Voices from Russia

Friday, 27 September 2013

Dačić Visits Serbian Army Memorials in Greece

00 Serbian patriots on Vido. Greece. Serbian war memorial. 27.09.13


Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić visited the Greek islands of Corfu and Vido and laid a wreath at a mausoleum on Vido dedicated to the World War I soldiers of the Serbian Army. The mayor and citizens of Corfu and delegations from the Church of Greece, military, and police attended the commemoration of the day in World War I when the Serbian Army landed from Allied transport ships on the Greek islands after retreating through Albania. Dačić said in his address, “This is where Serbia was dying, and it’s where Serbia should be remembering (its history). Here, Serbia should live, live for those who gave their lives for it”. Recalling the events of the retreat, Dačić said that the undefeated Serbian army and some of the civilian refugees found refuge in a well-disposed Greece, which opened its heart and embraced the heroes of the new century. He pointed up the historical fact that only one in five of the 750,000 Serbian soldiers who went to war managed to reach Corfu, and that victory cost Serbia more than a million deaths and the loss of half of its male population. A large portion of the Serbian soldiers who reached the Greek islands died from exhaustion, food shortage, and various diseases and most were buried at sea near Vido, at the mouth of the port of Corfu. Dačić said, “An entire Serbia was buried nameless in this blue grave. It was a war in which Serbia became famous, a time when (Mustafa Kemal) Atatürk and (Eleftherios Kyriakou) Venizelos compared it to the Spartans, when German Emperor Wilhelm said that he’d like to have Serbia as an ally, and the French parliament resounded with the words ‘Long live Serbia’. The Albanian Golgotha and the stay of the Serbs on Corfu and Vido from 1916 until 1918 are woven into the collective conscience of our people as a period of ancient tragedy, unselfish heroism, and true humanity”.

27 September 2013




Ethiopia Celebrates Meskel, a Christian Holiday All Its Own, With Yellow Flowers and Blazing Bonfires

00 Ethiopia. Meskel. Orthodox Christian with cross. 27.09.13


On Thursday night, a massive bonfire blazed in the central square of Ethiopia‘s capital city, Addis Ababa. However, by Friday morning, they swept the mess away, leaving nothing but a giant spot of soot on the asphalt. Thousands of people flocked to the arena, called Meskel Square, to watch the ceremonial lighting of the fire for the eve of Meskel, a national holiday also known as the Finding of the True Cross. Ethiopians from across the country… and visitors from around the world… carried yellow daises, wooden crosses, and wax candles as the pile of wood burned down to the pavement.

After sunset throughout the city, people lit smaller bonfires in backyards and on street corners, and celebrations continued throughout the night. On Friday morning, the square was still buzzing; Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, many with soot on their foreheads in the shape of a cross, congregated at Meskel Square or paid a visit to the nearby Estifanos Church. After the spectacle of Meskel eve, the holiday itself is a time for rest, family togetherness, and feasting… however, since 27 September fell on a Friday this year, a fasting day, Orthodox Christians had to abstain from meat. Johannes, 34, who’s pursuing his Master’s degree in Addis, said, “Families come together for the ceremony. It’s a celebration to join people together, hand to hand. For the people, for God, for the government, and for prayer”.

Legend has it that on this day around 330 AD, St Helena… known as Nigist Eleni in Ethiopia, the mother of Rome’s first Christian emperor, Constantine… found the cross on which the Romans crucified Jesus. In accordance with a revelation she’d had in a dream, Helena burned a giant pile of wood and frankincense. The smoke rose into the sky and then arced back down to earth, showing her the spot where the cross was buried. One can find fragments of the cross in churches around the world, and one found its way to Ethiopia, where it’s now said to be buried under Gishen Mariam Monastery on the mountain of Amba Geshen in the northeastern Debub Wollo Zone. Ethiopia, which has one of the most devout Orthodox communities in the world, is the only country that celebrates the finding of the cross on a national level.

The Meskel festival is about 1,600 years old, but Ethiopians didn’t always celebrate it this grandly. During the 1970s and 80s, when Ethiopia was ruled by the Derg, a Marxist faction, religion took a backseat to politics and the giant bonfire was banned from Meskel Square. During that time, the government often killed those suspected of supporting the resistance. Johannes himself was only 16 when the Derg arrested him and threw him into prison for one year. He said, “At that time, there was no religion”. The Derg fell apart as the USSR, its biggest benefactor, withdrew from the world stage during the late 1980s. Ultimately, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, a coalition of rebel groups that’s since become the present ruling party, defeated it. Today, 63 percent of Ethiopians identify as Christian, two-thirds are Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox, and worshippers pack churches on holidays like Meskel.

