Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

On Exhibitions and what is Forbidden: Why the State should Protect Religious Symbols

Here’s one of the blasphemous art works…


Very soon, the court will announce a verdict in the case of Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, who organised the exhibition “Forbidden Art” in 2007. It won’t nail things down definitively. It won’t justify anything… even more so. The controversy is not over whether the verdict will affect Marat Gelman’s planned exhibition, “Forbidden Art – 2010”. The court has to decide what protects society and the state… is it only individuals, or, it is it something apart from them, is it a set of values that is supraindividual? Oh, the humanity! Again, let’s face the question squarely… shall we have radiant humanism or are we going back into the darkness? However, it’s not a bad thing that Russia is able to ask such questions. We are asking what has ultimate value… on the one hand, is it man as the sum of all things; or, on the other, is it the sign of the sacred? Secular humanism doesn’t pose such questions. Does the tomb of the deceased contain a living person? It’s a sign in its purest form. What about a coat of arms, a flag, or a national anthem? What about a memorial to victims of repression? The law protects them without reference to humanism. It avoids the secular/sacred dichotomy, which apart from man, is meaningless.

However, let’s try to find a logical loophole for our unbelieving friends. If people say something using symbols, should we not respect their choice? Here’s a picture of their dead mother… shall we not agree not to use it in a porno show? We have already mentioned the coat of arms, the flag, and the anthem. By the way, such a value is not universal… for some it has a meaning, but others don’t care. Why then can they not defend something that is dear to believers, even if, as atheists, it doesn’t matter to them?

Whether this protection should be part of the criminal code, one can disagree. However, legally, it’s spelled out, and spelled out very clearly… “To be punished by a fine for insulting the religious feelings of citizens, or, the desecration of their sacred objects, symbols, and ideological emblems” (Article 5.26, Code on Administrative Violations). That is, one can’t defile another’s objects and symbols. That goes for artists and journalists, for sectarians and anti-sectarians. You can’t do it at the Sakharov Centre, on a fence, or in a parish house. It’s not allowed… that goes for everybody.

Actually, it’s no accident that the controversy surrounding the exhibition is so emotional. This dispute is a political dispute about power. After all, if some signs such as flags and memorials to the repressed are protected, whilst others, such as icons, are not, it means that the latter has no value, then, the ideology and community they represent have no value. Of course, believers would never accept such an approach. They have the same right to participate in the development of standards as do atheists and agnostics.

Thus, shall it lead to a confrontation? No, not necessarily. After all, we can talk to each other not only in the courts or on the field of conflict; we can meet one on one, as friends to friends. We talked at the exhibition Valaam/Dialogue, whilst we found that we actually had the ability to engage in dialogue, all too often, there were nothing but more monologues. Moreover, we should not only discuss this exhibition… we should have a debate about our values and about their legal status… it’s much more interesting.

Here’s something more important. After all, it’s no longer possible to force acceptance of one system of values. No matter how many provocateurs cause a ruckus, hoping for the support of the cops or the “people”, the usual cast of suspects will still have to sit down and come to an agreement. We’ll have to discuss changes in the law, in its philosophy, and its foundations.

Will there be a “Forbidden Art – 2010?” It probably will take place. Soon enough, apparently, the organizers of such exhibitions shall provoke us yet again. However, shall they be bold enough to include items using the symbols of other religions? Or, ridicule the victims of totalitarianism? Or, the fall of a prominent mafia boss? Do you think that they would refuse to do it? As of now… they would have to… otherwise, you would either have to forget about Samodurov’s promise to repeat his feat (подвиг), or acknowledge his closed mind and cowardice.

7 July 2010

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

Head of the MP Synodal Division for Church and Public Relations

НГ-Религии (NG-Religion)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion


Here’s another one of their “freedom of speech” items… reflect well… both US “liberals” and “neocons” support those who create such crud… what DOES America stand for, anyway? The sign reads (roughly), “Give more for the Plan!”

