Voices from Russia

Monday, 6 January 2014

Nativity Epistle of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias

00 Patriarch Kirill. Maternity Home nr 3. 07.01.12


Today, people fill our churches to glorify the newborn Divine Infant Jesus Christ and his Most Pure Mother, the Virgin Mary. The Nativity of Christ is the central event in all human history. Mankind always sought God, yet, God revealed himself to humanity in his fullness only through His Only-begotten Son’s Incarnation. With the coming of the Son of God and the Son of Man, the world discovered that God is Love, not merely a Higher Power, that God is Mercy, not merely the Dispenser of justice, that God is the source of life and joy, not only a dread Judge, that God is the Holy Trinity, the inner law of which is also love, far from the solitary Master of the world.

Today, we celebrate an event that changed the entire course of human history at its root. God enters the very depths of human life, He becomes one of us, He takes upon himself the weight of our sins, human infirmities, and weaknesses… He brings them to Golgotha to free people from this unbearable burden. Henceforth, one doesn’t find God somewhere in the unreachable heavens, but here, with us, amongst us. Each time that we attend the Divine Liturgy, we hear the words, “Christ is in our midst!” We reply, “He is, and ever shall be!” This clearly testifies to the Incarnate God’s presence… of Christ the Saviour… amongst His faithful. In partaking regularly of His Holy Body and Blood, in striving to fulfil His commandments, we enter into a real communion with Him, with our Saviour, and we receive forgiveness for our sins.

Believers in Christ, those who’re His faithful disciples, should witness to the Kingdom of God that He revealed in His earthly life. We have the great honour to act in this world as our Teacher and God acted; we can resist sin and evil resolutely through the power of Christ, we can persevere in tireless accomplishment of good deeds, we can stay steadfast in our daily attempts to transform our sinful nature into a new grace-filled person. Christ the Saviour set an eternal absolute criterion for a genuine relationship with God… how we relate to our neighbour. In taking upon ourselves others’ infirmities, in sharing pain and affliction, in being compassionate to the unfortunate and downcast, we fulfil the law of Christ (Epistle of Apostle St Paul to the Galatians 6.2), we become like the Saviour, Who carried our sorrows and borne our griefs (Isaiah 53.4).

It’s impossible to forget about others on the joyous and light-bearing day of Christ’s Nativity, when all creation bows down in amazement before the manger of the Divine Infant. We should pour out the abundant great grace that we receive in our churches today upon those beyond the confines of the Church, who live according to the ways of the world, and not according to Christ (Epistle of Apostle St Paul to the Colossians 2.8). Yet, if we don’t encounter Christ together, then, the Good News mightn’t reach these people; if we don’t open up our hearts so that we may share the joy filling us, then, this joy might never touch those who don’t have it, but who’re ready to receive it.

The Son of God’s Incarnation raised human nature to an unprecedented height. Each one of us isn’t only created “according to the image and likeness of God”, but God adopted us through Christ… we’re no longer “strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Epistle of the Apostle St Paul to the Ephesians 2.19). The Lord’s Prayer speaks of such proximity and boldness towards God, for we turn to God as Creator and our heavenly Father.

All human life is precious, for the Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection of the Only-begotten Son of God redeemed it. All of this compels us to relate with special reverence and attention to every person, no matter how different they might be from us. According to Metropolitan St Filaret Drozdov of Moscow, “Love is the living and active participation in another person’s welfare”. I’d like to call everyone to this active love during these joyous days of the Nativity… to, as Apostle St Paul said, “Love one another in mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Epistle of Apostle St Paul to the Romans 12.10-11; Epistle of Apostle St Paul to the Hebrews 13.16).

I greet you cordially on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ. May the God of peace and love (Second Epistle of Apostle St Paul to the Corinthians 13.11) grant peace and prosperity to our people and to each one of us in the New Year.