Even non-Christian Ethiopians have reason to rejoice on Meskel; the festival marks the end of the rainy season in Addis Ababa. Since June, the city… which sits at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet (2,133 metres), much higher than the rest of the country… was cloudy, wet, and cold. Yet, sure enough, the sun shined brightly all day Friday, and people expect to keep shining for nine more months until the rains come again. It’s also the time of year for Meskel daisies… bright yellow blossoms bloom all across the country. Families collected them all this week in anticipation of the festival; they used the flowers to decorate stacked wood for the bonfires, and women and children all over the square on Friday carried little bouquets to celebrate the changing of the season.

As the only country on earth to celebrate Meskel, Ethiopia’s petitioning UNESCO to register its annual celebration in Addis Ababa as a cultural heritage experience. The Foreign Ministry said that the holiday “deserves this designation because of the ancient nature of the celebration, its colour, and significance, and the attraction it has for a growing number of tourists, as well as the enormous participation of society and of people of all ages, which adds to its inimitable quality”.

 27 September 2013

Jacey Fortin

International Business Times


27 September 2013. Update on Ma’loula…

00 Syrian nun in Ma'aloula. 08.09.13


On Tuesday, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East said that battles between government troops and rebel forces trapped nearly 40 nuns and orphans inside a convent in the Syrian Christian town of Ma’loula. The famed town, where residents still speak Aramaic, the language reputedly spoke by Jesus Christ, was the scene of clashes since earlier this month. The Damascus-based Patriarchate said in a statement, “The Mar Takla convent is living through painful days because it’s in the middle of the zone where fire is being exchanged, which makes getting supplies difficult and dangerous. The generator has gone out because of the fighting, halting the supply of water to the convent and threatening the lives of those inside”. It issued an “urgent appeal” to humanitarian groups to “ensure the necessary supplies to residents of the convent, nuns and orphans, who number close 40 people”.

The convent is located half-way between the hills of Ma’loula, which are still under rebel control, and the centre of the town, which government forces retook. Syrian opposition forces, including jihadist fighters, took control of Ma’loula on 9 September. Three days later, the Syrian army entered the town, retaking part of it, but it failed to secure it entirely. Picturesque Ma’loula, nestled under a large cliff, is symbolic of the Christian presence in Syria. Since the fighting began in the town, most of its 5,000 residents fled to neighbouring villages or to Damascus.


Christians and Muslims always lived in an atmosphere of mutual trust; the attack on Ma’loula created a lot of distress. Islamists invaded homes and they continue to threaten the village, which is the site of continuing clashes between rebels and the army. The families who fled to Damascus and Beirut told their story. The jihadists’ goal is to drive out Christians in order to eliminate Christianity. According to families who fled Ma’loula (Syria), some of their Muslim neighbours were involved in the attack that devastated their village located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Damascus, dispersing its residents. They perceived it as a betrayal of the long-lasting trust that existed between Christians and Muslims in Ma’loula, where Muslims make up about 30 per cent of the village population. The presence of young Muslim fighters from the village amongst the Syrian rebels appalled the Christian population. However, it’s a sign of the growing ambiguity of Syria’s armed rebellion. These facts give that battles that occurred in Ma’loula from 3 to 7 September another perspective.

Speaking for the first time anonymously, survivors from Ma’loula described how elements from the Syrian Liberation Army and the al-Nusra Front coordinated their attack in an attempt to take control of the town. The explosion of a car driven by a suicide bomber at an army checkpoint at the village entrance was the signal for the attack. Almost immediately, armed rebel groups sprung out from within Ma’loula, smashing doors to gain entrance into Christian homes. With dramatic details, witnesses describe the climate of terror that prevailed, the summary execution on Saturday of three men who, after a failed attempt by the Syrian army to retake Ma’loula, refused to recant their faith, as well as the kidnapping of six others, whose fate remains unknown to this day.

One of the survivors reported that rebels invaded her house almost immediately after the car’s explosion at an army checkpoint. Rebels came into the house and moved around as if they were familiar with the place. After she escaped with her husband and their daughter to the rearmost room of their home, the attackers went there, too, claiming that they’d smashed the statue of the Virgin Mary at the entrance of the house. A stifled sob in her throat, she remembered how she wished to die rather than see daughter raped before her own eyes. Fortunately, her fears weren’t realised.  Nevertheless, she does remember that the rebels forced her husband to recant his Christian faith with the barrel of an assault rifle at his head. When she remembered how US Secretary of State John Kerry described the SLA forces as “moderate” before a US Senate committee, she shook her head in a sign of weariness over such ignorance or bad faith. In her eyes, the Western press seemed to have lost all credibility.

