Voices from Russia

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Festival of Slavic Culture Embraces New Format



Choir in rehearsal for this event… even though the pro-zapadnik Portal-Credo.ru reposted it, it didn’t originate with them… they’re not original enough to create such, truth be told


The Festival of Slavic Culture will occur on 24 May, featuring 200 events that will take place in 70 oblasts all over Russia. The Festival of Slavic Culture honours the brothers Ss Kirill and Mefody, the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet and Christian missionaries. The Church ranks them as равноапостольный (ravnoapostolny: Equal-to-the-Apostles). As before, Moscow will be the focus of the celebrations.

Vladimir Legoida, head of the MP Information Department, said, “This year, the Festival will follow an informal format; it’ll be an event on an unprecedented scale, featuring many events in one day. From year to year, we’ve been doing our best to see to it that the festival strikes a personal note with everyone who happens to attend. Our purpose is to ensure that Kirill and Mefody are household names amongst ordinary people”.

Scholars believe that in the time of Kirill and Mefody, the 9th century AD, Slavs had no difficulty understanding each other. Experts state that Slavic people believed that they spoke the same language, as they shared the same system of sounds. The two brothers developed this system into an alphabet, to translate Greek religious texts into Slavonic. The Cyrillic alphabet became a foundation for creating alphabets for other Slavic languages.

Street signs in Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, and Macedonian at the Moscow festival will remind visitors of this fact. Many of the festival’s events have the purpose of popularising the Russian language. Moscow professors will give public lectures on Russian, whilst famous performers will read excerpts from Russian classic literature near the statues of Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Nikolai Gogol, and Marina Tsvetaeva. Some 30 choirs, comprising at least 3,000 singers, will gather in Red Square for festival’s closing event… a gala concert entitled The Most Loved Songs. The choirs will perform church anthems, along with a large number of folk and pop songs, all to the accompaniment of a combined orchestra. Those willing to join the professionals will be able to follow the songs on large screens installed all over Moscow.

Sofia Apfelbaum of the Ministry of Culture (Minkultury), said, “Moscow has never seen such a large-scale cultural celebration before. We hope that this experiment will be successful. The songs are popular and known by many people. The gala’s repertoire was picked specifically for the purpose of bringing all people together so that the crowd in Red Square could sing along with the performers and so that everyone would know that Russians have a specific cultural standard”.

Fr Pavel Shcherbachyov of the MP Patriarchal Council for Culture, said, “A harmonious combination of the secular and religious adds a particular flavour to the festival. Even though spirituality in the religious sense of the word played no role in Russian society for a long time, these songs’ lyrics reflect the traditions of previous centuries. If we analysed the words of these songs, we’d discover that they reflect the traditions of the past, when there was an alloy of culture and religion”.

The song marathon in Moscow will end with the performance of Glory, Glory, Mother Russia! by Mikhail Glinka (the closing chorus of the opera Жизнь за царя (Zhizn za tsarya: A Life for the Tsar)), followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

23 May 2013

Yelena Andrusenko

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

It was also Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev‘s name-day…

на многая лета!



Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Patriarch Kirill Acknowledged Bulgaria’s Contributions to Pan-Slavic Culture

Ss Cyril and Methodius

Unknown Artist

19th century



The visit of Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias to Bulgaria has generated a surprisingly high level of public interest. However, the first visit of the First Hierarch of the MP to Bulgaria in recent times is especially remarkable for another reason… His Holiness Patriarch Kirill made an explicit recognition of what’s one of the most important achievements of the Bulgarian nation in global history, namely, Bulgaria’s role in spreading and promoting Greco-Roman Christian civilisation across a huge swath of the Eurasian continent by developing a distinct Bulgarian-Slavic (Western authors style it Greco-Slavic) culture based on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Slavonic language, and the Cyrillic alphabet. All the academic and practical disputes about the “Easternness” of the Slavic nations in Eastern Europe (Russia included) aside, the fact of the matter is that it was the work of the Bulgarian scholars and monks (themselves having just learned from the cultural, religious, and academic tradition of New Rome) that brought large parts of Eurasia into European civilisation some 11 centuries ago, with Bulgaria serving as the cultural Piedmont of the Eastern and Southern Slavic nations.

