Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Will “Sandy” Save Obama’s Campaign?


Hurricane Sandy’s hitting of the US East Coast could play a crucial role in the presidential campaign. Analysts believe that the storm can benefit Obama even better than all the members of his campaign team. Sandy can help Obama get a “permission” to reassume the presidency. This could happen during the final and most important stage of the presidential campaign, when less than a week is left before the elections. Until recently, opinion polls showed Obama and Romney sharing almost equal chances to win.

The storm will save Obama’s election campaign. Sounds cynical, doesn’t it? However, being cynical is part of any American presidential campaign. The participants forget all standards of behaviour, given what a great prize awaits the winner at the end. Sandy is a good example. Actually, according to meteorologists, it wasn’t a hurricane when it reached the USA, but a tropical storm. Obviously, it wasn’t the strongest hurricane in a decade. Prominent Russian political analyst Gleb Kuznetsov believes that the Obama team overdramatized the situation, saying, “In advance, Obama turned this hurricane into a catastrophe. Referring to Sandy, the Obama administration used such terms as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘horrible’ as if trying to get people prepared for a possible outcome. Sandy couldn’t have brought Obama any good, only harm. This is what he focused on beforehand, trying to prevent harmful consequences”.

The superstorm offered Obama a chance to use his administration’s potential to its fullest, to prove himself an effective president and rescuer without confronting the risk of facing accusations of politicking. The Obama team seems to have learned a good lesson from the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Then-US President George W Bush faced blame for his slow handling of the situation, which resulted in his approval rating going down sharply. Pavel Tarusin, analyst for Lomonosov Moscow State University, said, “Voters have already compared Sandy to Katrina. In 2005, the rescue operation was really too late as Mr Bush and the Governor of Louisiana debated for 5-6 days on whether to allocate federal money on the rescue operation or not. In terms of this, Mr Obama finds himself in a better position now… we must admit that he has been quite active in handling the situation”.

Barack Obama cancelled all his remaining campaign appearances, as he’s busy monitoring the rescue operation in the northeatern USA. His schedule for Wednesday, 31 October, features a visit to the worst-affected New Jersey areas. On Wednesday, Republican candidate Mitt Romney is touring Florida, a state that wasn’t affected by Sandy. Can there be a better contrast between the two candidates? One monitors the rescue efforts, whilst the other continues to campaign as the US East Coast is in trouble. Barack Obama declared the states of New Jersey and New York the worst affected by the storm. He ordered the allocation of federal money to help people in these areas to cope with the aftermath of the storm. Even Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie admitted that Obama’s actions were “outstanding”. This certainly placed Mitt Romney in the background of the current political scene in the USA.

Hurricane Sandy, which hit the US eastern coast and Canada, is losing force, but the death toll keeps growing. The raging elements claimed more than 60 human lives in Caribbean countries before making landfall over the US East Coast and Canada on Monday night. preliminary estimates put the overall damage cost is at 20 billion dollars, but Japanese economists feel the cost may well rise to 100 billion dollars and gravely affect American economic growth. The US National Hurricane Centre believes that Sandy was the biggest-scale tropical cyclone in the North Atlantic since tropical cyclones began to be recorded in 1851.

Amidst enormous efforts to get back to normal life, New York City authorities are taking measures against a crime wave that could spill over the city. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised “a very heavy police presence” in blacked-out city areas. According to reports from the crippled city, police vans and patrol cars with their roof lights on are all over the streets. Although there’s been little sign of a crime wave so far, officials said that police made multiple arrests in the city on Monday and Tuesday. Charges included burglary, criminal mischief, and trespassing. Media reports say that New York began beefing up police patrols in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, which triggered a rise of crime and violence in the city. Some hundred police were deployed to Coney Island to protect looted stores and banks, whilst residents of several blocks in Chelsea in Manhattan hired private security guards. Media reports say that New Yorkers fear that the storm could lead to a spike in crime amidst the power outages.

Russian air-carriers Aeroflot and Transaero cancelled their flights from Moscow to New York due this Wednesday because of Hurricane Sandy. Delta Airlines took similar steps. The situation is extremely involved at John F Kennedy Airport in New York. One runway is non-operational, since its navigation systems are flooded. Most of New York’s alternate airports have been closed. On Monday, Sandy made landfall over the US East Coast, killing more than 50 Americans to date. Some 8 million people are suffering from power outages. The damages are estimated at 20 billion USD. Earlier, the hurricane hit some Caribbean countries, so the overall death toll is about 120. The cyclone is currently moving towards Canada.

