Voices from Russia

Friday, 11 December 2009

An Untimely Holiday

Filed under: politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Logo of the United Russia Party… don’t mess with the bear… especially when Vova’s the master.

The United Russia Party thinks that an exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) was blasphemous. That was because when they held it on Monday, 7 December, Russia had declared a national day of mourning for those who died in a fire in Perm; but, the LDPR unveiled their advertising on vodka bottles and mayonnaise packages anyway. The press service of United Russia released the party’s statement on Friday, 11 December.

The exhibition in the RF Gosduma celebrating the 20th anniversary of the LDPR became “a bone of contention” between United Russia and the LDPR at the meeting of the Chamber this morning. Representatives of both factions at the plenary session started with mutual accusations and both appealed to the Ethics Commission to assess what their opponents had done.

The occasion was a statement from the United Russia Deputy Irina Yarova, which referred to “recent articles” that reported, “a major banquet was held in the halls of the RF Gosduma on a National Day of Mourning”. She demanded that LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky issue “a public apology to everybody for such outrageous behaviour”. In response, Mr Zhirinovsky said, “No banquet was held on 7 December, for it was a Day of Mourning, it was not”, and that the exhibition was on the following day. For his part, Maksim Rokhmistrov, the deputy chairman of the LDPR, suggested “a medical examination of Deputy Yarova to ascertain her sanity”. Then, another United Russia deputy entered the fray, demanding that the RF Gosduma Ethics Commission evaluate the statements of Mr Rokhmistrov.

Andrei Isayev, the first deputy secretary of the presidium of the General Council of United Russia, said that the double standards inherent in Mr Zhirinovsky’s actions disturbed him. “On the one hand, we hear statements by the leader of the LDPR insisting that everyone involved in this should tender their resignations, citing the [Perm] tragedy. On the other, we see that the tragedy was not an occasion to cancel or at least tone down the banquet for the 20th anniversary of the LDPR. In my opinion, this shows the absolute inadequacy of the head of the LDPR, who is already too weak to cope with the role of a leader of a real political party”, he said. As far as he was concerned, Mr Zhirinovsky’s conduct casts a shadow not only on his own faction, but, also, on the entire Russian parliament.

11 December 2009

Natalia Pereverten

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2009/12/11/2998540.html

Editor’s Note:

One hears much bloviating from Americans and Brits concerning the “falsity” of Russian democracy. I beg your pardon… the RF Gosduma is closer to the wild n’ woolly 19th century American House or the cutthroat 18th century British Commons than the tame successors of those bodies are. Pitt and “the Little Magician” (those with a knowledge of US history know who I am referring to) would be more at home in the RF Gosduma than in Brown’s or Reid’s sterile focus-group driven chambers. They’d be out there trading fisticuffs with the LDPR and KPRF and they’d hand Vova a bullwhip and a duelling pistol to put things right. In short, bare-knuckled and feral democracy still lives… in Moscow!

Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

BMD

Russians are Tired of the Same Old Gifts

Two-thirds of women said they are tired of boxes of chocolates, everyone considers them the traditional ladies’ gift; to many, they taste as bad as bitter radishes. Men tell us the same story. Most think that a bottle of good alcohol is the perfect gift for a man. However, most guys are tired of this pattern and say that spirits don’t lift their spirits.

Once you know what Russians don’t want, sociologists tried to find out what they would like to receive. As it turns out, 72 percent of women would like to receive jewellery as a gift. Did you expect anything else? About the same number say that flowers are OK, and about the same proportion of beautiful ladies are pragmatic and say, “Give me money, so I figure out what to spend it on myself”. It’s not very romantic, but, it’s practical, especially if you need a new pair of boots, for example. The chances that a donor could guess the proper style and size are quite small, but, she knows what to buy for herself. Discount appliances, as well as tickets to concerts, the theatre, and so on are popular with the ladies too. However, we should draw a line between what is desirable and what actually is. For example, in addition to sweets, women do not like to receive decorative figurines, vases, and other nonsense as gifts for they clutter up the house and collect dust. Nevertheless, it’s what they get and 76 percent of those polled said, alas, life is unfair.

If you ask what men are thinking of, most of them wouldn’t mind getting electronic gadgets according to 68 percent of the respondents. In addition, men also are not averse to getting money as a gift or anything associated with their hobby. In terms of the coincidence of desires and reality, men are, perhaps, happier than women are, 40 percent of them get their coveted electronic gadgets. However, many families fall back on domestic trifles and stationery, to which one-third of the guys have evolved a dislike.