During his meeting with the Bulgarian President, Patriarch Kirill emphasised the fact that Bulgaria and Russia share a common religious and cultural heritage as Eastern Orthodox Slavic nations using the Cyrillic script, developed in the 9th century during the First Bulgarian Empire (681-1018 AD), saying, “The work of the holy brothers Ss Cyril and Methodius laid the foundations for the cultural identity of the Bulgarian, Russian, and other Slavic nations, and the first missionaries to bring new Christian values to Russia were Bulgarian priests”, referring to the key role that Bulgarian clergymen played in the 10th and 11th century during the Christianisation of Kievan Rus, the first medieval Russian state. In late 9th century Bulgaria, St Naum of Preslav and St Kliment of Ohrid, disciples of Ss Cyril and Methodius… the authors of the original Slavic Glagolitic alphabet… created a new Slavic alphabet, named “Cyrillic” in honour of their teacher St Cyril. The common history of the Bulgarian and Russian churches goes further, as, between the 10th and 18th centuries a total of eight Bulgarian clergymen held top positions in the Russian Orthodox Church, such as Bishop Cyprian the Bulgarian of Moscow (ruled 1379-1406), and Bishop Gregory Tsamblak of Kiev (ruled 1413-20). Apparently, up until the late Middle Ages, the Slavic languages in Europe were so mutually-understandable that the nations could freely borrow one another’s educated men.

In Sofia, Patriarch Kirill further declared that these cultural and spiritual ties survived throughout the ages, and motivated the heroism of the Russian soldiers in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, when the Russian Empire liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. The recognition of Bulgaria’s role in the creation of the Eastern Orthodox-Slavic culture might not seem to be a big deal in the age of post-9/11, post-2008 globalisation, as it was in the late 19th century Pan-Slav movement, or the 20th-century Eastern Bloc dominated by (Soviet) Russia. It mightn’t seem particularly impressive for a Western public that often views Russia as an ill-fated autocracy, or for the rising non-Western powers for which the Slavic culture stuff was some regional European matter way too long ago.

Nevertheless, Patriarch Kirill’s recognition of Bulgaria’s civilisational role in international history is still very important. For one thing, it’s the story of great brave men who ventured the creation of an entirely new culture (though a part of the Western civilisation) from scratch, eventually reaching much of the Eurasian continent led by the word of the Christian God recorded in the Cyrillic-Slavic script. For another, Bulgaria hardly ever gets positive international recognition by anybody. Even the Bulgarians’ cousins, the Russians, being the citizens of a great power, are generally reluctant to acknowledge the significance of the once-powerful Bulgarian empire, today, a minor Balkan state, for their history, culture, and identity. So, thank you, Your Holiness Patriarch Kirill, for bringing that up.

1 May 2012

Ivan Dikov


Sofia News Agency


Thursday, 22 May 2008

22 May 2008. A Shot of Culture, if you please…

Days of Moscow Open in Sofia

National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria


The Days of Moscow are opening in Sofia today. As part of the Year of Russia in Bulgaria project, the event features a series of public, political, and cultural meetings. Businessmen from the two countries will gather at the House of Moscow in Sofia to discuss the development of small and medium-scale business. Tonight, the National Palace of Culture hosts the official opening ceremony of the Days of Moscow in Sofia. A presentation of Moscow’s tourist attractions is due to take place during the festival. A group of experts will also discuss healthcare issues and the production of medicines.

22 May 2008



Aleksandr Zarkhis Production of Anna Karenina Presented at Cannes Film Festival



Anna Karenina, a film produced in 1967 by prominent Russian director Aleksandr Zarkhi (1908-97), will be presented at the Cannes Film Festival today. Forty years ago, Cannes waited to see this film with Tatiana Samoilova as Anna, but due to the premature closure of the festival amidst students protests in France the audience didn’t see it. Now, the time’s come to restore its due.



Tver hosts Day of Slavic Language and Culture Celebrations

St Mikhail of Tver

Unknown Artist

16th century



The old Russian city of Tver started celebrations for the Day of Slavic Written Language and Culture, officially marked on 24 May. This is the only holiday in Russia having both a religious and secular meaning. On this day, Russia pays tribute to Saints Cyril and Methodius, who devised the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe the Old Church Slavonic language. The international conference “The Slavic World: A Community of Interests and Diversity” begins its sessions today. Delegates from 8 countries will take part in the forum. Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia sent the participants his greetings and blessings.

22 May 2008



Bonham’s Auction House from Britain Opened its First Display in Moscow

A Self-Portrait with Water-lilies

Natalia Goncharova



Bonham’s auction house from Britain, one of the world’s three leading auctioneers of fine arts and ancient treasures, opened its first display in Moscow ahead of an auction. The visitors of the display unanimously believe that a painting by Natalya Goncharova (1881-1962), Sailing-Ship, will receive the top-bid. The cost of the painting has been estimated at 1.5 million UK pounds (70.146 million roubles. 1.887 million euros. 2.971 million US dollars). Experts praised works displayed by Aleksei Kharlamov, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Vladimir Makovsky, and Lidya Masterskaya. Over 200 lots will be presented at the Russian arts auction by Bonham’s in London on 9 June.

22 May 2008


Voice of Russia World Service

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