Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Epilogue to the Tragedy in the Moscow Metro

Filed under: inspirational,moral issues,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- ) places a flower in memory of the victims of the terrorist bombing in the Moscow Metro.

It’s human nature to think of death only as a sad episode, but in someone else’s biography. Of course, if you constantly think about your inevitably approaching death, you can lose your mind. However, remember this, just say it’s not me and it’s not today. We love life and we love ourselves, for our life… it’s what we are; it’s something at the heart of our existence. Actually, our world is very vulnerable, and we understand this in moments of grief or fear. We must understand that not only do we have a measure of life; there is something more important than any of us individually… it’s a powerful ideal, expressed in self-denial, when you realise the equal value of your life and another’s life. That’s what all of us, it seems to me, strive for, and, if anything, only this feeling can justify the fact that we live when someone else is killed, this feeling lifts us above our own sometimes shameful cowardice, our  seeming insignificance.

Yesterday, all day, two thoughts spun in my head. Firstly, my friends and I were alive, and that’s fine, and, secondly, that my first thought was facile and flippant. On my SMS, someone asked me if everything was all right. Yes, everybody in Moscow yesterday exchanged such messages and calls. On the one hand, the question was clear and implied an unambiguous answer, but given the above, it’s really not so obvious. Yes, I’m alive, but that doesn’t mean that everything’s fine, just because I’m alive, and someone else is dead, well, I could have died, as well. Why didn’t I die? Am I special? Yes, it’s just a coincidence, nothing more. Many brought flowers to the Metro blast site… they wanted not only to express their compassion, a sense of sharing the common grief, but, perhaps, unconsciously, they said, “Forgive us for surviving when you’re no longer with us”. However, we mourn, for it’s our common pain.

Here it is… the moment of truth. It gives us hope that we are still capable of growth; it trumps our self-love and the fear of our own deaths. Let us remember those who died, those who risk their own lives daily to rescue others, the injured man who pulled victims out of the wrecked cars, and those who help the suffering… that at every minute, somewhere, there is evil and injustice in the world. Remember that there is still something above our individual lives and what we do.

30 March 2010

Aleksei Sosedov



The Day after the Metro Bombings: Reactions and Grieving

Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev (1946- ) of Moscow and all the Russias, on Holy Tuesday, serving liturgy and a Pannikhida at the Pokrovsky Convent for the Metro bomb blast victims

On Tuesday, Archbishop Arseny Epifanov of Istra, the Patriarchal Vicar, will serve a Pannikhida for those killed in the bomb blasts yesterday in the Moscow Metro. The service will be held later in the morning, after the Divine Liturgy, Vladimir Legoida, the head of the MP Information Division, told Interfax-Religion. Yesterday, he noted that many dioceses of the MP would serve Pannikhidas for the victims today. According at information received as of 08.00 MSK (04.00 UTC 00.00 EDT 21.00 29 March PDT) today, the two explosions in the Moscow Metro killed 39 people, and 73 injured are in Moscow hospitals.

Roman Silantyev, a famous scholar on Islam and the Director of the Human Rights Centre of the World Russian People’s Council (VRNS), thinks that retribution for the Moscow Metro attacks must not only target the specific perpetrators, but their foreign sponsors as well. “The liquidation of the international terrorist Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev greatly reduced the risk for Russians after the attack in the Moscow Metro in 2004. It would be good if we now heard about a successful operation against Movladi Udugov or Akhmad Zakayev”, Professor Silantyev told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday. In his view, Russian special services have the ability to eliminate domestic terrorist leaders, as evidenced by the recent “hits” on Said Buryat and Anzor Astemirov, “but their ideological instigators and sponsors abroad feel safe”. Professor Silantyev emphasised, “It’s high time that we visited death on the homes of those who give money to terrorists”, and expressed confidence that after such “radical peace enforcement measures, the dozen most zealous sheiks and emirs, along with their surviving associates, would reflect soberly on their behaviour”. He said that we should study and use the rich experience of Soviet spies and saboteurs of the Great Patriotic War, who not only collected valuable information, but also periodically bumped off particularly dangerous Nazis. “For almost 20 years, terrorists have declared war on Russia, they wish our destruction, and they follow no rules, and disregard all concepts of honour. They do whatever pops into their heads, therefore, in this regard, we should not be embarrassed to do what we must”, Professor Silantyev added.

Mufti Allahshukur Pasha-zade, the Chairman of the Muslim Council of the Caucasus, condemned the Moscow Metro attacks. “Today, in the hearts of millions, no matter what nationality they are, no matter what religion they profess, there are overwhelming feelings of grief and shock, anger and condemnation. The news of the terrible tragedy that befell so many innocent people in the Moscow Metro brought us much heartfelt sorrow”, Mufti Pasha-zade wrote in a message addressed to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias. “Please, accept my sincere condolences in connection with this tragedy, I address them both to you, as the spiritual leader of Russia, and to the fraternal people of Russia”, the message went on to say. According to Mufti Pasha-zade, Azerbaijani believers perceive the event as if it were their own tragedy. “Our peoples have always shared each other’s joys and sorrows. Today, in churches and mosques all over Azerbaijan, we send up supplications to the One who created us, to grant peace to the souls of the victims, healing to those wounded, and comfort to their families and loved ones”, he said. Mufti Pasha-zade believes that the terrorist attacks in Moscow are a “harsh lesson, calling all men to unite and offer vigorous opposition to the forces of evil and violence, terror and extremism”.

