Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

HH Speaks on Christmas… We Should Solve Intercultural Conflicts Peaceably… The Ukrainian Crisis Pains Him… Opposes Marginalisation of Christianity in Europe

00 Patriarch Kirill on St Nicholas Day 19.12.13. 08.01.14


Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias holds that violence can’t resolve intercultural conflicts; we have to put things right using the law. In his Christmas interview with presenter Dmitri Kiselyov on the Rossiya TV channel, he said, “We know that people who come to Russia aren’t always familiar with our culture, customs, and faith. Due to many reasons, which I’ll not go into now, they refuse to acknowledge that they live in a society that holds different views on manners, on behaviour in the streets, on conduct between men and women. Of course, all this leads to cultural confusion, to put it mildly”.

He pointed up that Russia’s historically been a multiethnic state because its Orthodox majority “broadly tolerated” and “respected” the customs of followers of other religions. According to the Patriarch, the only active conflict came when some tried converting Orthodox people to different faiths. He said, “In those cases it met with rebuff, including material and military resistance {HH is referring to the papist attempt to ram the Unia down Russians’ throats… it only succeeded in Galicia… do see how THAT turned out: editor}. However, in everyday life, there’s nothing like this. Everything is different now. Besides, there are other reasons, of course. There are many reasons, which didn’t pop up just yesterday”.

The Patriarch believes that if cultural “confusion” remains “at the level of small everyday tensions, there’s hope that all this would eventually come to an end”. On the other hand, if they defy law and order, then, “We must restore order using lawful means. We mustn’t use lawlessness, we mustn’t use violence, we shouldn’t say such things as, you know, ‘let’s leave nothing standing’ and ‘let’s crush ‘em all and restore order with vigilantes’. It’s important that we let the law work; it’s important that we build relationships based on the law until the people themselves come to a readiness to live peacefully and quietly with each other, despite existing differences. I see no other way out”.

His Holiness takes the present disorders in Kiev to heart, believing that the Church can only help to resolve the continuing crisis through its prayer, not through a presence at the barricades, saying, “What’s happening in the Ukraine cuts me to the heart. For me, the Ukraine is like my home, my native people; these are my people and my flock. I pray for the Ukraine, I pray for these people. I understand that there’s a threat of a split of the nation, a threat of another round of civil confrontation”. He pointed up that a faction wanted “régime change”, saying, “For them, resolution is an unleashing of the passions. When clergymen appear on the barricades goading the people, it isn’t what the Church should do”, adding that the Church should preach peace and unity. The Patriarch urged Ukrainians to have a dialogue that would help resolve their existing problems.

Vladyki Kirill believes that dangerous consequences ensue if we keep the true meaning of Christmas from the public square, including using other names for the holiday, saying, “This is a political action, a stubborn exclusion of Christian values, including Christian-oriented holidays, from public life. This is a spiritual disarmament of the masses; it’s an incredibly dangerous trend”. He said that, today, the West, concerned with protecting human rights and freedoms, violates the right to practise the Christian faith openly. For instance, the Patriarch mentioned cases where the authorities forbade media presenters or nurses from wearing crosses, stating, “Of course, Christian values in Europe are, indeed, preserved in the life of the people. I’ve dialogued with Western Europeans who keep them in their hearts. However, the general political trend, the overall direction of élite activities is, undoubtedly, anti-Christian and anti-religious in nature”.

7 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Let’s be clear… HH isn’t a Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty nor is he a Pat Robertson of “Liberty University” (it’s neither free nor a university… what an imposture!). He’s something higher, more rational, and unsoiled. He’s a partisan of Christ’s Church. He believes that the Church has FINAL AUTHORITY… NOT the Bible. He believes in a Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the Upper Room… not some crackbrained rightwing American construct. He believes in the Communion of the Saints being about us and with us… not orgiastic rolling about in the aisles, shouting “Jayzuss!” Most of all, he believes in social justice… not rightwing attacks on the social safety web and giveaways to the idle rich. He awards decorations to Pyotr Simonenko and Iosif Kobzon (he’s friends with the Castro brothers (and here) and Gennady Andreyevich)… he doesn’t suck up to the likes of Darrell Issa, Gus Bilirakis, or Justin Amash (shame on the last three named… they’re contemporary Black Hundredists… they and Potapov’s circle are one in mind, aren’t they). He visits the sick and prisoners… not the country club nor the latest Zagat-rated yuppieteria… he doesn’t march in political demonstrations nor does he wave placards.