Editor’s Note:

One should note that Fr Vsevolod did not write this is in a “churchly” venue, he wrote it in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which is one of the more “liberal” news outlets in Russia. Fr Vsevolod is not alone. Besides the clergy who write in the secular press, many secular journalists cover the Church beat. None of them write in that cramped and prunish style known as “churchly”… it’s like the To Vima guys in Greece exposing a crook land deal on the Mountain… there’s nothing sinful in pouring light on the dark. It’s like the crowd at KP bringing some of Dmitri Banditsky’s accomplices to justice… those crank clergy are now guests of the Russian government… thanks to the lot at KP.

In short, we should emulate Fr Vsevolod and enter the fray! We should be happy warriors like Deacon Andrei Kuraev! We should be like Metropolitan Irinei, who stood next to Yuri Shevchuk on the rock stage, and challenged all comers to join the army of Orthodox missionaries. Let’s hang out with Aleksandr the Surgeon and the Night Wolves as they ease on down the road! To keep it short, let’s keep it REAL… not “churchly”… not “for the good of the Church”… but for the good of Christ and His Church. Otherwise, you KNOW whom they serve… and I know that you know what I mean. Don’t forget… the foulest flowers of evil grow in the shadow of the altar and some of Lucifer’s Best wear riassas.

It’s time for good hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity to pick themselves up and start the journey to the Promised Land. We won’t see it… but we can start. But we have to take that first step…



Not What It Appears to Be… Papist Propaganda about Romanian Uniates from Zenit

Read this, first (hold on to your lunch, but read it CAREFULLY… you’ll see that the papists aren’t telling the truth in the headline):


Read it? GOOD! Wasn’t that great to hear from the Ecumaniac Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment?

Look at it CAREFULLY again. This was NOT an agreement between the Church and the Uniates. No bishops were involved. This was a COURT DECISION, kiddies. There was NO agreement with the Uniates on the part on the Church save to decide who would use the building when. There is no name of any Orthodox bishop appended to this. If there was, Zenit would have screamed it out and provided a snap… and they didn’t. In short, this earns the Golden Evil George Weigel Award, which I only bestow upon outrageous whoppers told in such a way that it fools the ignorant and unwary… Shame on you, Zenit! You DIDN’T get away with it, this time. No one took credit for this load of hooey…

I repeat, there was no “ecumenical breakthrough” here. The Uniates found a sympathetic judge… God willing, in future, there’ll be another one and the schismatics will be thrown out on their ears. Sic semper tryrannis!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

A Romanian friend sent me the following:

I liked it! From the local paper of Zalau I found out that the Orthodox organised a protest on the day of the occupation of the church by the Gendarmerie. The agreement was probably proposed in order to avoid future battles. No “irenism”.

Good-oh! They’re standin’ tall in Romania! The papists are caught with their hand in the cookie jar and there are crumbs all over the counter. I wonder why…

Reflect well on the fact that the Boy Wonder has a cosy relationship with Zenit… why is that, Hilarion Valerievich? Oh… he’s keeping mum… “for the good of the Church”, don’t ya know…


World Première of the Ballet “Minor Sonata” in St Petersburg

Filed under: art music,ballet,cultural,music,performing arts,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Vyacheslav Samodurov (1974- ), Russian ballet dancer and choreographer


On Wednesday, the curtain rose on the world première of the ballet Minor Sonata, set to music by Domenico Scarlatti, at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg. This original adaptation was by Covent Garden soloist Slava Samodurov, which is gaining in popularity as a choreographer. In St Petersburg, Samodurov is remembered as a soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre in the 90s.

A short little vid of Vyacheslav Samodurov dancing

In 1998, he received the gold medal from the hands of Maya Plisetskaya as the best ballet dancer at the “Maya” International Competition. After four seasons, he started dancing at the National Ballet of the Netherlands, and he now lives and works in London. After the June première of his ballet Trip Trac in Covent Garden, critics called Samodurov, “An undisputed star of contemporary dance”.

Here’s a Scarlatti Sonata in D minor… can’t you see the dancers in your mind’s eye?

