Voices from Russia

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Pride of Russia: A Retired Cop’s Podvig

00 russia cop nikolai sokolov 310816

_____________________________

Nikolai Sokolov, a former cop (SOBR (Special Fast-Response Unit)) from the village of Nepotyagovo in Vologda Oblast built a 100-metre-long bridge with his own hands to connect two parts of the village, improved a natural spring, and built a chapel. He told us:

I’m a former cop; I served in law enforcement for more than 20 years. First, I was in the OMON (Mobile Special Purpose Unit), then, in the SOBR. I had to move about, but I didn’t care much for that. I was even in Chechnya a few times. It’s been nine years since my retirement. As soon as I had the time, I began to spiff up my hometown. My fellow villagers helped me to build a sauna and we put up a fence.

We have a dam in our village. In the 70’s, they began to build up our town. In one part, they built two-story brick houses with comfy flats. In another part, they set aside land for dachas. In order to solve the problem of watering the dacha garden plots, we built a dam on the Shogrash River. Now, the reservoir divides Nepotyagovo into two parts… the residential district and the dacha area. To go from one to the other, we needed to make a detour of about three kilometres. The bridge broke down years ago, so, people had to make a big fuss to get to the other part of the village.

Before she died, my Mum asked me to build a good bridge over the obstacle. She told me, “You can do it, my son; do a good deed for the people. Indeed, no one but you can really do it”. I decided to go out and deal with the problem. I went to the Spasskoe Rural Settlement to ask for funds for building materials. They gave me 50,000 Roubles (5,115 Renminbi. 51,260 INR. 765 USD. 1,000 CAD. 1,015 AUD. 685 Euros. 580 UK Pounds), the rest I kicked in from my pension. The distance from one end of the bridge to the other was about a hundred metres. I bought metal sheeting, from which I constructed piling. During the winter, when the reservoir froze over, I walked the length of my proposed bridge, playing out rope, tagging it every six metres. Then, using my tags in the designated areas as guides, I installed the piles, driving them securely several metres into the bottom.

To keep the work going in the spring, I made a raft. I put bracing between the pilings and installed a wooden floor and railings. None of the villagers offered to help me; I only got help from my son Zhenya. Nevertheless, we made a good solid bridge, 1.5-metres wide. It took me six months to complete the project. Everybody thanked me; the babas were especially happy that they didn’t have to make such a long detour anymore. For a long time, I hoped that somebody else would get on out and help me. Well, my example inspired the whole village. They started to clean up the streets, to mow the weeds, and to build a playground.

Out in the woods, there’s an awesome natural spring. My Dad used to take me out to this place. I decided to make it even better. To remove the excess sludge, we had to take 800 loads out in a KAMAZ truck. That took two winters of work, but we got all the rubbish removed. We expanded the size of the springs; now, we have two of them. Then, we built a chapel in honour of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, put a fence around the spring, and planted an avenue of oak trees, cedars, and pines. In the clearing, we set up a table with benches under a pavilion. We ran electrical cable and installed toilets.

Now, pilgrims from all over the world come to our spring. I put out a guestbook for feedback and suggestions; there are not only entries from people from all over our country, but also from other countries in Europe, Australia, and all other parts. We had a few thousand people come here for Epiphany. People come here every weekend. I rent the woods around the chapel and spring under a 49-year lease… that costs me 7,000 Roubles (715 Renminbi. 7,175 INR. 105 USD. 140 CAD. 145 AUD. 95 Euros. 80 UK Pounds) a year. However, I don’t charge anybody anything. I just want people to visit here; to feel the grace of this extraordinary place. We had some problems with vandalism; unknown parties broke the icons and threw them in the spring. I put everything right… the “monkey shines” are over. I don’t know why people do that. I believe that anyone can change the situation in their homeland for the better. You just need to do something and not be lazy.

Recently, at the “Springs of Vologda” competition, our spring came out on top… there were 32 springs from 18 raions of the oblast. Since the legislative assembly announced the results of the competition, more people came in to visit us. This contest was part of the Year for the Conservation of Nature. We had to improve the spring, submit our application, and attach photos to our description of the spring.

I have a big family. I met my wife when we were working on a volunteer construction crew. We have four adult children, and we’re expecting our fifth grandchild. The other day, my daughter got married. My wife helps me with my projects; she just doesn’t sit around doing nothing. She teaches at the Oblast paediatric hospital. In her spare time, she actively helps with my community activities. I have a dream… I want to build a stone church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ in Nepotyagovo. This would be a blessing for our parish… it looks like I have to get down to work again.

29 August 2016

Andrei Belykh

Facebook

Monday, 1 April 2013

1 April is International Bird Day… and that’s NO April’s Fool!

00 A Little Bird Told Me

______________________________

Click here and here for image galleries devoted to International Bird Day

1 April is International Bird Day, which marks the beginning of their return to northern parts from their wintering sites. On 19 March 1902, various countries agreed to the International Convention for the Protection of Birds Useful to Agriculture came into force, which more than a dozen states signed. It entered into force on 12 December 1905. On 18 October 1950, in Paris, diplomats signed the International Convention for the Protection of Birds, which replaced the previous document.