00 03.11.12. Patriarch Kirill6 January 2014

Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Flesh

Kirill Gundyaev

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias


MP official website


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The Televised Nativity Address of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias

00.01a Patriarchal Yolka. Kirill. 01.12


Today, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Nativity of Christ. The majesty and grandeur of this celebration stems from the fact of the Incarnation. God becomes Man; in this amalgam, the divine and the human are inextricably one. In the modern secular mind, the image of Christ is much mythologised and distorted. It turns His teaching into an obsolete means, an altruist morality… at best, He’s only a spiritual exemplar for Christians. However, we should never accept this displacement of the genuine evangelical conception of Christ as the God-man by our modern culture. Christ is the norm of humanity. If we lose this example, we’ll have nothing to resist the strong contemporary challenges to the traditional and true conception of personhood.

Today, it’s extremely important for all of us to attend to the image of Christ at all times, to inspect our thoughts and actions against His standard. The example of His infinite love for people, His zeal in prayer and service to our Heavenly Father, His humility and gentleness, His intolerance of sin and His patience towards sinners, His courage in enduring the hardships and sorrows of earthly life, His sincerity and simplicity in dealing with others, and His infinite sacrifice should always inspire us. God didn’t come into this world as a mighty and glorious king whom all would have to serve and obey; He was born in a humble cave used as a byre, to serve others, to give His life for the sake of their salvation.

For the first time in history, God Himself revealed to the world how to be a real true man. He not only revealed it, but He gave us everything necessary to make sure that whomsoever believed in Him could do likewise. Baptism brings us into the Church, into a community of faith; the Holy Eucharist attaches our human nature, through the Body and Blood of the Saviour, to communion with the divine nature. The liturgy of the Church reminds us that Christ paid for our salvation; it inspires us with the word of God and the examples of the saints. All this can make changes deep within each of us.

Thanks to the life in Christ, through imitating Christ, people receive a foretaste of future eternal blessings here on earth, if we live according to the spirit of the love of God, which will dominate the future life. The Saviour told us, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love for one another (The Gospel according to St John 13.35). Today, in particular, we should manifest the joy of the birth of Christ to the world in our willingness to do actual good deeds. Those who need our help and support are always at hand… our family and friends, maybe, those living next door; near our apartments are lonely people lying in hospices and hospitals, discouraged, burdened with sorrow and life’s adversities. Bring them the good news of the birth of Christ. Let your bright smile, your joy for the newborn God-Child, melt their sorrow and warm their cold souls.

Remember in your prayers those who suffered in the terrorist acts in Volgograd and Pyatigorsk {On 27 December, a parked car packed with 50 kilos (110 pounds) of TNT exploded on a street, killing three people: editor}. Ask the Lord to heal the wounded, support those who suffer, and ask repose for the souls of the dead. Let the walls of alienation between people be destroyed on this great day of Christ’s Nativity… destroy them through your love for Christ and through the power of your active love of neighbour.

Greetings, my dear ones!

00 03.11.12. Patriarch Kirill7 January 2014

Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Flesh

Kirill Gundyaev

Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias                                                   


MP official website


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KPRF Leader G A Zyuganov: “I Believe that the Sun of Righteousness and the Light of Wisdom will Illumine the Russian Future”

00 To the Nativity of Christ! G A Zyuganov. 06.01.14


Editor’s Note:

Comrade Zyuganov quoted the Eastern Orthodox Nativity tropar:

I believe that the sun of righteousness and the light of wisdom will illumine the Russian future.

This means that he sees a future where socialism and faith live side-by-side, indispensable to each other, each one building the other up. If you want godliness, justice, and adherence to Christ’s teachings… think LEFT. If you want adherence to chaos, greed, and avarice… think “conservative”… think Republican. ‘Nuff said…



On the eve of this bright universal festival of the Nativity of Christ, we appeal to all those who cherish the “simple human values”… the enduring traditions of our national history and culture, the eternal ideals of Mercy, Goodness, and Justice. Our ancient traditions show us that the Christmas holiday is a family affair. At the centre of it all are our families…  our parents, our children, and our grandchildren, indeed, all the people closest to us. During these bright days, we reflect on our lives; we make plans for the future. On this holiday, our neighbours, colleagues, and friends are either present or in our thoughts. This means that we meditate upon our common past and discuss the future. After all, we’re one big family; we have one Motherland… Russia, our united indivisible Mother-Motherland.

