Voices from Russia

Monday, 16 July 2012

Patriarch Kirill Visited Katyń


On Sunday, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, the First Hierarch of the MP, consecrated a church at the Katyń Forest memorial complex, calling the Russian and Polish peoples to unity. He called the site, some 20 kilometres (@12 miles) from Smolensk, a place of common grief and shared sacrifices. The modest church, a snow-white building with an impressive cupola, can accommodate about 500 people. However, the 15 July consecration saw it completely filled with believers. Many people had to stand under the open sky for hours outside the church, despite a damp and dank steady drizzle.

In the 1930s and 40s, many Poles and Russians died in mass executions at Katyń, making it a place of remembrance for the Smolensk region. When he was still Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Patriarch Kirill raised the question of how we should memorialise the massive tragedy here, saying, “However, for many years, no one knew precisely what to erect here as a monument. When I put forth the idea to commemorate the thousands of innocents who died here, many proposals came forward. Preliminary sketches were prepared, and the Smolensk clergy made their choices amongst them. However, I didn’t approve any of them, as it seemed to me that none of these projects reflected the depth of this place’s tragedy. Finally, I decided that we should erect a simple Orthodox cross in memory of the Orthodox lying here. Then, we could think of building a memorial church to honour all of the victims of Katyń. It wasn’t easy to implement, as the authorities gave all sorts of excuses. Even after we laid the cornerstone for the memorial church, some people protested against building an Orthodox church at this place. We decided to build the church at another site nearby… and this decision turned out to be providential”.

The formal ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the future memorial church took place on 7 April 2010. Then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk attended. The head of the design atelier that drew up the plans for the memorial complex was architect Dmitri Pshenichnikov. Besides a church, the complex includes a belfry, a well with holy water, a conference hall, a dormitory for pilgrims, a refectory, and utility outbuildings.

Patriarch Kirill said, “It’s symbolic that the memorial church here is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ. This church is a sign of our belief in God’s victory over Satan, in the victory of Good over Evil. It’s a metaphor. After all, the Resurrection is the victory of Truth over Falsehood. Because we neither conceal nor distort the truth about what happened at Katyń… this Russian Golgotha… where both Russians and Poles lie in its graves, the truth is triumphant. Today, in this magnificent church, we celebrate the risen Passionbearer, in the hope of the universal resurrection. Katyń is a place of common mourning for both Russians and Poles, a place of common suffering, a place of deep emotions. Nothing unites people as much as common suffering. It’s now time for us to realise that Katyń is a terrible symbol of our common tragedy. However, after we realise that, we should act as brothers and sisters with a shared sorrow. I believe that this could be an opening for a new era in Russo-Polish relations”.

After consecrating the church and serving its first Divine Liturgy, Patriarch Kirill, together with a Polish delegation of politicians, military officers, and Orthodox hierarchs went out to the memorial complex. After a brief Litiya for the dead at the Alley of Memory, the demarcation between the Russian and the Polish parts of the memorial, His Holiness laid a wreath at the Orthodox cross in the Russian part of the cemetery, and another at the altar in its Polish part. When His Holiness approached the Polish graves, the famous Katyń bell rang three times. This bell is placed lower than ground level, which not only recalls those who lie here, but it also serves a warning to future generations.


Russian and Polish Army soldiers stood together at Katyń at the formal opening of the memorial church on the site of mass executions during the time of repressions. Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias led the consecration service of the Memorial Church of the Resurrection of Christ. A military honour guard and members of Scouting organisations lined up outside the church. The church is at the entrance to the memorial complex, with the graves of about 10,000 Soviet citizens and more than 4,000 Polish officers, shot by the NKVD in Katyń Forest in the 1930s and 40s. Construction of the church began in 2010, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in attendance.

