Voices from Russia

Monday, 17 November 2008

Russia Celebrates the Birthday of Grandpa Frost

Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost) in front of his home in Veliki Ustyug. It’s time to think about writing Dede! You’ll feel so much better after you write that letter! (A shameless crib from the good folks at VOR)


Russia celebrates the birthday of Grandpa Frost (Ded Moroz) on 18 November. You know him… the beloved New Year‘s character, and every Russian, from the tall to the small, knows and loves him. This year, the sovereign of the ice and snow marks his 308th year. Really, how old is this hero of our New Year’s fairy tales? I don’t know, but, the songs and the legends say it’s not less than 2,000 years. Long, long, ago, Morok, the sorcerer of winter walked amongst the Russian villages, making strong frosts. In an attempt to shield themselves from the fierce cold, the villagers left gifts for him on their windowsills and doorsteps. They thought that they could placate him with pancakes, berries, and pirogi (meat and fish pies). We don’t know why or for what reason the attitude of people changed, but, Morok changed over time, and even his name changed. He became a kindly old man with a long white beard, Grandpa Frost (Ded Moroz). This happened 308 years ago, it is a date firmly fixed in the folk legends of the Russian north. But, concerning his exact birthday… Well, several years ago, Russian school-kids decided it, for on 18 November Grandpa Frost comes to live at his house in Veliki Ustyug in Vologda oblast from far parts, he declares the start of winter, and sends the first frost.

Annually, Grandpa Frost receives about 500,000 letters, not only from kids in Russia, but from all over the world. They ask him to grant their holiday wishes. Without being stingy at all, Grandpa Frost tries to answer every letter. He has a lot of friends and helpers who assist him in getting this done. When he meets with kids, Grandpa Frost says, “We always do good things together, but we do bad things on our own and on the sly. Therefore, the good magician has many friends and helpers, but the bad ones, they don’t have any helpers. So, good shall always conquer evil, and I sincerely wish this for all of you”.

However, there’s only one day in the year when Grandpa Frost gets greetings and presents… on his birthday. Many guests come to his house in Veliki Ustyug. This year, kids from all over Russia will come to give Grandpa birthday greetings. They’ll give their gifts to him through his associates, winter magicians from Finland, Germany, Sweden, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Kirghizia. In spite of his advanced age, our Russian Grandpa Frost is still full of vim and vigour. On 31 August, he climbed to the top of the highest mountain in Europe, Mt Elbrus, and planted the flags of Moscow, Vologda Oblast, and his own banner. In the near future, he plans to journey to the Arctic and Antarctica, and he plans to fly to the Moon in 2028, Roskosmos has already given its OK. On 26 December, Grandpa Frost shall go to Moscow to light up the main New Year’s/Christmas tree of Russia in the Kremlin {this is because New Year’s is 1 January, and the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on 7 January: editor}.

17 November 2008

Maria Domnitskaya

Voice of Russia World Service


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The UOC/MP Emphasises that the Word “Genocide” is not stressed in its Encyclical on the Topic of the So-called “Golodomor”



The latest Synod meeting of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/MP, whose encyclical was understood to equate the so-called “Golodomor” with genocide, didn’t, in fact, propose to recognise this tragedy “as an undoubted act of genocide”, according to Bishop Aleksandr Drabinko, the vicar to Metropolitan Vladimir Sabodan of Kiev. “The discussion didn’t deal precisely with defining this event as an act of genocide… Generally, we tried to avoid this word, because genocide is a crime committed by one people against another. In no way did we define this question in such a manner”, he emphasised in an interview with the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli (The Mirror of the Week). “We spoke of the famine as a tragedy of our people; we censured the criminal régime that exterminated our people. The famine in the Volga region and in other places was carried through in the same manner”, he noted. According to Vladyki Aleksandr, “First of all, this was a crime against humanity. The government repressed everyone in all parts of our country who wished to freely work on their own land. This was the ideology of those in power at the time, and it was the precise intent of the synod for the encyclical to condemn that ideology”, he emphasised.

