Voices from Russia

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Priest’s Best Friend: Orthodox Clerics Pose for Calendar with Their Cute Cats

00 priest and cat 061215


00 priests and cats 061215


A glossy way to discover more about love and religion… a new calendar, commissioned by a Russian Orthodox website, features 12 priests with their super-cute cats. It’s an unprecedented way to represent Russian clerics, who aren’t usually open to such informal presentation. Ksenia Luchenko, a journalist at the Orthodox website Pravmir, who came up with of the idea, told AFP:

That’s why we did it ourselves. We’re don’t have links to the official Church. It’s all their own cats… we staged nothing. It was whoever had a cat and was ready to pose for a photo.

Many priests later asked the author why they weren’t part of the shoot. Luchenko told the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Seeing the result, some called and asked us, ‘Why didn’t you invite me? I have a cat like this!’” The official reaction from the Orthodox Church came from top spokesman Archpriest V A Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), who said, “It wasn’t a great sin, but I wouldn’t hang such a calendar on my wall”. Even the public had mixed reactions… a majority said that the calendar was sweet, but some said, “Nothing can help these priests, even cats!”

6 December 2015




Finally, we got the calendar Поп + Кот (“Priest (slang) and Cat”) from the printers! Put this on your wall for 2016! Twelve months, so, we have 12 priests with their housecats or cats. We combined the idea of the Alaverdy Calendario Romano (with handsome Catholic priests) and Calendar i Gatti di Roma (with cats of Rome). Here’s our dream team who worked on the calendar:

  • Photographer: Anna Galperina
  • Coordinator: Кsеniya Luchenko
  • Design: Aleksei Chekal
  • Editor: Sergei Chapnin
  • Production: Аleksаndrа Akmayeva

We want to give a big thanks to the Christian Artist Artel Artos (http://artos.name). So far, it’s only on offer for sale at the Pokrovsky Gates Cultural Centre (at the Primus Store, 27 Pokrovka Street p. 1) or you can contact me.

The Priests and Their Cats:

  • January: Archpriest Oleg Batov and Cat Apelsin (Orange (fruit))
  • February: Archpriest Pyotr Dynnikov and Cats Angola and Vasik
  • March: Archpriest Viktor Grigorenko and Cat Motya
  • April: Priest Sergei Kruglov and Cat Shurik
  • May: Hieromonk Grigori Pobozhin and Cat Koshka (“cat”)
  • June: Priest Yevgeny Nevodin and Cat Irs
  • July: Archpriest Pavel Velikanov and Cat Rys (Lynx)
  • August: Priest Dimitri Kuzmichyov and Cat Maks
  • September: Archpriest Aleksandr Strizhak and Cat Lyamurka
  • October: Hieromonk Feodorit Senchukov and Cat Mona
  • November: Archpriest Lev Shikhlyarov and Cat Selestina
  • December: Archpriest Vyacheslav Perevezentsyov and Cat Bonya

2 December 2015

Xenia Loutchenko




In a rare venture into popular culture, Russian Orthodox priests posed as models for a glossy 2016 calendar, cuddling their pet cats. The calendar put together by an Orthodox news website has 12 smiling priests in dark robes relaxing with their cats… sitting side-by-side on the sofa, or having the pet sprawled on their chest, or draped round their shoulders. One of the creators, who came up with the idea, Ksenia Luchenko, a journalist at the Pravmir website said:

It’s the first calendar to depict priests in such a way. However, the Church isn’t usually open to such an informal depiction of its clerics. That’s why we did it ourselves. We’re don’t have links to the official Church.

Religious-themed calendars usually just depict holy icons. Luchenko said of the casting process for the calendar:

It’s all their own cats… we staged nothing. It was whoever had a cat and was ready to pose for a photo.

Nevertheless, Luchenko conceded that the cat-owning priests in the charming black-and-white shots by Anna Galperina turned out to be “nice-looking”. The Russian Orthodox Church doesn’t officially endorse the calendar. Senior Church spokesman Archpriest V A Chaplin, the head of the MP Synodal Department for the Coordination of Church and Society (OVTsO), told Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio, “it isn’t a great sin, but I wouldn’t hang such a calendar on my wall”. However, it has won praise from the media, with the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda writing, “The priests are kind and twinkly, and the cats are cute and fluffy”. Even Russian Cosmopolitan magazine covered the calendar. Luchenko added:

Not all priests agreed to do it. Not everyone wants that kind of publicity. Our calendar Поп + Кот (“Priest (slang) and Cat”) grew out of a photography book project showing Russian priests in their everyday lives. By chance, we had a photo of a priest with a cat, so, I thought, “Why not do a series?” It was only after we completed the calendar that the team realised they had a Roman Catholic competitor… an unofficial calendar published in Rome every year featuring handsome priests called the Calendario Romano. Our calendar had an initial print run of 1,000 copies, but that looks likely to increase. Several churches ordered them to sell in their shops.

