Voices from Russia

Friday, 31 July 2015

Re-Registration of Religious Bodies in the LNR Won’t Interfere With Services

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LNR Advocate for Cooperation with Religious Organisations and Spiritual Issues Roman Cherneshenko spoke with us about sensitive questions such as registration of religious organisations, rumours about alleged religious persecution, interaction of church and state, sects, and spiritual education.

Lugansk Information Centre (LITs) 

What’s the situation with registering religious organisations?

Roman Cherneshenko

Today, we’re ready to re-register and license religious organisations. For example, we have some serious questions about previously issued Ukrainian documents. Earlier-archived files seem to have disappeared. Apparently, someone wanted to cover their tracks. Only a few important documents remain. Therefore, the State Committee on Religion and Spirituality will address all questions on compliance regarding the issuance and verification of previously issued documents. From the start, [Chairman Plotnitsky] gave a clear understanding to all traditional and non-traditional religions, to all religious bodies, that we don’t intend the Committee’s activities and work to be punitive. We’re not going to close down anything or anyone. However, we won’t allow any religious group in the LNR to carry out actions harmful to our Republic, nor shall we allow any subversion against it, nor shall we allow anyone to attack the values underpinning the cultural and spiritual foundations of our society.


The spiritual foundation of our society is Orthodoxy. Does the Committee consider that?


Of course, the LNR recognises this fact. We have a high regard for the work and activities of the Orthodox clergy in our Republic. We can safely say that our priests proved themselves an extremely worthy lot during the period of active hostilities. There are plenty of examples.


What do you think of the schism in the Church? What would you say about the destructive activity of the Kiev Patriarchate and some of its bishops?


Here, [Chairman Plotnitsky’s] position and my stance as his advisor is clear… we believe that the Church should stay out of politics. Simply put, our foundational principle is that the secular state shouldn’t interfere with spiritual life. Of course, in reciprocal fashion, churches shouldn’t interfere with the secular state. Accordingly, there’s never been a question raised about any intervention in or closure of any of the churches or parishes of the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate (UPTs/KP)” in the LNR. In fact, it’d be easy for us to do just that… just as our opponents are doing to the parishes of the UPTs/MP in the Western and Central Ukraine. They hope that we’d do just that, however, we wouldn’t let that happen. The people will make up their own minds about the Church. If they want to go to a particular church, why, let it be. We aren’t a punitive body.


Okay, but what about the Uniates?


As far as Uniates go, our position is very simple. In fact, we understand that many religious bodies left the LNR during the phase of active hostilities. It’s certainly distressing when clergy leave their flock. However, what happened, happened. We have no evidence about illegal activities by Uniates or their priests. Accordingly, their claims about hindrances to their work are false. We ask them to tell the truth, that no obstacles to their free work exist here. We ask ourselves all the time, “Why don’t they tell the people in the Western Ukraine that everything’s normal here?” On the contrary, they constantly yak about ballot stuffing, that we want to vilify them, to take them over, and so on. They’ve flooded the internet with horror stories about Cossacks and our soldiers. I checked out such information personally, I went to each site, saw things for myself, and none of this talk has any confirmation. We heard no complaints from parishioners about any shenanigans.


What about other denominations and religions?


Our religious mosaic is incredibly rich as we have many denominations and faiths. Re-registration will give us a clear picture of the number and composition of religious groups now present in the LNR. We’re preparing draft regulations now, and we’ll submit them for consideration and approval by the LNR Peoples Soviet. One should understand that the procedure of re-registration wouldn’t hinder the work of churches and parishes. We pose this question to our opponents, “In your opinion, are we or are we not engaging in repression and confrontation?” Really, we’re not going to do it. We’re going after no one; we’re closing no one down. We listen to everybody and everybody’s cooperating. For example, we actively coöperate with the Muslim community. We have complete mutual understanding with them. We meet with believers from all churches. We all listen to each other; we all find a common language.


Yes, but what about totalitarian sects and destructive cults?


As in any country, there is the unconditional rule of law and the statutes. Sects and cults aren’t new… they’ve been around for centuries. They’ve always been, they are, and they’ll always be… that we know right well. If a group’s actions are destructive in nature, if they pose a danger to life or health, or if they undermine the foundations of the state and society, then, surely, we’d take action. We’d use the law enforcement agencies… the MVD and the MGB… and the courts would take part, too.  We’re fully capable of giving a legal response to any destructive activities. I won’t rest until I uproot all the totalitarian sects and cults. In addition, we have should create an independent advisory panel to give us a qualified expert assessment of any sect. After all, LNR universities have Faculties of Theology and Religious Studies; we have scholars and theologians with a competence in these areas. In any case, before we made a particular decision, we’d empanel an independent commission to avoid any insinuations of bias or insufficient study in respect to any religious body.


What can you tell us about religious culture and education?


