Voices from Russia

Monday, 7 July 2008

Fr Sergei Rybko Preached at Rock Festival Nashestviye (Invasion) 2008, a “Russian Woodstock”

The participants of the Nashestviye 2008 [Invasion 2008] rock festival, considered a “Russian Woodstock”, received pastoral blessings and a sermon from the stage. According to an Interfax-Religion correspondent, Konstantin Kinchev and his group Alisa played about two hours and their concert was crowned with a sermon by Hegumen Sergei Rybko, the rector of the church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, who is famed for his missionary work among counterculture youth. Thousands of Invasion participants enthusiastically welcomed his appearance on the stage.

“May God help you! Bear the banner of Russian rock with dignity, as Konstantin Kinchev does. Russian rock, in its best manifestations, has led many to faith, and, no doubt, it will lead many more people to Christ and salvation”, Fr Sergei said at the beginning of his remarks to the crowd. He recalled that many people of his generation came to faith in difficult times “when they were sent to the loony bin if they dissented”. However, in his opinion, “the authorities didn’t succeed, as we were faithful to our ideals, searched for ourselves in this world, and though we took different ways, in essence, it was one path to God. My friends, I believe in you. Indeed, there is no other path for us, we must follow our Russian traditions and Holy Orthodoxy, for they are God’s divine gifts to us, they serve our always invincible great Russian motherland, but, it is so only if we are united with Christ and one another”.

According to the festival’s organisers, over 100,000 people visited Nashestviye 2008 over the three days of its presentation. Multicoloured flags, including the Russian and Romanov imperial flags fluttered near the main stage set up on the Volga bank. The hometowns of the “Russian Woodstock” audience could be learned from the inscriptions on them: Moscow, Sochi, Tula, St Petersburg, Vladimir, Krasnodar, Oryol, Kaliningrad, Bryansk, Irkutsk, Severodvinsk, and Belgrad. Bad weather and muddy conditions didn’t cool the ardour of the Russian rock fans.

7 July 2008




President Dmitri Medvedev held Bilateral Meetings with G8 Leaders

President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- ) (right) with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (1955- ) (left)

Within the framework of the G8 summit in Hokkaido, President Dmitri Medvedev held meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. According to a Presidential aide, Sergey Prikhodko, Mr Medvedev and Frau Merkel had a detailed conversation about energy dialogue and security and energy efficiency. For Russia, it was necessary to learn Germany’s point of view before the talks on a new strategic cooperation and partnership treaty with the EU begin. Mr Prikhodko emphasised that it was the first meeting ever between President Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two presidents gave high ratings to the development of Russian-French bilateral economic cooperation. Recently, Moscow and Paris have actively implemented a series of investment projects, especially in auto-making. Mr Medvedev and M Sarkozy also focused on a new cooperation agreement between Russia and EU. As one of the key players on the European continent, France promised Russia support during the negotiation process and in terms of its accession to the WTO.

The meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was of special interest for both experts and journalists as Moscow and London faced some difficulties in relations in recent years. According to Mr Prikhodko, the two leaders had a frank dialogue and discussed all thorny issues in political and humanitarian cooperation, including the fate of the British Council in Russia and the work of some big oil companies. Mr Medvedev suggested that they made an attempt to restore the previous level of cooperation and make it even better and productive in the near future. Apart from this, Mr Medvedev and Mr Brown touched upon global economic issues, the food crisis, and globalisation. Thus, Russia and Great Britain have a chance to improve bilateral cooperation.

7 July 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


G-8 Summit Underway In Japan

Filed under: diplomacy,economy,international organisations,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

On Monday, the G-8 summit got underway in the Japanese city of Toyako, on Hokkaido Island. The G-8 is one of the key informal mechanisms to coordinate the financial, economic and political efforts of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Canada, and Russia. Hokkaido is now the centre of the globe’s political life for the next three days. Besides the G-8 leaders, the leaders of Brazil, South Africa, Australia, India, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Mexico are attending the forum. The latter eight have been invited to attend the summit’s working meetings to discuss the whole of the meetings’ agenda, specifically contributions to African development, fighting the negative consequences of climate change, and the global economic situation given unstable oil and food prices. The summit will also take up international security, specifically non-proliferation and the situation in global flashpoints.