We thank our forefathers, who defended the Motherland in bloody battles, who rebuilt and multiplied our national resources, who preserved the tradition, culture, and ethos of our people. With this in mind, we must strive to make sure that the older generation doesn’t have a hard lot, that they receive aid not only form their loved ones, but also from the state in reward for their hard work. We honour our parents, who nurtured our physical and spiritual health, who educated us and cultivated in us selfless patriotism, devotion to duty, honour, and conscientiousness in all trials. They were able to do that because the people’s state guaranteed everybody adequate social welfare and, above all, gave everybody good jobs, free medical care, and free education.

We worry about our children, who grow up in a society of social inequality, in an atmosphere of greed, with perverted notions of good and evil. They are the inheritors of the great past of their ancestors; they live in our country, a land generously endowed with natural resources, which we must hold publicly for the good of all. As they enter into life, they must survive an onslaught of deception and delusion; they must keep up honour and conscience in a world where a cult of violence, selfishness, consumerism and profit rules. Today, it depends on us what will become of the new generation of the country, what will become of our descendants.

We’re proud of our past; we do have something to protect. We must do everything possible to keep the great traditions and core values ​​of spirituality and national culture that lie at the heart of our great civilisation. If we can do this, I believe that the sun of righteousness and the light of wisdom will illumine the Russian future. We have something to live for and something to fight for. In the words of a Christmas hymn… yes, we’ll have as much strength as we have endurance! I wish you health, success, and the fulfilment of your desires, that every family will have much joy, and I wish happiness to every Russian citizen and to all people of good will aspiring to the light of Truth, Goodness, and Justice!

To the Nativity of Christ!

6 January 2014

00 G A Zyuganov 2011Gennady Zyuganov

First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation

Leader of the KPRF bloc in the RF Gosduma

KPRF official website


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A Culinary Daydream Back to the USSR

00 Unknown Artist. Demand Sausages Everywhere! 1937

Demand Sausages Everywhere!

Unknown Artist




Editor’s Note:

There are recipes “hidden” in this post. Hover the cursor over all the links, and the ones with “recipe” in the description that pops up lead to a page with a recipe. Have some fun! It’s Christmas, after all!



As of late, nostalgia for the Soviet era has become very popular, even amongst those who never really experienced it. However, the USSR never really went away. Whether people like it or not, its symbolism, traditions, social politics, education system, healthcare network, and cultural legacy established today’s norms in modern Russia. Soviet cuisine and food products aren’t an exception to this. Passing enthusiasm for 1990s imported foodstuffs in glitzy packaging gave way to the taste of childhood memories and comfort foods. Many Soviet goodies give foreign competitors a run for their money in modern supermarkets and corner shops… Alyonka milk chocolate bars48-kopek half-kilo (1.1 pounds) vanilla ice-cream bricks, Stolichnaya vodkaMoskovskaya vodkaVologda dairy butterDoktorskaya boiled sausage {made to the old recipe in Bobruisk, costs 7.40 USD (245 Roubles. 7.90 CAD. 8.25 AUD. 5.45 Euros. 4.50 UK Pounds) per kilo (3.36 USD (112 Roubles. 3.60 CAD. 3.75 AUD. 2.50 Euros. 2.10 UK Pounds) per pound), a fair price: editor}, and many more. Experts calculate that there are around 3,000 former Soviet-era brands doing well on the market today, and their number is growing. In several cases, they have new packages, whilst the old Soviet-style packaging is all part of the appeal in others. For example, one sees the famous Soviet pelmeni (dumplings consisting of a filling wrapped in thin unleavened dough) in their dreary cardboard boxes, or sweetened condensed milk in blue-striped 9-ounce cans.

