Voices from Russia

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Images of Serbia: Orthodox Bosnia

Editor’s Foreword:

It is time for another photo-essay, this time focusing on our Serbian brethren in the Faith in Srpska Bosna. Do not forget them in your prayers, for they are on the ramparts against militant Islam daily.

You may note in the photos of the convent church that there is no iconostas. No, it is not a modernist establishment. It is just a new building where the iconostas has not been installed yet. If you look carefully at some of the snaps, you shall see the fittings where the iconostas is going to be installed. I make this note to forestall two people in particular on the Orthodox Forum who are always crowing about modernist this and renovationist that. This case is nothing of the sort.



The Diocese of Zvornitsko-Tuzla is located in north-eastern Bosnia. The foundation of the diocese here can be traced to the time of King Dragutin at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th centuries. In the 15th century, the seat of the Orthodox metropolitan was in Srebnica. During the Turkish rule, the seat of the metropolitan was moved to Zvornike. In the 16th century, the diocese was part of the Serbian Patriarchate of Pec, but, after it was abolished in 1766 the diocese became part of the EP, and the Phanar named Greeks as bishops (gee… sounds familiar… looks like the EP is up to its old tricks again, eh?: editor’s note). In the 19th century, the seat of the bishop was moved to Nizhnoyu Tuzla. After the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Bosnia-Herzegovina passed under the rule of Austria-Hungary. In 1892, a Serb, Nikolai Mandic, was named the metropolitan of Zvornitsko-Tuzla, and his rule brought great progress to the life of the diocese in every respect.

The beginning of World War I was marked by pogroms against the Orthodox population by the repressive Hapsburg (Catholic) state and oppression by a ruthless Austrian military government. After the war, the diocese became part of the restored united Patriarchate of Serbia. Heavy trials again fell on the diocese during World War II. It found itself within the boundaries of the Nazi-collaborator Croatian state, and its faith was tested severely by the terror of the fascist Ustashi, who tried to wipe out the Orthodox population. Many of the clergy accepted death as martyrs, and churches, archives, and libraries were wantonly destroyed. At the same time, the Church suffered from oppression by Tito’s communist Partisans, a trial that continued even after the war was over.

Despite all of this turmoil, Bishop Nektary, and his successor, Bishop Longin, brought about a restoration of church life. In 1978, Vasili Kachavenda, the present bishop of the Diocese of Zvornitsko-Tuzla, took over. Vladyki Vasili’s wise rule enabled the diocese to survive and led to its present revival. There was furious fighting on the territory of the diocese during the Civil War of 1991-95. Serbian holy places and sacred relics were destroyed by Islamic militants and the forces of the Croatian nationalist Ustashi. Because of the fierce bombardments, Vladyki Vasili was forced to move from Tuzla to Bielin. At the end of the war, Vladyki Vasili did everything he could to revive church life, restoring ruined churches and building new ones. At present, this diocese is one of the most efficient and well-run dioceses [in the Patriarchate of Serbia]. The ancient monasteries of Tavna, Ozren, Lovrica, Papracha, Knezhina, and Sase, amongst others, are located on its territory.

Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh in Bielin in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh in Bielin is one of the new monasteries in Bosnia-Herzegovina in Srpska Bosna. The residence of the ruling bishop of the Diocese of Zvornitsko-Tuzla is on the monastery’s grounds. The building of the monastery complex proceeded from 1996 until 2001. On 12 May 2001, the monastery was consecrated by 19 bishops of the Patriarchate of Serbia. In addition, many of the faithful flocked to the service. Included in the monastery complex are a church, the diocesan tribunal, a museum, a library, a refectory, and the monk’s living quarters, all surrounded by a protective wall. The belfry is some 30 metres (@100 feet) high. A school of iconography is part of the complex. The frescoes in the church were painted by Dragan Marunic from Belgrade. In the monastery, relics of St Basil of Ostrozh and St Sisoes the Great are enshrined, along with a copy of the icon of the Mother of God “of Troeruchitsa” presented as a gift from Khilandar Monastery on the Holy Mountain.

1. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh

2. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh

3. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, summer church

4. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh

5. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh

6. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, mosaic icon of St Basil of Ostrozh

7. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh

8. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

9. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

10. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

11. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

12. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

13. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

14. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of summer church

15. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, royal gates of iconostas

16. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

17. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

18. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

19. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

20. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

21. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church, St Basil of Ostrozh healing the sick

22. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church, St John the Baptist

23. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

24. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church, St Sisoes the Great

25. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church

26. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, interior fresco of church, Holy Martyr St Avvakum the Deacon

27. Bielin. Monastery of St Basil of Ostrozh, shrine of the icon of the Saviour “not made by hands”


The Convent of Dragalevac

The Convent of St Gavriil the Archangel is located in the village of Verkhny Dragalevac. At different times, there were several wooden churches, the first of which appeared at the beginning of the 14th century. The present church, built of stone, is the fourth in the series. A stone fragment from an altar was found in the courtyard of the cloister in 1992 with the date of 1310. The present church was dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God on 21 September 1909 by Metropolitan Yevgeny Leticey. The cloister chapel is dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The ancient monastic residence, used as far back as the times of the Turkish rule, still stands beside the church. Now, a new monastic residence and cloister with a winter chapel is in the complex. The frescoes in the church were painted by master iconographers from the atelier of Petar Bilic in Belgrade in 2004. In 1985, the monastery was refounded as a convent.

1. Convent of Dragalevac, foundation festival

2. Convent of Dragalevac, altar

3. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

4. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

5. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

6. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy, Bishop Vasili of Zvornitsko and Tuzla ordaining a deacon to the priesthood

7. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy, “Axios!”

8. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

9. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

10. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

11. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy

12. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy, before Holy Communion

13. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy, Bishop Vasili of Zvornitsko and Tuzla, Holy Communion

14. Convent of Dragalevac, Divine Liturgy, Bishop Vasili of Zvornitsko and Tuzla, Veneration of the Cross

15. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession

16. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession

17. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession, kolach for the slava

18. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession

19. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession

20. Convent of Dragalevac, religious procession

21. Convent of Dragalevac, litiya

22. Convent of Dragalevac, kolach for the slava

23. Convent of Dragalevac, prayers over the kolach at the slava

24. Convent of Dragalevac, blessing the kolach at the slava

25. Convent of Dragalevac, veneration of the kolach and cross at the slava

26. Convent of Dragalevac, kolach and kutia

27. Convent of Dragalevac, dinner at the festival

28. Convent of Dragalevac, carousel at the festival

Photographs by Hieromonk Ignaty Shestakov



The Importance of Not Electing John McCain

Filed under: politics,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

If the political pundits think relations between Moscow and Washington are in freefall mode now, just wait until John McCain inherits the US presidency. Yes, you heard it here first. John McCain will be duly elected as the 44th president of the United States in November. Of course, I may be wrong, but, the conspiracy theorist in me keeps whispering that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are mere freak show acts to a tragedy that is already written. I just can’t imagine, not in this lifetime, the US neocons surrendering the joystick to Iraqi Surge. However, rest easy, Russia, because of Mr McCain in the White House, the pain will be far greater for middle-class Americans, already being swept away by a tidal wave of home foreclosures (analysts predict about 2 million homes will be up for sheriff’s sale by the end of 2008), ridiculous McWal-Mart wages, and an anti-capitalist culture of corporate welfare. Under Mr McCain, tax breaks for the rich, and continued slow simmering for the middle and lower classes, promise to continue. American Economics for Idiots, Chapter One… Corporate America’s brave “free market economy” has no problem with consumers clinging to leaky lifeboats in a sea of debt and loan sharks, but, just watch the “invisible hand” of the market spring to the rescue when the intrepid investors start bleeding green. The latest meltdown on Wall Street proves there is no such thing as an unregulated market, the mythical “survival of the fittest economy” dear to Atlas Shrugged fans. Even the Financial Times was forced to swallow this jagged pill of common sense. “Remember Friday March 14, 2008”, wrote columnist Martin Wolf. “It was the day the dream of global free-market capitalism died… By its decision to rescue Bear Stearns, the Federal Reserve, the institution responsible for monetary policy in the US, chief protagonist of free-market capitalism, declared this era over… Deregulation has reached its limits”. It’s so sad to see grown economists cry all over their data.