An interesting peculiarity of this year’s G-8 summit is that it is holding working meetings in an enlarged format. On Monday, the G-8 leaders will meet their counterparts from some developing nations, namely Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India, and China. On Tuesday, these are scheduled to be joined by the leaders of Australia, South Korea, and Indonesia. This kind of format gives the summit some fresh content and makes the functioning of the G-8 more open. Yet, the G-8 is in no rush to offer G-8 membership to new members.

During the summit, Russia is expected to make specific proposals for consolidating international food security. Those meeting on the sidelines of the summit do not rule out that Russia, as a leading agricultural producer, may come up with a plan for boosting agricultural production, specifically to increase its own agricultural produce exports, which will be Russia’s specific contribution to the efforts to fill the world food basket. Russian experts and major companies are prepared to start a multilateral dialogue on shaping a global agricultural policy that would adequately respond to new threats around the world.

Japan, the host country of the summit, has put at the pinnacle of the agenda the problem of climate change. It sees global warming as a disaster that threatens both current and future generations. To live in harmony with nature is an old cultural tradition of the Japanese. Today, Hokkaido is a graphic illustration of a careful treatment of the environment. It’s for the same reason that the Japanese chose for the symbol of the summit a sprout cutting its way through the asphalt.

7 July 2008

Yelena Studneva

Voice of Russia World Service


New Russian Leader to Début at G-8 Summit

President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- )

Dmitri Medvedev, the new Russian President, shall join the most important political and economic summit of the 8 most industrialised nations next week, signalling that his policy will be consistent with that of his predecessor. The new Russian leader will be making his first formal début among the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations. There’s no question that all eyes will be on him as he will try to do his best to make a good impression at the G-8 summit.

The youthful Russian president used recent visits to Beijing, Berlin, last week’s EU-Russia summit, and his current trip to the energy-rich former Soviet Republics in Central Asia to give the world an inkling of what might be expected of him as Russia’s top leader. Ahead of this year’s Group of Eight [G-8] gathering on7-9 July, some observers described him as “wearing a kinder, gentler face, yet, signalling he will be as tough as his predecessor”. Senior western officials who met President Medvedev on previous occasions since he took office all seem to describe him as “young”, “open”, and “relaxed”.

At the G-8 summit on Hokkaido, President Medvedev may have every opportunity to reinforce his image on the informal level. But, on the thorny issues that have strained Russia’s relations with the West, like NATO expansion, US missile defence in Eastern Europe, and energy competition, Mr Medvedev has firmly stuck to policies forged by Vladimir Putin. A European official told the French News Agency (AFP) on the sidelines of the EU-Russia summit in Siberia last month that “all the usual disputes have been put on the table, minus the aggressive connotation that Putin gave them”.

In a meeting with a group of foreign journalists held this week in Moscow, President Medvedev was frankly asked about a proposal of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential hopeful, to bar Russia from the Group of 8 because of its record on democracy. His reply seemed just as blunt as he said that an America in “essentially a depression” was in no position to lecture other countries on how to conduct their affairs. “The Group of 8 exists not because someone likes or dislikes them, but, because objectively they are the biggest world economies and the most serious players from the foreign policy point of view”. He added that “any attempts to put restrictions on anyone in this capacity will damage the entire world order”.

Moscow’s foreign policy goal right now is to ensure Russia’s return to the international stage. The upcoming G-8 summit in Japan, where Russia wants to appear on an equal footing with the United States about managing global problems of the day, may prove to be the right occasion for the new Kremlin leader to begin doing just that.

4 July 2008

Yuri Reshetnikov

Voice of Russia World Service


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