Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Nazi Book Burning Redux! Last Words? The Ukraine Bans Dozens of Russian Books

01 You Don't Have to Burn Books


The Ukrainian State Committee of Television and Radio (Goskomteleradio) announced that it’s banned 38 books by Russian authors, prohibiting their import onto Ukrainian territory. Goskomteleradio deputy head Bogdan Chervak did his best to explain the decision, stating that it was “dictated by the need to prevent the Russian Federation from using methods of information warfare and disinformation against the citizens of Ukraine to spread the ideologies of hate, fascism, xenophobia, and separatism”. The list of banned books includes several works by Donetsk-born science fiction writer F D Berzin {he’s also an officer in the patriot army opposing the fascist Uniate junta: editor}, as well as Tom Clancy-style works of fiction predicting the Ukrainian civil war by Ukrainian-born author G L Bobrov {he’ a decorated hero of the Afghan War: editor} and by Georgi Savitsky. The ban also targets books in the areas of political science and social science by Russian scholar A G Dugin, radical political dissident E V Limonov, Russian academic and presidential advisor S Yu Glazyev, and renowned Russian economist Valentin Katasonov. Most of the banned books have some relation to the Ukraine; many of them appeared over the past two years in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis.

Goskomteleradio warned that they’re likely to expand their list of banned Russian books, citing Article 28 of the Publishing Act, which prohibits distributing published works that one could use to threaten Ukraine’s independence, change the constitutional order by force, or violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. The agency launched its initiative early last month, referring to the country’s State Fiscal Service with a request to include Russian books in the list of goods prohibited from import into the Ukraine from Russia. They didn’t clarify what’d happen to those who violated the ban on the import of the banned literature, but noted that they’d confiscate and destroy the books themselves.

Russian authors and social scientists reacted to the ban. Russian pop historian N V Starikov, whose book The Ukraine: Chaos and Revolution: The Weapon of the Dollar made the list, argued that Kiev’s move is an attempt to hide some basic truths. Starikov pointed up that his book had “neither hate, nor a call to separatism, nor fascist ideas… in other words] none of the things listed by the Ukrainian authorities”, adding that by banning his work, the Ukrainian side was trying to hide a simply truth, that “the Ukraine witnessed an unconstitutional seizure of power… [and] come under the external control of the USA”.

Popular Russian radio journalist S L Dorenko, one of whose books also made the list, noted, “In the age of the internet, it’s simply funny for the Ukrainians to try to ban something”. Dorenko referred to the fact that since the internet appeared in countries like the Ukraine and Russia, books are often available on the internet, free, even before being publication and release in bookstores. With e-readers and tablets, the trend has become so pervasive that many authors, especially academics, deliberately release their works online, free, to get a wider readership. In such a situation, it’s questionable how much effect, if any, a ban on physical copies of books would actually have.

The latest ban on Russian media is part of a growing trend. Over the past year, the Ukraine has created and diligently expanded its list of banned Russian media, prohibiting nearly 400 Russian films and television series, issuing a blacklist of Russian artists said to be ”threatening the Ukraine’s national security”, and banning the broadcast of over a dozen Russian television channels on Ukrainian territory for their alleged contravention of Ukrainian legislation. With the pervasiveness of internet and satellite television technology, experts doubt the practical effectiveness of Kiev’s initiatives.

11 August 2015

Sputnik International



Saturday, 28 September 2013

28 September 2013. Only in Russia… “Book House” in Perm

00 'Book House' in Perm. Russia. 28.09.13


They say that Russians are the “readingist” people on earth, but this house in Perm takes the cake. It’s a real full-size house that people live in. One wonders if the residents are avid readers… they’re certainly handy and crafty (in the good sense of the word).