According to some analysts, the climate of euphoria that accompanied the prospect of American punitive strikes against Syria might’ve encouraged the attack against Ma’loula. However, a counteroffensive by the regular army, supported by village youth, followed by a last minute unexplained pullback, proved even more devastating. The Christian officer who ordered the withdrawal was arrested Ma’loula residents say. The families who fled the village took refuge mainly in Bab Touma, the Christian quarter of Damascus, but some joined relatives in the Lebanon or the convents of the Greek Catholic Church in that country. Reportedly, no Christian refugees are living in tents.

Today, the people of this village, a living icon of Christ’s time since his language, Aramaic, is spoken there, are temporarily dispersed. A liturgy was served for them at the headquarters of the Greek Catholic archbishop in Beirut on the feast day of St Thekla (24 September), “Equal-to-the-Apostles” according to a tradition associated with Ma’loula. Despite the reassuring presence of a Syrian army checkpoint, the village is within firing range of rebels hiding in the surrounding higher ground. According to eyewitness accounts, rebels rolled burning tires down the hill towards some of the houses in the Christian Quarter, and gunmen fired at fuel tanks near homes in order to set them on fire. These actions are a clear signal to Christians that they’re no longer welcome in their own town. Now, reeds are growing in Ss Saris and Bathos Greek Catholic Monastery, a place no one can approach now. From a distance, one can see that the cross on its dome is broken and that part of the building bears traces of fire. We know nothing about the fate of the 10th century icons it housed. It’s been a time of painful days for Mar Takla (St Thekla) Orthodox Monastery as well. Located between the Ma’loula hill held by the rebels and the army-held central square, the monastic complex houses 40 nuns and orphans. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East in Damascus called on all parties to facilitate the supply of provisions to the residents.

In some church circles, some wonder why the rebels seized Ma’loula in the first place given its lack of military significance. They wonder if, in addition to the Christians in this village, Christianity itself was targeted through the Aramaic-speaking community, as the Taliban in Afghanistan did when they destroyed the giant Buddha statues, believing that by doing so they’d eradicate ancient beliefs and superstitions, totally insensitive to religious or even cultural diversity. There’s no doubt, indeed, that the dispersion of Ma’loula’s Christian community endangers the priceless cultural legacy that the town, by its very existence, represents.

 24/27 September 2013





Editor’s Note:

The USA supports the jihadist filth who threaten Ma’loula, and, indeed, all the Christians and Alawis of Syria. Never forget that even though the Interventionist Democrats are bad, the Republican Neocons are worse, as their goal is global hegemony for the oligarchs of the transnational corporations. Russia and China stand against this plot… that’s why they’re hated and vilified in the American media, both “liberal” and “conservative”. Christiane Amanpour and Sean Hannity are siblings under the flesh. They’re both soulless whores for their oligarch paymasters, who’ll say anything if they’re paid enough dengi.

Remember this… the USA supports those who inflict the Golgotha of Ma’loula. If that doesn’t tell you that the clique running the West hates all those who refuse to bow down to them and become willing acolytes of Mammon the Great, nothing will. You can stand with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill or you can stand with Barack Obama and John McCain. If you’re Orthodox, you’ll stand with HH… ‘nuff said…

Remember Ma’loula… that’s what the zapadniki want to do to all of us in the end…


Russian Priests to Get Military Training

00 russian soldiers being blessed by priest. 27.09.13


On Friday, a statement by the Central Military District said that a group of Orthodox priests would undergo military training at a Minoborony university in Moscow. They’ll take a month-long course in military history, tactical concepts, and military regulations, as well as how to offer psychological and emotional support to troops. The statement didn’t say when the training would take place. In the past two years, the number of chaplains in the forces almost tripled, now, it stands at more than 80. Earlier this year, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported that the recruitment drive really took off under after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s appointment in November 2012. The training is part of a project to restore a full-scale military chaplaincy in Russia, which existed from the 18th century to the start of the Soviet era. Then-President Dmitri Medvedev announced the plan in 2009. In March this year, a group of VDV chaplains jumped with a large mobile chapel that they set up in the field upon landing near Ryazan, 196 kilometres (122 miles) southeast of Moscow. A Minoborony official said that the airborne chaplains made the jumps to “improve the morale of the young fighters”.

27 September 2013



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