Voices from Russia

Sunday, 1 December 2013

For Russia, Size Matters

Stolypin. Russian Eagle 05.12


Earlier this month, a lawmaker known for loyalist legislative proposals introduced a bill that would criminalise even talking about separatism in Russia. In an apparent attempt to emulate the law that bans promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, Yevgeni Fyodorov, a deputy of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, proposed, along with two other lawmakers, making the promotion of separatism a crime punishable by up to six years in prison. If one promotes separatism in the media, the punishment could be up to 20 years. There’s little evidence that the legislation will pass. For one thing, fellow United Russia member Pavel Krashennikov, who heads a RF Gosduma legislative committee, criticised the proposal for being excessive, which is usually a signal to ultra-loyal deputies that they need to curb their enthusiasm.

However, the interesting thing about this proposal and others like it is that they unwittingly express some of the government’s most pressing anxieties. The gay promotion ban, for instance, isn’t as much about homophobia among officials (Russian officials aren’t particularly homophobic) as it is about patriotism and the wish to unite people against a common enemy, whilst the supporters of the ban on American adoptions rationalised it as a way to “force” Russia’s dysfunctional foster care system to get its act together. In a bid to show their loyalty, lawmakers will go for provocative measures to try to solve problems that government can’t solve in the first place.

Meanwhile, the threat of separatism is direr than meets the eye. Following the breakup of the USSR, the government faced two bloody separatist insurrections, both of them in Chechnya. President Vladimir Putin’s administration, for lack of a clear-cut ideology, credited itself with reining in separatism after the tumultuous 1990s. The way the government and its supporters see it, Putin’s first two terms were primarily about making sure that the country remains in existence. The state credits itself with a lot of things, but counts keeping the country together as a major achievement. One shouldn’t brush off the government’s preoccupation with this issue as protectionist paranoia.

Historically, Russia was touchy about what it perceived as foreign threats… unnamed forces seeking to tear it asunder. This mentality of a country under siege was the ideological justification for everything from a crackdown on protesters (Putin blamed the US State Department for protest activity) to the gay promotion ban. It may look like the Kremlin is battling bogeymen, but the separatist threat is actually very real, and it has a name… Russia’s size.

Russia’s enormous size is the elephant in the room from which its major problems stem. The threat of separatism isn’t just about the conflict in Chechnya. It’s as much about the country’s lack of road infrastructure, a problem that’s a function of Russia’s size, climate, and economy. If that weren’t enough, it’s also about the very identity of Russia as a multinational state… and if keeping one-sixth of the world’s landmass intact is a challenge, consider the fact that this landmass now includes 21 ethnic republics with different languages and cultural identities.

Fyodorov introduced the draft proposal soon after supposed calls for separatism that came in response to last month’s ethnic unrest in Moscow and the resulting rise in nationalist sentiment. In that regard, many view Russian nationalism as a separatist problem… Putin himself said as much in his address to the nation last year. Taken together, all of this means that the government really is under siege… not from the outside, but from within. The state spends a gargantuan amount of energy dealing with the one thing that makes it great and is its own enemy at the same time… its size. Let’s keep that in mind when we complain about crazy legislative proposals.

21 November 2013

Anna Arutunyan

Moscow News



Moral Corruption Leads to Recession

01 Mammon


Our world saw many economic crises. Between 1820 and 1929 alone, 13 crises seriously rocked the global economy. The financial crisis that began in the US economy in August 2007 and that later spread to all western economies turned into a major global economic crisis. At first, people thought it’d end very quickly, but over a six-year period, several countries went to the brink of bankruptcy. Our modern-day crisis is termed the “Great Recession”, and the world is literally in a state of helplessness. One shocking and disastrous result has been that there has been a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the wake of this recession. In the USA, for example, according to RT.com, they quoted the Centers for Disease Control as saying, “Suicide rates from 1999 to 2010 ‘increased significantly’ across all four geographic areas and in 39 states. The state of Wyoming recorded the highest increase in suicides with a 78.8 percent jump (31.1 per 100,000), whilst even the sunny state of Hawaii saw a 61.2 percent increase (21.9 per 100,000)”.

Many nations at the brink of ruin seek technical solutions such as printing paper money to ease the tidal wave of economic sufferings they face; yet, they’re unable to resolve them. The crisis continues, despite countries’ direct interventions. For example, the Bush administration recommended a 700 billion USD (23.22 trillion Roubles. 744 billion CAD. 768 billion AUD. 516 billion Euros. 428 billion UK Pounds) financial rescue package. The subsequent legislation gave the government wide authority to assume responsibility for those debts that financial institutions couldn’t repay. Many called it the largest financial rescue plan since the Great Depression of 1929. Clearly, neoliberal economic orthodoxy shaped today’s world and this opened the door to excessive greed, which leaves no room for spirituality. In such a system, the individual or economic unit/entity looks out for themselves, acting selfishly. People in this system live in a constant state of fear; they feel that they can’t trust anyone, knowing that others are just as selfish as they are.

This materialistic state of mind where everyone fights over resources, puts them in deep trouble, with them being none the wiser. It sets up a vicious circle of selfishness, fear, and greed, and in such an environment, positive creative abilities don’t fully bloom. Generosity, humanity, and spirituality suffer, as people can’t feed their soul with peace. Being depressed and in a state of fear all the time takes its toll. Feelings of love and gentleness toward others wither, whilst loneliness and negative feelings toward others rise. People are taught and deluded into thinking that living this way is the only option, and they think that they will be wealthier or be happier living this lifestyle, but in reality, they couldn’t be more wrong. When one starts acting in this way, the world starts striking back, as if taking revenge for not living love. Financial problems or health problems, losing one’s job or losing one’s family; things just start to go downhill and it might look like one could never get out from under that mess, hence, the rise in the number of suicides. People become further depressed, their health more compromised, so, the things they own will lose all meaning.