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov: God, Not the State, Should Protect Believers’ Feelings


On Friday, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow and the Executive Secretary of the MP Patriarchal Council for Culture, said in an interview that Russia doesn’t need laws to protect the feelings of religious believers, but the state should deploy its power to defend the country against what he called acts of spiritual terrorism, saying, “We need clear succinct laws in order to defend both religious and secular verities from malicious abuse, which, in my view, is nothing less than spiritual terrorism. In my opinion, believers’ feelings need no protection other than from the Lord Himself”.

Last week, Russian lawmakers submitted draft legislation calling for prison sentences of up to five years for individuals convicted of “insulting citizens’ religious beliefs and feelings”. The bill came in the wake of the imprisonment of three members of Pussy Riot for performing a “punk prayer” criticising President Vladimir Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in February. A court convicted Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina of aggravated hooliganism and sentenced them to two years in prison. The saga sparked international outrage, with foreign governments criticising the punishment as excessive, and music stars like Madonna and Paul McCartney publicly expressing their support for the three women.

Fr Tikhon, who spoke Friday after a presentation of the English-language version of his book Everyday Saints and Other Stories at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, conceded that the church might court similar provocations by taking a hard line against incidents like the Pussy Riot performance, observing, “Nevertheless, if these jokers are going around desecrating crosses and churches, dancing on altars, and defiling museums left and right, and everyone just shuts their mouths and thinks it’ll go away, that won’t work either”. Fr Tikhon suggested that Russia might consider implementing punishments similar to those in Israel, where anyone convicted of desecrating a holy place can face up to seven years in prison.

Fr Tikhon is widely rumoured to be Putin’s spiritual adviser, although he declined to comment when an audience member at Friday’s presentation asked about his relationship to “someone in the Kremlin”. He replied, “There’s no point in discussing rumours”. The release of Everyday Saints and Other Stories in the USA came amid celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the reconciliation of the MP and the ROCOR. The festivities include a 20-day, nine-city tour across the USA by the all-male Sretensky Monestary Choir, which performed two pieces at the presentation of Fr Tikhon’s book on Friday.

6 October 2012

Carl Schreck



Editor’s Note:

Shame on the English translator… a more accurate reading of the title is Unholy Holiness… they “castrated” the title, depriving it of its full power and meaning. Holiness is usually “unholy”… that is, it doesn’t please the pietistic bastards who fancy themselves religious. In short, I’d wonder where else they “softened” and “dumbed down” the text to please the terminally-religious. Remember, to be “holy” means loving the truth… and poseurs (such as the First Families, SVS, and konvertsy) hate the truth (“You can’t say that! They’re such GOOD people!”). That means that you won’t find holiness amongst those screaming the loudest about it. Holiness is where it is… not where it’s bruited about. In fact, some of the worst perverters of the Faith… such as Arius, Avvakum Petrov, Aleksandr Vvedensky, Alexander Schmemann, and Gleb Podmoshensky (Fathausen was a drooling disciple of the last-named heretic)… fooled many with their smarmy pietism and patina of superficial religiosity. Holiness is REAL… that means that you’ll only see it if you look at the world for what it truly is… and most of us aren’t prepared to do that.

I wonder if Potapov was around for this shindig… he probably was, but the SVR probably warned Fr Tikhon of the fact that Potapov’s a Langley asset, so, he’ll be polite and non-committal around him. After all, I (and many others) know of Victor’s loud opinions prior to the reconciliation… and who signed his pay-cheque. Will the real Victor Potapov please stand up (shades of To Tell the Truth)? Never turn your back on his ilk… it’s not healthy (do remember Potapov’s tirade against a relative carried by the ROCOR official website).


Friday, 5 October 2012

“Everyday Saints and Other Stories”, Russia’s Number One Bestselling Book, Released in English This October

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov (1958- ), superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, confessor to the Putin family


Everyday Saints and Other Stories, the English version of Russia’s number-one bestseller, had its American release on 1 October 2012. The book’s author, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, abbot of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, will participate in the American festivities surrounding the fifth anniversary of the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church, which includes an American tour of the Sretensky Choir (6-23 October 6-23). Archimandrite Tikhon will present the book and answer questions at the Library of Congress in the European Conference room of the Jefferson Building, at 11.00 EDT 5 October 2012. He’ll also be available for select interviews, upon request.