Life in New York is getting back on track after Hurricane Sandy hit the US East Coast on Monday night. The authorities said that the after-effects of the hurricane are unprecedented. Water in worst-hit lower Manhattan has receded, so housing and municipal services crews got down to repairing the storm damage. Groceries, cafés, and restaurants have reopened in downtown New York, with owners jacking prices up for top-selling goods.

Officials say the death toll from Superstorm Sandy has reached 50. There are widespread power outages in lower Manhattan. Utility officials say it could be days before power is restored and the subway system is running again. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there was “no timeline” for when the subway would restart, but he hoped buses could begin running again on Wednesday. All New York area major airports were closed as their runways are flooded, but John F Kennedy Airport and Newark Airport in New Jersey are due to reopen at 06.00 EDT on Wednesday, with reduced service. Bloomberg said that it’s likely to be two or three days before power is restored to most of the city. Storm-caused deaths were reported in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. A Toronto resident, a woman, also fell victim to the hurricane.

According to the UN press service, the United Nations Headquarters in New York remains paralysed for the third day, as does the city itself after being hit by hurricane Sandy last Tuesday night. On 31 October, all meetings at the UN were cancelled and the UN’s website is also down. According to the authorities, Hurricane Sandy killed at least 16 people in New York and over 600,000 households were left without power. The restoration of power and public transport may take several days.

US President Barack Obama pledged to do everything possible to quickly deal with the effects of Hurricane Sandy. He stated that the difficulties were felt by the entire country and said that assistance would be provided free of red tape and bureaucracy. Obama also called on US citizens to be generous and donate aid to the victims of the hurricane through the American Red Cross. President Obama noted the courage of rescuers and authorities in New York, the city that suffered the most severe consequences of the storm. On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama cancelled all campaign events due to Hurricane Sandy making landfall on the East Coast. Obama was to hold a meeting with voters in Ohio, but decided to stay in Washington to coordinate the actions of the government forces in the aftermath of the disaster. Obama said his priority now is the early transfer of resources to local authorities. Meanwhile, rival Mitt Romney, said that his campaign will resume on Wednesday in Florida. According to his press office, the Republican is in Ohio, where he opened an endowment fund to victims of the hurricane. Earlier, Romney said that he considered it necessary to cut funding for the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Television reports said that Hurricane Sandy killed more than 30 people in seven northeastern American states. According to New York Mayor Michel Bloomberg, New York City was the worst hit with at least ten people reported dead. The total storm-related death toll in the state of New York is 17. Three people were killed in Pennsylvania and three in New Jersey. One of the reactors at the Salem 1 nuclear power plant in New Jersey was shut down because of the storm after four of its six coolant pumps stopped working.

31 October 2012

Vitaly Radnayev

Andrei Fedyashin

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

One of the more fluky “October Surprises” on record fatally damaged Willy’s campaign. There’s nothing that Willy can do of it… nothing. All that Barack Obama has to do is to attend to his duties and look “presidential”… and that will tilt most “undecideds” his way. After all, he made George W Bush look foolish, and everyone knows that Willy is nothing but Bush Redux. At present, Romney’s call to reduce or eliminate FEMA looks ridiculous. There’s nothing to do, the money of his fatcat supporters can’t help him. Barack Obama came across as cool and dispassionate… he hasn’t made a wrong move yet.

In short, the Romney campaign is going full-tilt for the abyss… it’s no horse-race. Most statistical researchers give the Prez a 70 to 80 percent chance of re-election. He has to fuck up royally to lose… and he’s not a gambler like John McCain was. The hurricane was an “act of God”… in more ways than one…



31 October 2012. Russia’s Reply to Romney’s Unhinged Vapouring…


Willard Romney has been spouting goofy shit about Russia being “America’s Enemy Number One”, about bombing Iran, about beefing up the forces, and about humbling China. Due to the greedy malfeasance of the Bushies, there’s nothing in the cupboard to do any of it. Over a month ago, Foreign Minister Lavrov appeared in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi… that extended Russian guarantees to Iran. That means that any rhetoric by Romney about Iran is empty bullshit. There’s no money left to increase the forces or to keep forces deployed in the South China Sea (which is outside the American FEBA anyway). Most of all, the USA hasn’t the power to push Russia around, the ’08 war proved that.

