Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Russia Stands Firm in Schneerson Library Dispute

00 Jewish book. 26.02.13


Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said that Russia has solid legal grounds to keep the Schneerson Library in its possession. The American-based Hasidic movement rejected President Putin’s proposal to place the collection of books and religious documents in the European Tolerance Centre in Moscow. The situation has only deteriorated since the dispute over the Schneerson Library first broke out in the late 1980s. The Agudas Chasidei Chabad, the umbrella organisation for the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, rejected Moscow’s compromise on offering free access to the books and manuscripts of the Schneerson collection. Actually, they’re already available at the Russian State Library. The Hasidic movement wants the entire collection in its ownership.

In January 2013, a US Federal Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should pay 50,000 USD (1.534 million Roubles. 38,300 Euros. 33,100 UK Pounds) per day in fines unless it returns the collection. In response, President Putin suggested placing the archive in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow. He also expressed his regret over the dispute reaching the point of confrontation, adding that the library doesn’t belong to a particular Jewish community, noting, “If we allow this national asset to go to anyone, we’d open a Pandora’s Box. If Russia started to comply with such lawsuits, claims would start streaming in”.

The Schneerson Library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts gathered by Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. The Bolsheviks nationalised part of the collection in 1918 and eventually became part of the Russian State Library collection. Schneersohn managed to take the other part of the collection out of the USSR during his emigration in the 1930s. Later, the Nazis seized about 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection, then, the Red Army captured them and handed them over to the Russian State Military Archive. Rav Schneersohn died in 1950; he left no instructions on the disposition of the library after his death.

In August 2010, the issue came to the forefront again when Judge Royce Lamberth in a US District Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should hand over the Schneerson archive to the American-based Hasidic movement. Two years later, the District Court issued a ruling assessing a fine against Russia for not turning over the library. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) rejected all claims made by Hasidic organisations, describing the decision of the American court “legally unfounded”. The MID also recommended that the Russian State Library to fine the Library of Congress for not returning seven books from the Schneerson collection loaned to Washington in 1994. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York cancelled plans to send 35 works by the early-20th century designer Paul Poiret to an exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin. Russia isn’t going to organise any exhibitions in the USA, either. There’s no progress in the talks over the Schneerson library, but a scandalous battle in courts is already under way.

26 February 2013

Lyubov Kuryanova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

As I’ve noted before, you can’t sue for ownership of property that you never owned in the first place. The library was nationalised; that’s the end of the story. Remember WHY the Hasids want the books… they want to restrict access to them and hog them for themselves. Why do I dislike Hasids? All too often, they live up to the stereotype of the insular, greedy, and grasping Jew… increasing the level of anti-Semitism in the world. That’s sad… innocents suffer for their nastiness. President Putin’s right in this one… the Schneerson Library is a precious resource for ALL of us… it’s not the plaything of a narrow-minded and intransigent little sect. It’s enough to make one hurl in disgust…

By the way, Judge Royce Lamberth is a fanatic appointed by Slobberin’ Ronnie… an old Cold Warrior living in the past, but feeling his oats in having an opportunity to kick “those godless commie Rooshians” (is he one of Potapov’s pals? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…).


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov: God, Not the State, Should Protect Believers’ Feelings


On Friday, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow and the Executive Secretary of the MP Patriarchal Council for Culture, said in an interview that Russia doesn’t need laws to protect the feelings of religious believers, but the state should deploy its power to defend the country against what he called acts of spiritual terrorism, saying, “We need clear succinct laws in order to defend both religious and secular verities from malicious abuse, which, in my view, is nothing less than spiritual terrorism. In my opinion, believers’ feelings need no protection other than from the Lord Himself”.

Last week, Russian lawmakers submitted draft legislation calling for prison sentences of up to five years for individuals convicted of “insulting citizens’ religious beliefs and feelings”. The bill came in the wake of the imprisonment of three members of Pussy Riot for performing a “punk prayer” criticising President Vladimir Putin in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in February. A court convicted Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina of aggravated hooliganism and sentenced them to two years in prison. The saga sparked international outrage, with foreign governments criticising the punishment as excessive, and music stars like Madonna and Paul McCartney publicly expressing their support for the three women.

Fr Tikhon, who spoke Friday after a presentation of the English-language version of his book Everyday Saints and Other Stories at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, conceded that the church might court similar provocations by taking a hard line against incidents like the Pussy Riot performance, observing, “Nevertheless, if these jokers are going around desecrating crosses and churches, dancing on altars, and defiling museums left and right, and everyone just shuts their mouths and thinks it’ll go away, that won’t work either”. Fr Tikhon suggested that Russia might consider implementing punishments similar to those in Israel, where anyone convicted of desecrating a holy place can face up to seven years in prison.

Fr Tikhon is widely rumoured to be Putin’s spiritual adviser, although he declined to comment when an audience member at Friday’s presentation asked about his relationship to “someone in the Kremlin”. He replied, “There’s no point in discussing rumours”. The release of Everyday Saints and Other Stories in the USA came amid celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the reconciliation of the MP and the ROCOR. The festivities include a 20-day, nine-city tour across the USA by the all-male Sretensky Monestary Choir, which performed two pieces at the presentation of Fr Tikhon’s book on Friday.