Spending on New Year’s gifts is almost a third of the annual “gift” budget of Russians. On average, if you value it in dollars, it’s about 900 bucks, and, during the New Year, Russians spend about 400 dollars on presents for their loved ones. This is not surprising, for Russian New Year is one of the main and favourite holidays, and people purchase gifts for it far in advance, said Natalia Golovanov, the head of the research centre of the web portal SuperJob. She said, “For most Russians, the New Year is their most favourite holiday, and, in November, the shelves are swept clean of everything that you need to give, eat, wear, and decorate the home. During the run-up to the holiday, vouchers for all kinds of travel and tickets to New Year’s concerts are sold”.

With regards as to where one celebrates the New Year, some Russians prefer to go abroad. Unfortunately, we follow a beaten path there, too, most New Year’s travellers go to Egypt, said Dmitri Danilenko, vice president of BANKO Tourism Information Service, according to a survey conducted amongst travel agents. “In the first place, this trend is stable from year to year, and about 23 percent of travel agencies in the city of Moscow put Egypt in the first place. A notable feature of this season was that Thailand gained the second-place preference in the tourist market, it has almost caught up in the number of votes with Egypt (about 22 percent of votes)”. However, Russians do not like to go to Europe at this time of year for it’s too cold and expensive as well.

Many, however, don’t wish to go anywhere on New Year’s. Half of the respondents said they are staying home. There are two main reasons. One, of course, is money; the second is more sentimental. Many believe that New Year’s is a family holiday, and you should celebrate it at home or at your country dacha. This is the most popular version of the New Year celebration. Only 3 percent of respondents would like to celebrate the holiday by going to a restaurant, and only one of the 100 respondents wanted to go to a massive New Year’s festivity.

11 December 2009

Yekaterina Antropova

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2009/12/11/3001351.html

Hanukkah: A Festival of the Fortitude and Firmness of Faith

Filed under: Christmas,history,Jewish,religious,Russian,social life and customs — 01varvara @ 00.00

On 25 Kislev on the Jewish calendar, which this year corresponds to 11 December on the secular calendar, the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, a wonderful holiday, one that commemorates events that took place in Jerusalem in 138 BC (year 3622 from the creation of the world). A miracle occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem, crowning one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the Jewish people.

The Hellenistic rulers of that time tried to eradicate the Jewish culture using fire and sword. Under penalty of death, Jews could not study the Torah, observe the Sabbath, or keep the holidays. They installed a statue of Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, Mattathias the Hasmonean, who refused to worship the Greek idols, raised an armed revolt against their oppressors with the appeal, “All those who are for the One God, stand with me!” This war was the first one fought in the world for religious freedom. After the death of Mattathias, his son Judas the Maccabean (Makabi) continued his cause, under whose leadership the Jews achieved one victory after another. Little by little, the Jews liberated their homeland from the enemy and in a decisive battle liberated Jerusalem.

Upon entering Jerusalem, the army of Judas the Maccabean went to work. It was necessary to cleanse the temple after its desecration, they had to take down the statue of Zeus, and they had to wash, clean, and repair everything within it. When the work was finished, the Temple was ready to receive the Torah scrolls and the other religious items. However, it was necessary to sanctify the temple, so that it was fit for the worship of the One God, as it was before. They needed to light the temple lamp, the menorah. The ordinary oil used in the temple rites would not do, they needed olive oil, purified and sanctified in a special way. There was not enough of this oil in the Temple because the Greeks had destroyed everything. Miraculously, they managed to find a small vessel with some of the special oil in it. However, it could last, at most, only one day. Nevertheless, it was impossible to postpone the ceremony. Judas decided to fill the menorah with the oil that was available. Then, a miracle happened, the fire burned for eight days, the time that was necessary to prepare a new portion of oil. To commemorate this miracle, Jews celebrate Hanukkah (in Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication”) and light Hanukkah candles.

Noting Hanukkah, we remember the Jewish revolt against their oppressors and rejoice in the victory of our ancestors over their enemies. However, the main thing that we celebrate these days is the miracle of the pitcher of oil. In memory of the eight days, we light the Hanukkah lamp, the Menorah. In these days, we treat everybody to sweet donuts and share funny gifts. The kids especially love this holiday because they get toys or we give them money, called Hanukkah geld, so that they can buy sweets.

To the Hanukkah Festival! May God bless us all!

