Voices from Russia

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Thousands Queue In Russia to See Religious Relic

00 Cross of St Andrew. St Petersburg, Kazan Cathedral. 13.07.13


On Saturday, officials said that around 65,000 people queued for hours in St Petersburg to see a religious relic brought from Greece, in the latest sign of the Orthodox Church’s influence in post-Soviet Russia. The Cross of St Andrew… said to be a relic of the X-shaped cross on which Apostle St Andrew the First-Called was crucified… was placed in St Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral (Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God) on Thursday after arriving from its historic home in Patras in Greece. A representative of the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called, which helped bring the cross to Russia, told RIA-Novosti that there were some 65,000 visitors in just the first days of its display, and that the numbers are increasing all the time.

The cross came from Greece as part of commemorations of the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of the mediaeval Slavic state of Rus. The queue to see the relic snaked all around the cathedral with the faithful having to wait for several hours to venerate the relic. Local officials said that the atmosphere in the queue was cheerful. Tatiana Koroliova, 60, told AFP, “It’s a great event for all Orthodox. I came especially to St Petersburg from my house in the country which is 200 kilometres (125 miles) away”. The excitement recalls the frenzy that surrounded the appearance of the Belt of the Virgin Mary in Russia in 2011… also on loan from Greece… which attracted gigantic queues when it arrived in Moscow.

The communists suppressed the Orthodox Church, but it’s staged an astonishing recovery in post-Soviet Russia to become one of the country’s most powerful institutions. Symbolically, the Cross of St Andrew cross is being shown in the Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg, which under Communism was a museum of atheism. However, the anti-Kremlin opposition accused the Orthodox Church under its powerful Patriarch Kirill of meddling in politics and instigating the harsh treatment of the Pussy Riot punk group. Two members of the punk collective are serving two-year prison colony terms for performing an anti-Kremlin song inside a Moscow church, in a case that divided Russian society. The relic is due to stay in St Petersburg until Monday, and then be taken to Kiev in the Ukraine, Minsk in Belarus, and to the Russian capital of Moscow before returning to Greece on 2 August.

13 July 2013



Editor’s Note:

The journey of the Cross of St Andrew is so “newsy” that even the Western press agencies are covering it. Take all Western reportage on the Rodina with a block of salt… much of it is nothing but meretricious and lying pro-crapitalist propaganda (especially, mistrust “Orthodox” lickspittles such as Sophia Kishkovsky and Serge Schmemann… they’ve sold out for the proverbial “mess of pottage“). Look at the inclusion of a blurb on Pussy Riot… most Russians don’t give a shit about these zapadniki poseurs… only a small English-speaking minority in Piter and the Centre do… and the clueless Westerners just eat it all up. However, don’t argue with Amerikantsy idiots about it… it’ll do you no good, it’ll just frustrate you to no good end, and it’ll just drive the Fox News propaganda deeper into your interlocutor’s (shallow) mind. Do mind this, though… the worst, most fanatic, and most closed-minded Amerikantsy are found amongst the “Orthodox” konvertsy… fancy that. Have a care…



Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Actions of the Greek Authorities Against Igumen Ephrem Disgraced Orthodox Greece

The god-pleasing Abba Ephrem of Vatopedi (1955- ) sits in a prison cell… the bum-kissing American-puppet politicians sit scot-free in the Canaries… what’s WRONG with that picture?


The archpastors of the Local Church of Greece strongly criticised the decision by the Greek authorities to arrest Archimandrite Ephrem, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. In the view of the Greek episcopate, the arrest of the well-known Athonite elder was only a trick by the authorities, who’re trying to cover up their crimes and to divert people’s attentions from the economic problems, thereby, dishonouring Orthodox Greece, RIA-Novosti reported. Last weekend, the cops arrested Archimandrite Ephrem on the orders of a Greek court, and confined him to his cell at the monastery, as the doctors with detected a viral infection, an aggravation of degenerative disc disease, and elevated blood sugar levels. The time limit on the enforcement of the warrant will expire on Monday afternoon.

