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PRESS CONFERENCE OF METROPOLITAN YUVENALY
MOSCOW, 11 June. "In making the decision about priests' participation in the burial of the Ekaterinburg remains the church acted upon its Christian obligation to commemorate the deceased." This was the way the metropolitan of Krutitsy and Kolomna explained, at today's news conference at ITAR-TASS, the participation of Orthodox clergy in the requiem which will be conducted on 17 July in the cathedral of Peter and Paul.
The bishop stated that on the tragic date of the eightieth anniversary of the day of the murder of the royal family, a commemoration of all martyrs from the years of the war against God will be held in all Orthodox churches, including the cathedral of Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg where there also will be a requiem. "The state had planned the funeral; the church also was invited to pray. Our decision was free from any outside pressure," said Metropolitan Yuvenaly. He stressed that it is a mistake to set the two positions, of science and of the church, in opposition. "We simply could not overlook the doubts which the conclusions of the state commission raised," Master Yuvenaly explained, recalling that the responses of scholars to the ten questions presented failed to satisfy all members of the state commission, among whom were famous scholars. "The decision of the commission created division in society. This conflict began to take on an unhealthy character," the bishop said. Thus the church, in his words, not wishing to enflame hostility, called its countrymen to refrain today from supporting either point of view. "Let this day become a day of general repentance for the sins of apostasy and regicide. We shall perform it in prayer, penance, and fasting, trusting in the Lord to hear our prayers and bless our fatherland with peace and prosperity," Metropolitan Yuvenaly appealed to believing Russians. "The burial of the Ekaterinburg remains," the bishop emphasized, "is not associated with the issue of the canonization of the royal family." Study of the materials required for making the church's decision about canonization of Nicholas II and members of his family has already been done, Metropolitan Yuvenaly reported. He is the head of the commission of the Russian Orthodox church dealing with canonization of saints. He recalled that this question will be reviewed at the next local council, which is planned to mark the bimillennium of Christ's birth. "It is a different issue that for us the question of the unquestionable attribution of the remains of the royal family is not a matter of indifference; in the event of canonization, the remains will be declared sacred relics and they will begin to receive appropriate veneration," he said. This is why, the bishop explained, the church does not have the right to make a mistake so as not to create a situation in which believing people would venerate false relics.
Metropolitan Yuvenaly expressed the hope that new documents and investigations, which will help scholars place the final period in the matter of identifying the remains, will facilitate the elucidation of the truth. As regards the church's point of view on this complex problem, for the time being there are no reports about miracles associated with the remains found near Ekaterinburg. It is such evidence, confirmed under oath on the Gospel, that for the church constitutes reliable proof. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 11 June 1998)
SCHISMATICS RETAIN CHURCH DESPITE COURT DECISION
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
KIEV. 10 June. The church in the village of Grigorovka of Obukhov district of Kiev province, which had belonged to a community of the Ukrainian Orthodox church, was seized by schismatic Filaretites on 27 March of last year. The rector of the church, Fr Alexander Vorona, tried several times to file a criminal case. However he succeeded only in filing a suit in civil court. [see "Conflict among believers gets violent"]
After three sessions, on 31 March of this year the court of Obukhov district rendered a decision "to remove the hinderances to the use of the worship facilities by the community of the Ukrainian Orthodox church," that is, to turn over the church to its legal owners. The schismatics tried to appeal the decision in provincial court. However the provincial court confirmed the legality of the ruling. On 9 June of this year the judicial executors of the Obuknov district court tried to execute the decision of the court and transfer the church to its legal owners. However a crowd gathered in the church year and did not permit the judicial executors to enter the building. The police officers who were present made no attempt to help the judicial executors. The rector, Fr Alexander Vorona, received threats and insults. The executors composed a statement regarding the impossibility of executing the decision of the court, and they left. According to residents of Grigorovka, the organizers of the crowd were deputies of the village council and the local administration, to whom Filaret Denisenko promised material support in the event the church remains in the possession of Ukrainian Orthodox church--Kievan patriarchate. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Ukrainian Orthodox Church
ATTEMPTS TO SEIZE CHURCH IN ROVNO
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
ROVNO. 3 June. Archbishop Varfolomei of Rovno and Ostrozh reported that attempts to seize Orthodox parishes by supportes of the Filaretit UPTsKP are continuing in Rovno diocese. In particular, in the course of three weeks, on Sundays and feast days, attempts were made to seize the Ascension church of the village of Bugrin, Goshan district. Delegates of the Kievan patriarchate, gathing their supporters from the entire province, have tried to take the church by storm. Esepcially many Filaretites assembled on the church's commemoration day, the Ascension of the Lord, 28 May. Only by the intervention of the police was bloodshed averted. The steadfast of the rector of the parish and the parishioners is still making the seizure of the church impossible. However no appeals to the local authorities for ending the illegal actions have produced positive results. The adminisrator of the Rovno diocese, Archbishop Varfolomei, appealed by telegram to Ukrainian President L. Kuchma for protection of the constitutional rights of believers and an end to the illegal actions of the extremists "from UPTsKP." (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Ukrainian Orthodox Church
(posted 11 June 1998)
MESSAGE OF PATRIARCH ALEXIS II FOR 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF TSAR'S MURDER
Beloved in Christ
Reverend archpastors, worthy pastors, pious monks and nuns, and all true servants of the Russian Orthodox church!