The icons of the Katyń Martyrs adorn the iconostas of the church, including Archbishop Serafim Ostroumov of Smolensk, shot here with other clergy in 1937. Fr Aleksei Andreyuk, a Polish military chaplain, said, “Every bit of earth in the Katyń Forest contains the blood of Russian and Polish martyrs. We’ve prayed together here since 1996. Since 2010, when a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczyński  to Smolensk crashed near here, we have an annual pilgrimage to this spot”. He pointed up that Archbishop Miron Chodakowski, the Polish Armed Forces Orthodox Field Bishop, was amongst the dead in that crash. Polish Army Colonel Jerzy Wiljuk and Polish Army Orthodox Field Bishop Jerzy Pańkowski of Siemiatycki led the Polish delegation. Amongst the attendees were two grandchildren of Polish Army Chaplain Szymon Fedorońko, who was shot at Katyń.

According to Patriarch Kirill, Katyń is only one of the Golgothas… Solovki and the Butovo Poligon in Moscow are others. He noted that, whilst he was still Metropolitan of Smolensk, he paid close attention to studies on the Katyń tragedy, and found out that more than 8,000 cases ended in shootings at Katyń. The Patriarch pointed up that, according to archival evidence, more than 16,000 Russians died there, amongst them, one of the last of the pre-war victims, was an outstanding hierarch, Archbishop Serafim Ostroumov of Smolensk and Dorogobuzh, saying, “He was a man with an amazing life, who, perhaps, would have been numbered amongst the saints even without a martyr’s death. Besides that, more than 4,000 Polish officers were shot here, including a remarkable man, the Orthodox archpriest Szymon Fedorońko, who was a Polish military chaplain”.

The snow-white church fits naturally into the memorial complex and the pine forest surrounding it. Orthodox St Tikhon Humanities University (PSTGU) in Moscow made the iconostas, following their electronic database of the Assembly of Russian New Martyrs and Confessors of the Twentieth Century. The memorial complex has both Russian and Polish sections. In the Polish portion, memorial crosses and a memorial stele are on the site of the mass graves. Annually, in April, Polish delegations come here. On the Russian side, there’s a 10-metre-high Orthodox cross in front of the graves of victims of political repression (the perimeter of each of the nine fences surrounding the graves is shaped irregularly, emphasising that the exact number of dead is unknown). An Alley of Memory lies between the Russian and Polish memorials.

15 July 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Confirmed: CIA Secret Prison in Poland

Bush operated torture facilities throughout the world… Obama closed them. What does that tell about their respective morality? If Obama’s a “socialist“, I’d rather have an upright Socialist than a violent and brutal whore for the rich who kicked people in the teeth whilst he bore a smarmy pious expression on his face. I prefer the company of irreligious people who take a moral stand to immoral “believers” who torture in the name of God. That’s the way it is…





Confessions of top-ranking Polish officials exposed another CIA-run interrogation “black site”, blowing the lid on one of the dirtiest secrets in Eastern Europe. Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, the former head of the Polish intelligence service, faces charges of taking part in establishing a secret prison for the CIA in a remote part of Poland. Allegedly, foreign prisoners at the detention centre were tortured in connection with America’s global war on terror. Siemiątkowski refused to comment on the matter, citing Polish secrecy laws. However, he didn’t deny the report.

Rumours about Poland hosting a CIA-run prison had circulated for years, though the authorities dismissed them as absurd. However, the UN and the Council of Europe long claimed they had evidence of the site’s existence. Former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and former Prime Minister Leszek Miller both repeatedly denied the knowledge of the prison. The official investigation into a CIA-run prison in Poland started in 2008, three years after Donald Tusk took office. It took just as long for evidence of the site to come to light.

Allegedly, a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects operated in Stare Kiejkuty, a small village in remote Poland, from December 2002 to the fall of 2003, “depriving prisoners of war of their freedom” and “allowing corporal punishment”. Earlier, two prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, claimed they were prisoners at this “black site”. Polish prosecutors have already given the two “victim status”. Among other possible detainees are self-proclaimed 9/11 terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, perpetrator of the 2000 USS Cole bombing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and Palestinian terror suspect Abu Zubaydah. According to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, up to eight prisoners underwent “extraordinary rendition” to undergo torture in Poland.