11 December 2009

Rabbi Zinovy Kogan

President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Organisations and Associations in Russia

Коммерсант (Kommersant: The Businessman)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=print&div=10745

Hmm… we need a little PROPER and STIRRING music for the occasion; so, here is See, the Conquering Hero Comes by Georg Friedrich Händel from the oratorio Judas Maccabeus. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields performs it under the direction of Sir Neville Marriner (Joan Rodgers, soprano, Catherine Denley, contralto, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor, and Robert Dean, bass). It’s not Jewish per se, but, I don’t think that my Jewish friends will kvetch. A happy holiday to my friends who are keeping this feast… may God bless you all. Do save one of the latkes for me, please.

Trial of Christian Married Couple Accused of Publicly Insulting Islam Began in England

Filed under: Christian,church/state,Islam,politics,religious — 01varvara @ 00.00

Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, accused of “hate speech”… what have we come to?

On Tuesday, 8 December, a trial began in England of a Christian married couple accused of publicly insulting Islam. The couple, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, the owners of a small (9 rooms) hotel in Liverpool, face charges of insulting Islam because of “religious hatred”. The trial in Liverpool could last at least two days. The couple could receive a £5,000 (245,148 Roubles. 5,562 Euros. 8,130 USD) fine and a permanent criminal record.

One of the guests at the hotel, a Muslim, complained to police that some remarks made by the owners offended her. In a casual conversation, the couple allegedly said that Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was a warlord, as well as calling traditional Muslim female clothing “a kind of bondage”. Ben Vogelenzang is 53; his wife is 54. They deny that their words were threatening, abusive, or derogatory, (as claimed by the plaintiff), and insist on their right to explain and defend their beliefs to those who do not share them. The incident occurred on 20 March, when the guests were at breakfast. Over the meal, a conversation about religion arose, in the end, one of the guests felt insulted and complained to the police.

In July, police arrested the Vogelenzang couple, but, later, released them pending trial on the condition that they would not communicate with any of the witnesses. For this reason, they had to dismiss their entire staff, Mrs Vogelenzang complained, and had to operate the hotel on their own. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, emphasised that the issue is about one of the most important issues of religious freedom. He said, “In recent years, we have backed several cases where Christians have suffered unfair treatment because of their faith. We have detected a worrying tendency for public bodies to misapply the law in a way that seems to sideline Christianity more than other faiths”.

11 December 2009

Седмица.RU Церковно-Научний Центр «Православная Энциклопедия»

Sedmitsa.RU Church-Scientific Centre “Orthodox Encyclopaedia”

http://www.sedmitza.ru/news/890328.html

http://blog.echurchwebsites.org.uk/2009/09/20/christian-hotel-owners-ben-sharon-vogelenzang-hauled-court-defending-beliefs-discussion-muslim-guest/

Editor’s Note:

Good news… the court acquitted the Vogelenzangs on all charges; the judge showed sanity and threw the Orwellian accusation out. However, the Times (London) made the following disturbing comment, “It is likely to cause widespread alarm in the Muslim community”. Why? The couple was not threatening anyone. In any case, Muslims have to be aware that they are in a society that is not Islamic, most of us do not share their prejudices, and that they must put up with us as we put up with them. Fish or cut bait, I’d say… and the person who brought this suit deserves public obloquy. There are many times that I’ve disliked this or that… but, it’s not my place to bring in the law unless someone is being harmed physically. That is what the police are all about. They are there to protect us from muggers, thieves, rapists, and Bunco artists. In any case, most Muslims wouldn’t bring such a suit… and I know it! They’d agree with me… “Crazy world we live in, ain’t it?” You don’t call the cops because a nutter opens their trap.

I don’t blame the cops in this… they were probably following insane orders from a PC-obsessed higher-up (unfortunately, California Dreamin’ isn’t found just in California anymore). Reflect on this… SVS is PC to the max… that means that it APPROVES of such inanities as the persecution of the Vogelenzangs. After all, they LAUGH at the Holy Mountain at the instigation of a Uniate, so, that’s no undue stretch, is it (they can’t deny it… it’s caught on the Ancient Faith Radio recording)? They’re so afraid that they’re going to miss out on the next soirée at General Theological… poor babies!

I am including Russian coverage of Western events to give an idea of Russian views of the outside world… actually, Russians are MUCH more aware of what is going on here than we are of things in the rodina. Where are the navel gazers? They’re NOT in Moscow…

The URL for the Times quote is:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6950322.ece

BMD

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