Voices from Russia

Monday, 8 October 2012

8 October 2012. A Point From My Correspondence


I wrote one of the Cabinet:

Informed people here are waiting on three events, one secular, two religious…

Tectonic changes are afoot in the religious sphere… and in politics, as well. It’s going to take people some time to take it all in. For instance, both you and I noticed that the MP made no difference in its interactive map between MP and ROCOR parishes… and we drew the proper conclusion. Nevertheless, most people here aren’t as well-informed as you and I are. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons for the London Conference, to draw attention to the new state of affairs on the ground.

Secondly, the konvertsy are waging an active internet campaign, but the majority of the real Orthodox aren’t involved. I’m tied into the “hotline”, I know. I don’t know why real Orthodox aren’t involved in the internet debate more, but I see that it can be a positive thing, really. Real Orthodox people aren’t self-centred and full of themselves as the konvertsy are, so, many deprecate their abilities. I’m not going to attack modesty and humility (and I know that you agree with that). The konvertsy are misjudging the situation… you and I know better than that.

Willy‘s heading for defeat… literally, he’s not campaigning except in nine chosen states, and there’s no enthusiasm for him or his non-policies. Frankly, he’s looking to a racist minority in “swing states” to elect him. President Obama has been vilified over the past four years. I don’t agree with him on much, but it’s fair to say that the rightwing press has subjected him to a campaign of lies that’s unprecedented, even for politics. Willy won’t repudiate the birthers (BHO WAS born in Hawaii) and he won’t restrain the anti-Muslim fanatics. By the way, didn’t you like how the Copts and Muslims in the USA cooperated on the reaction to that nasty video? The news media didn’t like that one bit… it wanted blood, but it got forgiveness and reconciliation, instead. Oh, the humanity!

Most people see that Willy’s defeat could set off dissonances that could destroy the GOP as we know it. The same is true of the London Conference… it could set off ripples, which could grow into a tsunami that could sink the OCA. It’ll be interesting, especially for two jaded observers like us… something may actually happen for a change…

The konvertsy and JP are desperate… thus, the petition drive, the concelebration yesterday in the District, and the relentless internet campaign. If Tikhon Shevkunov served with JP, that means nothing… he was Dickie’s protector at the Centre. In fact, Potapov might have earned himself a trip to the woodshed for “three of the best” with this one. He’s taking sides in a “foreign” dispute, and HH doesn’t look kindly on that. In short, this was something run up by the apprentice whilst the blacksmith was out having a friendly ale or two with the local butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.

Remember this… HH and Charlie are silent on El Gordo. That means that he’s dog-meat, for sure. Expect things to get murkier and more confused the closer we are the Sobor. Do pass the jug.

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 8 October 2012

Albany NY

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Local Copts Tired of Being Linked to Arrested Anti-Muslim Filmmaker


Fr Mauritius Mikhail of St George Coptic Orthodox Church in Bellflower CA acknowledged that the man known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula attended occasional services at his church three years ago. However, he added that most parishioners didn’t know Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt who also uses the name Mark Youssef. Fr Mauritius said that the man’s arrest this week on a probation violation didn’t surprise him, and he suspects that other Coptic Christians won’t be, either, saying, “I haven’t spoken, because his arrest is something very recent, I heard about it from the news just yesterday. However, the anger, or the disturbance, wasn’t because he was arrested, but because the movie itself was something very inappropriate”.

Two weeks of news headlines that connect Nakoula and his incendiary film, Innocence of Muslims, to Southland Copts have shed unwelcome light on a small low-profile immigrant religious group. Shortly after an Arabic-dubbed trailer for the film surfaced on YouTube, its producer also claimed that Israelis helped to finance the project. There’s no evidence to support that assertion. Fr Joseph Boules, a priest at Ss Mary and Verena Church in Anaheim CA, said that he’s had to explain repeatedly to journalists that the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles never endorsed anti-Muslim rhetoric like that found in Nakoula’s film.