This nostalgia clearly represents a yearning for a lost past. Soviet-era food products are becoming a benchmark for forgotten quality and natural flavours, especially in medium-sized and smaller towns. Consumers fondly recall the Soviet Quality Mark that used to appear on food packaging and grumble that no equivalent of the GOST (mandatory and nationwide quality standards) system exists today. Meanwhile, commercial outfits that succeeded Soviet-era producers are fighting for the right to represent particular Soviet brands to consumers. Soviet nostalgia has reached the grocery baskets and dinner tables of average citizens. Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to preparing meals at home, thanks to the effects of globalisation. Yet, new dishes remain a fantasy or a whim, whilst traditional Soviet and Russian cuisine still makes up the mainstay of Russian eating habits.

People in Russia prefer sourdough rye bread, especially the much-loved Soviet Borodinsky bread… steam-cooked rye bread enriched with molasses and whole cardamom seeds. Russians also enjoy a huge variety of dairy productscurd cheese (tvorog), sour cream (smetana)ryazhenka (a sour milk product made from fermented heated milk), and kefir (a fermented milk drink). The Soviet-era Mikoyan and Ostankino plants still produce frankfurters and salami for the domestic market. You make kasha from buckwheat, oats, and millet; one can make semolina kasha either with milk or with butter. People enjoy open sandwiches with cheese or slices of sausage. One serves eggs boiled or fried, or as omelettes. A mid-day three-course lunch is still traditional… a hearty soup, such as shchi (cabbage soup) or borshch (beetroot soup); meat or fish, served with a potato or grain side-dish; with tea or fruit compote. Such is the legacy of Soviet eating habits.

Today, many families often make Soviet-era recipes, such as the erstwhile favourite Makaronya po-flotski… large chunky macaroni dressed with fried or boiled minced meat and fried onions. One often sees Soviet rissoles on menus. They’re quite similar to European croquettes, but lean toward the style of an American hamburger. Hamburgers so impressed Stalin-era commissar Anastas Mikoyan, the father and ideologue of mass catering in the USSR, during his visit to the USA that he decided to produce something along the same lines on his return home… the Soviet rissole for public catering that eventually became part of Russian home cooking. Another example is Mikoyan’s Soviet goulash… stewed meat in a tomato sauce served with buckwheat kasha. An irresistible Soviet-era hors d’oeuvres was selyodka pod-shuboi (herring under an overcoat)… chunks of herring fillet mixed in layers, with cooked diced beetroot, potato, and carrot, liberally doused with mayonnaise. Gobies in tomato sauce, along with sprats, are still popular. Gobies are a small fish from the Black Sea; sprats are traditionally smoked and canned in oil. People serve Russian pancakes with many fillings… meat, cottage cheese, and yeast-raised pancakes were always popular with Soviet families. Today, nearly all Russia’s medium-sized and major cities make pelmeni . Experts believe that 80 percent of frozen convenience foods in Russia are pelmeni… a favourite amongst the country’s bachelors. Finally, home-bottled salted or pickled vegetables have always been the pride of Soviet housewives and stay a staple today… although today they’re often bought in shops or at the market, not made at home.

It makes sense that the further one goes from the capital or major cities, the closer home cooking clings to old Soviet traditions. Yet, even in well-to-do households in major cities, Soviet cuisine… perhaps, embellished with a few imported ingredients… still makes up a happily nostalgia-laden table for lunch. The shortages of food items in the Soviet era, a topic of continuous annoyance back then, have now transformed into a touching memory… even, a source of pride. Before our very eyes, new myths come into being about the recent past… about the health benefits and natural taste of Soviet-era foodstuffs, about how simple they were, and about how easy they were to get. A new generation of Russians… born on the cusp of the USSR’s demise or shortly afterwards… is very happy to enjoy these Soviet culinary traditions. Often, one can hear parents vying with each other about how their children love this or that Soviet dish, all made at home for them. The attitude younger Russians have toward Soviet dishes often boils down to a simple formula, “Why didn’t we have this before? It’s delicious stuff, nicer than those foreign dishes and recipes”.

2 November 2012

Sergei Roganov

Russia Behind the Headlines


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