A national sales success reminiscent of the Harry Potter phenomenon, this amazing work portrays people the author knew personally who were like Dostoevsky‘s starets Zosima. It’s already won two Russian national awards, the prestigious “Book of the Year” award, and the Russian Internet Award. There were 30 times more votes for this book in the Internet Award competition than the next runner-up. As one baffled critic wrote, the phenomenal success of Fr Tikhon’s book is “causing a real shock to all the booksellers in Russia”. This book, written by a priest and modestly displayed in several Moscow bookstores, not only instantly exhausted its print-run of 60,000 copies, but also a second printing of 300,000 copies. Those copies left the shelves within one month. Less than a year has passed since the book’s release and the book has been reprinted six times… a total of 1,100,000 copies. The total number of electronic versions purchased is estimated at no fewer than three million copies. Moreover, the book is being translated into ten European languages and will soon be sold all over the world.

With recent attacks on the clergy by the media, it’s hard to imagine anywhere in Western Europe or the USA where a book written by a priest, about the church, would not only become a runaway national bestseller and leap off the shelves of the all the secular bookstores, but also cause traffic jams on Internet sites. What’s the secret of this book’s success? Firstly, there’s the author’s undisputed talent. The book is extremely engaging and reads like a good detective novel. Second, all the stories are brimming with an inimitable light, joy, and good-natured humour that we all seem to have forgotten still exists. It is a longed-for dose of positivity. Besides, all the stories are true. Reading about one miracle after another, the author’s co-religionists may understand the events described as quite normal, but others are left utterly amazed. They might even find them hard to believe if it weren’t for the fact that many of the people involved are still alive and well-known. Most everyone can recognise such late protagonists as Boris YeltsinSergei Bondarchuk (producer of the internationally acclaimed War and Peace), or World War II hero Marshal Zhukov. It’s a glimpse into the unfathomable Russian soul… some call it mysterious, others enigmatic, but no one will regret their effort to enter this uncanny, beautiful world.

Recommendations of the Book

The book, written by the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, is terrifically engaging thanks to its depth and evocative storytelling. An instant sensation on the Russian literary scene, Everyday Saints and Other Stories has already received several prestigious awards. For the first time in decades, a book written by an Orthodox priest, a monk, has sold over a million copies and become a hot topic of a nationwide intellectual debate. People read it on their commute and discuss it with their friends and families. The secret of Fr Tikhon’s literary success lies not only in his talent but also in his remarkable sincerity. The author cuts to the very heart of the problems of our human existence and inner life. Without becoming moralistic or didactic, he focuses the reader’s attention upon eternal, unshakable values.

Vladimir Medinsky

RF Minister of Culture

Fr Tikhon successfully fulfilled an extremely important task, combining the ability to formulate the problems of life with true faith using modern language, beginning a dialogue with modern man on his own territory, yet avoiding all banality and primitive cliché. The author refuses to fit faith into the framework of piety in order to make it more appetising, or even presenting it at the cost of diluting or changing it. He doesn’t stand on a pedestal or try to convince anyone; he only recounts his own experience, sharing it, but never playing upon his listener.

Antonio Mennini

Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain

Fr Tikhon’s style is eminently readable and accessible to the general reader, and the translation into English is excellent. It’s a great contribution to the literature on contemporary Orthodoxy; it should go far in increasing awareness of and knowledge about the Orthodox Church in the West.

Harold Leich

Russian Area Specialist

US Library of Congress

Click here to purchase the book from Pokrov Publications; they also have the Russian version, Несвятые Святые. Click here for sample stories and more information on the book’s official website.

5 October 2012

PR Newswire


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