Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

7 November 2012. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Preliminary Results of the 2012 US Presidential Election


On Tuesday, the USA held a presidential election. Despite a record number of candidates, it came down to a struggle between Democrat Barack Obama, the incumbent President, and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. In the USA, the President and Vice-President aren’t elected by direct popular vote, but indirectly, through the Electoral College. When they mark their ballot on Election Day for their preferred candidates for President and Vice-President, American voters actually vote for a group of electors from their state, which, then, votes for the President and Vice-President as the Electoral College. There are 538 members of the US Electoral College. The number of electors from each state equals the number of its US Congressional delegation (the number of its US Senators and Representatives). The District of Columbia, the location of Washington, the US capital, doesn’t have representation in Congress, but it has three electors in the Electoral College.

7 November 2012




Eminent Orthodox Church Leader Dies


The oldest leader of the world’s unruly family of autocephalous Orthodox Churches and the only patriarch to survive both the Communist era and the post-Communist government’s attempt to oust him, Patriarch Maksim Minkov of Bulgaria, died in the early hours Monday of heart failure at the age of 98 in Sofia’s University Hospital, the church announced. Having led Bulgaria’s main church for over 40 years, the patriarch demonstrated incredible political resilience against the biggest challenge that any major church institution in Eastern Europe faced in recent decades. At the same time, those who knew him, including some in Russia, remember him as a jovial yet deeply spiritual man.

Born in 1914 as Marin Naydenov Minkov, he graduated from seminary in 1935, was tonsured a monk with the name Maksim in 1941, and represented the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Moscow from 1950 to 1955. He became a bishop in 1956, and elected patriarch in Communist Bulgaria in 1971. Recently, in an interview for a documentary about his life, Patriarch Maxim said, “At that time, it was easier to die than to understand and assess how to live and carry out the duties of the First Hierarch of the Holy Church”. In the interview, he recalled his meetings with Bulgarian communist leader Todor Zhivkov, saying he used them to ask the government to save another church from demolition, saying, “Of course, I committed sins, like all people do, but I never allowed compromises that’d harm the Church, and I didn’t even allow myself to think that possible”.

Yet, that isn’t what some post-communist leaders, and a significant part of Bulgaria’s clergy, thought after the Bulgarian communist régime fell in 1989.

In 1992, a government led by the Union of Democratic Forces, which saw Maksim as a “Communist stooge”, instigated a schism in the church, questioning the legitimacy of his enthronement and setting up an alternative synod led by Metropolitan Pimen of Nevrokop, which eventually ousted Maksim. Although the majority of church members didn’t follow the new hierarchy, it attracted a number of bishops and priests, and the government recognised it. A long-standing conflict ensued; complete with property disputes, mutual anathemas, and a series of failed attempts at reconciliation. Throughout it, Orthodox Churches across the world, including the Moscow Patriarchate, supported Patriarch Maksim as the only legitimate Bulgarian Church leader.

Whilst it seemed that all the odds were against him domestically, Patriarch Maksim persevered. In 1998, an all-Orthodox Local Council led by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople, considered “first among equals” by other heads of Orthodox Churches, met in Sofia to confirm Maksim’s legitimacy and reconciled a large part of the breakaway bishops and priests with the Church. Yet, this didn’t stop the schism. Only in 2003 did the government register Maksim’s Synod, and, in 2004, the breakaway churches were returned to his hierarchy in a sweeping police operation, one later questioned in the European Court of Human Rights.

Bulgaria has always been important to Russian Orthodox believers as the source of its liturgical language, Church Slavonic, and the Cyrillic alphabet, used to this day. In the Middle Ages, Bulgarians accounted for a sizable community of the learned monks and bishops in Russia. In Soviet times, it was seen as a culturally-close Eastern Bloc country, which treated its church more liberally than the USSR, and it was thus a source of books and music otherwise unattainable. Contemporary senior Russian bishops see and respect Patriarch Maksim as an “elder”, as he’s surrounded by an aura from these recent difficulties, if not persecution.

On the eve of his visit to Bulgaria in April this year, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias recalled how his father was appointed to accompany a Bulgarian delegation to Leningrad in the late 1950s, and how he remembered, as a child, seeing services led by the “young, energetic, and handsome Bishop Maksim”. That memory, he said, created a special atmosphere for his visit some 60 years later.

Georgy Gupalo, who heads one of the leading Russian Orthodox publishers, Dar, said that he saw Patriarch Maxim several times and that he considers him a “holy elder”. Responding to my questions via email, Gupalo wrote, “I’ve always been surprised by the atmosphere that emerged when he appeared. There was a feeling that everything began to shine. A person of his age usually looks tired. You rarely meet a nearly hundred-year-old man with such bright, jovial eyes, full of light, love, engagement, and something else, that we usually see among children… let’s call it curiosity. He always displayed a keen interest in people. He experienced the bitter taste of rejection, but his sight remained bright and joyful”.

In recent years, Patriarch Maxim was frail and appeared only on major occasions. According to the Statutes of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the longest serving metropolitan… currently, Metropolitan Grigory of Veliko Tarnovo… will preside over the church for the next seven days until the Synod elects an interim head. A specially-convened council of clergy, monks, and believers will elect a new patriarch within four months. The candidate should be at least 50-year- old and must have served as a metropolitan for at least five years.

