Voices from Russia

Friday, 18 April 2014

18 April 2014. A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words: A Good Sign… Greek Bishop and Turkish Imam in Holy Friday Procession in Famagusta (Cyprus)

00 Greek Orthodox bishop and Islamic cleric. Holy Friday. 18.04.14


Here’s a sign of GOOD NEWS. A Greek bishop and a Turkish imam walk together on Holy Friday in Famagusta in Cyprus. Mind you, the imam didn’t take part in the services, and there’s no set rubric for processing with the plashchanitsa (there are customs, but that isn’t the same, they differ from place to place, and rightfully so). This is isn’t the same as “sharing prayer”.

By the way, I didn’t post anything until after 15.00 EDT because this is the most solemn day of the Christian Year. In fact, I’m not going to post any “Church politics” today, as it’d be out of place. I AM posting on a VERY important story tomorrow. Stay tuned, kids.


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Saturday, 19 October 2013

19 October 2013. VOR Infographic. Wahhabi Training in Europe/Global Jihad: Religion, Politics, or Business?

00 VOR Infographic. Wahhabi Training in Europe. 19.10.13


Jihad has crept into the heart of Europe. Training camps of Wahhabism have long successfully existed in European countries, as well as all over the world. Lately, an increasing number of facts became known about the involvement of fighters with European passports in large terrorist attacks (specifically, the train explosions in Madrid in 2004), about their participation in the revolutions of the Arab Spring, as well as the civil war in Syria. Either, European governments don’t pay much attention to it, or intentionally hush it up. An investigation carried out by VOR confirmed that Jihad is already knocking on the doors of European capitals. Al-Qaeda, are you there? A 20-year old French woman tried to make contact with terrorists from the menacing organisation via the internet. It appears to be nothing serious… many searches are made via the global network on a daily basis. However, in this case, French police demonstrated their professionalism… they arrested the young woman in order to clarify why she’d tried to establish contact with al-Qaeda.

We very much need preventative work amongst young people. However, some facts revealed that Islamists are increasingly more active in France. Whilst they investigate individual cases, European governments prefer to ignore the global problem… after each attack by terrorists they claim it’s just an isolated occurrence. Alain Chouet, an expert at the European Security Intelligence and Strategy Centre, supported this point of view, saying, “We’re talking about a criminal case that hit the news. Young people frequently search information about al-Qaeda on the Internet. At the same time, one mustn’t exaggerate the scope of this phenomenon… compared to the 5-million-member Muslim community in France, such cases aren’t numerous. Nevertheless, we’ve taken legal and administrative measures that allow us to act before real problems arise. We have a network of internal political investigators with a full understanding on what goes on in ‘at-risk communities’. The combination of legal capabilities and internal investigation allows us to watch closely those who could pose a threat in this area. It doesn’t mean that we’re talking about terrorists. Most likely, we’re talking about those who could be tempted to join the jihadists”.

Perhaps, in this case, the principle “we can’t see the forest for the trees” may be true. In any case, neighbouring Belgium views the French situation quite differently. Anne-Marie Lizin, honorary president of the Belgian Senate, said in an interview with VOR, “Whether in France or in Belgium, we observe the fact that the recruitment of young people, as well as middle-aged people, for operations in the name of jihad goes on. People fight for compensation… some countries pay for such operations. Extremist Sunnis conduct the recruitment. We believe that the countries that engage in such operations should immediately stop such actions. There’s no doubt that Saudi Arabia is involved in such activity. In this country, the dominant opinion is that they could continue to finance the recruiting even without American support, but I think that’s not true”.

Jean-Michel Vernochet, a French journalist, gave even more shocking detail in his new book (September 2013) Les «Égarés»: Le Wahhabisme est-il un contre Islam? (The “Strayed”: Is Wahhabism Against Islam?). He found out that over 400 Wahhabi fighters were trained in France lately, who went to fight for the Syrian opposition. Eventually, they’ll return home, but they’re unlikely to choose a humdrum ordinary life. Therefore, according to Vernochet, Jihad is already at Europe’s doorstep, but the authorities continue to pretend that nothing’s going on. In his view, moreover, in France, we aren’t talking about separate terrorist attacks. According to his information, Qatar, which like Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi country, is gradually buying up France. Already, this tiny emirate, with the highest per capita income in the world, owns FC Paris Saint-Germain, has a stake in the financial giant Vinci, as well as a share in Total SA. Vernochet’s forecast resembles a scene from an anti-utopian dystopian novel… French people shouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years they’re driven out of their homes for Muslim prayers at gun-point, their vineyards cut down, and their wives and daughters forced to wear yashmaks. It’d be a new Wahhabi France.

