Voices from Russia

Saturday, 20 October 2018

20 October 2018. Genprokuratura Reclassifies Kerch Terakt as Criminal Matter


The Genprokuratura reclassified the Kerch terakt from terrorism to murder. That is, it views it more as a criminal matter than a terrorist incident. Trust me, it doesn’t mean that the incident wasn’t momentous or that there wasn’t a serious loss of life. It simply means that the preponderance of the evidence points to a criminal rather than a terrorist action. It doesn’t lessen the tragedy one little bit, however, it does change the complexion of the response. I’ll say this, though… the security at the Kerch Bridge just went up a notch. NATO is boasting that it’s going to hold exercises in the Sea of Azov. To do so means crossing the Kerch Strait, which is in Russian territorial waters. I do hope that the boastful and feral Anglos rethink this one…

Just one last thing… the Galician Uniates and schismos are all agog with glee on the web over this tragic event. It tells you much about them and their American paymasters, doesn’t it?



Wednesday, 28 August 2013

28 August 2013. A Few Sane Words on the Gay Debate

gay parade in st petersburg


There’s been much back n’ forth debate on the topic of the Russian law on homosexuality. Here’s what I wrote to a member of the Cabinet:

The Russian law is clear. It forbids homosexual marriage and homosexual suborning of minors. It does NOT stigmatise or criminalise adult homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. What opposition there is comes from social and religious, not legal, sources. Gay parades are verboten, but I can see where such a ban actually helps gays. If there were open gay parades, it’d lead to violence in the streets, which would make the situation much worse. Twenty years ago, homosexuality was in the Criminal Code. Now, it isn’t. The situation is much better. As President Lukashenko put it, “I don’t like golubiye (gays). However, they can do as they please in their homes and clubs. It’s not against the law. However, they won’t be allowed to parade in the streets”. Compared to the mandatory gaol sentences imposed in the past, Russians HAVE “come a long way, baby”. To push for more at this time would be unwise. I think that Russia will come to the same position as Cuba has at present (that is, a tolerance of homosexuals, but without “homosexual marriage”). However, Westerners shouldn’t pressure Russia… it’d be counter-productive. Marches and placard-waving will do NO good. Let things work themselves out naturally… that’s the ticket.

As an MP priest wrote to me (he emphasised strongly that he was speaking for himself alone, not for the Church at large):

Yes, active homosexual conduct is sinful, but so is heterosexual sexual conduct outside of marriage. There are many sins worse than homosexuality is. No, homosexuals aren’t “shunned”, nor are they excommunicates. As you always say, “Reflect on this”… well, reflect that the worst sin is the Sin Against the Holy Spirit, and that God won’t forgive that. Homosexuality isn’t that… but placing Mammon in God’s place is. Again, as you always say, “Just sayin’”…

What gives me hope is that there’s a REAL Church out there, and that it still follows its old true Traditions. That disappoints the Radicals, both on the Left and on the Right, but it suits us real people just fine. I’ll confide that I’m not alone in sticking to the tried and true…

BMD barbara-drezhlo28 August 2013

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God

Albany NY 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Poll Shows Over 80% of Russians Favour “Blasphemy” Draft Law


A survey by state-run pollster VTsIOM showed that over 80 percent of Russians support draft legislation that would introduce harsher penalties for blasphemy and desecrating religious sites. Next week, MPs in the RF Gosduma will debate amendments to the Criminal Code. The amendments envisage a prison term of up to three years or a penalty between 100,000 and 200,000 Roubles (3,200 to 6,400 USD. 2,500 to 5,000 Euros. 1,975 to 3,950 UK Pounds) for desecration of religious sites and attacking people’s religious beliefs. According to the survey, 82 percent of those polled favour the new draft law, whilst 12 percent spoke against it.

The initiative first emerged after a Moscow court handed down a two-year sentence to three members of the all-female anti-Putin punk band Pussy Riot in late August, in a case that divided Russian society and sparked a wave of protest actions in support of the group. The group members were jailed after a protest at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour over Church support for Vladimir Putin ahead of the March presidential election that returned him to the Kremlin for a third term. The draft law also comes after four wooden crosses were chopped down throughout Russia last month. A senior Moscow priest, Fr Dmitri Smirnov, said the cross attacks amounted to a declaration of war against the Church. Several Church figures previously called for blasphemy to be made a crime. Currently, it’s an administrative offense punishable by a fine of up to 1,000 roubles (32 USD. 25 Euros. 20 UK Pounds). The survey was conducted on 7-8 September, among 1,600 respondents in 138 Russian localities. The margin of error is below 3.4 percent.

26 September 2012 (MSK)



Monday, 2 July 2012

Legal Protections for Believers: Pro et Contra


Today, in Russia, one increasingly hears demands to toughen penalties for offending believers. The proposed amendments to the article in the RF Criminal Code on human dignity provoked intense debate in Russian society. Recently, United Russia Gosduma deputies put forward a proposal to amend Article 282 of the Criminal Code (Inciting hatred or enmity, and degradation of human dignity), whilst the RF Federation Council supported the initiative. These actions from parliamentarians caused a strong reaction in the public.