Incidentally, the Bush clan has acquired quite a reputation for brazen bailouts of the banking and investment community. Under George I, prodigal son Neil Bush did a bang-up job as honorary board member and big borrower of Silverado Savings and Loan; its crash and burn set back American taxpayers back 1 billion dollars (23.501 billion roubles. 637 million euros. 504 million UK pounds), while the systemic S&L crisis cost the clogged heartland an estimated $200 billion (4.7004 trillion roubles. 127.4 billion euros. 100.8 billion UK pounds). The thread of “moral hazard” has woven its way through the administrations of Bush I & II. As you can see, when discussing America politics it’s easy to get wildly sidetracked. However, it’s important to appreciate the Time of Troubles that Mr McCain will inherit when he moves into the Oval Office in November. Just the fact that Mr McCain has made it this far in the presidential race says a lot about the state of American politics, and nothing terribly optimistic. First, although I’m not a doctor, it seems that Mr McCain, and all future leaders, in fact, should be required by some sort of clause in the Homeland Security Act to undergo a thorough psychological test before running for higher office. After all, the primary mission of the federal agency, according to its website, is to “prevent, protect against, and respond to acts of terrorism on United States soil”. Personally, I can see no greater magnet for terrorists to American shores than this guy, who recently told a wide-eyed audience that he had no problem with American troops staying in Iraq “for another 100 years”. During another comic session, Mr McCain tortured his audience by putting a new twist on a Beach Boys hit, “Bomb, bomb, bomb… Iran”.

Although it is hard not to be impressed with Mr McCain’s war credentials (after being shot down during a bombing mission over Vietnam, he was imprisoned and tortured for five-and-a-half years, three in solitary confinement; that gives a person a lot of time to reflect on a lot of things), his experience seems to have increased rather than softened his appetite for military confrontation. This in itself is scary, since most soldiers return home from war with a great distaste for combat. “War would end if the dead could return”, commented Stanley Baldwin. For America, as with other countries snorting heavily on the power powder, the one thing more dangerous than defeat in battle is victory. Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, US forces quickly cleaned the Taliban’s clock in Afghanistan, which prompted a whole slew of articles and books with the word “empire” emblazoned in the titles (12.8 million according to my Google counter). This head rush of hubris led naturally to the deserts of Iraq, despite the fact that UN inspectors could find no “smoking gun” to support a “liberating” invasion. Failure to stem the violence in Iraq after 5 years and 4,000 US fatalities hasn’t turned to talk of leaving, but rather to finding new enemies and new reasons for America’s “setback”. The Associated Press lamented that the “Iraq war has nearly vanished from US TV screens”. However, tune into CNN or Fox News, for example, and the reason for this disappearing act is clear: the heavy media train has already packed up its equipment and headed off to Iran. In the past, the media followed armies to the war; today, armies follow the media to the next battlefield. Now, all America needs is “conservative” John McCain in the White House to complete this script of sheer insanity.

10 April 2008

Robert Bridge

Moscow News

An American in Moscow


Myriad Crises Loom on America’s Doorstep

US Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (1947- ), with US Navy personnel in the state of Maine


US President George W Bush held a press conference at the White House this week, speaking about the ailing US economy and soaring oil prices, but also on international issues such as the alleged Syrian nuclear programme, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe. However, he focused primarily on the US economy, an issue that currently preoccupies the American public. In his opening statement, the US President said he expected the initial estimate for the first quarter gross domestic product, to be released Wednesday, to show a very slow economy. A news analysis provided by the New York Times this week gave a pretty pessimistic assessment of the economy. “Americans are pumping their pay cheques into their gas tanks, and the economy’s in a stall. Food scarcities threaten governments overseas and spur hoarding at home. Foreclosures are up, home sales are down”. Nevertheless, the Times said the US government isn’t doing enough to address those problems facing the nation, pointing to “inertia in official Washington, despite myriad crises on the nation’s doorstep”. The paper quoted Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who said, “It’s incomprehensible that we aren’t grappling with the major challenges confronting the American people. People need to hear that their national leaders are working together, the president in concert with the Congress. It’s political negligence on the part of both branches and both parties”.