Our main task is to introduce into our schools’ curriculum a syllabus based on [the Russian] Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture and Ethics. This year, our Ministry of Education introduced several Russian courses [in this] as a part of the Fourth Class during the second semester. There were about six programmes available, but we chose the one that seemed most suitable to us. By order of [Chairman Plotnitsky], acting under recommendations from clergy, the LNR Ministry of Education will introduce these courses [in all schools] effective 1 September, the start of the new school year. We also have to deal with training instructors. The Dahl University theological faculty is now gathering a body of instructors [to teach educators how to present this course]. In addition, Archangel Michael Lugansk Theological University and the Academy of Culture are working on this, too. We appreciate these efforts; we offer them our maximum assistance so that we’d have enough properly trained qualified specialists and theologians. Another important issue concerns advanced training of the clergy. Therefore, this year, Metropolitan Mitrofan Yurchuk of Lugansk and Alchevsk blessed a number of young priests to study in secular universities. I’d also like to speak to parents, who so often try to pass on the basics of simple faith. If you want our children to succeed in life, they need peace, kindness, and love… give them the space to decide for themselves whether they want to believe or not. Two thousand years of Christian culture undergirds our civilisation. If our kids don’t learn that, they’ll plunge into incivility and ignorance. Give your kids the possibility to have the best chance at spiritual growth and cultural development.

29 July 2015

LITs Lugansk Information Centre


Patriarch Kirill sez St Vladimir’s 1,000-Year Legacy Gives Russia Hope for the Future

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Speaking at a liturgy dedicated to the millennium anniversary of the death of Grand Prince St Vladimir the Great, who introduced Christianity to Kievan Rus, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias explained that the most significant takeaway from St Vladimir’s legacy is our need to save contemporary humanity from the contemporary idolatry. Speaking at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow before believers and delegates from over a dozen Local Eastern Orthodox Churches, he noted that St Vladimir decided to abandon paganism and convert to Christianity in line with the prevailing mood among his people.

Vladyki Kirill stated, “[St Vladimir] received baptism from clergy of the Church of Constantinople in Korsun, near present-day Sevastopol. It wasn’t possible for him to make such a profound turn, not only in his own soul, but also for many of his people, as a mere frivolity. His relationship to others, to his people, had changed, and around him, the people themselves began to change. This was probably the only case in our history where the recognition of the prince came from the depths of the peoples’ own lives. Who were the pagan gods of the Kiev pantheon? They were man-made symbols of human passions and human turmoil. The Christian ideal, with time, and not without difficulty, entered the lives of our people. We called ourselves ‘Holy Rus’ because the most sublime, authentic, and unfading ideal of human life was the ideal of holiness”.

“A thousand years after St Vladimir’s death, humanity once again stands at the threshold of a spiritual choice. Contemporary humanity creates idols far more terrible than those like Kievan Perun; we see how crime and war engulf the world, as if human life is worth nothing in our enlightened age. Many people today have consciously rejected the ideal of holiness in favour of the worship the ideals of self-gratification, consumerism, and selfishness. Others are cast adrift and accept whatever falls on them from the colossal information flow, no longer able to distinguish between good and evil. If we don’t let our history and our culture, which emerged from this ideal, and which absorbed this ideal, turn back to those same idols, then, we’d have hope for the future… for the building of a peaceful, fair, equitable life, centred around the immortal ideal of holiness, of human goodness, reason, generosity, love and hope. Bowing down before the memory of Grand Prince St Vladimir, we ask him to be with us, to enlighten our people, to help our youth realise the feats of all those who created Holy Rus, and to help those who are ready to strive for this Rus in our time to struggle first with the sin which is inside all of us”.

Celebrations Across Russia and the Orthodox World

Russia is celebrating the Millennium Anniversary of the death of Grand Prince St Vladimir on a national scale, and the Orthodox world is celebrating too. In Russia the day serves as a double celebration, the festivities also marked the Christianisation of Russia. The high-point of the two-day observance will take place Tuesday in Moscow, when together with foreign Orthodox hierarchs, the MP will commemorate the life and works of Grand Prince St Vladimir. The Kremlin is also set to hold a gala reception for Church representatives hosted by President V V Putin. For its part, the UPTs/MP, which remains the Ukraine’s largest religious body, is holding a liturgy to honour Grand Prince St Vladimir at the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, headed by Metropolitan Onufry Berezovsky of Kiev and all the Ukraine. Unfortunately, Ukrainian officials decided not to attend the event. For his part, junta strongman P A Poroshenko and his wife attended a separate celebration at St Vladimir Cathedral, under the schismatic so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UPTs/KP)”, a renegade body unrecognised by the world Orthodoxy. Following the Maidan coup d’état last year, relations between the canonical UPTs/MP and the “Kievan” schismatics deteriorated badly, with the UPTs/MP outraged over “Patriarch” F A Denisenko’s comments demanding that the USA and Europe provide assistance to the Kiev junta for its aggression against the DNR and the LNR.