The bear is back; he’s back in his old haunts. America hasn’t the power to stop him or push him back. All of Romney’s horses and all of Ryan‘s men can’t do a thing about it. That means that they’re boastful liars, doesn’t it?



Patriarch Irinej Sez Talks with Macedonians Only Possible in Line with Canons


Serbian Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović said that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) “will joyfully accept talks with the non-canonical Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC)”. On Monday, however, he specified in a statement for Tanjug that this is possible “only in line with the canons and previous agreements”. The most important agreement was signed in Niš in 2002. Patriarch Irinej said, “We wish to hold talks, but only in line with the canons, which we must observe, and in line with earlier agreements”.

On Friday, the Presidents of Serbia and Macedonia, Tomislav Nikolić and Gjorge Ivanov respectively, stated that the SPC and the MPC should resolve the dispute between them through dialogue, and added that they, as presidents of these two countries, would help the process be successful. Nikolić and Ivanov agreed that many things, but primarily, the Church issue, depended on good relations between the two countries.

Patriarch Irinej, who was at the time the bishop of Niš, hosted a meeting in Niš on 17 May 2002, and was one of the signatories of the agreement on establishment of the Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid, and on overcoming the schism between the canonical SPC and the uncanonical MPC. The agreement implied recognition of broad church autonomy for the dioceses in the Republic of Macedonia, whilst, in return, the Archbishopric of Ohrid was to be part of the SPC formally, and the SPC Patriarch would confirm the election of the First Hierarch of the Macedonian Church.

Five out of seven Macedonian bishops accepted the draft agreement. However, on 28 May, they dismissed the importance of the agreement they had signed in Niš, and told the Macedonian public that it was only a working document, with no binding character. The only bishop who subsequently accepted and signed the Niš agreement was Metropolitan Jovan of Veles and Povardarie, appointed by the SPC Holy Synod as head of the Autonomous Archbishopric of Ohrid in May 2003, which according to the SPC, is still in force. The non-canonical MPC unilaterally declared its autocephaly in the summer of 1967; it’s headed at present by Archbishop Stefan Veljanovski of Ohrid and Macedonia, but the SPC doesn’t recognise it.

29 October 2012



31 October 2012. You Can’t Make Shit Like This Up. Get Thee to a Monastery… There’s a Brothel There

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov (1958- ), the Superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. On the one hand, he’s an excellent spiritual writer… on the other, he’s a lickspittle to the oligarchs, and many think him pro-Western. He’s an enigma… “Is he a white horse with black stripes, or, is he a black horse with white stripes?” (as Churchill famously asked about Franco)


The Russian Orthodox Church is furiously trying to calm a media storm after police uncovered a brothel on the grounds of one of Moscow’s most prestigious monasteries. The “hotel for lovers” was operating out of a building belonging to the Sretensky Monastery, an ancient institution just up the road from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service. Police arrested two women, from the Ukraine and Tajikistan, during a raid at the weekend. The institution’s seedy reputation was apparently well known. Local media reported that it rented out its seven rooms by the hour, at rates starting from 1,750 Roubles (56 USD. 43 Euros. 35 UK Pounds).

Founded in 1395, the monastery is one of the city’s oldest religious institutions. Legend has it that it was founded on the spot where Muscovites met a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary brought from the neighbouring city of Vladimir to save Moscow from Tamerlane‘s marauding armies. Many say that the monastery’s Superior, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, is President Vladimir Putin‘s personal spiritual adviser. Fr Tikhon hit back at what he called a “media sensation” surrounding the brothel, telling a state-owned channel that the “lovers’ hotel” was in a building the monastery acquired only recently, and that evicting the current business occupying the premises was one of the conditions of the sale. He even joked that the church was “lucky” the issue had finally been dealt with, saying, “Today’s storm in the media is just one example of how people are willing to take any slander and not only make a vulgar joke out of it, but launch a very real information attack against the Church”.

31 October 2012

The Independent


Editor’s Note:

I asked for some confirmation from Moscow sources. The buzz is that Tikhon’s pissed off certain factions with his too-close relationship with the oligarch set (Marat Gelman and Prokhorov were mentioned), some even called it a set-up that Tikhon wasn’t street-smart enough to detect. Other voices on the grapevine think that it’s an intra-Church feud (one mentioned the Kapalin brothers). There’s no uniform intel, so, it’s a case of “you pays your money and you takes your choice”. My choice is “it’s too muddled to tell”… I think that I have plenty of company in thinking that…


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