Voices from Russia

Saturday, 14 December 2013

14 December 2013. A Caveat Lector on the Monomuckos Gang



This passed between a dedicated Cabineteer and me:


They claim that Whiteford’s an AUTHORITY. What a joke… he has NO Orthodox seminary time; ergo, he’s no expert of any sort. At least, Fitzgerald and Schmemann had real credentials (Tikhon Fitz WAS at SVS for a year), as do Lebedeff and Oleksa (despite all their wrong opinions). Whiteford, Puhalo, Gillquist (or any of his crowd), Rose, and any HOOMie you could name had NONE (correspondence courses or informal training don’t equal real seminary formation). None of them had a real seminary formation. That’s not minor. None of these jerks had a degree equal to a kandidatura from the MDA. Is it worth my while to reply to this shit? I’m asking you… do you see a need to do so? I frankly find the topic off-putting. The religious hobbyists and all their vapourings are irrelevant. Besides, they’re their own worst enemies. Have a good one, and do pass the jug. The world hasn’t gotten less crank in the last 24, has it?


No, I wouldn’t waste time to reply to this crap. They ARE their own worst enemies. I sent it only because it added to a small point of history.


True to my friend’s advice, I’m not going to reply to the noisome rot posted on Monomuckos (it IS a waste of one’s limited God-given time); however, it’s good to say a word or two about some of the konvertsy “experts” floating around out there. John Whiteford doesn’t have Orthodox seminary formation… that, in itself, renders most of his opinions worthless. It speaks even more of the ignorance of those who put him up on a pedestal. He doesn’t even have Orthodox seminary under his belt, let alone an advanced theological academy degree. He doesn’t deserve mention in the same breath with Mark Golovkov, Vsevolod Chaplin, or Andrei Kuraev… like them or not, they all have kandidaturas. None of the konvertsy loudmouths has an Orthodox kandidatura (or its equivalent… and heterodox degrees don’t count), and most of them lack a real Old School Orthodox seminary formation. It’s GIGO on a major scale, kids. Yet, don’t try to break up the party in the sandbox… they won’t listen to you and they won’t modify ANY of their beliefs or behaviours (after, all they’re RIGHT, dontcha know).

They all seem to hate Lazar Puhalo. He IS a character (I met him), but he’s no ogre. My take is that he’s a dotty monastic with a “past”… the OCA should have taken him as an archimandrite and let him live out his life in peace. He’s no danger to anyone, let alone the Church at large. He isn’t really a bishop, in the best sense of the term, but some of his critics aren’t really priests, in the best sense of the term (most of his most vociferous detractors are shake n’ bake konvertsy clergy with no real seminary formation). It evens out. Again, my take is that he’s a harmless monastic living out in the sticks in BC, that’s all. He has no movement; he’s not trying to push rank heresy in the Church (he’s no Bulgakov, Berdyaev, Schmemann, Grabbe, or Florensky). Mostly, he simply holds different opinions on undefined theologumenae than the Monomuckos toddlers do, and they don’t like him for that. I think that we should leave him in peace unless he tries to pass off something as serious as Bulgakov or Florensky did, and he hasn’t yet (probably, he wouldn’t, for he wants a peaceful life as much as any one of us do).

Love BT is bloviating again. I shan’t reply to that, but I shall say that one of the most difficult things to learn in life is that our “take” on a given situation may very well be very wrong. People whom we thought were friends, were really enemies, and vice versa. Take his story on why he’s no longer Ruling Bishop of the OCA Diocese of the Western USA with a block of salt. Tikhon Fitz is one of the most controversial bishops that the OCA ever had, and he had more than his share of enemies (including on the Holy Synod). Obviously, he sees himself as an “innocent victim”… do keep your distance from such sorts, they tend to blow at the most surprising moments. As I say, more than one wanted his head… and he had a loud claque of supporters, too. I’d advise all concerned to avoid this particular cow pat… unless you must, and you needn’t, for he’s no longer a ruling bishop. Let him be and let him rant… of course, the toddlers will applaud him. Mark down who does so, and oppose them. Don’t waste your time in futile argument.

