the CIA’s detention centre in Poland either. Yesterday’s edition of the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita spoke about that.

Much water must have flowed under the bridge since Russia was last visited by emissaries of the Human Rights Watch. Or, if I am wrong in that, the Human Rights Watch is a hopelessly biased organisation. It says there is no freedom of the press and opinion in my country, Russia. But, don’t Russian media outlets lash out at public servants, day in, and day out? Sad to say, corruption is really rampant in Russia. But, for reasons unknown, human rights champions from the other side of the ocean forget to say that President Dmitri Medvedev has done more than admit the rampant corruption, Mr Medvedev has come out with a no-nonsense programme to fight this universally-acknowledged disease. He has done more than declare war on corruption, because the people of Russia long ago opted for democracy, legal action has lately been taken against corrupt mayors, judges, bankers, and high-ranking Army officers.

It is clear that we are a fledgling democracy. But, for reasons unknown, some would like to diagnose it with a lethal disorder. As a well-known writer said, a snowball’s chance in hell, gentlemen.

24 June 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


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