Victim of the Metro bombing

Vladimir Legoida, the Head of MP Information Division, urged Muscovites to go to Easter midnight services, despite fears caused by the Metro terrorist attacks. “For love reigns in the liturgy, and perfect love casts out fear”, he said Tuesday at a press conference in Moscow. In his opinion, “Such events should not frighten us, for if we succumb to fear, we put ourselves into the hands of terrorists, and they achieve their goal, not only externally but also internally”. He also noted that everyone could pray for the victims and thereby demonstrate our solidarity with them, as well as to donate blood in order to help the injured in hospital. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, the rector of St Tatiana chapel at MGU, in turn, noted that more people attended services on the day of the tragedy than was usual. “They came because they all had ridden on earlier or later trains, they had avoided being part of this tragedy by mere minutes, so, they all had to come to grips with this fact”, he said.

On Monday afternoon, Muscovites, friends and relatives of the victims of the Metro bomb blasts, visited the platforms at the Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations on the Sokolnicheskaya Line of the Moscow Metro, the sites of the 29 March terrorist bombings, to pay their respects. According to our Interfax correspondent, they brought flowers and icons, and lit candles; many could not hold back their tears. Some brought photos of the victims. Every hour, hundreds come to the place of tragedy. Posters hung on the platforms, saying, ”At this place, on 29 March 2010, people were killed in a terrorist attack here”. Memorial plaques in memory of those killed by terrorists shall eventually replace the temporary posters.

In related news, about 100 people were evacuated from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour because of reports of a bomb threat. “An unknown caller telephoned the police at 17.02 MSK (13.02 UTC 09.02 EDT 06.02 PDT) and announced that a bomb was placed in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour”, the duty officer of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Moscow GUVD (civil police) on Tuesday. According to the police spokesman, an investigation group immediately went to the cathedral. About a hundred people were evacuated from the church. A survey of the premises followed, using bomb-sniffing dogs and special equipment.

Fr Vladimir Vigilyansky, the head of the patriarchal press service, said that the person who reported the alleged bomb threat at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was contemptible. “Let’s hope that the message about a bomb threat is false and it’s nothing but hooliganism. In any case, it’s blasphemous and despicable to drive people out of church during worship in Holy Week, preventing them from praying”, he told Interfax-Religion. In his view, what is especially disgraceful is that the unknown caller threatened a church that held a Pannikhida this afternoon for the victims of the Moscow Metro terrorist attacks. “People like this are the worst kind of misanthrope, it’s the same kind of thing as the taxi drivers who charged 3,000 [roubles] (102 USD 76 Euros 67 UK Pounds) to travel two kilometres (1.2 miles) yesterday”, Fr Vladimir added.

After a thorough inspection of premises at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, police found no suspicious objects, the duty officer of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Moscow GUVD reported on Tuesday. After the evacuation of about 100 people from the building, the cops carried out an inspection using bomb-sniffing dogs and special equipment. Around 17.00 MSK, the police received a telephone call reporting a bomb threat at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Currently, the police are searching for the caller.

30 March 2010










Monday, 29 March 2010

Uniates Upset That There was No Joint Prayer during the Inauguration of President Yanukovich at St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

The so-called Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church believes that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich does not comply with the principle of equality of all religious organisations in the country. “We appeal to you as the guarantor of the Constitution, to faithfully respect the equality in rights before the law and in public life of all churches and religious organisations”, according to an appeal of the Uniate bishops to the Ukrainian head of state, published on the main Uniate website. In their opinion, “Favouring any one denomination over the others will only deepen the separation between the citizens of our state; it will cause great harm to the entire Ukrainian people”. This statement by the Uniate bishops was in reaction to the fact that President Yanukovich ignored the “tradition” of inviting the heads of Christian religious organisations in the Ukraine to participate in a joint prayer service at the Cathedral of St Sophia in Kiev.

29 March 2010



Editor’s Note:

Three cheers for Viktor Yanukovich! Ura! Ura! URA! For twenty years, the Uniates and schismatics have been allowed to run amok in the Ukraine. THAT is going to end… thank God! The canonical Church has been persecuted… that is going to end. This is a day for celebration. We shall NEVER forget the Uniate seizure of churches and their attacks on our clergy (as was shown in the case of Fr Mikhail Shuvar… he was not alone, unfortunately).

If you hear from papist or Uniate sources that Orthodox are sidling up to the Uniates, that everything is hunky-dory, don’t believe it! True, some Orthodox are kissing up to our enemies, but they are a minority, thank the Good Lord. No recognised and canonical Orthodox First Hierarch allows any form of communio in sacris with these poseurs. If you hear otherwise from “Josephus Flavius”, to put it bluntly, he’s lying to you. He has an agenda, after all. Stand tall and say it loud, “Hands off the Church! You’ll not defile Christ’s Bride!” It’s time to be counted, folks… I know what side I’m on, what about you?


