Voices from Russia

Sunday, 13 January 2013

13 January 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Vigilantes Against Smoking

00 Sergei Yolkin. Vigilantes Against Smoking. 2013

Vigilantes Against Smoking

Sergei Yolkin



In Russian, Народное ополчение (Narodnoe Opolcheniye: People’s Militia or Muster) brings up visions of Minin and Pozharsky during the Smuta, of the First Patriotic War against Napoleon, and the desperate defence of Moscow, Leningrad, and Sevastopol in the VOV. This caricature also has overtones of the Sov era Добровольная Народная Дружина/ДНД (Dobrovolnaya Narodnaya Druzhina/DND: Volunteer People’s Posse) and of Soviet anti-drunkenness posters. To use the word ополчение as he did, Yolkin’s taking a sly dig at the current anti-smoking campaign. He’s hinting that it’s overblown and more than a little self-serving. Again, a Russian would be au fait about many of these things, and would grasp Yolkin’s point immediately, but a Westerner needs a heads-up on it all to see the thrust of the jab.

I chose “vigilante” as the rendering of ополчение because “militia” would be too formal… and the picture makes it clear that Yolkin finds the whole thing too ludicrous for words. It’d also give it a military colouring that Yolkin’s not trying to convey.



On Friday, the newspaper Izvestiya reported that RF Gosduma deputies proposed a ban on smoking rooms in buildings, smoking onscreen in TV and movies, and for the new anti-smoking law to enter into effect immediately, not in phases, on 1 January 2014.

11 January 2013

Sergei Yolkin





Thursday, 16 August 2012

16 August 2012. A Point to Ponder…


The image is a fragment of Vasili Nesterenko’s The Oath of Prince Pozharsky (2008). All of us who know our Russian history know his significance for our people, our country, and our faith. If Prince Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin had failed, much of Russia would’ve groaned under the Polish boot, been subjected to the godless Unia, and forced to kiss the bum of the Pope of Rome. Our people, our country, and our faith triumphed… at no small cost. Lest we forget…


Sunday, 13 May 2012

13 May 2012. A Point to Ponder…

Fr Ioann Krestiankin (1910-2006) with President Vladimir Putin (1952- ) in 2000… the konvertsy Republicans don’t show you this picture, do they? Fr Ioann is one of the major dramatis personæ in Fr Tikhon Shevkunov‘s Несвятые святые и другие рассказы (Unholy Saints and Other Tales).


Fr Ioann Krestiankin said that, nowadays, fervent Christians work out their salvation in the world, and feeble ones do so in monasteries. When you hear confessions and mingle with believers, you see just what kind of remarkable strugglers (подвижники) there are amongst ordinary people; we, who fancy ourselves monastics, need to learn from them.

In connection with this, I recall an incident from the mid-80s. I was strolling about the grounds at the Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery with Fr Ioann. Suddenly, an anxious young man, “pale with a piercing gaze” {a quote from the Symbolist poet Valery Bryusov: editor} ran up to Batiushka and started to whine loudly, “Batiushka, Moscow’s such a dreadful town! It’s a new Babylon full of godless people! It’s just frightful!” All of a sudden, Fr Ioann placed his hand tightly over the young man’s mouth, and he spoke sternly to him, “Why are you talking like that? Every day, the clergy serve 40 Divine Liturgies in as many churches in Moscow! Remarkable strugglers (подвижники) live there, unnoticed in the urban sprawl, hidden on the eighth or twelfth floor of faceless apartment blocks! There are true saints there, of a sort that you couldn’t even conceive of”.

Back then, his words surprised me because I thought that all the strugglers (подвижники) lived in remote monasteries somewhere on Solovki or in the Egyptian desert. Today, truth be told, I see incredible strugglers (подвижников) who’re just simple believers. Their humility teaches and saves me; they show how it’s possible for contemporary people to embrace a heroic (подвижнически) and Christian life.

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov

Superior of the Sretensky Monastery

Moscow (Federal City of Moscow) RF



The Battle of Prince Pozharsky with Hetman Chodkiewicz Near Moscow



Niva magazine


Pozharsky was a “struggler” (подвижник); his action was a “подвиг”… these words are NOT exclusively religious.



“Подвижник” is NOT “ascetic struggler”… it merely means “a struggler”, “one who does great deeds”, “an extraordinary hero”. For instance, “подвиг” simply is the strongest-possible Russian word for “heroic act”… its full panoply of meaning is lost in English translation (there’s simply no equivalent for the strength and depth of emphasis in this word). I’ve seen these two words used in connection with the VOV and the First Great Patriotic War of 1812 (as in, “The Podvig of General Raevsky”)… they’re not exclusively-religious words. Indeed, for a Russian, the full import is so much more meaningful. Beware translations done by konvertsy… they often lack the grounding and background necessary to discern a correct word-choice to bring across the full impact of this-or-that Russian idiom. Not only that, what’s worse, they’re either “hyper-correct” (such as their goofy ungrounded practise of putting a cross in front of a bishop’s name or putting it in all caps) or they give a “merely-religious” meaning to words, concepts, and phrases that are broader in scope.