The harsh interrogation techniques used by American spooks included waterboarding, starvation, cooling of the body, visual and acoustic deprivation for extended periods of time, slamming prisoners against walls, and mock execution, amongst many other methods. Naturally, no European country, Poland included, allows. If it comes out that Poland did, in fact, allow torture to take place at a CIA facility in their country, interested parties could take the matter before the European Court of Human Rights. The prosecution of Polish and American agents would also remain a distinct possibility. Dr Adam Bodnar, human rights lawyer and head of the legal division at the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, told RT, “We can think about Polish intelligence officers, who, most probably, somehow, collaborated with the CIA in establishing this site. We can think about the CIA officers, because if they made it [tortures] in the territory of Poland… it’s a crime. But, as you most probably know, the US authorities wouldn’t give any data regarding them and wouldn’t allow them to be extradited”.

Never Again in Poland?

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk fully supported the high-profile case against the former senior official. Tusk charged that Poland has become a “political victim” of US officials, saying, “This may be painful, but concrete evidence that Poland is no longer a country where politicians can fix something under the table and expect it not to [eventually] come out… even if they do so with the world’s greatest superpower”. In fact, the Polish PM had no other choice but to recognise the existence of the CIA prison in his country. Tusk charged that Poland has become the “political victim” of US officials leaking some aspects of their bilateral relations, stating, “Poland’s a democracy where national and international law must be observed”, demanding an investigation into the matter. He said harshly, “Let there be no doubt about it either in Poland or on the other side of the ocean. Poland will no longer be a country where politicians, even if they are working arm-in-arm with the world’s greatest superpower, could make some deal somewhere under the table, and, then, it’d never see daylight”. He referred to the current investigation, which has the purpose of ensuring that nothing like this will happen in Poland again.

The US never disclosed the whereabouts of the so-called “black sites,” but human rights groups named Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Thailand as the most likely hosts. Lithuania was the first country in Europe to admit it’d allowed the CIA to establish two secret detention facilities in 2002-06. In November 2011, Lithuania faced a lawsuit for hosting a secret CIA prison on its soil when Abu Zubaydah, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, claimed that the CIA detained and tortured him there.

1 April 2012

Russia Today


Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep this simple. A vote for the Republican Party is a vote for torture. This torture had the approval of the highest members of the Bush administration, including GWB and Vice President Cheney (a brutal coward who dodged he draft “legally”, who refused to serve in the forces himself, but who advocated aggressive war throughout the world for the enrichment of his corporate sugar daddies). If there were justice, the cops would drag these two out into an open field; make them to kneel down, and shoot them dead in the nape of the neck. It won’t happen… don’t hold your breath. Money DOES talk… and “money” supports the political prostitutes who whore for the One Percent. What Bush and Cheney did was the exact same thing as some of the Nazi war criminals faced the gibbet for. Note well that the oligarch paymasters of the Republicans use “outsourcing” to circumvent American labour, safety, and environmental regulations to fatten their boodle-bags (they have another McMansion to pay for, dontcha know!), so, why would it surprise you to see their amoral political whores used the same tack?

That’s how low the GOP’s fallen… it’s become a shill for the worst elements of the One Percent, and anything’s kosher in the defence of the “rights” of the plutocrats… ANYTHING. Do remember Pastor Niemöller’s words… and, then, mark your ballot for President Obama this fall. He’s NOT perfect… but we have a responsibility to keep the Republicans out this time around. If we do, the chance that they’ll collapse into a dribbling regional/confessional bloc representing oddbod white Southern Evangelical crazies is very good.

If you had told Americans in 1945 that the USA would use Nazi tactics, and that the Republican Party would defend them relentlessly, they would’ve locked you up in a rubber room, for they’d consider you nutters beyond redemption. We’ve got a job to do to clean up the mess…

Fight the Republican Hydra… IN THE NAME OF LIFE!


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