Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martyr, to Become Saint at Vatican Ceremony on 14 October

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After a 38-year-wait, it’s now official. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 for speaking out against military oppression, will become a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a Vatican ceremony on 14 October. On 19 May, Pope Francisco, the first pontiff from the Americas, announced the decision during a meeting with cardinals based in Rome. Romero, long considered a saint by Catholics across the Americas, will be elevated to universal veneration at the Vatican ceremony alongside Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who first appointed him a bishop and made the fateful decision in 1977 to make him archbishop of San Salvador. Four others… two Italian priests and German and Spanish founders of separate women’s religious orders… will also become saints at the ceremony.

The Salvadoran’s canonisation, while expected in recent months, nonetheless represents the culmination of one of the clearest turnabouts of Francisco’s nearly five-year papacy. The cause for Romero languished for decades under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who expressed unease with his connection to liberation theology and his vocal denunciations of government killings and kidnappings. Less than two years after his election as pontiff, Francisco placed Romero firmly on the sainthood track, formally decreeing in February 2015 that the archbishop was assassinated as a martyr for the Catholic faith. He then authorised his beatification, the last step before sainthood, in May of that year. El Salvador’s ambassador to the UK, Elisabeth Hayek-Weinmann, told us:

Romero’s coming sainthood represents a unique opportunity for us to heal our historical wounds, restore our social fabric, and build a new sense of national identity based on common values, with social justice and respect for human dignity at its core. His teachings and legacy provide us, as a nation, a strong moral compass.

During the 19 May meeting with cardinals, known as a consistory, Francisco formally received the request to authorise the canonization of the six persons by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Amato gave Francisco a brief biographical sketch of each of the sainthood candidates. He said:

Romero was archbishop during a time of great political crisis in El Salvador and was outraged at seeing the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, he felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude. On 24 March 1980, he was killed while celebrating Mass.

After hearing each candidate’s history, Francisco announced their canonisations as a group and set the date and place of the ceremony. As it became clear in recent weeks that Francis would announce Romero’s canonisation, discussions in Rome focused on whether the pontiff would decide to hold the ceremony at the Vatican or in El Salvador. Considerations included trying to make the event accessible to Salvadorans wishing to attend but wanting also to emphasise that, as a saint, Romero will be an example of Christian witness not just for El Salvador but the entire world. Carlos Colorado, a Salvadoran who runs the popular Super Martyrio blog that closely followed the process of Romero’s canonisation, said in an interview:

A ceremony in San Salvador would’ve been a blowout with people attending numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

In a recent blog, Colorado hypothesised that Francisco may still go to El Salvador soon in order to venerate the new saint’s tomb and bring a sense of celebration to the country. One opportunity would be for the pontiff to make a stopover there during his expected January 2019 visit to Panama for World Youth Day. Paulita Pike, an American who lived in El Salvador off-and-on since the early 1970s, knew Romero and now helps coordinate the popular Amigos de Romero/Cultura Romeriana Facebook page, said:

By canonising Romero in Rome, Francisco is holding him up as the model pastor, the model bishop, for the bishops gathered there. Wherever he’s canonised, he’s going to be our saint.

Pike kept vigil at Romero’s tomb in San Salvador’s cathedral overnight on 18 May with members of her group, awaiting news of the canonisation. She said:

He isn’t ours but he’s St Romero of the Americas. Now, he’s going to be St Romero of the world.

19 May 2018

Joshua McElwee

National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/archbishop-romero-martyr-be-made-saint-vatican-ceremony-oct-14

Monday, 8 May 2017

Dissent Denied: “Emergency” US State Law to Silence Protesters

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New laws intended to punish those exercising their constitutional right to disagree with existing legislation and policy will now see possible fines of up to 1 million USD (58.1 million Roubles. 6.9 million Renminbi. 64.3 million INR. 1.37 million CAD. 1.35 million AUD. 910,000 Euros. 770,000 UK Pounds) in the US state of Oklahoma after legislators rushed “emergency” anti-protest laws into effect. The new laws allow for increased fines on those found guilty in Oklahoma of engaging in protest actions that result in the damage of infrastructure, especially oil and gas equipment. They also include a new wrinkle, in which the state could fine those who support, or “conspire” (in the terms of the bill), with the protest up to one hundred times the amount levied on the guilty party. The new statutes allow fines for up to 10,000 USD (581,000 Roubles. 6,900 Renminbi. 643,000 INR. 13,700 CAD. 13,500 AUD. 9,100 Euros. 7,700 UK Pounds) against anyone found guilty of simply intending to destroy infrastructure. The state can assess fines up to 100,000 USD (5.81 million Roubles. 690,000 Renminbi. 6.43 million INR. 137,000 CAD. 135,000 AUD. 91,000 Euros. 77,000 UK Pounds) if protestors actually do real damage. However, the real kicker is a 1 million USD fine for any person or organisation found to be supporting an activist found guilty, including, ostensibly, human rights groups or medical, legal, and logistical assistance at the protest site.