Celebrating Over a Thousand Years of Christendom

The Christianisation of Kievan Rus began in 988, associated with Grand Prince St Vladimir, who has since been given the title “Great” by the state, sainthood by the Church, and the epithet “Red Sun” by the people. Vladimir ruled Kievan Rus from 980 to 1015; he abandoned paganism and accepted Christianity eight years into his rule. According to the Primary Chronicle, emissaries from differing faiths travelled to visit St Vladimir beginning in 986, each attempting to convince the ruler to accept their own faith. St Vladimir also sent out his own envoys to visit the nine nations from which the emissaries had come, asking them to describe the religious customs and rituals of these country. St Vladimir’s marriage to Princess Anna, daughter of Roman Emperor Romanos II and Empress Theophano in 988, resulted first in his baptism, then, in the mass baptism of the people of Kiev, rich and poor alike, afterwards. After Kiev, other cities of Kievan Rus gradually Christianised, with the Christianisation of what eventually became contemporary Russia continuing into the 12th century. Many historians believe that adopting a new unifying faith was a serious spur to unifying the Russian lands. The Christianisation of Rus allowed Russia to find its civilisational identity, and its place between Europe and Asia.

28 July 2015

Sputnik International


31 July 2015. A Thought from Fr Vsevolod… On Our “Little Brothers”… and a Chat on Real Authorities

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People shouldn’t listen to windy poseurs like Rod Dreher, Josiah Trenham, Patrick Reardon, Elijah Borek, or John Whiteford… they should listen to solid authorities such as Fr V A Chaplin and Professor A I Osipov. For instance, both Fr Vsevolod and Professor Osipov make it clear that artificial contraception is acceptable. They both correctly point up that the choice is between abortion and the “pill”… if that’s the choice, the Church allows the use of the “pill”. Have a care with all self-appointed “diaspora gurus”… most lack the creds to be speaking on any issue (some even lack Orthodox seminary!). That is, if you lack a kandidatura from an Orthodox institution, don’t set yourself up as an authority (Fr Vsevolod has a kandidatura from the MDA and Professor Osipov has a Doktora Nauka (an even more rigorous degree) from the SPDA). I’m certainly not that… but I can point you to those who are authoritative and point up who’s not such. Don’t listen to unqualified diaspora asshats!

One last thing… when Fr Vsevolod (or any other Russian, for that matter) uses the word “liberal”, they mean it in the European sense of the word. That is, European liberalism is the same as American “conservatism”. Conservative in European discourse means a commitment to Tradition, Hierarchy, History, “blood-and-soil” Patriotism, and Authority… NO American “conservative” fits the definition, American “conservatives” are really a species of Liberal, indeed, they’re Radical Liberals of the very worst sort (European conservatives consider American “conservatives” lying opportunists with no roots and no commitment to Tradition). THERE ARE NO CONSERVATIVES IN THE USA. Comrade Zyuganov is more conservative than any of the posturing American “conservatives” (no European conservative would have anything to do with vacuous filth like Sarah Palin, Wet Willie Romney, Donald Trump, or Rand Paul). Ergo, virtually all the knovertsy misread Russian sources as they’re so ignorant that they don’t realise that Russian political discourse has different definitions for terms than those used in the USA. When Fr Vsevolod attacks liberalism, he’s attacking what we call “conservatism” in the USA. Be careful with many sources (Whiteford’s the most egregious, as his lack of background knowledge skews all of his conclusions)… don’t argue with fools, but don’t attend to them either and don’t spread their rubbish…


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Zakharchenko sez Poroshenko Distorted History by Calling the Baptism of the Russias “a European Choice”

00 Pavel Sokolov-Skalia. The Mother of All Russian Cities... Kiev is Free! 1943

The Mother of All Russian Cities… Kiev is Free!

Pavel Sokolov-Skalia



Today, DNR Chairman of the Government A V Zakharchenko told journalists that junta strongman P A Poroshenko once again distorted history by saying that was the Baptism of all the Russias was the region’s “European choice”. The night before, Poroshenko spoke in Kiev and said that Grand Prince St Vladimir made a “European choice” in adopting Christianity, thereby becoming “a full member of the political club of European monarchs”. Zakharchenko rebutted this, saying, “Poroshenko stated that Grand Prince Vladimir integrated with Europe after the baptism of Kievan Rus. However, that wasn’t so. At that time, ‘Europe’ was Catholic, but Kievan Rus adopted Orthodoxy, also confessed by Georgians, Armenians, and [New Romans]. Consequently, it integrated with these peoples; it didn’t embark on rapprochement with Catholic Europe. Therefore, Poroshenko’s statement is just another attempt to distort history. We in the DNR cleave to the traditions that Grand Prince St Vladimir chose a thousand years ago. We are close in spirit to the Russians… a people who, like us, go to Orthodox churches, professing the same religion. As for the Ukraine, well, they have the right to decide with whom to be friends and what course of development to choose. We’ve already discerned their choice”.

29 July 2015

DAN Donetsk News Agency


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