In answer to a question that the encyclical of the synod was motivated by a desire to improve relations with the MP, he stated, “Those who allege that we are in complete subordination to the MP spread a myth that is meant solely to discredit our church”. In summation, Bishop Aleksandr said that Metropolitan Vladimir “has a very strong personality. He makes up his own mind. Concerning the decision of the synod on the subject of the famine, I can’t understand why it would upset anyone. Do you truly think that there are those in the MP who long for the return of the Bolsheviks or applaud the deaths in the famine? I think that they agree with us that this is proper”.

17 November 2008



The Church and National History of the Ukraine: Is it the Beginning or the End of the Discussion?


Hieromartyr St Maksim Sandovich (+1914), executed by the Hapsburg authorities solely on the grounds of being an Orthodox priest. NEVER forget this! Never forget the host of martyrs from Galicia and Carpatho-Russia who died for refusing Uniatism.


Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko sponsored splashy and lurid events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the so-called “Golodomor“, that is, the alleged artificial famine in the USSR that was a consequence of the Soviet policy of forced collectivisation. Hunger stalked vast areas of the Volga region, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine. However, Yushchenko made an attempt to present the famine of the 1930s as an intentional act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. He tried to garner support for this position from the international community, the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and even factions in the Moscow Patriarchate. He had the gall to invite President Dmitri Medvedev to this Russophobic conclave! In addressing the Pope of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch on the topic of the 75th anniversary of this famine, Yushchenko stated, “Scholarly research uncovered unquestionable evidence that proves that this was an occurrence of genocide. The Communist régime intended to destroy the flower of the nation by uprooting the Ukrainian soul. This was done in order to squelch our belief in our freedom and trample on the revival of our statehood. In the end, the efforts of these beasts were defeated”.

However, who did the Ukrainian president blame for “the destruction of the flower of the nation by uprooting the Ukrainian soul?” Did he place the blame solely on the communist régime? Strictly speaking, the famine was a sotsiotsidom, that is, a destruction of the free-holding peasant class according to social, not ethnic, criteria. Furthermore, this artificially-induced famine raged not only through the Ukraine, but throughout all of Russia, and it affected all of its peoples. To say that the so-called “Golodomor” was “an act of genocide directed against the Ukrainian people” doesn’t correspond to historical truth and it’s nothing but a false shibboleth of the “Orange” faction used as anti-Russian propaganda. Let’s give a reply to the vapourings concerning the alleged action of the communists in “uprooting the Ukrainian soul”. In actuality, one can say that these events unfolded in a way precisely opposite of this formulation.

To spiritually enslave the people, the Bolshevik government attempted to deprive them of their faith, history, and national self-consciousness. To this end, the Bolsheviks forbade Russians to use the names “Russia” and “Little Russia”. They had a policy of forced “Ukrainisation” in the 1920s in the Ukrainian SSR, restricting the national consciousness to the areas of the Donbas, Novorossii, Tauride, and Carpatho-Russia. Certainly, the Bolsheviks planned the destruction of the Orthodox Church. Few know this, but, the Ukrainian Bolsheviks actively aided the so-called “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church“. In response to this Bolshevik policy of support for a so-called “Ukrainian Local Church”, Patriarch St Tikhon Bellavin strengthened the authority of the MP hierarchs in the region, establishing an exarchate of the MP in the Ukraine.

It is very instructive to trace the history of the Bolshevik famine. The first of the regions to be affected was Volynia, one of the more prosperous parts of the country. From time immemorial, it had been a stronghold of conservative and patriotic Russian sentiment. In effect, Volynia was not affected by the Revolution of 1905, and secessionist feelings were absent there. It may be amazing to us today, but Volynia was a centre of the conservative all-Russian political outlook. This is described with particular force in the life of Hieromartyr Arkady Ostalsky of Zhitomir written by the Crimean archpriest Fr Nikolai Donenko. One of the main spiritual centres of Russia was Pochaev Monastery in Volynia, and no candidate to the Gosduma could be elected without the blessing of the spiritual leaders of that time, Archbishop Antony Khrapovitsky and Archimandrite Vitaly Maksimenko. Moscow and St Petersburg voted for liberal deputies and the Volynia of Antony Khrapovitsky… voted for Russian patriots.