The laws are in direct correlation with increased attempts across America to stymie any dissent against new petrochemical infrastructure, including pipelines and fracking wells. Considered a major oil and gas transfer hub for much of the USA, Oklahoma has a long history of its state government acting as a front for oil companies. According to The Intercept, the town of Cushing OK (the so-called “Oil Pipeline Crossroads of the World”) and surrounding regions saw a striking rise in earthquakes during the fracking boom due to the pumping of a toxic mix of wastewater and chemicals directly into the ground. The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association is a vocal supporter of the new legislation.

Many are suspicious of the loose wording of the new Oklahoma anti-protest laws, however. Doug Parr, a lawyer who has represented several environmental activists in Oklahoma, told The Intercept that the statute’s claims are too broad:

Say they lock themselves to a piece of construction equipment, and a claim can be made that there were damages from that trespass. Does this statute create a civil action for a pipeline company to then go after a person or organisation that posted a bond or helped pay for a lawyer for that civil disobedience? Those organising peaceful actions of civil disobedience can now be heavily penalised if any attendee chooses to take on a solo act, such as spray-painting a message on a wall. Suppose an organisation decides they want to support a perfectly legal, no civil disobedience, action. Somebody in that crowd, who came to the protest at the request of that organisation, then jumps the fence and runs in there, and spray-paints on a storage tank, “This equipment causes earthquakes. Shut it down”. These statutes could be used to attack that organisation and impose financial liability on them.

The Sierra Club’s Oklahoma head, Johnson Bridgwater, pointed out the possibly illegal ramifications of the new laws, stating:

We don’t necessarily know everyone who’s attending the events. There’s a strong and real fear that this could be used as an attempt to crush a group or a chapter of Sierra Club unfairly.

Common Dreams identified 19 new anti-protest bills in the USA, as of April 2. Similar legislation in Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota aims directly at civil disobedience actions that seek to stop or limit the expansion of petrochemical operations. Many see new laws in Minnesota and other states as responses to previous protest actions blocking roads and highways after white police killed unarmed black men and women in US cities. Referring to an earlier high-profile action of civil disobedience seeking to shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the Sierra Club’s Bridgwater observed:

We see all of these bills as nothing more than corporate America being fearful of how successful the Standing Rock protests were.

8 May 2017

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/business/201705081053369767-us-state-law-silences-protest/

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Snowden: The Only Solzhenitsyn We Deserve

00 Cuz Freedom Ain't Free. 26.10.13

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Is the former NSA analyst a modern-day dissident? There are many interesting similarities between Edward Snowden and the famous Russian dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). The most recent example of these is the interview Snowden recently gave to the New York Times explaining his actions; he denied rumours that he’d passed American secrets to the Russian and Chinese special services. This interview came too late. It took place several months after the peak of the Snowden hysteria. In the same way, many viewed Solzhenitsyn’s return to Russia in 1994, 20 years after his exile from the USSR in 1974, as belated… ­ it should’ve taken place in 1989-91 as the Soviet state was collapsing.

In the interview, Snowden explained that he didn’t consider his action anti-American and that he didn’t carry any sensitive documents after releasing the information on the NSA’s surveillance programmes to journalists in Hong Kong. He also defended himself against accusations of working for Chinese or Russian intelligence, stating that he’d carefully protected sensitive data from Chinese intelligence officers because he’d studied Chinese intelligence intensively and was well aware of its capabilities. In the interview, Snowden added that the NSA knew that he hadn’t revealed any secrets to the Chinese. For Snowden’s reputation, these explanations also came too late, ­which brings another comparison to Solzhenitsyn. For several months during the spring and summer, American officials mounted an aggressive campaign against Snowden, calling him a traitor, hinting at possible material interests he might be pursuing by making his revelations in Hong Kong and Russia.

