Voices from Russia

Sunday, 18 November 2012

18 November 2012. Video. Some of My Favourite Things… Sretensky Choir Sings Я люблю тебя, жизнь



Everyone remembers how the late great Mark Bernes sang this wonderful and positive song… I Love You, Life! This is one of my all-time faves…



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

31 October 2012. You Can’t Make Shit Like This Up. Get Thee to a Monastery… There’s a Brothel There

Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov (1958- ), the Superior of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. On the one hand, he’s an excellent spiritual writer… on the other, he’s a lickspittle to the oligarchs, and many think him pro-Western. He’s an enigma… “Is he a white horse with black stripes, or, is he a black horse with white stripes?” (as Churchill famously asked about Franco)


The Russian Orthodox Church is furiously trying to calm a media storm after police uncovered a brothel on the grounds of one of Moscow’s most prestigious monasteries. The “hotel for lovers” was operating out of a building belonging to the Sretensky Monastery, an ancient institution just up the road from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service. Police arrested two women, from the Ukraine and Tajikistan, during a raid at the weekend. The institution’s seedy reputation was apparently well known. Local media reported that it rented out its seven rooms by the hour, at rates starting from 1,750 Roubles (56 USD. 43 Euros. 35 UK Pounds).

Founded in 1395, the monastery is one of the city’s oldest religious institutions. Legend has it that it was founded on the spot where Muscovites met a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary brought from the neighbouring city of Vladimir to save Moscow from Tamerlane‘s marauding armies. Many say that the monastery’s Superior, Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, is President Vladimir Putin‘s personal spiritual adviser. Fr Tikhon hit back at what he called a “media sensation” surrounding the brothel, telling a state-owned channel that the “lovers’ hotel” was in a building the monastery acquired only recently, and that evicting the current business occupying the premises was one of the conditions of the sale. He even joked that the church was “lucky” the issue had finally been dealt with, saying, “Today’s storm in the media is just one example of how people are willing to take any slander and not only make a vulgar joke out of it, but launch a very real information attack against the Church”.

31 October 2012

The Independent


Editor’s Note:

I asked for some confirmation from Moscow sources. The buzz is that Tikhon’s pissed off certain factions with his too-close relationship with the oligarch set (Marat Gelman and Prokhorov were mentioned), some even called it a set-up that Tikhon wasn’t street-smart enough to detect. Other voices on the grapevine think that it’s an intra-Church feud (one mentioned the Kapalin brothers). There’s no uniform intel, so, it’s a case of “you pays your money and you takes your choice”. My choice is “it’s too muddled to tell”… I think that I have plenty of company in thinking that…


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

9 October 2012. Another Cabinet Member Weighs in on Tikhon Shevkunov… It Needs No Commentary From Me

None of us has a completely “lucky” life… that means that Fr Tikhon will have a “bump” or two in  the road ahead, and he might find himself unable to deal with it… that’s the way of it in the world, isn’t it?


He’s a good man, but naïve. That’s because he’s naturally very gifted; he’s had everything handed to him on a platter, so, he’s never had to suffer. That’s why he’s immature, as maturity comes from suffering. That’s why he couldn’t see through Basil Rodzianko and why he adores Bloom… sheer naïveté and inexperience in life.

Monday, 8 October 2012

8 October 2012. Interesting Feedback from the Cabinet on Tikhon Shevkunov


I got interesting feedback from the Cabinet on Tikhon Shevkunov:

You should be aware that Fr Tikhon is quite opposed to the left and to Zyuganov personally.  He rather PREFERS the capitalists and Western-leaning oligarchs. He’s a great spiritual leader and he’s entitled to his opinions. I don’t dislike him, but don’t look to him to agree with you. I know that he rather likes JP.

Another said:

I’m rather ambivalent about him. Spiritually, he’s top-drawer; after all, he kicked Kochetkov out on his arse. Personally, he’s a disaster area; he sucks up to the rich. He introduced Dickie Wood to the Vanil Restoran crowd. He’s the MP‘s culture czar because he’s a pal of Marat Gelman. I hear that he and Charlie don’t get on well.

Yet a third piped up:

I didn’t like the title either, I think that Nectaria Rees may have played an unfortunate role… again. Of course, SVS doesn’t like him; he took back Sretensky from Kochetkov and threw him out.

I got some more replies, but they were in the same vein, with no new info. In short, Tikhon Shevkunov is utterly reliable spiritually, but he’s a suck-up to the oligarchs and their American paymasters. He’s not representative of the MP episcopate. Indeed, whispers tell me that he’s never going to be a bishop:

He’s the chaplain to the oligarchs… he’ll go down when they do.

HH isn’t stupid… he didn’t lift a finger to help Dickie or Fathausen. Yet, Fr Tikhon is ambivalent about JP, too. He didn’t get himself photographed with JP when El Gordo was at the Centre. I think that he knew that JP was “radioactive” and acted accordingly…

In short, the world’s being itself. I’ve always wondered why Tikhon Shevkunov wasn’t a bishop… now, I know (hell, I have lacunae in my knowledge, I’m human). HH is a leftist politically… that explains why he’d want to limit the influence of a cleric that he thought was in the thrall of the oligarchs (and, quite possibly, the Americans). That’s sad… Tikhon’s solid spiritually and writes well. As I said, the world’s being its crank self. Pass me the jug…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 8 October 2012

Albany NY 

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