Voices from Russia

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…



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