Fr Joseph said that news outlets in Egypt and in the USA are equally responsible for offering false representations of Coptic Christianity, saying, “Everyone’s condemned the movie. It isn’t worthy of this attention at all. If we hold people responsible for their actions, then, we do away with the labels… they have no place in the conversation. However, what was behind putting these two words before his name, Coptic Christian? So, for that, I do hold the media responsible to a large extent”. Fr Joseph said that the intense media attention upset many of his parishioners, but he added that the opportunity Copts now have to explain their faith better may turn out, in the long run, to be a “blessing”.

28 September 2012

Ruxandra Guidi

Leslie Berestein Rojas

89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio


Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Composure of the Russian Ummah


The Russian Council of Muftis appealed to Russian Muslims to not give in to provocations and show the true character of Islam. They called on the faithful not to pour out their anger at the film Innocence of Muslims and to show honour, patience, and compassion. This film insults Muslims; it’s triggered a wave of disturbances in many countries and has become one of the key topics discussed by the Russian authorities in the past few days. They assessed the film as a potential threat to public peace and order. The Genprokuratura intends to ban the distribution of the film. In an interview with VOR, Mufti Albir Krganov, the First Deputy Head of the Central Spiritual Department of Muslims in Russia, believes that the display of the film in Russia would hardly trigger riots, saying, “Prophet Muhammad said that those who cause disorder are like unto those who wake a snake. Consequently, we shouldn’t give into vulgar provocations and should respond in accordance with the law. Insulting the feelings of the faithful is extremely blasphemous; only the corrupt do it, those with no discernment or conscience. The law should severely punish such people, in order to maintain peace and composure in society”.

However, some believe that maintaining the peace is nothing but serving the Russian authorities’ interests. Geidar Dzhemal, Chairman of the Russian Islamic Committee said, “Why should we give in? What specifically are we giving up? Why shouldn’t we express our indignation? The Council of Muftis is simply a special service of the presidential administration; it’s only concerned about the interests of the authorities, not the interests of ordinary Muslims. Expressing our indignation is good for Muslims, whilst showing no response is in the interests of authorities”.

Meanwhile, Damir-Khazrat Gizatullin, First Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Department of Muslims in European Russia, believes that true Muslims shouldn’t draw attention to such provocations and should direct their energy to spiritual development and creative work, saying, “We see that regional heads of those regions with a large Muslim population, along the Volga, in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, as well as the North Caucasus, support the campaign for banning this provocative film. During Friday prayers, and, even now through this radio broadcast, we call on Muslims not to give into provocations, but to work, build up our families, protect our state, become educated, and make the Hajj and return home safely”. In his blog, Damir-Khazrat said that composure doesn’t mean indifference or cowardice. Moreover, Russia has sufficient moral and judicial resources to counter such threats.

 20 September 2012

Grigori Milenin

Voice of Russia World Service


As John Robles Sees It… Afghanistan: Spinning Failure as Success


The number of green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan is increasing amidst widespread rioting over the American film Innocence of Muslims as the USA attempts to make a face-saving drawdown of troops from the country. Cooperation between “coalition” troops and the Afghans is being cut back as the attacks continue, yet the USA is still trying to paint a different picture of their failure in Afghanistan. Western media reports this year alone noted that there were 37 attacks on American forces and their NATO and want-to-be-NATO allies, all part of George W Bush’s “coalition of the willing” engaged in their endless world war on terror.

Just like at the beginning of the invasion, when the American and the Western media reacted with horror and indignation anytime the Afghans fought back, branding them enemy combatants, then, terrorists, and hauling them off to their illegal torture prison, outside of the jurisdiction of international law, in Guantánamo Bay Cuba, the Western media still don’t seem to get it. They continue to react with shock and indignation whenever their Afghan “allies” (yes, that’s what they now call the country they invaded) attack the “coalition” forces.

Let’s stop for a minute here and put things into a proper perspective. Unlike the USSR, whose intervention was officially requested by the Afghan Government, the USA and NATO were never asked to enter the country, that’s one… two, the invasion of Afghanistan, and that’s what it was no matter how the West hates to admit it, was never sanctioned internationally, or even in the USA… Afghanistan never threatened the USA, never committed an act of aggression against the USA warranting invasion, and, last, and most importantly, was never involved in the questionable events of 9/11.

