Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Conductor Valery Gergiev Told the New York Times of the Tragedy of Ossetia

Filed under: mass media,politics,Russian,war and conflict — 01varvara @ 00.00

valery gergiev

Maestro Valery Gergiev (1953- ), musical director of the Mariinsky Theatre and Orchestra of St Petersburg

Newly-available accounts of the beginning of the Caucasus conflict this summer published by the New York Times last week call into question the Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against alleged South Ossetian and Russian aggression. The accounts suggest that Georgia’s military attacked the isolated capital of Tskhinvali on 7 August with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers, and unarmed monitors to harm. Also, last week, the Times followed up this story by an interview with Ossetian conductor Valery Gergiev, who denounced Georgia’s assault on the capital of South Ossetia.

Back in August, Maestro Gergiev took the stage in the demolished capital of South Ossetia to denounce Georgia for what he called its “monstrous bombardment” of Tskhinvali. Speaking shortly after the Georgian attack was repelled, both in Russian and, pointedly, for the outside world, in English, he said Georgia carried out a “huge act of aggression” and praised Russia as a saviour. Then Maestro Gergiev, perhaps, the world’s most famous Ossetian, led the Mariinsky Orchestra of St Petersburg in what was billed as a memorial concert for the dead in the five-day battle between Georgian troops and Russian and Ossetian forces.

Three months later, Mr Gergiev, according to the Times, which described this event as having a strong whiff of Kremlin propaganda, remains unrepentant, even proud, of his role. In fact, he says he is vindicated by accounts by independent monitors in an article in the New York Times on Friday, suggesting that Georgia was not acting defensively and had launched an indiscriminate attack. “That’s what I’m saying for three months”, Mr Gergiev told the Times on Friday, in a follow-up conversation to a wide-ranging interview earlier before a concert of the Mariinsky Orchestra’s American tour. “I’m not celebrating this”, he pointed out. “Sooner or later, the truth comes out”.

In his interview with the Times, Mr Gergiev harshly criticised Georgia and its president, Mikhail Saakashvili. He likened its attack to Pearl Harbor, in the sense that many knew it was coming, but, were shocked when it did, and dismissed his Western critics as armchair commentators. He said, “The one thing clear was that the regular Georgian army bombed the sleeping city. Everybody recognises it now. The Georgian president decided obviously to take them by force. If he decided to kill as many civilians as possible, it didn’t matter to him”. Mr Gergiev brushed aside reports of violence against Georgian villages in the course of the conflict. “It’s the beginning which was so important”, he said of the Georgian attack. “If you decide to open Pandora’s Box, then, don’t scream there are snakes there”.

10 November 2008

yuri-reshetnikov-1Yuri Reshetnikov

Voice of Russia World Service



Sergei Rogov, Head of the Institute of US and Canadian Studies, Comments on the US Presidential Election

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

barack obama

US President-elect Barack Obama (1961- )

The presidential election in the US remained one of the most popular issues in the world media during the whole year. The name of the new American president was also important for Russia since the relations between the two major countries in the world entirely depend on the political preferences of the new US administration. Sergei Rogov, the head of the Institute of US and Canadian Studies, commented on the 4 November election in the United States and its effect on further cooperation with Russia.

“The US presidential election is a very significant event. The outcome is not just a change of political course, but, it is the end of the US hegemony over the rest of the world. America is no longer the only superpower; its strategic policy proved ineffectual. The global financial crisis drove the first nail into US stability. Then, it became clear that all US political factions were too exhausted to go on like this. Their attempt to demonstrate superiority to the rest of the world caused dozens of problems in Iraq and Afghanistan. After so many years of fighting, Washington still is far away from victory”.

Professor Rogov noted, to overcome the crisis, Barack Obama would try different and new ideas in the manner of the 32d US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If he succeeds, the US administration will work out its strategy for the years ahead. “The issue is closely linked not with only taxes and the federal budget, but, also with US foreign policy”, Mr Rogov said, adding, “For Russia it would be better if the leader of the new US administration learnt to see and understand what was going outside America. Russia expects Mr Obama to chart his own course, different from that of his predecessor. If Mr Obama really wants stable and productive cooperation with Russia, he’ll try to understand Russian demands and boost bilateral cooperation with Moscow, especially in terms of arms reduction. Cooperation in this sphere is crucial amidst the failure of global security structures. A new treaty will probably have a link to US missile plans in Eastern Europe. So, Barack Obama will face a choice, whether to open a new page in cooperation with Russia and give up the idea of a global anti-missile shield or to continue Mr Bush’s course and pretend to be unaware of the real state of things in the Ukraine, Georgia, and NATO”.

Amidst the current financial chaos and international instability it would be hard to agree on such painful issues. However, Washington has no other option but to make some concessions; otherwise, its unilateral approach to every global problem will lead it to a deadlock. Mr Obama seems to be unaware of it. Now, it is time to act.

