Voices from Russia

Monday, 20 February 2012

20 February 2012. Video. Break Out the Popcorn and Sit Back! It’s a Feature-Length Cartoon…”Ilya Muromets and the Nightingale Bandit”




20 February 2012. Video. It’s Maslenitsa! URA!




20 February 2012. Money Talks and Bullshit Walks Department: A Tale of Two Churches in the Same City… Russian Chapel in Gritty Brooklyn Faces Demolition for Lack of Funds… Repair Work to Commence on St Nick’s on Ritzy Upper East Side… Plenty of Money There!


On Monday, the website Lifenews.ru reported that the Office of City Planning in New York issued an order to demolish a wooden chapel in Brighton Beach (Brooklyn) operated by the ROCOR. They based their decision on the fact that the law prohibits wooden structures within the New York City limits because of the danger of fire. Constant complaints from local residents, who wanted the parish to move to a new location, helped to aggravate the situation. Vadim Arefiev, the parish priest, said, “Where are we to go? My ten assistants and I simply have no other place to live! So, we’ll hold out to the last, right here in this little churchlet. We hope that local authorities will cooperate, and not tear it down until we resolve our financial difficulties”. Recently, he came to Moscow in search of funds. He needs 1.9 million USD (56.8 million Roubles. 1.45 million Euros. 1.2 million UK Pounds) to buy the land to build a new church. He needs 500,000 USD (15 million Roubles. 380,000 Euros. 320,000 UK Pounds) for the down-payment within three months. As reported, Fr Vadim isn’t only the pastor in Brighton Beach; he also acts as a social worker. For nine years, he’s supported homeless immigrants from the former Soviet Union, establishing a homeless shelter and an outreach centre on parish property.


According to the official website of the MP USA, repair work at St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City (Manhattan) began, which should be complete in four months. During this time, workmen will repair the roof and dome of the cathedral, and restore the crosses. During the period of repair and restoration work and the parish liturgical activities of the cathedral will not be changed or limited. The cathedral dates from 1902. The first payment on the building, 5,000 gold roubles (2,500 USD. 500 UK Pounds at the time) came from Tsar Nikolai Aleksandrovich. St John of Kronshtadt blessed the construction of the church; he also contributed 200 roubles (100 USD. 20 UK Pounds). One of the best American construction firms of that time, John Downey and Son, built it in eighteen months.

20 February 2012




Editor’s Note:

A tale of two churches… a cathedral on the ritzy Upper East Side near the Guggenheim… a chapel in gritty Brighton Beach under the el tracks in Brooklyn. The cathedral’s getting a needed rehab, whilst the chapel faces the wrecking ball. I’m told that there are two main reasons why the locals are pissed at Fr Vadim. Firstly, they don’t like him bringing “lowlifes” into the community. Not everyone likes being buttonholed by an importunate beggar, and his shelter got the reputation of a flop-house. Secondly, Brighton Beach is the home of a largely-secular Russian Jewish community. Trust me, I know where the National and the Rasputin are… and I know who Buba is. Most of ‘em emigrated in the ‘70s or in the early ‘90s… save for their Jewish roots, all too many are godless “new Soviet men” (in the Western propaganda sense). The “Russian Mafia” in Brighton Beach makes Ostap Bender look like a choirboy.

So, Fr Vadim ran afoul of locals, who complained both to the local ward-heelers and Russian Mafiosi, who fried his ice to a tee. If he hadn’t helped the homeless, there’d be no trouble to this day. Actually, I’m told that Fr Vadim went all over to try to get help. Of course, the main ROCOR is in a fix, their HQ on Park is mortgaged to the gills, and the OCA isn’t in better shape. To be sure, Fr Vadim got the glad-hand and the run-around. No doubt, he noticed the preparatory work being done on St Nick’s… he asked for some help, and he probably got the same old song n’ dance… “We’re poor, we don’t have any money, you’re going to have to raise it yourself… we’re so sorry… we wish that we could help you” (I want to know if they said, “Our hands were tied!” Perspirin’ minds wanna know…).

Fr Vadim took a plane to Moscow and raised hell. One of the results was the announcement of the repair work on St Nick’s. When the Centre asked, no doubt, the lot there said, “Hey, our money’s tied up in repair work. It ain’t cheap and money doesn’t grow on trees”. However, this is proof that we’re in the deep kimchi… and the actions of our supposed “First Hierarchs” here don’t help matters. Paffhausen escaped to a pricey part of the District, when he belongs in his REAL diocese (which is headquartered in New York… his present pseudo-diocese only has twelve (yes!) parishes)… and Hilarion Kapral spends most of his time in Australia, when he’s Archbishop of New York and Eastern America.

THIS is what happens when hierarchs don’t live in their proper see cities. The Church goes to hell, and that’s that. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.