It’s not boring in Orthodoxy in the American diaspora, is it? Pass the jug, it hasn’t changed in the last 24, and it bids fair not to change in the immediate future (there’s hope in the longer term, but we’re stuck with the existing apparat now). In short, the Church is being its irascible self…



14 December 2013. Quo Vadis, Ukraina? Is the Ukraine Giving Up on the EU?

01 red-question-mark


Editor’s Note:

There’s no solid news yet of any deal between Russia and the Ukraine. Until then, all speculation is bootless and the sign of a sick mind. However, all the usual cast of suspects will spout the usual shit on the Sunday morning talk shows. They know no more than I do… which is nothing. At least, I admit it…



Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the EU’s reaction to the Ukrainian decision to reject an economic association agreement with them as, “The sovereign decision of the legitimate government of the Ukraine brought about astonishment bordering on hysteria. What did Viktor Yanukovich‘s government do? Maybe, it withdrew from an agreement on nuclear weapons proliferation? Or, it declared it’s making an atomic bomb, contravening its obligations? Or, shot someone? If the [Ukrainian] government takes a decision to sign, the document goes to parliament for ratification. There, it’s possible to discuss problems, present questions, support it or not support it, and protest and react in a constitutional civilised field. A rabid reaction… there aren’t any other words for it… has followed an absolutely normal event… a declaration by a government that after studying an agreement, it thinks it isn’t very helpful to the Ukraine, and they don’t want to sign now, but want to consider it further. Demonstrators are taking to the streets on such a scale and with such fierce slogans as if they’d declared war against a peaceful state against the wishes of the Ukrainian people. It doesn’t stand up to normal human analysis. No doubt, provocateurs are behind this”.

Last month, Kiev turned its back on a widely expected association deal, saying it’d harm economic relations with Russia, prompting mass demonstrations by pro-EU protesters and throwing the country into a political crisis. Last Wednesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said that Kiev would return to talks on the association agreement with the EU in the spring. Both the EU and Moscow accused the other of using strong-arm tactics to secure economic ties with Kiev.


The Ukraine appeared ready to sign economic agreements next week that might well spell the end of a deal that would bring Kiev closer to the EU, following announcements by Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov that it was ready for a deal with Moscow. Azarov said that his government resolved outstanding questions with Moscow and would sign a range of economic deals with Russia on Monday to salvage economic relations with its neighbour. That follows a dramatic volte-face by Ukraine last month, when it ditched a proposed economic accession agreement with the EU.

On Saturday, Azarov told a pro-government anti-EU demonstration in Kiev, “We understood that signing this agreement [with the EU] would mean bankrupting us. We need to restore trade with the Russian Federation. Moreover, at last, after long talks we’ve agreed on the removal of all disagreements with Russia. On Monday, we’ll complete these talks and we’ll sign a range of agreements that’ll get our businesses back to work. When we took the decision to suspend association, we were thinking about you”. Azarov said that the EU insisted on unacceptable conditions to strike a deal with Brussels, including introducing gay marriage and laws protecting sexual minorities, saying, “The opposition leaders tell fables when they say that we only had to sign an [association] agreement [with the EU] to start travelling to Europe visa-free the next day. It was nothing of the sort. We’d have to comply with a whole set of preconditions… we had to legalise same-sex marriages, we had to adopt legislation on equality of sexual minorities, and so on. Is our society ready for this?”

On Thursday, the BBC cited EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton as telling reporters that President Yanukovich assured her that his aim was to eventually sign agreements with the EU. A Ukrainian news report, citing the minutes of a government meeting, said the Ukrainian cabinet instructed the Ukrainian Economic Development Ministry last week to draw up plans for the Ukraine to join the Customs Union of the Eurasian Economic Community (TS EvrAsES). The website zn.ua reported that they want the plans ready for the meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental commission due to take place next Tuesday. The significance and nature of the forthcoming deals with Russia was unclear Saturday. The Ukrainian government said just last week that it’d return to association talks with the EU in the spring. On Saturday, following a meeting with Yanukovich in Kiev, Azarov said, “We want to make stronger positions for the Ukraine in talks with the EU and talks with Russia. Only then will they respect us”.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Yanukovich instructed Azarov to make sure to tell society, in particular, students, about the government’s aims and “issues surrounding the Ukraine’s EU integration and the course of negotiations with the EU”. Police in Kiev were standing by as rival groups of pro- and anti-EU demonstrators prepared rallies for the weekend. Organisers claim that 200,000 will attend an anti-EU protest in support of President Yanukovich on the Maidan. Police cleared barricades erected by protesters around the government buildings in the centre of the city last week, but large numbers of protesters remain camped in the area.

14 December 2013




Putin Attacks Offshore Havens and Erosion of Traditional Values

00 Putin and old age pensioner. 07.10.12


Editor’s Note:

American Teabaggers praised Putin’s speech… for its moral tone. That’s as good as it goes, but do note that they failed to notice that his foreign policy and economic remarks were in absolute opposition to the shit peddled by the Tea Party… indeed, they’re an adamant declaration of war on the pseudo-intellectual foundations of the TPers. Note well that Wet Willy Romney, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz wouldn’t like VVP’s statist solutions… nor would any of their supporters. Putin wants to chase down those with offshore millions… the GOP praises them. Putin wants to end all military adventuring in foreign parts… the GOP presses for it. Putin supports a robust state-run healthcare and social welfare apparat… the GOP hates it.