An attitude of survival of the fittest develops between people; animosity grows, fuelling hatred toward others. Deep fear of losing their investments, their cash savings, and livelihood drives people to horde assets, limiting the supply and speed of money circulating in the economy. This is one of the main reasons behind the stagnation. This view of crushing others, as people care for themselves alone, leads to a decrease in the amount of circulating currency. They don’t even consider acting selflessly, as they believe that the most important thing is their own interests, and making sacrifices would mean they’d lose or be viewed as weak. In order to end this tragedy in society, we must do away with the hatred that people feel for one another. Forgiveness, love, and compassion, derived from sound morality, needs to rise.

Spiritual and moral collapse leads to an appalling collapse of supply when people don’t live according to ethical principles. We no longer see the high levels of production we used to… aesthetics and arts suffer; in our time, we don’t find artists of the same calibre as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Raphael. We no longer produce famous composers such as Beethoven, Bach, or Chopin. Even scientists have lost the urge to make new discoveries; they content themselves with doing minor research around existing discoveries. They’re unable to make impressive discoveries. The economic crisis is like a bottomless pit. Beauty and prosperity can only appear with better morality and social ethics freeing us from selfishness and egoism. The awaited regeneration in the markets will come when we restore a spirit of coöperation, and the result would be wealth the like of which no one has ever seen before.

30 November 2013

Ece Koc

Arab News


Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep it simple. The Republican Party believes in Social Darwinism, NOT Christianity. It bows down before Almighty Mammon. That’s the long and the short of it… if you vote Republican, you vote for an ideology condemned by most responsible Christian leaders. Oh, you say that Evangelicals praise it to the skies? Ponder this… Evangelicals aren’t really Christians. Go to any of their services and you’ll see that it lacks any resemblance to a liturgy or a mass. In short, it ain’t Christian. If it doesn’t look Christian, if it doesn’t sound Christian, it isn’t Christian, and that’s that. The Eucharist is the centre of all true Christian liturgy… and if it’s missing on an ordinary Sunday, then, Christianity is missing, too.

Reflect on that, if you would…


Patriarch Kirill Sez Church and State should Remain Separate

00 Patr Kirill and Pres Obama 01


Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias rejected allegations of a possible official union between the MP and the state, adding that only an independent Church could be a successful advocate. In an interview with the newspaper Smolenskiye Novosti, he said, “The Church protects its freedom because it’s certain that only independence gives it the opportunity to be a fully-fledged spiritual authority. Any form of merger between state and Church is perilous for God’s cause. A sermon is forceful and convincing only when delivered by a free church”. His Holiness pointed up that the disciplinary canons of the Church strictly forbid clergy from taking any responsible secular office. He added that this prohibition means that the state can’t coerce the Church directly nor can it influence Church policies.

Patriarch Kirill noted that the Soviet repressions against the Church in the first half of the 20th century largely came about because “the state enslaved the Church”, hinting at the exclusive role the Church played in the Russian Empire. On the other hand, he said that Russia still suffers from the consequences of the antitheistic official ideology in Soviet times, noting, “To cure the spiritual wound inflicted by this godless ideology, we all must help people to come to the path of spiritual revival. I believe that the Lord’s with us in this matter”. In addition, His Holiness explained that the Church wasn’t trying to influence state policy; it only tries to address the community and every person individually. The goal of the clergy is “to communicate the spiritual truth that life without God is meaningless and useless”.

Less than a week before the interview, senior RF Gosduma Deputy Yelena Mizulina suggested including a preamble on the exclusive role of the Orthodox Church in the Constitution. The move gained support from deputies representing major political blocs, including United Russia (the majority party) and the KPRF. Public discourse about strengthening ties between Church and state in Russia become especially vocal after the passage of a law protecting believers’ feelings. The law, which took force in July this year, makes deliberate public insults aimed at religious sentiments, as well as desecrating holy sites, criminal offences punishable by up to three years in prison. The arguments soon drew attention to many scandals involving Russian clergy, whom the media accused of living profligate lives and of using official protection to hide various problems. Patriarch Kirill called these reports “a concentrated attack against the Church” in a public speech, but he didn’t directly name those behind it.

25 November 2013



Editor’s Note:

Mark this down:

His Holiness pointed up that the disciplinary canons of the Church strictly forbid clergy from taking any responsible secular office. He added that this prohibition means that the state can’t coerce the Church directly nor can it influence Church policies.

This means that Victor Potapov and Basil Rodzianko spat on the Church when they went to work for Langley. They knew that it was uncanonical, but that bothered them not in the least. It meant that ROCOR was irresponsible when it accepted Langley’s shilling. It meant that the US government could coerce the ROCOR directly and influence its policies. We saw this after 1991, when the ROCOR stabbed the Mother Church in the back by starting its own anti-canonical ramshackle operation in Russia. The fact that Patriarch Aleksei Ridiger forgave such a monstrous and impious treachery speaks well of his Christianity. ROCOR was scrambling for scraps from Langley’s table and only the coup against Vitaly Ustinov stopped it.

We should stop our lies. Full stop. Who’ll have the guts that the late great Joe Adamov had when he said, “I’m sorry for having lied to you”. Until that happens, God won’t bless us, and that’s that…


1 December 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Free Popcorn!

00 Sergei Yolkin. Free Popcorn! 2013

Free Popcorn!

Sergei Yolkin



US President Barack Obama maintained American tradition by “pardoning” a turkey as part of the Thanksgiving holiday celebration. He allowed the main turkey Popcorn and his “understudy” Caramel to live on. Sergei Yolkin gives us his POV…

28 November 2013

Sergei Yolkin



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