10 November 2008

vladimir-golovkinVladimir Golovkin

Voice of Russia World Service


After Bush, Obama Must Catch Up With Russia

Filed under: Barack Obama,diplomacy,George W. Bush,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00


President-elect Barack Obama (1961- )

George W. Bush managed to cultivate such a strong feeling against his White House in the world and dented US reputation so badly that any change on Pennsylvania Avenue is like a breath of fresh air. The new US president-elect, Barack Obama, will, of course, be better than George W. Bush for the simple reason that nobody can be worse. In view of Mr Bush’s offensive character, even John McCain would surely have looked better. But, that is a purely human response. In politics, everything is the other way round. It is not enough to be good and sometimes insufficient to be bad.

The rhetorical question often asked only a week ago, who is better for Russia, Obama or McCain, hides a simple and common approach to the matter. For Russia, in a global perspective, it would be better if the United States finally caught up with times and the White House learned to see, listen to, and understand what is happening round it. Now, from whatever angle you look at the United States as run by George W. Bush, it seems that all of them, he, Condoleezza Rice, and Vice-President Dick Cheney, the chief ideologist of neo-conservatism and the administration’s foreign policy platform, never ventured beyond being a “younger edition of Ronald Reagan”, at least concerning Russia.

The United States has so badly fallen behind a fast-changing world that now it will have to catch up with Europe, Asia, and Russia. Whilst it played the role of a monopoly superpower, and sought global exclusiveness, the rest of the world marched ahead. History sometimes shows paradoxical twists. The Soviet Union found itself in a similar position in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its dogmas were different, but, its mentality was as hardened as America’s. Now, this mentality has to be tossed aside.

The new administration will have to look at Russia through a different prism, since it is no longer Yeltsin’s “lame” Russia, nor the slowly-recovering Russia of a “younger” Putin, but, a different kind of Russia. It is not re-instating an imperial ideology, nor claiming “zones of influence”. Russia is merely asserting its national interests according to its economic and geopolitical philosophies around the perimeter of its borders and far beyond them, in any hemisphere. She is no longer the sort of Russia that believes that NATO would not expand by absorbing socialist-bloc countries, and at the expense of the Baltics. Attempts to “tighten up its girth” by means of a puppet Georgian president (you cannot deny it is so) ended pityingly for the president himself. When somebody begins energetically shifting furniture in your entrance hall, without bothering to at least inform you of the reason, one need not feel surprised at the automatic response. Russia has grown tired of playing the dupe.

Russia made so many advances to the West in the hope of understanding that, seemingly, it overdid it. That is, of course, a mistake and will have to be corrected. But, the ball is now in America’s court. It is now America’s turn to persuade Moscow of its good intentions, not the other way round. Russia knows what it would hate Mr Obama to do. Russia would hate him to continue Mr Bush’s “nuclear game” in the Czech Republic and Poland and set up a new missile defence shield targeted against Russia. Fairy tales about the “Iranian threat” are no longer accepted even by soulful listeners. Recently, President Medvedev announced that Moscow will respond to American missiles by deploying its latest Iskander theatre missiles in Kaliningrad oblast. Again, “nuclear butting?” Russia would hate Washington to carve up régimes along its borders at will and install its own puppets (of the Mikhail Saakashvili type), why not leave the countries themselves to decide their future? Russia would hate to see NATO stand for the UN, and the basics of international law warped to fit “the circumstances” (as was the case with Kosovo and Yugoslavia). Russia would hate to see an empty shell of progress at negotiations on strategic stability, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and “transparency” of American missile defences.

Russia would hate Mr Obama to do many things, only it is not very sure of what he is going to do. To judge from the brain behind the administration’s foreign policy, Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, his anti-Russian rhetoric was more hawkish than John McCain’s. True, Mr Biden (it is common knowledge in Washington) suffers from logorrhoea, but, the realities of the modern multi-polar world must adjust his rhetoric. A lot will depend on the way the “new White House” will build its relations with the Kremlin, including for America. It is clear that the US will not give up the idea of global leadership, but, in the current situation it will have to realign its forces in the world and seek closer cooperation on many international issues with Europe, China, India, and Russia. Moscow and Washington need not either love or hate each other. They, if Mr Obama so wishes, and there is every ground for believing he does, can establish a stable relationship whose key note could be cooperation in drastic armament cuts.

We could agree on a new comprehensive arms control treaty to replace the existing START-1. The current treaty expires in December of next year. A new treaty, according to Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of US and Canadian Studies, could be concluded as early as the summer or autumn of 2009. Its conclusion becomes essential in conditions of a crumbling security regime in armaments. Most likely, the new treaty will be linked by Russia to the stationing of an American missile system in Europe. So, Barack Obama will have to choose. Either a new arms control agreement and cooperation with Russia on a series of issues, including Iran, North Korea, etc. plus a renunciation of a missile defence system in Europe. Or, the second scenario of development, which is less optimistic and which provides for a further aggravation of bilateral relations, including a bitter clash on the entry of the Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.