A Day Which Should Have Been So Joyous Was Very Distressing

Interior of Holy Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland CA

Editor’s Foreword:

I wanted an insider’s account of the vandalism at Holy Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland. I sent a shout-out, and I got a good reply. It’s what follows. My interlocutor wishes to be anonymous. I’ll honour that. Firstly, there is my original e-mail in italic type, then, the reply follows. I hope that one of the diner Greeks catches these punks and gives them a therapy session with the “board of education”. Now, that would be a lesson they’d not soon forget!




Sorry to hear about the shit-fer-brains who chalked up graffiti on the church in Oakland. Does it “look like a synagogue?” That’s no excuse, but it would explain why vandals would strike an Orthodox church… we’re usually quite “invisible”. No doubt, Spiros and Nikos are sharpening up the cleavers… if I were the vandals, I’d want the cops to catch me, NOT the diner Greeks… they tend to be unforgiving and not permissive at all (Thank God). You know, it’s so easy to slip and make a “mistake” with such things, isn’t it?



Hi, Vara!

Thank you so much. The day which should have been so joyous was very distressing. We were initially otherwise occupied with difficulties that confronted us with the city officials. Oakland stupidly arranged to have a half-marathon go down the street our church is on (and numerous others, it’s a very long street called Lincoln Ave). They had told us two things:  1.) that the uphill lane would be open for driving from a certain street below, so that we could still access the church, and 2.)  that the street would be completely available by 10 am. Both were lies. Police were stationed at all intersections keeping cars from turning onto the road at all so we could get to church ON PALM SUNDAY. So, my friend and I managed to get around to a relatively nearby side street, and we just walked down to the church. When we got there, the sacristy doors were closed and our Protopresbyter was on the phone with a woman at the city offices, giving her a dressing-down, “I HAVE TWELVE HUNDRED FAMILIES THAT NEED TO GET HERE ON PALM SUNDAY AND YOU’RE SAYING YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING? GIVE ME SOMEONE WHO CAN DO SOMETHING! YOU’RE DENYING OUR HUMAN RIGHTS!” He was so angry (I do this too) he was stuttering. This was already after he’d been welcomed by the swastikas and obscenities in the morning (which were promptly covered up with some large paper tablecloths!). He took off with one of our police officer parishioners to charm the cops at the nearest intersection (since the mayor’s office is completely useless!) so that our people were finally able to get to the church, and only about half an hour or so later than we were scheduled to begin. Oy! So, the news crews started showing up in the middle of Liturgy, asking for Father, to talk to him. They were already there for the marathon thing (a stupid and thoughtless ‘green initiative’ attempt by Oakland,  making people run down a street at a 45 degree angle is NOT green, but torture!), so they found this story about idiot vandals just falling into their lap. The Nymphios service last night was, despite the day’s trials, extraordinary! It was slightly marred by idiot camera-people turning their lights on in the church, which was dark, lit only by people holding candles. This morning during Presanctified, the city came by and steam-blasted the graffiti away, thankfully. (Is that their apology, I wonder?) A channel 7 guy got there too late, so I showed him the place where it used to be. You snooze, you lose, channel 7!

Graffiti sprayed on the plaza at Holy Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral… look over there… do you see that bunch with the baseball bats, two-by-fours, and motorcycle chains? That’s Spiros and his homies… and the vandals messed with their church… BAD IDEA. The baddies better “give their hearts to Jesus”…

Anyway, it was very likely bored and very stupid kids rather than any organised group of anti-Semites. We have crosses everywhere! The gigantic signs say “Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral!” How they could mistake it for a synagogue is beyond me. Several of us were talking about it this morning and came to the somewhat generous conclusion that bigots are not known for their intelligence, in any case.

You are exactly right, however. If these kids had been caught in the act by any of our parishioners, old or young, male or female, me or Father, or anyone else, they would have learnt the fear of God INSTANTLY, and borne reminders of it for quite some time, perhaps the imprint of one of our exapteryga where the sun don’t shine, if they were lucky!

It was awful to hear of the Moscow Metro bombing this morning. But the response of the religious authorities was so heartening. It’s good that at least in Russia you find people able to separate the criminal abuse of religion and religion itself. So many other places are just so screwed up in that respect.

Anyhow, thank you very much for your message! It was such a trying day when it shouldn’t have been. I wasn’t going to post anything about it until the heat dissipated a little, you know?

I hope your car troubles aren’t too bad!

Kali Anastasi! Have a beautiful Holy Week and a glorious Pascha, if I don’t hear from you before then!

Yours in Christ,


29 March 2010

Editor’s Afterword:

There it is… with no pretence, straight-up from a direct observer. Thank you much for the info, dear. Don’t forget to say a prayer for the victims of the Moscow Metro bombing… a good time would be on Wednesday at 20.00 MSK (that’s 12.00 EDT or 09.00 PDT). Remember… they all had faces; they all had names.


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