The Balkans are another hot spot. According to some observers, the peninsula could become a real launching platform for the invasion of radical Islam into Europe. Montenegro caught the eye of the experts in the last few months. There’s been news about the activity of radical Islamists repeatedly coming from that quiet resort republic. A while ago, information was published about the arrest of a Serbian family, which adopted the Wahhabi ideology and customs. During the search, the police found guns and ammunition that belonged to the head of the family and his son-in-law. As it turned out, the men regularly “went to war in Syria”, supporting other Islamists in their fight against Bashar al-Assad. About the same time in northern Montenegro, not far from the border with Kosovo, a traditional Wahhabi meeting took place., taking place under the auspices of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. According to the latest data, a minimum of 200 followers of radical Islam now reside in northeastern Montenegro, which is primarily Muslim and the poorest spot in the country. It appears to be not too many. However, the rise of such moods worried the National Security Agency; it declared that the country is in direct danger.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, often, Wahhabi fighters receive training in school gyms. All this takes place in spite of the fact that we’ve long known that such training camps and entire armed units acting under al-Qaeda guidance exist there. It’s a proven fact that fighters trained in Bosnia-Herzegovina were involved in the 2004 train explosions in Madrid. From that time, the situation appears not to have changed much… government troops frequently find Bosnian passports on the bodies of opposition rebels in Syria. The latest such case is from 27 September 2013. Macedonia is also familiar with radical Islamism. According to Ivan Babanovsky, a Macedonian expert in security issues, al-Qaeda training camps were located in the part of the country controlled by terrorists from the National Liberation Army. These units attacked Macedonia from Kosovo in 2001. By the way, even today in Kosovo, a large camp near Kačanik is run by veterans of the Liberation Army, they train volunteers to go to the war in Syria.

If we gather all these facts together, the position of the European capitals and Washington becomes clear. So-called “Independent Kosovo” is a project of the USA and its allies; it’s unlikely that anything goes on there without the knowledge of its patrons. Dr Hans Krech, an expert from Germany, pointed up in a VOR interview, “Unfortunately, Kosovo is only one place in the wide landscape of Western-financed terrorist training camps. There’s a very interesting report on this subject prepared by the respected American magazine Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy Journal, which came out a couple of months ago. If one is to believe that report, American intelligence prepared 3,000 fighters in Jordan for deployment to Damascus. They’ve tried to do that once already, but they got stuck in fights with other groups of rebels, which didn’t allow them to move forward. Perhaps, it part of the American operation for the employment of chemical weapons. I’ve read in Arab magazines that French intelligence agencies are also involved in the training of rebel units”.

The Eastern allies of the NATO European partners don’t lag behind in the preparation of fighters. Stanislav Tarasov, a Middle East expert and a political analyst, said in a VOR interview, “The latest events, specifically, the conflict in Syria, due to its geography involves the interests of those countries even more. Turkey didn’t admit the presence of terrorist groups on its territory. However, as events evolved, they started to infiltrate the border regions, specifically Hatay Province. Then, the American, European, and, finally, Turkish press acknowledged that there were camps in the border regions, to train rebels or as transit camps from which they were transported from various countries, specifically from Lebanon and Turkey. Now, that the Russian-American agreement on Syrian chemical weapons is in effect, it forced Ankara to admit their presence, a “boomerang effect”. Just a few days ago, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler admitted that Turkey conducted over a hundred operations, capturing more than 300 brigands, a hundred of whom were al-Qaeda.

Activists from Human Rights Watch also gathered facts confirming Ankara’s involvement in the preparation of fighters. It called on the Turkish government to take tougher measures, Lama Fakikh, an expert on Syria and Lebanon, admitted to VOR, “We managed to find out about a group of people involved in those crimes, who killed 190 civilians and took over 200 as prisoners. It consisted of foreign fighters, who, in our opinion, got into Syria via Turkey. We called upon the Turkish government to strengthen the guard at their border in order to limit the access of those fighters into Syria. We’ve also found out that some who financed those operations did so from the Persian Gulf countries. We’re calling upon those countries to make sure that their residents don’t send money to terrorist groups in Syria”.