Today’s circumstances are special. Clearly, amid financial turmoil and international instability, both the Kremlin and the White House will have to come to a variety of agreements. Washington, whether it likes it or not, will have to compromise, because if America continues its one-way policy in the world it risks losing a good deal more. Obviously, Mr Obama understands that. The wish is that this understanding might take material form.

10 November 2008

Andrei Fedyashin



Editor’s Note:

There is something that may in the end queer a sensible foreign policy towards Russia. That is, the political activity of certain Eastern European diasporas in the US and Canada. It is interesting in that Great Russians (and Eastern Ukrainians, as well), who are the largest group amongst the Slavic peoples, are not well-represented in the North American diaspora. Disproportionate numbers come from Poland, Lithuania, Galicia, and Croatia, and this cohort is disproportionately Uniate Catholic. Of course, this is exacerbated by the nationalist propaganda they attempt to pass off as truth. Russians are a tiny minority in the US and Canada. If we were to count all Orthodox Christians of all nationalities in the USA (excluding “Oriental Orthodox” who are not in communion with us), there is only a total of some one million people. That is less than 0.5 percent of the American population.

That is why we must not have disunity in our ranks. It is why we need a united Russian Orthodoxy in America. We are the ambassadors of the Motherland here in America. Even those not of Russian blood in our churches have joined, whether they wish to acknowledge it or not, a deeply-Russian body with unbreakable ties to the Rodina. We need to speak with one voice.

We can make a difference in America, but, only if we rip down the false barriers separating us. As President Reagan of happy memory said, “Tear down this wall!” We can do it, but, we must make up our minds to be one and no longer divided first. God willing, we can do it, and we shall do it.


A Humble Hieromonk Speaks…


Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral (1968- ), Archbishop of New York and Eastern America, the First Hierarch of the ROCOR. A champion and confessor of unity!

Editor’s Foreword:

The following was found on the Stokoe website. Unlike most of the commenters there, who appear to be hard-shell Renovationists, “Fr Pius” seems to a well-grounded sort who uses a pseudonym because of the nasty proclivities of the Syosset/SVS gang.


Your thoughts and the entire article were excellent Mark.

From withIN the OCA: Archbishop Job [of Chicago and the Midwest] is the only sensible candidate.

From OUTside the OCA: Metropolitan Hilarion of the Synod Abroad (sic) (“Fr Pius” means the ROCOR: editor’s note), (which I still think could further Orthodox unity in America more than we’ll ever know).

But, above all… may HIS will be done… and may we be attuned to His will in all things! Come, O Holy Spirit and fill the hearts and minds of all Thy faithful people and enkindle in us the FIRE of truth and the BRIGHTNESS of the Father’s Only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may all be accountable to Him now and for all Eternity for our thoughts, words, and deeds and have mercy upon us when we fail!

In His great mercy,

Fr Pius, Priestmonk

10 November 2008

Orthodox Christians for Accountability



Editor’s Afterword:

Unfortunately, Mark Stokoe has shown himself in the past few months as nothing but a former “insider” who wished to regain his position. It is clear that he was on the “outs” with Robert Kondratick, which explains his vehement opposition to him. Mind you, Mr Kondratick WAS a thief and destroyer of records, that is true. I merely mean that Mr Stokoe showed more than a tincture of “methinks the maiden doth protesteth too much”.

“Fr Pius” raises an important point. There is no doubt that the best candidate for the First Hierarch of a united Russian Orthodox Church in the Americas is Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral of the ROCOR. He was born and raised in Canada, he has a “missionary heart”, he is young enough to be vigorous, and old enough to have acquired some wisdom. He is a peacemaker and conciliator. There is no one in the present OCA Holy Synod who has his abilities and gifts.

Yes, it would mean the “end” of the “autocephaly” of the OCA. So be it. The organisation is moribund, in any case. I shall not cry if Joseph Fester, David Brum, Paul Meyendorff, John Breck, and all of their assorted clerical and pseudo-intellectual hangers-on get the heave-ho. I shall confide that I shall not be alone. Indeed, Rev Behr, a wheel at SVS, admitted to a priest abroad that there was “no future in the OCA”.

It is time to bury the decomposed corpse of Schmemann’s folly. It is time to unify the three Russian churches in the diaspora. Oh, what about those who are Russophobic? They shall leave, just as the right-wing fringe of the ROCOR dropped off after the reconciliation, the left-wing fringe of the OCA shall go off to the AOCANA, pushing it ever further into quasi-Protestantism and Americanist phyletism. We shall all be better off without them.

We have a church to rebuild. God willing, Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral shall be able to do it.

We can do it. The time for unity is NOW.

Deus Vult! (God wills it!)

(Yes, I know it is the motto of the Latin Crusaders, but, it fits, I am using it, and I am not ashamed.)


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