The creators also plan a presentation with some of their priest-models later this month, to raise funds for an animal shelter.

5 December 2015




Monday, 21 July 2014

“It’s Very Hard”: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Trying to Move on after Priest Accused of Embezzling

00 Mojum Kamki. Rogger Robber. 2010


Bouncing back after an alleged embezzlement, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee WI is trying to revive itself after falling into a financial slump. This happens at the same time as a former priest faces charges of improperly spending thousands of dollars from a church trust fund. James Dokos faces a Class G felony charge of theft (embezzlement), value exceeding 10,000 USD (352,000 Roubles. 10,750 CAD. 10,650 AUD. 7,400 Euros. 5,850 UK Pounds), and he was a “no show” for his first two court appearances. Prosecutors accuse 62-year-old Dokos of tapping into an Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church trust fund… to the tune of about 100,000 USD (3.52 million Roubles. 107,500 CAD. 106,500 AUD. 74,000 Euros. 58,500 UK Pounds). The GOAA Chicago Metropolis transferred Dokos to Ss Peter and Paul Church in Glenview IL in 2012, his most recent parish.

Last month, the church placed Dokos on unpaid administrative leave and suspended him from his duties as parish priest at the church in Glenview. Members of Annunciation parish said that they’ve experienced a myriad of emotions since learning of the allegations against Dokos. One member said, “I’m just very saddened. It’s very hard”. Church member Despina Panos said, “He was very good to us. I don’t know. I still don’t believe it happened”. Current priest Fr Angelo Artemas said, “When we realised that there were financial difficulties here and that there was a trust involved, it was very disheartening and all these circumstances have been very sad for us. We are experiencing some financial difficulties”. Fr Angelo said that the alleged theft, carried out by someone so trusted within the church is an unfortunate thing, but he said that he has full trust in the court system, noting, “This is America. Everybody’s entitled to their defence as well, and our sincere prayers are with Fr Jim Dokos as well”. Others are looking toward their faith… praying justice is served. Panos said, “Only God knows the truth, and He’ll give us the answers”.

Lately, it’s been difficult to even get Dokos in front of a judge. He was a “no show” for his first two scheduled court appearances… claiming that he missed them due to car problems and an illness. He finally showed up for his initial court appearance on Friday, 18 July. As Dokos moves through the court system, members of Annunciation parish said that they’re just trying to move on. Church member Constantine Stamantelakys said, “We just really want to move on. We really come here to worship and believe in Jesus and that’s what it’s all about. We’ll survive”. The court ordered Dokos booked and released by 15.00 Saturday, 19 July. If he failed to appear, it’d issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

20 July 2014

Derica Williams



Saturday, 19 July 2014

Former Annunciation Greek Orthodox Priest Finally Appears in Court

01 money


The third time was a charm for a priest accused of embezzling six figures from his former Milwaukee church. Fr James Dokos appeared in court Friday afternoon after missing two earlier hearings. Dokos missed his first court appearance because his car broke down, and the second because he was in hospital. The court commissioner warned that if he failed to show up Friday, he’d send him to jail. Dokos’ attorney wouldn’t answer any questions before the hearing, saying, “We’re not going to be making any statements. We’ve got to get into court”. An elderly couple left more than 1 million USD (35 million Roubles. 1,075,000 CAD. 1,065,000 AUD. 740,000 Euros. 586,000 UK Pounds) in their estate to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, naming Dokos as trustee. Prosecutors said that he improperly used more than 100,000 USD (3.5 million Roubles. 107,500 CAD. 106,500 AUD. 74,000 Euros. 58,600 UK Pounds) to fuel a luxury lifestyle. Former church secretary Stephanie Rauch said, “They wanted it to go to the church, to the cultural centre”. Rauch said that she came to court looking for answers. She said that couple adored Dokos, noting, “God rest their souls. They’re probably turning for what he did with their money, which belonged to the church”. Dokos left Annunciation two years ago for a church near Chicago IL. After court, Dokos headed to the County Jail, where they fingerprinted him and took his mug shot. Dokos is free on a signature bond. He’s due back in court in two weeks.

Click here for a minute-and-a-half vid

Colleen Henry

18 July 2014

WISN 12 ABC (Milwaukee WI USA)


Friday, 18 July 2014

GOAA Priest Accused of Stealing from Church Makes First Appearance in Milwaukee Court



Fr James Dokos was a no-show for his first two scheduled court appearances on theft charges. However, he was there for his initial appearance on Friday, 18 July. Prosecutors say Dokos took more than 100,000 USD (3.5 million Roubles. 107,400 CAD. 106,500 AUD. 74,000 Euros. 58,600 UK Pounds) from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church when he was a priest there. He’s due back in court on 30 July for his preliminary hearing. If convicted, Dokos faces up to ten years in prison. Dokos claims that he missed his first two appearances due to car problems and an illness.

18 July 2014

Cary Docter



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