It’s interesting, but how is the initiator of all this mess going to continue to hush things up, in such a dangerous situation? Thanks to generous financing, terrorist groups centred on al-Qaeda and its regional branches literally got a second wind. Mohammed Yasin al-Jilasi, a political analyst from Tunisia, said, “Syria became a real testing ground, to check out recruits in combat conditions. From the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, organised recruiting of fighters started in a few countries. The so-called centres are numerous in Libya and Tunisia, from which fighters are sent to Syria via Turkey and Jordan. There are thousand of fighters from Tunisia. According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, about 2,000 have already been killed in Syria. Why do people, especially young people, go there? The motives differ. Usually, they’re promised money, and if they aren’t interested in money, they’re promised power. If that isn’t of interest either, they’re offered instant entry into Heaven and supper with the Prophet. The majority of the fighters are members of such terrorist organisations as Ansar al-Sharia and al-Tayar al-Salafi. Well-equipped bases are set up in Syria, where rebels go through a complete course of training. Al-Qaeda members who come from Algeria teach them”.

The slogans that the Wahhabi use in their war are traditional… “Fight the Infidel” and “Create the Global Caliphate”. It’s understandable… a movement has to at least create an illusion that it fights for some ideals. Sergei Goncharov, president of the International Association of the Veterans of the Alfa Anti-Terrorist Unit believes, “In reality, the majority of today’s ‘Islamist fighters’ are ordinary hired guns. Who then fights in Syria? A huge number of hired guns that got there from all over the world. Really, they’re hired fighters who primarily fight for compensation. If somebody tries to convince me that people adopted Islam to go to Syria to fight for ‘some pure faith’ against al-Assad because he’s a bad guy, I can hardly believe that. Let me tell you, these hired fighters fight only for their own wellbeing”. There’s much proof of this point of view. In the Balkans, it’s well-known that the Wahhabi recruit their supporters primarily in the poorest provinces. They give them a “salary” of sorts… specifically, they receive pay for observing Wahhabi traditions. They’re paid 100 Euros per month for wearing a traditional closely-trimmed beard.

It appears that the main financiers of jihad refuse to learn from their own mistakes or mistakes of the others. The first Islamist group was formed with the support of the USA back in the times of the war in Afghanistan in 1979-89. A few dozens of thousands of Arabs, as well as Pakistanis, fought against the Soviet Army with active support from the Western and Middle Eastern intel agencies. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the local authorities started to send home from Afghanistan and Pakistan the so-called “Afghanis”. Mujahidin who gained combat experience returned home and tried to change the normal order of life. It led to a sharp rise in violence… terrorist attacks took place in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco. Then, 9/11 in September 2001 in the USA followed, then, the explosions in Madrid, London, as well as the recent terrorist attack in Boston. Nevertheless, the West is still convinced that the “new Mujahidin” are puppets in its skilled hands. The West doesn’t notice that the strings have long been torn. The former servants don’t recognise their owner, and after coming back from Syria, they’ll try to re-shape their “motherland” in accordance with their own notions.

15 October 2013

Igor Siletsky

Voice of Russia World Service



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Eid al-Adha Celebrations: Putin Lauds Tighter Ties Between State and Muslims in Holiday Speech

00 Eid-al-Adha celebrations in Moscow. 15.10.13


President Vladimir Putin greeted Russian Muslims at the start of Eid al-Adha (a religious holiday better known in Russia as Kurban Bayram). In his Tuesday address, Putin said, “This holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca, is an integral part of a rich spiritual legacy that belongs to our multinational community. It has a profound moral sense and conveys joy; it reinforces people’s faith and spirituality. Islam is based on eternal values of compassion and justice, on mercy and love for your neighbour”. Putin said that he was glad to see Russian Muslims coming up with more initiatives in the cultural and educational spheres. He emphasised that the state paid much attention to beefing up ties with Russian Muslims by facilitating dialogue between them and other confessions.

15 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

You can stand with Vladimir Vladimirovich or you can stand with the usual cast of suspects who ape sectarian hatred of Muslims. I stand with VVP… proudly, without pretence, and without equivocation. God requires this of us… we must oppose the haters… we shouldn’t rest or relax our vigiliance until we drive them out or shut them up. That’s what REAL Christians do…


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Georgia: What’s the Definition of Tolerance?