The Tea Party sucks up to the rich… VVP stands up to them. I know whom I prefer! Russia jailed Khodorkovsky and the USA lauds Willard Romney… for doing the same thing! One of these things is NOT like the other! You can have VVP’s straight talk or you can have the political porno handed out by the rightwing commentariat (I note overlap between Fox News fans and hardcore porno fans… it’s not minor… shitbirds of a feather DO flock together). Putin ain’t perfect… but he’s far preferable to any of the present lunks in the GOP. You have a choice to make… I made mine. Kaufft nicht bei Limbaugh und O’Reilley. “This substance may be dangerous to your mental health”… ‘nuff said!



President Vladimir Putin blamed the country’s economic problems on unresolved issues at home, rather than external circumstances, the first such admission he’s given since the Russian economy began to slow down. In this year’s annual address to the Federal Assembly on 12 December, Putin proposed a stricter system to repatriate Russian money in offshore havens. He said that reducing the Russian economy’s reliance on offshore havens was one of the central aims of the government’s economic policy, along with such traditional elements as improving productivity and fostering innovation, saying, “We must tax the profits of companies belonging to Russian owners and beneficiaries registered in offshore havens under our own tax code, and they must pay tax revenues to the Russian treasury. We must come up with a system for getting hold of that money”. He added that we must strip companies registered in foreign jurisdictions of their right to receive government support and bid for government contracts.

Putin began his annual speech by criticising… without naming any names… poor implementation of a series of his social policy decrees issued when he began his current term of office on 7 May 2012, noting, “It’s been a year and a half since those decrees came out, but do you know what I see? Either they’re implemented in a way angers the public, or, they’re not being implemented at all”. Andrei Chernyavsky, a senior fellow at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said that the president’s initiative is sound in theory, but he doesn’t quite see how we can carry it out in practise, observing, “To understand the context of this initiative, we must remember that we’ve entered a period of stagnation. The federal and regional treasuries are struggling, and they need all the help they can get. This is one of the possible mechanisms. We don’t want to raise taxes here in Russia, but we want to increase tax revenues from companies that are part-owned by the state or receive government guarantees”. Putin also called for “a turn towards the Pacific”. His proposals include establishing a network of special economic zones in the Russian Far East and eastern Siberia, with incentives for new businesses that don’t merely exploit Russia’s natural resources.

He stated that Russia also needs tighter controls on immigration, speaking of possible new legislation under which companies and individual entrepreneurs would need to buy special permits to hire foreigners. The regional issuing authority would determine the price of these permits, and the permit would only be valid in the region of issue. Putin’s speech contained strong words about what he called “so-called tolerance, genderless and barren” in the West, and about the erosion of traditional values. In his opinion, now, in many foreign countries there’s a compulsory requirement for the public “to pretend that there is no difference at all between good and evil.” He described the erosion of traditional values as an anti-democratic process pressed on the public against the will of the majority of the people. Boris Makarenko {this snake studied at Princeton in the 90’s… caveat lector: editor}, the head of the Centre for Political Technologies, said that Putin’s remarks about values, which preceded the foreign-policy section of the address, dismayed him, commenting, “These remarks used the kind of language that people in the West stopped using several decades ago”.

Outlining the challenges facing Russia on the international arena, Putin emphasised that the global military-political, economic and information competition is becoming ever more fierce. He said that he believes that Russia must claim leadership to defend international law and uphold respect for national sovereignty. In reference to recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, he stated, “In recent years, we’ve seen several examples of attempts to impose an ostensibly more progressive development model on other countries. In practise, these attempts have led to regressive barbarian outcomes and bloodshed. In Syria, the international community had to make a fateful choice… either we slide towards further erosion of the foundations of the international system, into the principle of ‘might makes right’ and to the proliferation of chaos, or, we make responsible collective decisions”.

From Syria, he moved on to Iran, stressing that it has an inalienable right to develop nuclear energy. However, he added that all the Middle Eastern states must have guaranteed security, saying, “Incidentally, then, some used the Iranian nuclear programme as the main argument in favour of deploying a missile defence system. Now, the Iranian nuclear problem is receding, but the missile defence system remains. In fact, that system is being strengthened even further”. He added that the development of new weapons systems worried Moscow, “Foreign countries’ efforts to increase the capability of strategic high-precision weapons, combined with the growing ability of missile defence systems, could bring to naught all previously-reached agreements on strategic nuclear arms reductions”.

 13 December 2013

Yuliya Ponomareva

Russia Behind the Headlines



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