In short, HH is a REAL Orthodox hierarch, not a phoney baloney ersatz substitute like Fathausen, Moriak, or Maymon. Whom do you follow? Do you follow HH, or do you follow the rightwing perverters of Orthodoxy? That’s what on offer… there’s nothing else… I’ve chosen, and I think that it’s clear what I’ve chosen. Choose well… the fate of your immortal soul DOES depend on it…



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Friday, 18 October 2013

18 October 2013. Alfeyev Sends Condolences on Death of Rightwing Neoliberal in EU

00 Hilarion Alfeyev. 18.10.13


Hilarion Alfeyev continues to plough his own furrow. He sent condolences on the death of Wilfried Martens, President of the European People’s Party, a neoliberal pro-Free Market group (click here). I checked patriarchia.ru back to 9 October (the date of M Marten’s death)… there’s nothing there. This is on Alfeyev’s own nickel… it’s not official. However, since everyone knows that the Blunder is one of Fathausen’s closest allies and enablers (and a reliable pro-Western lickspittle), it doesn’t surprise one. Such idiocy isn’t the official outlook of the MP, which remains LEFT-of-centre (and supportive of government intervention in the economy and society). It shows that the Blunder is out of step with the rest of the Church… he isn’t the most-hated bishop in Russia for nothing. It also shows that the Blunder sucks up to the West and undercuts the interests of the Orthosphere.

However, all the konvertsy children will jump up and down and claim that this proves that the Church supports their troglodyte notions. Nothing is further from the truth. This is just another one of the Blunder’s idiosyncratic gestures. Remember, he keeps claiming that the Pope of Rome and HH are “close to a meeting”, and that the Church and the papists have a “strategic alliance”. This is more of the same… it’s proof that Alfeyev doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being the next patriarch. After all, he’s the first head of the DECR NOT to be a ruling bishop; HH took away two-thirds of the agency away from him, didn’t he (and removed Mark Golovkov and Vsevolod Chaplin from his authority)? I’d be impressed if the condolences came from Varsonofy Sudakov or VAC… but they didn’t.

Ponder this… the konvertsy go gaga over the Blunder’s “gee-shucks” telegenic looks and his fruity Oxbridge accent, despite his lack of real cred and actual achievements. What does that tell you about them?


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Navalny Case: Who Needs Terrifying Stories About Stalinism?


Methinks that the pot calls the kettle black… after all, the West gave us the Patriot Act, free gropes from the TSA, and indefinite detention at Guantánamo… and listens in on your Facebook conversations. Fancy that… 


No one was more excited about the guilty sentence to Aleksei Navalny than those Western and domestic media that have, over many months, supported the theory of “screw-tightening” in Russia. This theory says that the “tightening of screws” in Russia began with the election of President Putin last year. The excitement of “Russia-as-new-dictatorship” theorists about Navalny’s sentencing is understandable. Every believer is happy to see signs of his faith being true. However, this theory is at variance with many facts, for example, with appointments of Gaidar-type liberals {“conservatives” in American dialect: editor} to key positions in the Central Bank and in the government, Putin’s cautious position on the situation around Snowden, which was respectful to the USA, continued operation, and even the growth in number of anti-Putin media outlets in Russia, etc. For these doomsday theorists, ever longing for signs of ascendant totalitarianism, this verdict of a court in the provincial city of Kirov was a Godsend… a popular opposition activist, just 37-years-old (most probably, a “young reformer”) taken into custody in the courtroom!