6 November 2012

Andrei Zolotov



Editor’s Note:

One should note with concern the attempt by the First Families to install Tikhon Mollard as First Hierarch of the OCA. The Bulgarian Church, as noted above wouldn’t allow his name to be placed in contention. Neither would the Serbian or Russian Churches. I’m sure that the same is true of the other legit Local Churches. In short, Tikhon Mollard is immature… yes, too immature for the white hat (as, indeed, Fathausen was). Tikhon always gave way to Bobby, Lyonyo, and Fathausen, he never once stood his ground before them, worsening the general situation as a consequence. It doesn’t matter that he’s a nice guy and appears “holy”… we need a leader with guts and determination, and he doesn’t have them. Sadly, he’s a pusillanimous coward… and that’s not what we need now. He’s only 46-years-old… it’s not his time. His name is only being bruited because Vinnie Peterson hates Mel Pleska with a Number One Purple Passion and Lyonyo and Jillions fear for their Grand Fenwickian situations if Mel gets the white hat.

The Parma Sobor delegates should consider this fact…



7 November 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Sprinting Ahead

Sprinting Ahead

Sergei Yolkin



According to the American media, the latest vote counts show that incumbent US President Barack Obama was re-elected for another four-year term… he gained 303 electoral votes, but only needed 270 to win.

7 November 2012

Sergei Yolkin




Barack Obama Re-elected President of the USA… Neofascism Held Back


 On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party candidate, was re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a tightly contested and divisive race that saw the candidates and their backers pour an estimated 2.5 billion USD (78.3 billion Roubles. 2 billion Euros. 1.6 billion UK Pounds) into the campaign. However, control of the US Congress remained split between Democrats and Republicans after nationwide elections for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, meaning Obama could face continued fierce opposition to his legislative agenda in the Republican-controlled House, while the Senate majority remained in the Democrats’ hands.

Early Wednesday morning, in a spirited victory speech to a raucous crowd of supporters at his campaign headquarters in Chicago, Obama called for national unity, saying that with his re-election, “The task of perfecting our union moves forward. I’ve never been more hopeful about our future, and I ask you to sustain that hope”. Obama said he had spoken with Romney earlier in the evening and congratulated the former governor of Massachusetts and his running mate, Paul Ryan, on a “hard-fought campaign”, noting, “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply, and we care so deeply about its future”.

Romney struck a conciliatory tone in his concession speech early Wednesday morning, telling supporters at his campaign headquarters in Boston that America couldn’t “risk partisan bickering and political posturing” at this critical point in the nation’s history, telling the crowd, “This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation. This election is over, but our principles endure”. He added that his belief in his vision for turning around the American economy remained unshaken.

Earlier in the evening, the American media projected Obama to capture the key battleground state of Ohio and its 18 Electoral College votes, which helped push him over the needed 270 votes in the Electoral College to put him back in the White House. Several major American TV outlets projected the incumbent’s victory shortly before 23.30 EST (08.30 MSK 7 November 04.30 UTC 20.30 PST 15.30 AEST 7 November) Tuesday night. Shortly thereafter, Obama’s official Twitter feed posted the following Tweet, “This happened because of you. Thank you”. The networks projected Obama’s re-election after the president notched a string of projected victories in several tightly-contested and strategically-important states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire… states that were seen as key for Romney to win in his bid to unseat Obama.

CNN projected Obama’s lead over Romney in the Electoral College at 303-206, with Florida’s 29 electoral votes still on the table in a state race widely seen as too close to call as of early Wednesday morning. NBC News reported that exit polls showed that white male voters, as well as older voters, favoured Romney, whilst women and younger voters backed Obama. Citing the same exit polls, it also noted that Obama received overwhelming support among Latino and black voters.

Romney had spent Election Day on Tuesday campaigning in Ohio, a state hit hard in the American economic downturn where the Republican candidate had hoped to convince voters he was the right person to get the economy back on track. In a campaign that centred on the economy, Obama attacked Romney as seeking to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans whilst slashing social programs aimed at the middle and lower classes. The president’s signature health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act, also played an important role in the 2012 race for the White House. Romney vowed to work to overturn the law on his first day in office, whilst Obama campaigned on the broadly popular aspects of the 2010 law, including a provision forbidding insurance companies from denying coverage to people due to pre-existing conditions.

Foreign policy largely took a backseat to domestic issues in the election, although Republicans repeatedly tried to paint Obama as a less-than-stellar friend of Israel and accused him of clumsy handling of American policy in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings. Russia played a peripheral role in the campaign, though Romney notably called the Kremlin the USA’s “Number One Geopolitical Foe”, prompting Obama to accuse him of injecting a Cold War mindset into bilateral relations.

Arguably, the most significant wild card in the races was Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that slammed the American East Coast just a week before Tuesday’s election, leaving more than 100 people dead and destroying property and infrastructure in states up and down the coast. Both candidates temporarily halted their campaigns in the storm’s deadly wake, but Obama took a hands-on role in the immediate recovery efforts, allocating federal emergency funds for states slammed by the storms and travelling to the frontline of the destruction to meet with victims of the hurricane. In the days following the storm, even New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, a high-profile surrogate for the Romney campaign, whose state bore the brunt of Sandy’s wrath, repeatedly praised Obama.

The bitter campaign was also the most expensive in American history. The independent non-profit Center for Responsive Politics estimated the cost of the race at about 2.5 billion USD, with funds coming in from the candidates’ campaigns, the Democratic and Republican Party committees, and an array of outside PACs. This flood of cash came in the aftermath of the January 2010 US Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which allows corporations, unions, and issue advocacy organisations to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of or opposition to a candidate, as long as the spending is done independently of any candidate’s campaign.

7 November 2012



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