On a broadcast of Skai TV, Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki said, “I wondered… why should anyone consider [Igumen Ephrem] dangerous? Does he want to sell [the government] the lake a second time? Or, does he want to take the [Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God] and go with it to Russia, and never come back? You can’t see any logic in this decision by the court. I can see the intent in all of this. Firstly, they’re trying to cover the responsibility of those who brought us to the current tragic situation, and, secondly, to attack the concept of the Church in modern society by striking at the person of Fr Ephrem”.

Metropolitan Chrysostomos Sklifas of Patras believed that those who decided to arrest [Abba Ephrem] directed it against the Church itself. Romfea.gr quoted him as saying, “They struck at the credibility of the monks and the Church in a way that defied good-sense and religious feeling, especially during this holy season”. The Church of Greece celebrates Christmas on 25 December, but the Athonite monasteries, as well as Russia, continue to use the traditional Church calendar, and celebrate Christmas on 7 January. For his part, Metropolitan Andreas Trebelas of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani, and Konitsa and Exarch  of Northern Epirus said, “These actions are mainly directed against the Church, and, of course, against Holy Mount Athos, to the delight of the Church’s opponents”. Vladyki Andreas pointed up that he didn’t know the exact content of the judicial decisions. Metropolitan Nikolaos Protopappas of Phthiotis stated, in his opinion, “The dark forces decided to strike at Athos”.

In an article on the site Romfea.gr, Metropolitan Pavlos Ioannou of Sisanion and Siatista wrote, in his opinion, the arrest of Igumen Ephrem was revelatory, as the police arrested none of the politicians responsible for numerous economic scandals. He said, “Was anyone arrested by the Greek judges for the ‘bubble’ on the stock exchange, for the bribes taken in the Siemens scandal, for the economic catastrophe in our country, for the international humiliation of its people? Finally, the Greek justice, albeit belatedly, found the guilty party, the one responsible for all the troubles… Igumen Ephrem”. Vladyki Pavlos related that with a bitter smile. Metropolitan Athanasios Nikolaou of LimassolAmathous, and Kourion, of the Local Church of Cyprus, supports Igumen Ephrem, who’s a native of Cyprus. Metropolitan Athanasios, who formerly was a member of the brotherhood of Vatopedi Monastery, said, “It seems that Greece has solved all its other problems, but, now, there’s a threat from Elder Ephrem”.

The First Hierarch of the Local Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos Liapis,  Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, said earlier that although he wasn’t fully informed on the situation, however, he was “deeply concerned” by the arrest of [Igumen Ephrem] so close to Christmas. The Monastic Republic of Mount Athos isn’t under the omofor of the Church of Greece; nevertheless, it has close ties with it. The twenty ruling monasteries of Mount Athos are the under the EP’s canonical umbrella, which had no immediate comment on the situation. Greek television also cited in detail the negative comments from Russia concerning the arrest of Igumen Ephrem. For instance, the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called, which sponsored the tour of the Vatopedi delegation with the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God in Russia, said, “We believe that such actions can only be explained by the political perspective of certain circles in the Greek establishment, who wish to demonstrate to the West their willingness to deny the principles of spiritual life enshrined in the Greek constitution”. In response to this comment, an unnamed source in the Greek judiciary told Mega TV in Athens, “We must condemn the interference of third parties in Greek justice”.

Emilios Poligenis, the head of the Greek church news website Romfea.gr, told RIA-Novosti that, in the meantime, Fr Ephrem performs his monastic obedience in prison and carries out his priestly duties, saying, “Today, they brought his vestments to the prison, and, on Sunday, he’ll be able to serve in the prison chapel. The elder’s calm and in as good spirits as anyone can be in such trials. The prison authorities treat him very well. Whatever he needs, they give it to him”. He added that they allow Fr Ephrem to follow a special diet because of his diabetes. So far, [Abba Ephrem] doesn’t complain of any health problems, but he recently had a viral infection. According to Poligenis, Fr Ephrem didn’t resist his arrest, and he doesn’t comment on the progress of the case, referring his interlocutors to his lawyers. Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki and Metropolitan Pavlos Tsaousoglou of Glyfada and Aexoni, of the Local Church of Greece, visited Igumen Ephrem in prison. The arrest of Igumen Ephrem provoked a series of protests in Greece and abroad. In particular, the RF MID and the MP expressed their concern over the detention of Fr Ephrem, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all the Russias urged Greek President Karolos Papoulias to release him from imprisonment.