Poorly-concealed satisfaction was visible in the indignant headlines of the Western media… their authors are glad that everything turned out exactly as they’d expected. For example, here’s the headline of an article in the American edition of Forbes: “Putin Declares Himself Dictator with the Navalny Verdict”. In addition, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita compared the trial of Navalny to Stalin’s show trials of the 30s. Rzeczpospolita never bothered to remind its readers what would’ve happened to people who’d try greeting convicted politicians with flowers and pancakes in Stalin‘s times, as Navalny’s supporters did after his release (under Stalin, people were shot for milder “offences”). For truly impartial analysts, the severe verdict of the judge in Navalny’s case (5 years), was a surprise. Adam Reihardt, editor-in-chief of the English edition of the Kraków-based magazine New Eastern Europe, offered a bold theory… maybe, the sentence was severe just because the district court in Kirov so decided:

I was convinced that Navalny would get a suspended sentence. It was kind of a surprise that he was given prison time. Apparently, the Russian judicial system turned out to be more independent than it’s usually portrayed in the Western press. Moreover, maybe, the prosecutor’s office [Prokuratura] was simply not prepared for such a strict sentence. So, the incident can be viewed as proof that in Russia prosecution and court are actually better separated than we in the West are led to believe.

Why was it that the much-demonised Prokuratura, not the defence, filed a petition to release Navalny from custody? At first, the supporters of the “tightening of screws” version couldn’t explain it; why, the very body that they said drove the screws, came to the defence of the imprisoned young man. Then, a revolutionary explanation appeared… allegedly, the appearance of protesters scared the authorities, several dozens of which police detained in the centre of Moscow and released before dawn (not quite the Stalinist way to do it). No one bothered to read Article 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which says that a person accused of embezzlement or other mild crime isn’t considered convicted, only as an accused person, until the court’s verdict takes full legal force. This Article also stipulates that the authorities shouldn’t take such a person into custody, or, worse, place them in prison. This is exactly Navalny’s case… he was found guilty by the court, but pending appeal, his verdict didn’t receive full legal force. The Prokuratura pointed this up, and the court freed Navalny. Now, he’s back in Moscow under a written pledge not to leave the city. On Saturday, Navalny said his campaign for Moscow Mayor would continue.

However, questions remain. For example, what’s so surprising about Navalny’s release from custody? Why was it such a disappointment to some well-oiled “protest machines” in Russia and the West? Could it be that some well-to-do gentlemen would prefer Navalny to be a jailed martyr rather than an active and unremarkable candidate in a local election? Previously, we saw similar actions during the Pussy Riot case, when the defence lawyers obviously preferred the loud and scandalous jailing of their clients to them gaining a quiet and dull release. In fact, it seems no coincidence that during Navalny’s trial, almost all Western media writing about Russia (and some in their Russian amen corner), waged a campaign of “preemptive discreditation” of any possible court verdict save a total acquittal. They declared any other judgement by the court unjust in advance. United Russia Gosduma deputy Andrei Klimov considered this a form of pressuring the court, “When the British urge us to establish the rule of law in Russia, they shouldn’t be hypocritical. In a state with the rule of law, politicians don’t have the right to influence a court, including foreign politicians”.

In this context, the alarmist warnings of the American and the EU embassies in Russia demanding that we stop “the tendency of suppressing civil society in the country” sound somewhat woolly. The West might notice that attempts to put pressure upon the Russian authorities usually produce the opposite effect. For example, US Vice President Biden’s statement, made a few years ago in Moscow, that the USA wouldn’t like to see Putin’s return to the Kremlin, on the contrary, contributed to his return. As we see, then, they put pressure on the executive arm; now, they apply it to the judiciary. Nevertheless, the result may be the same. Therefore, there’s no need to save us from ourselves and to make irresponsible statements about a “return to Stalinism”… totalitarianism and Stalinism were horrible things, and there still are people in Russia who know them not from hearsay.

20 July 2013

Dmitri Babich

Voice of Russia World Service


Friday, 10 May 2013

“The Sentiments Expressed by the Bolotnaya Square Protesters are Different from those Expressed by Other Protesters in Russia”: Natalia Narochnitskaya

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. Portrait of a Protestor. 2012


Valdaiclub.com interview with Natalia Narochnitskaya, Director of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris and president of the Historical Perspective Foundation in Moscow


Do you think the inspections of NGOs by the Prokuratura discredit these groups in the eyes of society, which is the goal, or do they discredit the government?