A separate and specific need to protect the feelings of believers in Russia arose at the beginning of 2012, after an unfortunate incident at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. In late February, members of the Russian feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot took over the bema in the church, where they made what they called a “punk prayer”. The lyrics of the song, posted later on the internet, contained offensive language applied to President Vladimir Putin and to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, the First Hierarch of the MP. Pussy Riot’s stunt infuriated many people, even those who didn’t consider themselves Orthodox Christians. The cops arrested three of the “punk prayer” participants and they’re now in gaol. However, many don’t agree that they should be in the slammer. Over a hundred figures from the Russian arts world, amongst them the most famous and beloved actors, directors, writers, and musicians, signed an appeal to the RF Supreme Court and the Moscow City Court in defence of the Pussy Riot members. Then, the Russian media broke a few scandals related directly to Patriarch Kirill and the Church, which gave rise to talk about a deliberately-focused anti-clerical campaign. What poured more fuel unto the fire was the recent “Silver Galoshes” Award, which is an annual spoof award for dubious achievements. This year, its board nominated Patriarch Kirill as one of the candidates, and he was voted one of the “winners”.

However, not only is Orthodoxy under attack, but also other confessions and religions. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the Chairman of the MP Department for Church and Society, said, “Existing laws don’t protect us against attacks on faith and religion. Today, many believe that it’s clear that the current penalties for insulting the religious feelings of believers and the desecration of venerated objects, i.e., administrative fines ranging from 500 to 1,000 roubles (15-30 USD. 12.50-25 Euros. 10-20 UK Pounds), are unacceptably pathetic. Deprecating people’s religious feelings is a crime that could threaten civil peace in our country and put huge masses of people at loggerheads. We know of such examples related to the burning of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Contempt for the feelings of believers and religious objects is extremely dangerous, and we should punish it no less severely than we do ethnic provocations or the desecration of graves or symbols of the state”.

United Russia Gosduma deputies have already begun to prepare amendments to Article 282 for the autumn session. These provide not only significantly increased fines for offending religious sentiments, but also even the possibility of imprisonment. Russian Muslims praised the proposed amendments. Albir Krganov, the first deputy of the Supreme Mufti of Russia, said, “We have a saying in Islam, ‘What the Lord left undone in the Quran, the Sultan took care of’. However, in light of recent events, no matter how democratic any society, there’s a potential risk of inciting ethnic hatred. The people who incited what happened at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour weren’t people of other nationalities and beliefs. However, for example, what if they weren’t Russian, or if they were non-Orthodox? How would our society react to that? I’m confident that the Gosduma shall take all necessary measures to maintain stability concerning this delicate matter”.

However, some religious leaders believe that the introduction of a new law is an ineffective way to deal with attacks on the religious feelings of believers. Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, the Chairman of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of Russia, said in an interview with VOR, “I don’t believe in criminal punishment for this, and I think that the only problem is that we don’t properly enforce the existing laws on religious hatred. Any time you tighten up the law, it incites antagonism. At a time when our society has very large divisions and much acrimony, we, the religious leaders of all faiths, on the contrary, must show an example of charity and tolerance. Anti-religious agitation is already illegal under existing laws. Why, the present laws prohibit even kids from saying certain things. It’s better for us to let some mistaken things pass, for the sake of freedom and liberty. We shouldn’t turn our people into a nation of gagged mutes. If there’s falsehood, let us correct it. You have to be tolerant”.

The main argument of those who oppose introducing amendments to the Criminal Code to protect believers is that such is a violation of constitutional principles. Human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov said, “Such an approach contradicts the legal principle of the equality of all before the law. It’s necessary to defend the principle of equal rights at all costs. The existence of a group of citizens having a special exemption from abuse is unconstitutional. Moreover, we have a secular state, the Church and its believers don’t have any privileges over other groups”.

Roman Lunkin, Director of Research at the Institute on Religion and Law of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe, said, “For now, it isn’t a necessity to change the existing law and introduce amendments to it, rather, we should seek ways of consensus between society and religious bodies. Of course, we shouldn’t let a person insult the religious sensibilities of others, that’s obvious. Cultured and intelligent people don’t do this. However, in an open democratic society, we should allow a certain amount of satire, including towards religion and belief. For example, look at how the popes reacted to all the scandals associated with the Catholic Church over the years. Just recently, there was a financial scandal at the Vatican, and, for a long time, the Holy See gave no response to it. Because for they’ve lived for many years in a democratic society, Catholics are accustomed to the criticisms and arguments of atheists, Marxists, and secularists, who claim that religion’s a purely personal concern. Simply put, they just didn’t react to such statements and jabs. In particular, I’m sure that the Orthodox Church will get used to such a position”.

Against the backdrop of the Russian debate about whether or not (and in what way) to protect religious values and feelings, the refusal of Swiss Senate to protect Christian symbols in the country went almost unnoticed. In mid-June, the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland refused to act on a parliamentary initiative to protect the Christian symbolism through an article in the constitution. Seventeen of the 21 members of the Senate voted to quash the initiative. Those in favour of passing the measure were sure that there was hostility to the crucifixion in Switzerland, leading to criticism of crosses in classrooms, on roadsides, and on mountaintops. They cited acts of vandalism against Christian symbols. They opined that this might lead to the possible removal of Christian symbolism from public places, leading to the disappearance of the Christian religion, which is the foundation of Western European culture. Those who voted against it warned that if they granted a special position to Christian manifestations in the constitution, it might lead to a “Kulturkampf”.

Laws to protect the feelings of believers and penalties for desecration of religious objects exist in different countries. However, the existence of special laws and legal deterrents won’t protect believers from those who seek to hurt them. That’s why the European Court of Human Rights deals so often with cases dealing with violations of religious rights today.

28 June 2012

Milena Faustova

Voice of Russia World Service


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