6 October 2012

Carl Schreck



Editor’s Note:

Shame on the English translator… a more accurate reading of the title is Unholy Holiness… they “castrated” the title, depriving it of its full power and meaning. Holiness is usually “unholy”… that is, it doesn’t please the pietistic bastards who fancy themselves religious. In short, I’d wonder where else they “softened” and “dumbed down” the text to please the terminally-religious. Remember, to be “holy” means loving the truth… and poseurs (such as the First Families, SVS, and konvertsy) hate the truth (“You can’t say that! They’re such GOOD people!”). That means that you won’t find holiness amongst those screaming the loudest about it. Holiness is where it is… not where it’s bruited about. In fact, some of the worst perverters of the Faith… such as Arius, Avvakum Petrov, Aleksandr Vvedensky, Alexander Schmemann, and Gleb Podmoshensky (Fathausen was a drooling disciple of the last-named heretic)… fooled many with their smarmy pietism and patina of superficial religiosity. Holiness is REAL… that means that you’ll only see it if you look at the world for what it truly is… and most of us aren’t prepared to do that.

I wonder if Potapov was around for this shindig… he probably was, but the SVR probably warned Fr Tikhon of the fact that Potapov’s a Langley asset, so, he’ll be polite and non-committal around him. After all, I (and many others) know of Victor’s loud opinions prior to the reconciliation… and who signed his pay-cheque. Will the real Victor Potapov please stand up (shades of To Tell the Truth)? Never turn your back on his ilk… it’s not healthy (do remember Potapov’s tirade against a relative carried by the ROCOR official website).


Friday, 5 October 2012

“Everyday Saints and Other Stories”, Russia’s Number One Bestselling Book, Released in English This October

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov (1958- ), superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, confessor to the Putin family


Everyday Saints and Other Stories, the English version of Russia’s number-one bestseller, had its American release on 1 October 2012. The book’s author, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, abbot of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, will participate in the American festivities surrounding the fifth anniversary of the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church, which includes an American tour of the Sretensky Choir (6-23 October 6-23). Archimandrite Tikhon will present the book and answer questions at the Library of Congress in the European Conference room of the Jefferson Building, at 11.00 EDT 5 October 2012. He’ll also be available for select interviews, upon request.

A national sales success reminiscent of the Harry Potter phenomenon, this amazing work portrays people the author knew personally who were like Dostoevsky‘s starets Zosima. It’s already won two Russian national awards, the prestigious “Book of the Year” award, and the Russian Internet Award. There were 30 times more votes for this book in the Internet Award competition than the next runner-up. As one baffled critic wrote, the phenomenal success of Fr Tikhon’s book is “causing a real shock to all the booksellers in Russia”. This book, written by a priest and modestly displayed in several Moscow bookstores, not only instantly exhausted its print-run of 60,000 copies, but also a second printing of 300,000 copies. Those copies left the shelves within one month. Less than a year has passed since the book’s release and the book has been reprinted six times… a total of 1,100,000 copies. The total number of electronic versions purchased is estimated at no fewer than three million copies. Moreover, the book is being translated into ten European languages and will soon be sold all over the world.

With recent attacks on the clergy by the media, it’s hard to imagine anywhere in Western Europe or the USA where a book written by a priest, about the church, would not only become a runaway national bestseller and leap off the shelves of the all the secular bookstores, but also cause traffic jams on Internet sites. What’s the secret of this book’s success? Firstly, there’s the author’s undisputed talent. The book is extremely engaging and reads like a good detective novel. Second, all the stories are brimming with an inimitable light, joy, and good-natured humour that we all seem to have forgotten still exists. It is a longed-for dose of positivity. Besides, all the stories are true. Reading about one miracle after another, the author’s co-religionists may understand the events described as quite normal, but others are left utterly amazed. They might even find them hard to believe if it weren’t for the fact that many of the people involved are still alive and well-known. Most everyone can recognise such late protagonists as Boris YeltsinSergei Bondarchuk (producer of the internationally acclaimed War and Peace), or World War II hero Marshal Zhukov. It’s a glimpse into the unfathomable Russian soul… some call it mysterious, others enigmatic, but no one will regret their effort to enter this uncanny, beautiful world.

Recommendations of the Book

The book, written by the monastery’s Abbot, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, is terrifically engaging thanks to its depth and evocative storytelling. An instant sensation on the Russian literary scene, Everyday Saints and Other Stories has already received several prestigious awards. For the first time in decades, a book written by an Orthodox priest, a monk, has sold over a million copies and become a hot topic of a nationwide intellectual debate. People read it on their commute and discuss it with their friends and families. The secret of Fr Tikhon’s literary success lies not only in his talent but also in his remarkable sincerity. The author cuts to the very heart of the problems of our human existence and inner life. Without becoming moralistic or didactic, he focuses the reader’s attention upon eternal, unshakable values.

Vladimir Medinsky

RF Minister of Culture

Fr Tikhon successfully fulfilled an extremely important task, combining the ability to formulate the problems of life with true faith using modern language, beginning a dialogue with modern man on his own territory, yet avoiding all banality and primitive cliché. The author refuses to fit faith into the framework of piety in order to make it more appetising, or even presenting it at the cost of diluting or changing it. He doesn’t stand on a pedestal or try to convince anyone; he only recounts his own experience, sharing it, but never playing upon his listener.

Antonio Mennini

Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain

Fr Tikhon’s style is eminently readable and accessible to the general reader, and the translation into English is excellent. It’s a great contribution to the literature on contemporary Orthodoxy; it should go far in increasing awareness of and knowledge about the Orthodox Church in the West.

Harold Leich

Russian Area Specialist

US Library of Congress

Click here to purchase the book from Pokrov Publications; they also have the Russian version, Несвятые Святые. Click here for sample stories and more information on the book’s official website.

5 October 2012

PR Newswire


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