It depends. The Western media are sure that these inspections discredit the authorities… that’s how they portray these audits. These NGOs, especially the most-high-profile ones, are their icons and they’ll portray them as heroes. As for Russian society, certain people, mainly in Moscow, share this view, but people in the rest of Russia don’t see these inspections as discrediting the authorities in any way. It’s important to understand that our society doesn’t have a united stand on this issue. The sentiments expressed by the Bolotnaya Square protesters are different from those expressed by other protesters in Russia. That’s my answer.


Will these inspections further strain relations between activists and the authorities?


Again, it depends. I think there are two unequal camps in the activist community. The *liberal Western-oriented camp that calls itself the “non-systemic” opposition is concentrated in Moscow and it’s very small on a national scale. However, this is the only opposition that the West notices, and, as a result, they’ll probably grow even more hysterical in their hatred of the Russian government.

*”liberal” in Russian terms is the same as the Anglospherelibertarian”. The latter term isn’t part of Russian intellectual/political discourse. That is, when a Russian attacks “liberalism”, they attack the non-regulatory Hobbesian anarchism of the Anglosphere Right. That is, Russians uncontaminated by Western constructs oppose and anathematise anarchy of any sort; it doesn’t matter if it’s religious anarchy (“evangelicalsectarianism… an Orthodox bishop called it “Christian atheism”… how true!), societal anarchy (libertarianism), intellectual anarchy (“anarchy” per se), or moral anarchy (immorality)… in Russian terms, all four have an intimate and indissoluble correlation.

As for the majority of activists in the rest of Russia, they lean more towards left-wing views. They aren’t sad that the 1990s are over, but they feel like the car broke down on the road leading away from the ‘90s. These people are more worried about pensions, re-industrialisation, jobs, fighting corruption, and the decline of Russians as the dominant ethnic group in the country. However, they like Russia’s strong foreign policy and tough response to Western pressure. I don’t think these audits had any effect on their attitudes. They might even welcome them.


Do you think there’s a connection between the audits of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), during which the auditors removed their computers and papers with Angela Merkel’s position on Cyprus?


Maybe, but I don’t think so. By the way, in the West, many experts believe this, and in private conversation they’ll say that EU leaders probably gave Cyprus an ultimatum… make no agreements with Russia, or you won’t receive any cash and the EU will simply engineer its collapse in one week. I’ve heard this from British and French experts. In a brief statement on Cyprus’s collapse, Viktor Gerashchenko said off-the-cuff that probably this decision was directed against Russia and that Cyprus was being punished for its pro-Russian position and refusal to let the West anywhere near the deposits discovered on the country’s continental shelf. There was a risk that Russia might get a hold in this key strategic area in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, I still believe that the EU had bigger motives in Cyprus. We can hardly consider the removal of computers as a “retaliatory measure”. They simply caught these NGOs in the same net as all the others.


Do you think that these inspections are a pretext to put off the issue of establishing visa-free travel between Russia and Europe?


For Europe and the EU, this is the pretext they’ve been looking for in order to hold up a process that they’re simply not ready for. No doubt, they’ll use it and cling to it. However, in reality… and experts have long known this… they aren’t ready for visa-free travel with Russia. They’re doing everything to impede the process, saying that they’ll have to deal with a wave of illegal workers from Asia and the Caucasus.


What problems are Russian NGOs facing abroad?


The media speaks ill of Russia or not at all. The French press is in the lead and the European media in general is acting in much the same manner. They welcome only those Russian NGOs that rabidly insist that no country in the world is worse and has fewer rights than post-Yeltsin Russia. They invite such people to speak on television very often. By the way, they’re from NGOs that receive official funds from the US budget. The US Congress is partially-financing institutions of the Republican and Democratic parties, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and many Russian NGOs. I shudder to think what they would’ve written about my Institute of Democracy and Cooperation if we’d received a penny from the Russian budget.