Solzhenitsyn was also very careless in terms of personal PR… instead of protecting himself against the accusations of treason mounted against him by the Soviet authorities, he always talked about the global problems of Russia and the world in general, never revealing details of his personal life or otherwise catering to the public’s curiosity. The disparity between Solzhenitsyn and Snowden is in form, not in substance. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Solzhenitsyn wrote his best books, people still read epistolary novels, with letters written by an author of fiction. In Snowden’s time, people prefer the real thing… genuine e-mail messages leaked on the internet. However, in both cases, the authorities reacted the same way. Both the Soviet authorities in Solzhenitsyn’s 1970s and the American authorities in 2013 didn’t deny that the revelations were true.

The authorities just said that the two authors were presenting atypical phenomena. Leonid Brezhnev couldn’t deny the GULag‘s existence, but he said that they were “deviations from the way of Socialist law” and “individual mistakes”. In the same way, the NSA’s defenders in the USA said that the PRISM programme targeted terrorists. They added that it was unfortunate if the NSA sometimes eavesdropped on ordinary citizens; however, this wasn’t standard practise… even if one could count the “individual mistakes” in millions, just like Solzhenitsyn’s revelation about the “archipelago” of labour camps. Some of their compatriots criticised both Solzhenitsyn and Snowden for revealing their findings to foreigners and not to their own domestic bureaucracy. The people who helped Solzhenitsyn transfer the manuscripts of his novels abroad had problems with the KGB, just as the American and British authorities put pressure on the journalists who helped Snowden publicise his secrets.

In both cases, the truth-seekers found some support and understanding abroad. However, here, the similarities of the stories end. Brezhnev could’ve sent Solzhenitsyn to the GULag, the system of camps was still functioning in 1970s, albeit on a smaller scale, but the Soviet leader preferred to avoid a trial, which would’ve been a public relations disaster for the USSR. Instead, he sent Solzhenitsyn to West Germany. Snowden, however, was already in exile when he made his revelations. Since then, US President Barack Obama has attempted to bring him back to the USA to stand trial. In the case of Snowden, the saying is true that history repeats itself not as tragedy, but as a particularly Orwellian type of farce.

21 October 2013

Dmitri Babich

Russia Behind the Headlines               

http://rbth.ru/opinion/2013/10/21/snowden_the_only_solzhenitsyn_we_deserve_31015.html

Editor’s Note:

The Snowden Affair revealed that the WASP Amerikantsy (and those who suck up to them by imitating them) are amongst the most nasty, cruel, egotistical, and foolish hypocrites that the world has ever known. The motto of America is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. Note well that Vince Lombardi evaded military service in World War II, hiding behind a deferment as a teacher. That’s what America has become… a violent bully bent on winning at all cost, scorning all duties to the greater society. This is especially prevalent in the Republican Party… after all, they nominated a draft-dodgin’ tax evader as President (who sent American jobs to China during the election campaign… now, that’s patriotism for ya! Marx was right… “Capital knows no homeland”).

Edward Snowden’s a hero… those who criticise him are cowardly putzes, all of ‘em, no exception. America’s become a rogue nation… it’s been the main cause of war in the world since 1991. If one can say that any nation sponsors terror, the USA does that in spades with its drone strikes, CIA interventions, and indefinite detention at Guantánamo. The Taliban and Palestinian “terrorists” (the former are mostly Afghan patriots fighting the latest feringhi invader, and the latter have a legit grievance per the UN) are bush-leaguers in comparison… the number of their victims pales in comparison to the pile of dead left by “peaceful” America. The USSR bankrupted itself arming itself to defend itself against American aggression (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, and Nicaragua proved that the USA trampled on all those it considered weaklings)… the USA bankrupted itself reaching for world hegemony whilst coddling the Affluent Effluent at the same time. The two situations are in no way comparable.

WASP Amerikantsy love preaching to all of us (that’s why the konvertsy are forever preaching to we ethnic Orthodox). They’re “better” than all the rest of us, dontcha know… as proven by Wounded Knee, the Trail of Tears, Hiroshima, Agent Orange, and PRISM… I think that I’m going to stop there. Don’t they make you sick beyond all words? God has a special cold corner of Hell for such evil sorts (especially for the Born Agains and their hangers-on… there’s nothing worse than a godless hypocrite spouting religion). May God see this and judge…

BMD

 