It is also instructive to recall that a previous synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/MP canonised the Host of Galician and Carpatho-Russian New Martyrs, headed by Hieromartyr Maksim Sandovich, the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century, the massacre of the Carpatho-Russian Russophiles, who were accused by the Hapsburg authorities of “espionage on the part of Russia”. More than 60,000 “spies” were killed by the Austro-Hungarians. First, several sequential actions were carried out against priests and laity who left Uniatism for Orthodoxy and spoke Russian. We can see this in the trial of Olga Grabar in 1882 and the first and second Marmarosh-Sigetskie trials in 1912-14. In Carpatho-Russia, entire villages became Orthodox, abandoning Uniatism. More than 90,000 people were convicted in show trials, thousands of the peasants lived in a state of siege for several years. The authorities pressed trials against Frs Maksim Sandovich and Semyon Bendasyuk and Fyodor Bogatyrts, a doctor of theology…

If the victims of the genocide were canonised, and do remember that a United Nations convention of 1948 precisely defines “genocide” as the destruction of a people based soled on ethnic or religious grounds, it would be logical to condemn it. In this context, the recent declaration of the synod of the UOC/MP on the so-called “Holodomyr” didn’t close the discussion, rather, it opened the way for an objective and common study about these key historical events and the lessons that we can learn from them.

18 November 2008

Kirill Frolov

Head of the Ukrainian Department of the Institute for the Study of the CIS Countries



Poll reveals that Most Russians Endorse the Rehabilitation of Tsar Nikolai II


About 70 percent of Russians endorse the rehabilitation of Tsar Nikolai II and his family, whilst only 11 percent oppose it, the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) found out. The poll, which was taken in November in 140 cities and towns in 42 oblasts, krais, and republics in the Russian Federation, showed that the majority of those who support the decision of the Russian Supreme Court to rehabilitate the last Russian Tsar and his family are supporters of the Yedinaya Rossia (United Russia) and Spravedlivaya Rossia (Lawful Russia) political parties (74 percent and 70 percent respectively). Inhabitants of larger cities and villagers (73 percent) and Russians aged from 25 to 59 (71-72 percent) are in agreement with them.

Followers of the Communist Party (27 percent) and residents of smaller towns (15-18 percent) were usually against the rehabilitation of the imperial family. According to the poll, Nikolai II has the highest favourable rating of the figures of the revolutionary period (44 percent). As we go down the list, one finds Lenin (42 percent), Dzerzhinsky (40 percent), Kolchak (32 percent), Stalin (28 percent), Denikin (23 percent), Bukharin (21 percent), and Trotsky and Makhno (both 18 percent). At the bottom of the list were Kerensky (16 percent) and Milyukov (10 percent).

According to the data collected by the VTsIOM, research also showed that the number of Russians who rated Lenin and Stalin positively has fallen consistently in three successive polls taken over the past three years (from 50 percent to 42 percent and from 37 percent to 28 percent respectively), whereas the number of those who rated Nikolai II in a negative fashion has fallen from 28 to 22 percent. There were also reductions in negative reactions to Kolchak (from 41 to 30 percent), Makhno (from 55 to 45 percent), Kerensky (from 44 to 36 percent), Denikin (from 39 to 32 percent), and Trotsky (from 45 to 39 percent).

The Presidium of the RF Supreme Court ruled to rehabilitate Tsar Nicholas II and the members of his family in October. “The Presidium of the Supreme Court has ruled to recognise that NIkolai Aleksandrovich Romanov [Tsar Nikolai II], Aleksandra Fyodorovna Romanova, Olga Nikolaevna Romanova, Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova, Maria Nikolaevna Romanova, Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, and Aleksei Nikolaevich Romanov were repressed groundlessly and rehabilitates them”, a Supreme Court judge said in pronouncing the ruling of the court.

17 November 2008




Editor’s Note:

Hi there, boys and girls! It’s time for another… Big Green Weenie Award! The Interfax English translator cuts out material again. ‘Tis true, they ADDED some material at the end, this time, so, I provided a link to both posts to reflect that. I would say that the Interfax translator should remember that they are a TRANSLATOR; this means that they have an obligation to provide the ENTIRE Russian text in English translation. ‘Nuff said!


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