Syrian Religious Leaders Thanked Russia for Its Opposition to UN Security Council Resolutions

Bishop Luke Habib-Khoury of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East and Mufti Alaa Eddin Zateri at a press conference at RIA-Novosti in Moscow


Syrian Christian and Muslim leaders expressed their gratitude to Russia for its “fair position” in relation to the present crisis in their homeland. On 17 February, Bishop Luke Habib-Khoury of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East and Mufti Alaa Eddin Zateri presented their views at a press conference at RIA-Novosti. They’re part of a Syrian delegation, “The Echelon of National Unity”.

Mufti Zateri said that Syrian Christians and Muslims have a common understanding of the current events, saying, “No religion advocates mayhem. On the contrary, religion appeals to the good in us. All constructive parties are welcome, whether they’re from the opposition or from the president’s faction. We need an internal dialogue in Syria, not foreign intervention. The Russian position’s correct, for it supports dialogue. However, you can’t have a dialogue with criminals, with the Syrian rioters”.

All those participating in the press conference (in addition to the previously-named religious leaders, the other panel members were Mohsen Ghazi, Deputy Chairman of the Association of Creative Unions of Syria, the famous Syrian and Arab journalist Bassan Abu Abdallah, and Ahmed Al-Hussein, President of the Syrian National Community in Saudi Arabia) had a common viewpoint concerning the current events in Syria. They believe that the UN resolutions vetoed by Russia and China were unilateral American efforts. According to Mufti Zateri, the USA “wants to divide the Arab world, to build a new Middle East where brothers will kill each other”. The panel members are convinced that the Arab countries pushing in the UN for the intervention of foreign forces in Syria are acting under American instructions. Bishop Luke Habib-Khoury described the spiritual cause of the Syrian crisis by saying, “Evil is found all over the world, the devil has his dwelling-place in many people. The devil is moving from America to the Middle East. It’s all in the interests of Israel and Zionism … they don’t believe that Christ ever existed, they’re all against Syria. I kid you not! The Russian people are a people of principle; they know what justice is, integrity plain and simple. Any state that knows the truth will always stand up for Syria”.

All the participants of the press conference categorically denied that the opponents of President Assad are legitimate, calling them renegades. According to their point of view, interested outsiders control the instigators of the disorder, the crisis flared up due to the so-called “Council of Istanbul” (al-Assad’s opponents in exile). Bishop Luke noted that the only real opposition is still in-country, “the opposition outside of Syria… they’re not a real opposition. Those who cry out from the West, who want to overthrow the régime, aren’t an actual opposition, they’re the destroyers of their country, they’re pushing people to violence. Look, let them present their programme… what do they want after Assad? If there were elections in Syria, they’d not receive a single vote”. Bishop Luke thought that the real opposition, who are Syrian patriots, paradoxically, are in the ranks of the supporters of President Assad, “In Syria, all of us are in the opposition. We want to pull Syria out of the muck; we want a better life…”

Answering a question on the religious situation in Syria, all the participants unanimously declared that Syria is one of the luckiest countries as far as inter-religious peace was concerned. Bishop Luke said, “No one should worry about the situation of Christians in Syria. We Orthodox are the largest group of Christians, but Catholics and other Christians are as free as we are. We have complete freedom of religion, we can worship as we please, and we can build mosques and churches. Our Church in Syria doesn’t pay taxes; we’re even exempt from paying bills for such things as utilities. We’re free to celebrate our holidays, and the Muslims are free to celebrate theirs. Christians have all the same rights as all other Syrian citizens”. In turn, Mufti Zateri stressed that the most important thing for Syrians was that they were all equal citizens of their country. “We don’t divide people by religion; we don’t even speak about it. Sometimes, friends don’t even know their friend’s religion. For example, in Damascus, there are more than 20 types of Muslims, but all of them, firstly, are citizens. Our passports have no category for ‘religion’. All the differences between us are just theoretical, if I may say so. The main thing for us is respect for the individual”. The conference participants, of whatever faith, saw unity in Syria, which they believe faces the threat of external aggression on the part of UN forces.

At the press conference, someone asked why so many Western media outlets deliberately misrepresent the situation in Syria. Bishop Luke said that the report that pro-government forces shelled the famous Orthodox monastery in Saidnaya was absurd, saying, “The army struck a blow at it? This is a significant religious place, President Bashar al-Assad and his father, President Hafez al-Assad, both visited it. How could it be? It’s nothing but media lie!” In conclusion, he appealed to the press, “My friends! I want you to understand that journalism’s a sacred profession, if it provides the truth. Through the intercessions of the Virgin Mary, the Church at Saidnaya still stands, even though there was a huge explosion there. I give thanks to God, to the Virgin Mary, and to all who believe in the truth. Amen”.

20 February 2012

Yuliya Zaitseva



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