1 April is also associated with children’s events centred on birds, arranged in 1894 by a teacher from a small American town of Oil City PA, Charles Babcock. Soon Bird Day was widely-held as a national holiday throughout the USA. Bird Day found support in Russia, where the festival has a long tradition . On old Russian calendars, one finds such holidays as the Day of the Return of Migratory Birds, Day of Capturing Birds (St Gerasimos Day, 4/17 March, The Return of the Rooks), Day of the Swallows (St George Day (23 April/6 May), also known as St George Spring). On 22 March, Russians baked pastries in the shaped of larks, to mark the return of the birds, and with them, the return of spring. At Annunciation, people released birds from cages to go back into the wild.

For many years, Russians have attracted birds with artificial nests, birdhouses, and feeders. Famous traveller Peter Simon Pallas said that Russian peasants made cylindrical boxes made of bark to attract starlings. In the Ukraine and Belarus, traditionally, people fastened wagon wheels on poles to attract storks. In 1879, the official newspaper Правительственный вестник (Pravitelstvenny vestnik: Government Gazette) published a proposal to establish special niches in houses and on roofs under tiles in southern Russia to attract rosy starlings. One of the first books in the world devoted to the protection of birds, The Universal Protection of Birds, and the Implementation of its Principles by Baron Hans German Karl Lyudvig von Berlepsh was published in 1900 in St Petersburg. The Church took an active part in promoting the protection of birds by publishing environmentally-themed books.

During the Revolution and Civil War, people forgot Bird Day, but in 1924, naturalists at the Central Biological Station in Moscow, sought its revival, as one of the professors at the station, Nikolai Dergunov, was a keen bird enthusiast. In the same year, Smolensk Oblast activists also celebrated Bird Day. The next year was the first official Bird Day in the USSR; naturalists installed birdhouses in the Leninskie Gory (Lenin Hills) (now, Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills)) in Moscow. In 1927, Bird Day excitement infected all of Moscow. Over 5,000 children placed over 1,000 birdhouses. By 1928, Bird Day became popular throughout the country, and about 65,000 enthusiasts put up 15,000 birdhouses.

The magazines Юный натуралист (Yuny naturalist: Young Naturalist), Листки БЮН (Listki BYuN: Leaves BYuN) {a play on words in Russian, лист (list) can mean either “leaf” or “page”: editor}, Живая природа (Zhivaya priroda: Nature’s Wildlife), and others actively propagated the idea of Bird Day. Since the early 1930s, utilitarian ideas of nature gradually replaced noble environmental impulses. Sadly, the cheerful children’s party was forgotten. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Bird Day had a brief revival. In Moscow, Pyotr Smolin was an active promoter of it, being youth section chairman of the all-Russian Society for the Protection of Nature (VOOP). However, soon, the state turned the spontaneous, popular, and joyful celebrations of Bird Day into boring, mandatory measures. Thanks to the efforts of enthusiastic birders, the all-Russian public organisation Russian Bird Conservation Union (SOPR) (created in 1993), revived the holiday in 1994.

The theme of the holiday is the conservation of bird species diversity and the preservation and increase of their populations. This day marks the first return of migratory birds from their wintering sites. The rooks are the first to come, then, the wild geese, ducks, cranes, and gulls arrive. In April, the thrushes, robins, greenfinches, chaffinches, finches, and buntings return. Traditionally, at this time, in anticipation of the arrival of the birds, people hang birdhouses and build artificial nests. Birders warn that if birds go extinct, it’d cause an environmental catastrophe, with unpredictable effects upon human civilisation. They tell us that such obliteration of fauna would cause irreparable damage to biological diversity.

More and more countries are involved in the annual selection of the “Bird of the Year” . National social and professional organisations concerned with the protection of birds take part in this “election”. Typically, the choice of the award-winning bird is due to different reasons… a bird is popular in this-or-that country, with close-links to a national culture, or it’s a bird species under threat of extinction, to draw attention to its species preservation, or it’s a bird chosen to demonstrate the diversity of bird life. Clearly, the Bird of the Year reflects the success of national response measures to avian protection and successfully promotes the achievements of environmental organisations and the success of their programmes.

Besides this, the Russian Bird Conservation Union annually elects a “Bird of the Year”. The requirements are simple… the bird’s range should cover all or most of Russia, and it should be a recognisable species in need help and attention. Ornithologists and ecologists select the spotlighted Bird of the Year, and they conduct seminars, publish literature and brochures on this kind of bird, to promote conservation and care of them. Thus, in 1996, the “Bird of the Year” was the Corncrake, followed by:

In 2013, for the eighteenth time, the Union of the Russian Bird Conservation time selected a “Bird of the Year”. It selected the regal White-Tailed Eagle.