One last thing… this year is the 200th anniversary of the First Great Patriotic War of 1812… and the 400th anniversary of the Liberation of Moscow from the Poles by Minin and Pozharsky in 1612. These were two “podvigs”, and Minin and Pozharsky were two “podvizhniki”. Beware all konvertsy renderings… there be cow pats in that field… do mind your step…


Friday, 4 December 2009

Please Listen to This… and Weep!

The Call to Arms of Kuzma Minin in Novgorod

Konstantin Makovsky



A friend of mine commented on my site recently. I’m going to post his comment below, but click here to listen to the following drivel.

I listened recently to a presentation by Sister Vassa Larina about Schmemann and Monasticism. Too long to listen to all, I skipped to the end. The conclusions were presented by the “Archimandrite” Bob the Tough. He gave a tough talk, “provocative”. He praised the paper for the use of the expression “self-critical Orthodoxy” that “should be chiseled in stone and put up at the entrance of every Orthodox institution!” Furthermore, “the non-critical canonisation in contemporary Orthodoxy of Athonite monasticism and what it says and does is an enormous block to the kind of self-critical Orthodoxy that Orthodoxy in today’s world needs just like everybody else does. I think it’s time that somebody says that out loud”. His utterances were received with guffaws and applause by the audience (at SVS).

Nasha sestra seconded him by relating her experience at a meeting between Bart and the monks from Athos, wondering that the monks, instead of taking advantage of their “luxury of sitting over there blocking out women and stuff” (sic!) for praying day and night for the Patriarch “who lives in the real world”, made a “scene” accusing “the other part” of betraying Orthodoxy. “That was a condemnation from the monastic side that was out of place and very presumptuous”, concluded the monastic academic sustained by an explosion of guffaws. Almost needless to say that she can’t remember the name of that abbot from Athos! He didn’t present an academic paper!

My reply was:

Thank you for this. If it’s true, and I’m not accusing you of making this up, but can you “source” this for me? If it has a URL, please send it so that I can post it here with an appropriate rocket. If this is so, Vassa Larina’s gone beyond the acceptable, and she must be taken to task. Speaking at that pesthole of heresy, SVS! St John Maksimovich is in heaven weeping. Metropolitan Hilarion… why do you allow this? Did you know that it occurred? It’s scandalous in the extreme! If Vassa Larina’s attacking Athos she needs her ears pinned back and sent to the woodshed for a good paddling. Absolutely disgusting! Robert Taft is a stinking Jesuit Uniate with no standing in the Church. Who shall be our Kuzma Minin? It’s 1612, all over again.


My friend “sourced” this, and it’s disturbing on many levels. Firstly, SVS invited a stinking Uniate imposter to speak on an Orthodox campus. That’s beyond the pale… but then again, they just inked an agreement with an institution of the Episcopal Church, didn’t they? No Uniate has any right to speak on the Church, for they’re outside of the Body of Christ. They’re nothing but papists of the worst sort and SVS tells the world that we and they are part of a notional “Eastern Church“. His criticisms of Athos are otiose and just plain wrong. Athos is the beating heart of Orthodoxy. Full stop. V V Putin went to the Great Lavra and the monastic fathers all came out and gave him a rousing welcome! Bully for them. Secondly, Vassa Larina has no call to be attacking the Church in agreement with a Uniate snake. Metropolitan Hilarion, discipline this academic poseur and do it immediately! She’s agreeing with a Uniate in attacking the Holy Mountain… what cheek! What impudence! I’d look closely at that Andrei Psaryov too. I’ll say this… the late Vladyki Laurus wouldn’t have put up with such vile smut! Neither should you. Thirdly, it proves that Ancient Faith Radio isn’t a good thing for grounded Orthodox Christians to be listening to. After all, Bradley Nassif, Frederica Matthewes-Green, and Joseph Honeycutt are nothing but Anglicans in Orthodox drag. Attacking Athos… what absolute and vile rubbish. God have mercy on the lot of ’em, they deserve to dance at the end of a rope (but they won’t… and don’t call the cops, I’m NOT making a threat, I’m just expressing righteous anger at pigs who are attacking the heart of the Church). “Self-critical Orthodoxy”… what immature and juvenile rot! Give me the monks manning the guns at the Troitsky Lavra any road! Give me Kuzma Minin holding an icon in one hand and a battle-axe in the other, standing on the stump rousing the people against the papist aggressors. Let’s emulate the brave Varengoi, who died rather than surrender to the papist snakes. This is so sickening and reprehensible. God do HELP us!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 4 December 2009

Albany NY

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