According to the Washington Post, “the soaring gasoline prices spilled over into Washington and the presidential race yesterday, as Congress moved toward a showdown with President Bush over legislation aimed at forcing oil companies to help ease the burden on consumers”. Democratic leaders, the Post said, “shot back that Bush is out of touch with struggling Americans, as he pours money into the Iraq war at the expense of domestic priorities. In absolute dollar terms, the US military budget is by far the highest of any country in the world. By some estimates the Pentagon spending package exceeds that of the next 25 nations combined. According to the Center for Defense Information in a recent press release, “more than 100 countries have military budgets of less than 1 billion dollars (23.501 billion roubles. 637 million euros. 504 million UK pounds), roughly what the Pentagon spends in one day”. According to the CDI report, “if you converted the current Pentagon budget into silver dollars and stacked them one on top of another, it would make a stack reaching roughly three times the distance to the Moon, and enough to circle the Earth 27.5 times”. President Bush said at his press conference this week he was no magician and could do little about the soaring oil prices. “If there was a magic wand to wave, I’d be waving it, of course”. Some in the United States might have wished away some of his poor foreign policy decisions as well.

4 July 2008

Yuri Reshetnikov

Voice of Russia World Service


A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… Another Cold War?


People on both sides of the ocean are wondering whether they’re destined to see a repetition of the notorious Cold War period, which marred the political developments of the post-World War II years. Judging by what some prominent political players of America and Europe say and what the Western media offer to their audiences, it’s difficult not to feel that a second Cold War is about to be ushered in, or has already been ushered in. The rejection of what used to be known as “détente in international relations” is accompanied by a large-scale, multi-tiered, and occasionally sky-rocketing media campaign.

Because he used the word combination “cold war” more than once in his Vilnius address of 4 May 2006, which, stylistically and as a matter of fact, returned his audience to the Cold War years, the number-two man of the USA, Vice-President Richard Cheney, brought back the seemingly long-dead spectre of the Cold War. Vice President Cheney was the first of too many high-ranking Americans in the early 21st century to allow himself to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia and use harsh and ill-suited language in reference to the foreign strategies of that country. Likely as not, Richard Cheney dreamed of delivering a speech on the order of Sir Winston Churchill’s Fulton address which ushered in the notoriously known Cold War sixty years ago. However, whatever dreams he might’ve dreamed, Dick Cheney fails to measure up to Sir Winston. The brain behind the adventuresome invasion of Iraq and the ardent advocate of an attack on Iran was the wrong man to accuse Russia of interference in the affairs of other nations.

What he said on the coast of the Baltic Sea set a benchmark example to others. Other highly-placed Washingtonians were quick to recall the language and methods of the Cold War period. Because George W Bush refrained from joining their anti-Russian chorus, but raised no objection to what they said, the Secretary of State and other members of his Cabinet started doing what public servants of their standing were encouraged to do way before and what seemed to have long sunk into oblivion. The potential heirs of President Bush would, in all likelihood, be only too glad to follow their suit. Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton are trying to outdo each other in verbal attacks on Russia.

Media editors obediently respond to signals from the American political Olympus. Their well-organised anti-Russian campaign differs little from those of the Cold War years. Daily information, reports, and comment on Russian developments are, all of them, without an exception, as anti-Russian as they were in those ill-famed years. It’s hardly possible to spot an unbiased, let alone favourable, report on the life of Russia and the Russian people in the American newspapers, magazines, or on American radio and television broadcasts. No one but a small circle of businessmen knows that Russia is one of the fastest-growing economies of this planet and that the leading business and financial companies of the world are in a hurry to win a foothold for capital investment in that country. Yet, the business élite draw on other sources of information. Rank-and-file Americans discover they’ve been told lies about Russia if and when they happen to visit this country. Every meeting with American visitors to Russia highlights two things. What they see in this country differs from what they expected to see, and, second, they feel angry when they find out they were told lies.

Nevertheless, it’s too early yet to speak of a second Cold War. The Cold War of the post-war decades was a result of the standoff between two irreconcilable ideologies and incompatible political systems. Competition in the production of nuclear and missile technologies threatened to turn that Cold War into a global nuclear holocaust. The world has changed greatly. The international community has been able to remove the threat of a nuclear holocaust. Russia and the USA have stopped targeting missiles on each other. There’s a new and growing need for collective anti-terrorist action and collective efforts to combat environmental pollution, hunger, and dangerous epidemics. Attempts to galvanise a Cold War are made by dirty and dishonest politicians, narrow-minded, but unfortunately, powerful forces that put their own interests above common sense. That they’re insolvent policy-makers will, sooner or later, become clear. It’ll also become clear that their policies are fatally dangerous… even from their point of view. The sooner it becomes clear, the better.

25 April 2008

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service



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