By the way, I’ve just come back from America where I had a conversation with a prominent banking analyst. I asked him directly what he thinks about the campaign in the press against the new law requiring that NGOs funded from abroad must declare this if they conduct political activities in Russia. He laughed and said that in the USA foreign funding of political activities carries criminal penalties. He said a man from China contributed to a local election campaign in one city and received a 10-year prison term.

No matter what we do and what important events with distinguished people we hold, there’ll be little or no coverage. Sometimes, they invite us to be on television. If a Russian NGO in a foreign country doesn’t spew hatred for the government, even if it readily discusses our sins, they’ll always describe it as a Kremlin agency funded by the budget, even though this is a total lie. This is the constant insinuation you hear, based on some blogs. The academic community in Europe is much fairer and more objective, and it’s easier to work with them. We’re trying to involve them in serious roundtables where we always criticise corruption and other vices in Russian politics or the economy. Three years ago, our office in Paris opened with a seminar offering a comparative analysis of anti-corruption laws in France and Russia, which put Russia in an unfavourable light. We had interesting speakers on our side, and we acknowledged that corruption is a systemic problem that can’t be resolved quickly. However, nobody cares about this.

Here’s another example of what often happens. When my name came up in connection with the establishment of my institute’s office in Paris, many newspapers asked me for an interview… l’Express, Le Figaro, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and The Chicago Tribune {did Sophia Kishkovsky or Serge Schmemann interview Professor Narochnitskaya? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…: editor}. I talked with all of them at least for an hour about everything, including culture, insight into life in each other’s countries, and the desire to break the glass wall of misunderstanding that separates us. A French woman from l’Express and I even got to talking about Baudelaire’s poetry and hugged each other goodbye. You should’ve seen what her newspaper wrote! I regretted that I was so naïve and didn’t switch on the recorder. I could’ve published it online so that everyone could see that they clearly instructed her to write a negative story. Nevertheless, I didn’t say anything negative and she published in her newspaper three routine anti-Putin paragraphs that had nothing to do with our conversation and one sentence about our meeting… “This is the aim of the agency that will be headed by Natalia Narochnitskaya, whom I had a chance to meet”.

I can concur on Professor Narochnitskaya’s observation. Western media sorts NEVER tell it as you tell it and you must use the utmost caution in talking to them. Never be verbose… be concise, for they can edit your words in such a way that it’ll seem that you either support their position or that you’re a marginal nutter (this is particularly true of TV presenters). In fact, very few Western “authority figures” tell the truth (“winning by any means, fair or foul” is the most important component of the Western Corporate Weltanschauung)… be very, very careful in your dealings with them, especially, with clergy… never talk to a clergyman on substantive matters without a witness or two (doubly so, if he’s a convert or an SVS grad). As Paffhausen illustrated, all too often, they do lie whenever it’s convenient for them, and they’re bloody sincere and unctuous about it, too…

Frankfurter Allgemeine was the only newspaper to report what I said without sneering and in good faith. Its coverage reflected their understanding of what I said. An article in Le Figaro read, “Oh what a fierce debater they’ve sent from Russia!” I take pride in this! Speaking about freedom of the press in the West, the press is so subordinated to editorial policy that it’s long ceased to reflect the diversity of public thinking and public opinion in its own countries. Public opinion in these countries is much more complex, and many more people are quite fair in their views of Russia. I won’t say they’re fond of Russia, but they’re willing to listen calmly to positive information about the country. My European friends and partners tell me they’re sick and tired of hysterical Russophobia in the press. Incidentally, already, Russophobia has become marginal. The articles by André Glucksman have become so grotesque that they remind me of our incomparable Valeria Novodvorskaya {a pro-Western Quisling… she writes for the New York Times… did this traitor mentor Sophia Kishkovsky? Interesting angle, no?: editor}. The press has taken it so far that soon its coverage will have the opposite effect. This is what happened with anti-capitalist propaganda in the Khrushchyov era. We’ll discuss this problem… the origins of Russophobia… at a conference at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy in May, which I’m attending. The Italian side, not us, suggested the idea. This is already a good sign.

8 May 2013

Valdai Discussion Club


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