3 January 2012

Metropolitan Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou of Mesogeia and Lavreotiki



Friday, 13 January 2012

13 January 2012. A Thought From Fr Vsevolod…


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Greek Advocate Cited Irregularities in Arrest of Igumen Ephrem


Greek Advocate* Spyros Bazinas stated that there were irregularities in the arrest of Igumen Ephrem, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. In an article posted on the Friends of Vatopedi website, he wrote, “The procurator authorised the use of force by the police, who invaded and forcibly blocked all the roads on Holy Mount Athos without prior warning and without approval from the Holy Administration (Ιερά Επιστασία: Iera Epistasia) (executive body of Athos) in violation of the charters concerning [the Holy Mountain] and its self-government rights as protected by the Constitution”.

(*”Advocate” entered Russian usage in the Petrine era as a straight crib from the Swedish use.)

As reported in December 2011, a Greek court ordered Fr Ephrem’s arrest in connection with an investigation of real estate transactions between Vatopedi and the Greek state in 2008. Previously, influential Russian politicians, the MP, the RF MID, as well as the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called voiced support for Igumen Ephrem. This was in recognition of the fact that Abba Ephrem was part of the delegation from Vatopedi Monastery that brought the Belt of the Most Holy Mother of God to Russia for a stay lasting from 20 October to 28 November, going to various cities throughout the country, where nearly 3 million people venerated the relic, including top political leaders.

According to Advocate Bazinas, the method of Igumen Ephrem’s arrest was a direct violation of Article 8 of the Charters of Mount Athos, which provides, “Judicial decisions are executed on the personal order of the Protos (Πρώτος) of the Holy Administration, under his authority and in the presence of one of members of the Holy Administration”. It was also a violation of Article 35 of the Charter, setting the conditions which the judicial authorities must comply with when opening an investigation of administrative or criminal offences on Mount Athos, “[The authorities shall] send an investigator, who shall promptly report to the Holy Administration of Mount Athos, and, according to custom, one of the members of the Holy Administration will be present and help with any investigation being conducted”. In addition, Bazinas continued, another article under the statutes provides, “… with respect to violations of general criminal law, except for minor violations, the criminal court of Thessaloniki has jurisdiction”, which, in turn, he said, “Raises the question of the lack of competence of the Court of Appeals in Athens to order a trial of a monk of the Holy Mountain”.

Bazinas pointed up that, according to an en banc decision of the Court of Appeals in Athens, they ordered Fr Ephrem taken into temporary custody so that the defendant wouldn’t commit any further crimes. As grounds for this decision, they mentioned the following:

  • Fr Ephrem used his status as an abbot of a monastery on Mount Athos to influence politicians
  • He repeatedly committed acts contrary to the monastic life and its spiritual mission
  • He committed damage to public property on a large scale.

Bazinas wrote, “However, these facts don’t justify such an extreme measure as pre-trial detention. On the contrary, the decision to arrest the defendant on the grounds that he’d continue to commit other crimes is unwarranted, because it hasn’t been proven in court that the elder committed any unlawful actions”. In addition, he wrote further, trying to influence politicians isn’t a criminal offence, and the judiciary and the criminal courts haven’t any right to judge violations of the monastic way of life on the Holy Mountain, as its spiritual control is the prerogative of the ruling bishop of the Holy Mountain, that is, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. At the same time, Bazinas stated that the charge stipulating that Fr Ephrem allegedly caused damage to the state “is illegal because it violates the presumption of innocence on the part of the accused”.

10 January 2012



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