00 Mosque in Imiri GEORGIA. 08.09.13


A revival of the Orthodox faith in Georgia appears to be coinciding with an uptick in discrimination against the country’s Muslim population. For centuries, Georgians defined their existence in “us vs them” terms, as a struggle to survive as a tiny Orthodox Christian nation in a predominantly-Muslim neighbourhood. In part, this concept came, in part, from the Ottoman and Persian Empires’ past control of parts of Georgia. However, today, this definition of national identity seems to leave little room for Georgia’s estimated 433,784 Muslim citizens, roughly 9.9 percent of its overall population. Sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili, the chairman of the Tbilisi State University Sociology Department, said, “The dominant attitude in Georgian society is that being Georgian means being Orthodox. The meaning of being Orthodox isn’t the pure religious meaning; it’s very close to a national identity as well. Many don’t consider non-Orthodox Georgians proper Georgians; they’re Georgians who’re kind of deviants. If an individual wishes to be perceived as a ‘real Georgian’, they must be baptised in the Georgian [Orthodox] way”.

Efforts to convert local Muslim populations are now especially strong in Adjara, an autonomous region of western Georgia that was part of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years. The Georgian Orthodox Church spent millions in state funds building churches and seminaries in villages there; local priests actively encourage their congregations to convert Muslim neighbours to Orthodoxy. However, for most Muslim Georgians, the expectation that they have to convert to be truly Georgian is unacceptable. Georgi Sanikidze, director of the G. Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, noted that although for generations their faith was dormant, today, Muslims are also experiencing a religious revival. He said that where local Muslims tried to build mosques or publicly express their faith, often, tension flared with local Georgian Orthodox believers.

This May and June, angry crowds in the eastern village of Samtatskaro succeeded in shutting down Friday services at the local mosque. The services resumed only after intervention by police and officials. Last October and November, similar outbursts occurred in the western village of Nigvziani in response to rumours about alleged plans to build a local mosque. The hubbub quieted after a senior cleric denied the rumours, and police cautioned locals against harassing Muslim villagers. However, last month, an event raised questions about what, if anything, the government learned from these episodes. On 26 August, troops barred the entrance to the southern village of Chela after the Revenue Service (RS) opted to remove the local mosque’s minaret for allegedly unpaid import duties. The action sparked sharp protests nationwide. RS officials issued a statement that the agency tried to contact the minaret’s owner five days before closing the village and removing the minaret for “analysis”. Currently, the minaret is sitting in “storage” at a nearby site under police guard. The incident aggravated fears about discrimination against Muslims. In comparison, the Georgian Orthodox Church isn’t required to pay taxes and duties on goods. RS representatives didn’t respond to requests from EurasiaNet for additional information about its minaret investigation.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili sought to ease concerns that Georgian ethnic and religious minorities face discrimination. In a 2 September speech to the diplomatic corps, Ivanishvili reassured Georgian Muslims that Georgia is a tolerant country, saying, “Religious tolerance … isn’t only our tradition, but it’s also one of the fundamental principles of the Georgian constitution”. He claimed that what happened in Chela had “nothing to do with religious intolerance”, without elaborating. Some political analysts in Tbilisi interpreted his comments as a reference to a possible “dirty tricks” campaign against the governing Georgian Dream coalition during the run-up to October’s presidential election. However, sociologist Kachkachishvili cautioned that the concept of tolerance as defined by many ordinary Georgians strongly differs from the common understanding in the West. In Georgia, it’s more of a willingness to forgive those who accept Georgian Orthodoxy. He added, “This is a kind of quasi-tolerance, I’d say”. Ivanishvili pledged that “an appropriate response” would occur for any violations of the law in taking down the minaret or for “excessive force” against villagers protesting its removal. Then again, how far that response would go could be open to debate. Whilst emphasising that the minaret’s forcible removal was “unacceptable”, Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani… whose ministry oversees the General Prosecutor’s Office, the government agency responsible for investigating the minaret removal… termed the structure “illegal,” and asserted that Georgia would have to discuss whether or not the country should contain minarets.

In comments to EurasiaNet, Tariel Nakaidze, head of the Georgian Muslims’ Union, welcomed the investigation into the minaret’s “unprecedented” confiscation, but expressed caution. He claimed that the government hasn’t yet properly investigated other past abuses against Muslims. We couldn’t reach government officials to respond to the allegation. Nakaidze said, “This isn’t just about minarets and mosques. This is about our country. Our democracy will have a problem and we shouldn’t allow that to happen”.

6 September 2013

Molly Corso




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