1 April 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/spravka/20130401/929177981.html

Sunday, 24 March 2013

24 March 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. Global Event “Earth Hour”: History, Purpose, Participants

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. Global Event 'Earth Hour'. History, Purpose, Participants. 2013

______________________________

Click here for an “Earth Hour” image gallery

The World Wildlife Fund sponsors “Earth Hour” annually. On the last Saturday in March, at 20.30 local time, all participants turn off lights and electrical appliances for an hour. This is the fifth “Earth Hour” held in Russia; last year, about 20 million people in Russia took part in it. According to WWF, about 70 Russian cities will participate in the action in 2013. The WWF specifically mentioned that Moscow, St Petersburg, Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Lipetsk, Serpukhov, Vladivostok, Krasnoyarsk, Voronezh, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Vologda, Nizhny Novgorod, and Syktyvkar would have special events. For the first year, Novy Urengoy will take part.

In Moscow, on 23 March, more than 80 buildings will plunge into darkness for an hour. On Saturday, the main attractions of St Petersburg… the Winter Palace, Palace Square, and the Petropavlovsk Fortress… will turn off their architectural and artistic lighting. The same thing would happen at St Petersburg State University, as well as at Troitsky Bridge, Blagoveshchensky Bridge, Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge, and Aleksandr Nevsky Bridge.

A giant ball, symbolising planet Earth will be set on fire in Nizhny Novgorod on Rozhdestvenskaya Street. The organisers of the action said, “The contours of the Earth’s continents would burn only for a short while, thus, presenting a representation of the limited and exhaustible basic resources used by mankind”. The event will take place on Markin Square near Rozhdestvenskaya Street. Residents of Krasnodar shall place candles outside a shopping mall on Stasov Street. The candles will have the inscription “Kuban +” as a symbol that the Krasnodar Krai joined the “Earth Hour” event. The shopping mall will turn off all its lights and signs.

23 March 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/infografika/20130322/928492089.html

http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20130323/180186908/Earth-Hour.html

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

MP to Start Global Environmental Campaign in 2013

______________________________

The MP plans to begin promoting green values starting with next year. Orthodox parishes in Russia and abroad will involve their members in environmental volunteer work. The initiative will include countries other than the Near Abroad. Russian Orthodox parishes across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America will educate believers that the voluntary protection of nature is a duty honoured by the Archpastoral Council. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said, “This environmental promotion isn’t just aimed at one country. What concerns Russia also concerns foreign countries”.

Unlike Greenpeace and WWF, this programme won’t be political; its purpose is purely educational. The Russian Conservation Society assisted the MP in developing “green guidelines” for all Russian Orthodox parishes to follow. Aleksandr Kazakov of the Russian Conservation Society said, “We don’t plan to tie ourselves to oil rigs or lie on railway tracks to stop nuclear waste trains. Russian Orthodox parishes abroad will take part in educating people, improving their environment, and supporting those who feel compromised by pollution from a nearby plant or busy highway”. Parishes would start by improving their immediate neighbourhoods, which could include developing the property and facilities around the churches. Kazakov said, “People in Germany may want to take part in conserving the Rhine. Five European countries have already joined hands to restore the river, but it needs constant attention”.

The church will rely on donations only to fund the program, including from Russian businessmen living abroad. For example, last spring a parish in the Seychelles asked for assistance from Mikhail Prokhorov and Bidzina Ivanishvili. Potentially, the MP could mobilise tens of millions of people who could be green volunteers. The programme could be of interest to former and current Russian nationals as well as to foreign members of the church. There is a good chance that the Local Churches in Belarus and the Ukraine would join this environmental initiative. The programme’s organisers feel certain that the MP’s conservation efforts wouldn’t face resistance from local authorities and other religious communities, and they hope to enlist the help of local volunteers. Oleg Kalimullin, communications adviser for the MP, said, “There’s no reason for conflict when it comes to keeping water clean”.

The only possible obstacle to the church’s environmental activity could be intentional politicisation by local public figures. The programme will review similar experiences of other Christian groups. However, the final draft would be based on Russian experience. Priests would receive encouragement to study environmental science and the biosphere. Educational material would offer an Orthodox perspective of green issues to students, scientists, and children. Moreover, sermons might include prayers for the prudent use of natural resources and the protection of the environment with the focus on both urban and rural needs.

12 October 2012

Izvestiya

As quoted in RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/papers/20121012/176579219.html

Editor’s Note:

Yet again, the Real Church stands up tall against the Republican Rape the Earth for Quick Profit ideology. That’s why rightwing poseurs like Patrick Reardon and Josiah Trenham don’t belong in the Orthodox priesthood. The Church is in favour of single-payer healthcare, social justice, a full social safety net (along with generous family subsidies from the state), and the state’s full role in society. The crackbrained konvertsy deliberately distort the teaching of Christ and His Holy Church, in order to curry favour with lunatic fringe elements on the Far Right. That makes them Sergianists (obsequious suck-ups to the powers-that-be) of the vilest sort. Odd, every real instance of “Sergianism” that I’ve seen involves kissing up to the Radical Right, not up to the Left.

You can have HH, who DEMANDS the immediate end of the American embargo against Cuba and DEMANDS that the state honour its full obligation to the poor and indigent, or you can have Josiah Trenham, Patrick Reardon, Victor Potapov, and Rod Dreher, who obsequiously kiss the naked bums of the most godless and moneygrubbing members of the Republican Party at high noon, for everyone to see them. It’s your choice…

BMD

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.