The Western media said that the attacks by their Afghan “allies” killed 51 “international service members” this year, with 12 attacks in August, leaving 15 dead. Yet, nowhere can you find an accurate body count of the innocent Afghan people, including women and children, who’ve died at the hands of the coalition. This is simple to explain, it’s part of the American propaganda war; the people back in Kansas don’t want to hear about it, the Afghan people are an abstraction, less than human, their lives don’t count as much as those of the “coalition” forces. If the American people were to find out what the USA is really doing in Afghanistan, they might become upset and call for an end to the military adventure.

The USA’s vested interest in hiding the truth, including that about Afghanistan, is obvious by the American reaction to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, yours truly, and anyone else who gets too close to the truth. The war should be over soon, you may think, at least, that’s what they want you to believe, not hardly, despite the fact that the USA is to announce that 33,000 troops who were part of the “surge” three years ago, have left the country, this actually means nothing. The number of troops will remain at close to invasion-level, with 68,000 US troops still incountry. That is a great pull-out? The Western media doesn’t mention this very real and provable fact, they continue to complain about Afghan “attacks”, either they just doesn’t get it or they actually believe what they are writing when it comes to Afghanistan.

This is completely understandable, no one in the USA wants to hear that they illegally invaded and decimated a country for no real reason, or at least not for the reasons they were lied to about and led to believe. No one wants to hear that their presence isn’t wanted and that they’re aggressors and invaders… invaders who attacked one of the poorest and most defenceless countries in the world illegally and on false pretexts, and, then, stayed there for more than a decade killing the population without being able to claim any kind of a victory. The media in the West complains that the spike in “insider” attacks is somehow souring relations between the USA and its Afghan allies who are fighting side by side. Against whom? Against other Afghan people. The once-CIA-backed Taliban? The reality is that the USA invaded their country, and is killing their people, so, how is it that an Afghan could, in their right mind, fight alongside the invaders? Well, apparently, many are now taking the first chance they have to fight back, not against their Afghan brothers and sisters, but against the invaders.

This is something the USA just doesn’t seem to understand. Even if there weren’t thousands of cases of innocent civilians being killed, even if there weren’t constant unpunished “scandals”, and even if American soldiers didn’t urinate on corpses and collect body parts as trophies and the like, the USA would never be welcomed in the country. They’re invaders. The latest in a spate of what are now called “green-on-blue” attacks an Afghan soldier in Helmand Province opened fire on a vehicle he believed was driven by NATO soldiers slightly wounding a foreign staff member. Also on Sunday, an Afghan police officer shot and killed four American troops in Zabul Province, and on Saturday, a member of a government-backed militia killed two British troops, also in Helmand.

Of course, officials and the press are painting the escalation in violence and attacks against the Americans in a different light. Instead of admitting that they’re completely losing control of the country and that the situation for them is growing worse by the day, people like US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta are attempting to paint the increase in attacks as a sign of the decrease in power by the attackers. Panetta said while visiting Japan that the “… insider attacks are the last gasp of a Taliban insurgency that hasn’t been able to regain lost ground”. So, the fact that the Taliban’s attacking more means that they’re in fact weaker? Ahem. Okay, but sorry, if you call a black kettle white it’s still black.

Further underlining the failure of the American military adventure in Afghanistan and of their meddling in the Muslim world in general, on Tuesday, 18 September, a woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up on a minibus in Kabul, killing 12 people, including seven foreigners. According to reports, the dead were mostly Russian and South African nationals. Apparently, the attack was in protest of the infamous film Innocence of Muslims. In Kabul, thousands of protestors clashed with police over the same film, in violence that was even worse than the outbreak that occurred at the beginning of the year over the burning of Qurans by American troops.

On Monday, NATO reported that it’s cut the number of joint operations with Afghan soldiers and policemen in order to lessen the chance of insider attacks. This is the second such order given recently, which further flies in the face of the claim that they are fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the Afghans. According to CBS News reports, the Pentagon, for its part, “suspended most joint field operations with Afghan forces because so many Americans are being killed by the men they’re training”. This comes on the heels of a decision to end all joint patrols and operations without first obtaining approval from the command structure. If they call that winning, I’d hate to see what they call losing.

19 September 2012

John Robles

Voice of Russia World Service



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