For the first Petersburg staging, Samodurov cooperated with British stage designer Christopher Folsom and lighting designer Simon Bennison, embodying the idea that light, shade, and scenery add up to a coherent unity. Ellen Butler designed understated costumes that combine features from different epochs, with an emphasis on the sexuality and the elegance of the dance, according to ITAR-TASS.

7 July 2010

Voice of Russia World Service


“Russian Spies” in Exchange for Real Spies

Filed under: diplomacy,history,Russian,Soviet period,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Both sides shall probably arrange an exchange of “Russian spies” in the USA for those convicted of espionage in Russia…

The scandal over the “Russian spies” continues to hover in the centre of media attention. Newspapermen on both sides of the Atlantic offer various scenarios on how they think further developments will work out. For instance, according to the New York Times, the US government came up with a neat way to save face and not to quarrel with Moscow. The alleged “Russian spies” will receive an invitation to make a deal with the justice system… they will confess to minor episodes of espionage in exchange for the opportunity to leave the United States. Another scenario discussed in the newspapers is that this is nothing but a good old-fashioned exchange of “blown” spies. In this regard, a name is already being bandied about… the Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin, who was convicted six years ago for spying for the Americans. Supposedly, both sides has already picked their “teams” to exchange… it’s symmetrical… ten will be exchanged for ten.

Maksim Minaev, a leading expert from the Centre for Current Politics, argued, “Such an exchange may be the most convenient way for Moscow to get out of a fairly sticky situation. Usually, such things are handled based on a parity exchange. That is, the Russian side would be able to get back those who are accused of spying for the FSB in the US only if they released an equivalent number of detainees suspected of spying for the USA”. This “American” option would help to avoid serious discord in the relationship between America and Russia, the American side would be able to short-circuit a complicated legal process, and it would minimise the danger of disclosure of sensitive information, such as methods of intelligence collection. The benefit to the accused of such a transaction is clear, especially since some of them have already confessed to working with Russian intelligence.

As for using an exchange, this is a return to traditional and tested means of interaction between countries, according to Mikhail Grishankov, the deputy chairman of the RF Gosduma Committee for Security. “Of course, that’s what’s done; it’s done discreetly, since it’s always in the interest of either party to calculate precisely how much a given individual is worth and how necessary they are for the country. If we were to speak about the story that’s beginning to spread… it’s just doesn’t make sense, so, we should call to mind this history”.

The modern history of spy exchanges spans over half a century. On 1 May 1960, near Sverdlovsk, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down. Its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, received a sentence of ten years in a Soviet prison, but on 10 February 1962, the first year he was exchanged for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (AKA William Genrikhovich Fisher). The exchange took place at the Glienicke Bridge on the border between the then-DDR and the American sector of Berlin in the district of Potsdam. This scene was re-enacted in the exchange portrayed in the famous film Dead Season. Two years later, the Soviet spy Conan Young, who acted in the West as the Canadian businessman Gordon Lonsdale, was exchanged for a British agent, Greville Wynne. Indeed, Conan Young was the inspiration for the hero of Dead Season.

1976 was memorable for the first political exchange between the USSR and the West, when Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky was exchanged for Luis Corvalán, the Secretary General of the Chilean Communist Party. In 1985, 23 who were arrested in the Eastern Bloc as CIA agents were switched for four KGB agents who were arrested in the West, and in 1986, the dissident Sharansky was exchanged for a Soviet intelligence operative. In the same year, on the eve of the summit meeting of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Yuri Orlov, the founder and leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, was exiled to the USA in exchange for a Soviet spy held there.

7 July 2010

Yelena Kosenkova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Here’s the REAL reason for all the hoopla over the “Russian spies”. The Russians hold American agents in custody, and the CIA wants them back before they can “blow” other agents. That sounds true… it’s simple, it requires no belief in crack-brained “conspiracies, and it follows in the footsteps of previous precedent. After all, one of the accused has already fled the coop, with the full cooperation of the (no doubt well-bribed) Cypriot authorities. No biggie, in other words…

The more things change…


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