Monday, 8 October 2012

US Citizen, Former Marine, Seeks Political Asylum in Russia

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Former Marine Patrick Downey appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, asking for political asylum. Patrick told Pravda that he faces severe punishment at home. Downey said that his intention to publish material about American support for Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili, including the war with South Ossetia, is behind all of it. Patrick Downey is a nice young man who speaks some Russian. He said, “Actually, I love reading. Not newspapers, but books, for example, Dostoevsky‘s short stories”. Whilst Patrick doesn’t read Russian newspapers, he still thinks they represent a free press, unlike those in his home country, noting, “You have lots of newspapers, but you write about various things, including views that aren’t shared by your government. I believe that this is freedom. In the USA, there’s a taboo… you can’t write objectionable things about corporations or people close to the White House… it’s suppressed, at times, in a very harsh manner. A financial network rules our country and this is a real problem. This isn’t my first time in Russia, but this visit is due to the fact that my life’s in danger and I need help”. We walked in one of Moscow’s parks and Patrick told me about himself and about how he came to come to Russia.

Downey worked at the American embassy in Georgia, ​​but said that he was disappointed in the Foreign Service, so, he then took a job as a private English tutor to Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili and moved to Tbilisi. There, Downey obtained documents that led to the present problems in his life. The documents confirmed that the USA funded anti-Russian activities by Ivanishvili. In a document dated 2007, it stated that the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 60 percent of whose shares is owned by the USA, transferred 12 million USD to Ivanishvili’s bank account. The stated purpose of the transfer was structural development. A year later, in August 2008, Georgia sent troops into South Ossetia and, according to Downey, again, not without American financial aid, including the money transferred Ivanishvili’s bank account.

Downey returned to the USA, he decided to make this information public, but faced strong opposition. The media flatly refused to publish the sensational material. As a result, the government took interest in the former Marine, he received the nickname “Trouble Man”; in consequence, according to Downey, American special services tried to neutralise him. He observed, “I began to feel that it was simply dangerous for me to be in the USA. They removed the documents that I uploaded online, they blocked my videos on YouTube, and they began to threaten me. Threats also came from Georgian sources, which demanded that I be quiet”. The Trouble Man tried to get political asylum in Ireland, but the authorities reacted belligerently to him staying there, he landed in jail, and, later, they deported him.

Patrick explained, “I didn’t want to be quiet, I wanted to tell the truth. However, because of that, I had to leave my home in New York, and, indeed, my country. I don’t want to say that the USA is an ‘evil empire’, but I’m asking for protection from the evil that’s stalking me”. In New York, Patrick left family, his parents and a pregnant sister. Now, that he’s in a foreign country, Downey’s tried to call home, but no one’s responding to his calls. On 21 September, Downey asked the Immigration Service for political asylum. Despite the fact that Russia hasn’t agreed to provide him sanctuary, Downey said he felt supported even without official documents covered with seals, saying, “In Russia, I’ve met people who wanted to help. They’re ordinary people. I want to live here; I love this country and hope that it’ll protect me”.

Russians helped him to disseminate an address to President Putin on the internet… “Patrick lost the support and protection of the American government for his criticism of its foreign policy, all references to violations of his civil rights and liberties by these bodies went unanswered. The USA left its citizen, who dissented against American government policies without protection. Downey appealed to the Immigration Service in Moscow asking for political asylum. Please, pay attention to the fate of Patrick Downey and assist in the consideration of his application as soon as possible”.

Downey said, “I understand that if Russia gives me political asylum, I probably won’t be able to return home. Nevertheless, I’m ready for that, firstly, for the sake of the safety of my family, who, like me, wouldn’t be left alone if I stayed in the USA. I’m terribly hurt, I’m so far from home, but I don’t have another choice”. We passed a small church, Downey looked up at the domes, and that he wanted to accept Orthodoxy, saying, “This isn’t something that I just dreamed up (laughing). I’ve met a lot of really religious people who helped me incredibly. I became interested in your culture and religion. I started going to church. My desire isn’t fanciful; I just feel that I need it, that it’s mine, too”.

Finally, we asked him what he’d do if the authorities allowed him to stay in Russia, Patrick replied, “What would I do? I’d live! For one thing, I’d get married. I don’t want to fight with anyone; I don’t want to be afraid all the time. I want a family and a home. That what I hope that I’ll get”. Since the collapse of the USSR, Russia hasn’t granted anyone political asylum. It’s possible that Patrick Downey would be the first; if so, his personal “Cold War” would end.

27 September 2012

Anton Frolov

Pravda

http://www.pravda.ru/society/family/life/27-09-2012/1129498-downey-0/

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