Voices from Russia

Monday, 31 August 2015

European Water Experts Haven’t Arrived in the LNR and Refuse to Explain Why

00 water in a glass. 210715


Today, V N Deinego, LNR Commissioner at the Minsk Talks, told us that international water supply experts haven’t yet arrived in the LNR, nor have they given a reason for it as of yet, even though the parties reached an agreement to that effect at the Minsk Talks, saying, “The information [about the arrival of the experts] isn’t only inconsistent, we haven’t even got any queries from them. We should’ve received a work plan, but they haven’t done any work on it yet. Only this week, according to the Contact Group, did the experts start work on this. We’ve gotten no explanation about this from anybody”.

Also today, LNR Chairman of the Government I V Plotnitsky stated, “We have no specific date [for their arrival]; the only thing that we have are promises”. Earlier reports stated that as a part of the “road map” to restore water supply utilities in the DNR and LNR, the participants in the Minsk talks agreed that German and Swiss experts would arrive in the LNR in August. The next scheduled meetings of the Contact Group and its four working subgroups will be on 8 and 22 September and 6 and 20 October.

31 August 2015

LITs Lugansk Information Centre



Saturday, 19 October 2013

19 October 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… Man Caught Smuggling Rare Parrot Eggs in Underwear

00 Andrei Buzov. It was a Hot Day. Russian eggs cartoon. 19.10.13

“Really, it was that hot today!” By the way, “eggs” in Russian slang are “testicles”… you catch it, don’t you?


On Thursday, Swiss customs authorities said that they’d arrested a bird specialist who smuggled the eggs of protected parrots in his underwear and travelled the globe trading in rare species. In a statement, the customs service said that they thought that the man, whom it didn’t identify, had trafficked over 150 eggs from endangered parrots protected by international law, as well as rare pheasant species. They busted the man, a Swiss citizen who was also a legal bird trader, at Zürich Kloten Airport in 2010 with 25 eggs hidden in his underwear as he returned from Brazil. The customs service explained that it was only now revealing details of the case because of the secrecy surrounding the probe. Investigators managed to establish that, thanks to a solid international network of contacts, the man managed to smuggle more than 150 eggs to buyers in Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico. The total value of the contraband eggs was 65,000 Swiss Francs (2.3 million Roubles. 72,000 USD. 74,000 CAD. 75,000 AUD. 53,000 Euros. 45,000 UK Pounds), adding that it wasn’t possible to establish where they came from. Investigators said that the man also had an aviary of several hundred birds, including endangered species. The Swiss veterinary service also seized seven rare parrots from an accomplice, with an estimated value of 8,000 Swiss Francs (283,000 Roubles. 8,900 USD. 9,100 CAD. 9,200 AUD. 6,500 Euros. 5,500 UK Pounds). The two men face heavy fines for trafficking in endangered species.

17 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service



Friday, 6 July 2012

Fr Vsevolod Chaplin was Pleased Over the News of the Reported Discovery of the “God Particle”


On Wednesday, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Department for Church and Society, congratulated the CERN scientists on their possible discovery of the Higgs boson, saying, “I’m happy for their discovery, and I’d like to congratulate the scientists. Probably, once again, it raises the question… has matter always been what it is now, or did it develop from a specific incident? Apparently, it isn’t eternal and immutable, as was the theory put forward a few decades ago”.

Media reports on Wednesday make known that scientists at CERN in Switzerland announced the discovery of new subatomic particles. It may be the “Higgs boson” or “God particle”, which according to the Standard Model of physics, created the whole mass of the universe. CERN spokesman Joseph Incandela said, “These are preliminary results, but we think that they’re significant”. Confirmation of the existence of the Higgs particle will be the missing link in the most accepted theory by most scholars today about the structure of the theory of the universe. When it began to cool after the Big Bang, a hypothetical force formed, known as the Higgs field. This field explains the appearance of the mass of the particles that formed atoms.

Fr Vsevolod told us that the Director of Research and Scientific Computing at CERN, Sergio Bertolucci, “frankly admits that only about 4 percent of existing particles are the subject of research; we still have much to learn of the other 96 percent of the universe. Indeed, in my opinion, mankind is only beginning to comprehend the world around us, both in a spiritual and material sense. We really don’t know for sure even what’s located twenty kilometres (@12 miles) below ground, although we see distant hints of what’s there. As that’s so, we open up opportunities for science and ideas, but we also gain knowledge and understanding of their limitations, pointing up the remarkable boldness and humility of the human mind”.

4 July 2012



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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