Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


00 serbia. floods. 20.05.14


Over the weekend, St Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in New York NY collected 50,000 USD (1.725 million Roubles. 54,000 AUD. 54,400 CAD. 36,500 Euros. 29,700 UK Pounds) for flood victims in Serbia and Bosnia. The cathedral immediately sent the funds to the SPC, which will distribute them to those areas across Serbia and Bosnia most in need of such assistance. The campaign continues, and all those interested in participating can do so using checks, credit cards, and PayPal by clicking the “donate” button on the church’s website (click here to do so). Those using credit cards and PayPal should type in “Flood Aid” in the “special instructions” section of their accounts.


If you were thinking of helping, it’d be better to do it via St Sava Cathedral, as the funds go directly to the SPC. Russian Orthodox people would do best by sending money directly to SPC sources, as that wouldn’t enrich a middleman. Serbs and Russians are fraternal Orthodox Slavic nations. Send ’em a fin or two… or three or four… they need a hand!


20 May 2014



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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Japan Remembers 2011 Tsunami Victims

00 Japan. tsunami. statue in Miyagi of Jizo Bosatsu. 10.03.13

A statue in Miyagi Prefecture (Tōhoku Region. Honshu) JAPAN of Jizō Bosatsu, one of Buddha‘s disciples, who guides dead children to heaven. People leave offerings here nearly every day.


Two years ago, a devastating earthquake and tsunami laid waste to the northeast coast of Japan, causing an accident at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Memorial events commemorating victims of the disaster will be held throughout the country. Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and his Cabinet members will attend the main ceremony in Tokyo. At 14.46 local time (09.46 MSK), there’ll be a moment of silence. That was the precise time of the first tremors of the quake. Recovery efforts continue in Japan, with officials estimating they might take anywhere from three to 15 years. Amongst the main problems are the slow rate of the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and the depopulation of the affected areas.

Almost two years after a destructive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on 11 March 2011, devastating the northeastern portion of the country, 300,000 Japanese remain in evacuation housing. Many of them have to live in spartan conditions. Some 80,000 former residents of the towns of Okuma and Futaba in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, evacuated because of quake damage at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, still don’t know when they’ll be able to return to their homes, due to radioactive contamination. The effort to repair the aftermath of the natural disaster in different parts of the country may take anything between 3 and 15 years. The tragedy of 11 March 2011 killed 15,881 people and 2,668 more are still missing.

Japan will need another five to ten years to rebuild and recover from the consequences of the 2011 earthquake. This follows from a poll conducted by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun of 42 Mayors of the cities affected. The Mayors pointed up that some of the major problems were a large population outflow and the disposal of the debris from the quake and tsunami. The M 9 quake and the ensuing tsunami occurred off the northeastern coast of Honshu on 11 March 2011. The elements claimed almost 19,000 lives. The earthquake and tsunami destroyed entire cities and damaged the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in widespread radioactive contamination.

11 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

President Obama Visited Damaged Malankara Orthodox Church on Staten Island: “He Spoke to Us as If He Knew Us for a Long Time”

This is the damage to the present building of the parish… there’s a link below for the parish… click on it, and there are directions on how you can contribute to them. Send ’em a fin or two… repairs ain’t cheap and money doesn’t grow on trees.


When US President Barack Obama visited Staten Island on 15 November, the New York City borough devastated by Hurricane Sandy, he met with members of St George Malankara Orthodox Church, which suffered moderate damage. Sunny Konniyoor, a member of the church, told India Abroad, “We didn’t expect to meet the President. We stood near the church, hoping to see the President going that way. Instead of driving through, Obama walked in the New Dorp Beach neighbourhood, inspecting damage and interacting with residents. Only those who live in the area can remain there. Konniyoor said, “Since we’re members of the church, the Secret Service allowed us to stand near the church”.

When the President saw the group, which included Vicar Fr Alex Joy, Dr Skaria Oommen, Konniyoor, and his son Martin, he walked towards them. Martin, an accountant, congratulated Obama on his election victory. The president inquired about his work. The team described to the President the extent of damage to the church, which was the first Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church building in North America. The church didn’t have flood insurance. They didn’t expect much help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Konniyoor, an Obama supporter, said, “He spoke to us as if he knew us for a long time”.

The President suggested they take a photograph. A state lawmaker took a camera from Martin and clicked a photograph. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and several top officials accompanied Obama. After walking down a block that had been all-but-demolished in the storm, Obama said, “We’re reminded that we’re bound together and have to look out for each other. We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside. We’re going to have to make sure everybody’s focused on doing the job, as opposed to worrying about who’s getting the credit, or, who’s getting the contracts, and all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process”. Of 43 deaths attributed to the storm in New York City, 23 were on Staten Island.

29 November 2012 (IST)

Rediff News


Editor’s Note:

You hear much bloody noise from Paffhausen, Dahulich, Reardon, Freddie M-G, Dreher, and Mattingly about how the Church is allied to “conservative” rightwing politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. The majority of real ethnic Orthodox (and converts in real parishes, as opposed to konvertsy conventicles) voted for the President. Don’t forget, ethnic Orthodox votes put the President over the top in the Valley. Real Orthodox came home… as for the loudmouthed konvertsy, they lie… there’s no kinder way of expressing it. St Aleksei Toth blessed the Wobblies… not the greedy bosses. HH blessed Hugo Chávez Frías… not the warmongering Republican Party.

Get with the programme…


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



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