Voices from Russia

Thursday, 4 July 2013

MP Raised 7 Million Roubles for Aid to Syria in a Matter of Days

00 Russian money


A spokesman for the MP Department for Church Charity and Social Service stated that the MP raised more than 7 million Roubles (211,000 USD. 163,000 Euros. 140,000 UK Pounds) in donations to help Syria within a few days. Donations came in from dioceses, monasteries, parishes, and individuals. The fundraising drive to collect money to help the victims of the Syrian Civil War continues. Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, the rector of the Church of St Tatiana at MGU, said, “I’m amazed at the amount of donations we collected last Sunday in our church. We raised 50,000 Roubles (1,500 USD. 1,160 Euros. 1,000 UK Pounds) on one Sunday afternoon… taking into account daylight saving time and the fact that we’re a small parish… that’s pretty good! We collected more this time than we did during the drive to aid needy Greeks. Next Sunday, we decided to repeat the collection [for Syrian aid]”.

Archpriest Aleksandr Talko, the head of the Department for Church Charity of the Vladivostok Diocese, rector of St John of Kronshtadt parish in Vladivostok, said that the cathedral put up a special box for the Syrian fund drive, and, so far, people are still putting in their donations, noting, “Even now, during the summer holidays, I think that people actively responded to His Holiness’ call”. Different cities sent their donations to the MP… Ufa, Novosibirsk, Kaliningrad, and Irkutsk. Donations even came in from Krymsk, which suffered devastating floods last year. This fund-drive was in response to a call to aid the victims of the Syrian Civil War from Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias. At the conclusion of the drive, the MP will send all monies collected to the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East.

4 July 2013



Editor’s Note:

The ROCOR is part of the MP, yet there’s no mention of this important fundraiser on its official website (at least, not in an easily noticed or accessible location). Note well that they had space for a diatribe against Stalin penned by Potapov, and space for a notice saying that Archbishop Kirill Dmitrieff received a bogus “award” from the specious pretender Maria Vladimirovna… but they had no space for a notice of this important fund drive to aid the victims of the Syrian Civil War. There was “no room at the inn” for the victims of the Syrian Civil War in the ROCOR… was that due to the fact that Potapov has ties to Radio Liberty, and that the US government opposes Russia’s role in that conflict? Perspirin’ minds wanna know… follow the money… it’ll lead you to the truth (sometimes, it’s unpleasant, but it’s still the truth)…


Friday, 20 July 2012

Volunteers on Centre Stage

Volunteers helping to fight the 2010 forest fires in Russia


A friend of mine, a young Orthodox priest, put up a status update on his Facebook page, “Leaving for Krymsk by car. Am not taking anyone along. Need to fill the car to the limit with aid for the homeless”. The town of Krymsk in Krasnodar Krai suffered a devastating flood, and my friend took a few days off to go there and help the people who lost their loved ones, their houses, and are at the mercy of the not-very-competent local authorities, who seem to be glossing over some of the discussions raised by the disaster. This friend of mine is by no means alone. Another, a successful TV journalist, told me over dinner a few days ago how he went to load humanitarian aid on trucks in his free time. The tragedy of Krymsk saw thousands of people suddenly uproot themselves and head down south to help on the spot, or organise the collection of aid and money in their home cities, mostly, Moscow and St Petersburg. Most of these volunteers are successful, young, and frequently with young families. Quite a few of them (but by no means all) are actively practising Christians. Only a few years ago, affluent urbanites were fervent adherents of the consumption gospel according to Gucci and Apple. They haven’t lost their taste in things, but they don’t seem to consider raising their living standards ever higher as the only interesting thing in life. Moreover, this has started to change life across Russia and influence Russian politics.

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Proliferation of citizen initiatives dates back to the now-legendary days of pre-crisis Russia, when Vladimir Putin ruled supreme and there seemed no end to the oil boom. At that time, volunteer activity in Russia barely registered on sociologists’ screens. At that time, according to the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, no more than 1 to 2 per cent of the population engaged in any charitable or volunteer activity. The first time the new reality revealed itself was in 2010, during the devastating forest fires in central Russia, when big-city dwellers took the initiative in their own hands and drove out hundreds of miles to help fight fires and relocate those whose houses burned down. This looked particularly poignant at the time when authorities came under criticism from the independent media and regular citizens for failing to react swiftly enough to the fires. This year, the 2010 story repeated itself, albeit against the backdrop of much more tragic and grandiose circumstances. The scale of volunteer activity is much broader and its efficiency has visibly increased. Websites, Twitter feeds, and Facebook communities reacted to the situation; volunteers coordinate the collection of aid and the departure of car convoys to Krymsk and other towns that suffered from the floods.

In most other countries, the authorities would have been glad to see such a high level of citizens’ activity, but not in Russia, though. Attempts to put the volunteer movement under state control are rife and started in the wake of the Krymsk disaster. Firstly, volunteers frequently act faster and more efficiently than the authorities do, thus inviting unwanted comparisons between the power of the civil society and the often shambolic performance of the local and (sometimes) federal agencies. Secondly, volunteers, most of them wired up, educated, urban professionals put uncensored reports of what they saw and heard on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal and other social networks. This again works against the state authorities’ attempts to cover up unwanted truths. In the particular case of Krymsk, it’s the number of casualties that they dispute most, as well as the regional government’s claim that it did everything in its power to warn people about the impending flood. Whilst the official death count hovers at around 170 dead, there are many reports from the area that challenge this number and claim that the real figure is significantly higher. Thirdly, and finally, to adopt a hands-on attitude as a citizen in today’s Russia means, in effect, becoming a political activist. The authorities expect Russians to be passive observers and subservient followers of whatever they order. Anyone breaking out of this frame and engaging in volunteerism breaks this mould. As more and more people become engaged in civic activism, Russian society and, eventually, Russian politics, will gradually transform in a manner which few could predict only a few years ago.

18 July 2012

Konstantin von Eggert



Thursday, 19 July 2012

Muslim Converts to Christianity After Deadly Flood


An Orthodox priest told RIA-Novosti that the deadly flash-flood that killed 152 in southern Russia this month prompted a local Muslim to convert to Christianity. Archpriest Sergei Karpets said that the Krasnodar Krai resident was visiting the city of Krymsk, which bore the brunt of the disaster when the flood hit on 7 July. Late on Tuesday, Karpets said that the man, whose name he didn’t reveal, wasn’t in the disaster zone, but the “Christian unity” of the people involved in the cleanup impressed him. Karpets said that the Muslim requested baptism, but he’ll have to wait until the cleanup is over, as the priests will first have to educate him in the basics of the faith he’s seeking to accept. He gave no timeframe for the baptism. Apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic Sharia law.

18 July 2012



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

10 July 2012. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Flooding in the Kuban (Update 9 July 2012)


Severe flooding hit Krasnodar Krai, killing 171 people. Especially hard hit by the rampant elements were GelendzhikNovorossiysk, and Krymsky Raion, and the government imposed a state of emergency in the flooded regions. Preliminary reports state that the flood affected nearly 35,000 people . Initial data from investigators showed that the authorities didn’t properly alert the public about the impending threat. Krasnodar Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachyov ordered the dismissal of Mayor Vladimir Ulanovsky of Krymsk and the head of Krymsky Raion, Vasili Krutko, stating that they didn’t measure up in their reactions to the serious emergency.

9 July 2012



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