The seventeenth of July of this year marks the eightieth anniversary of the day of the murder of Russian Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family. Time continually takes us farther away from that day when this evil deed was performed. Several generations have succeeded one another in that time, but the memory of the iniquity that was committed and our nation's sense of guilt for its impenitence have not been blotted out.
The murder of the tsarist family is a heavy burden on our nation's conscience which preserves the consciousness that many of our ancestors, by direct participation, approval, or silent evasion, are guilty of this sin. Repentance for it must become a sign of the unity of our people and it cannot be achieved by means of passive consent but by an intentional comprehension of what happend to our country and nation. Only then will there be unity that is not merely formal but from the heart.
Today, just as five years ago when we addressed a message devoted to the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Ekaterinburg tragedy to the shepherds and flock, we again testify that "our nation has not repented of the sin of regicide, which happened while the citizens of Russia looked on indifferently. We call to repentance our whole nation, all of its children irrespective of their political notions and views of history, irrespective of their ethnic origins or religious affiliation, or of their attitudes toward the idea of monarchy and the personality of the last Russian emperor."
Let the memory of the crime that was committed drive us to achieve on this day general repentance for the sin of apostasy and regicide, accompanied by fasting and sobriety, so that the Lord may hear our prayers and bless our fatherland with peace and prosperity. On this day we call and bless the archpastors and pastors of our holy church to perform requiems commemorating the murdered Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, Empress Alexandra, their children, Olga, Tatiana, Mariia, Anastasiia, and Alexis, and their faithful servants and all who were martyred and murdered in the years of horrible persecutions for the faith of Christ whose names are known only to the Lord himself.
In calling for this we profoundly regret that the sad anniversary of the murder of the sovereign and his family is marred by fierce disputes over the question about the remains that were found near Ekaterinburg. On this day, 17 July, in St. Petersburg, in the cathedral of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, these remains will be buried. According to the conclusion of the state commission these were identified as the remains of the tsarist family. As is known, the decision of the commission evoked a divided reaction within our society and the church. Alongside those who trust the conclusions of the commission are those who do not accept these conclusions. The discussion by the church and secular publics has been divided and this division bears a clearly confrontational and painful character. In this situation the church administration, which has the duty of concern for the unity of the church and facilitation of civil peace and accord, by the very logic of the conflict that has arisen is called to refrain from supporting either point of view.
Requiems for the murdered emperor, his family, and all those martyred in the years of persecution will be performed on this day in the parishes of our churches; a similar requiem also will be performed in the cathedral of Peter and Paul in the city on the Neva. This service is not an act of acceptance or nonacceptance of the conclusions of science regarding the "Ekaterinburg remains," but the fulfillment of a Christian obligation, the church's response to the request to conduct a funeral service upon the burial of these remains.
Dear reverend archpastors, worthy pastors, beloved brothers and sisters. Today the plenitude of the church is diligently working for the restoration of the holy places that have fallen down and the revival of the face of Holy Rus. Blessing these labors, we call all to raise prayers not only for the peace of the church family but also for all those who were murdered and perished in the hard years so that in a spirit of harmony, forsaking the pressure of vain dissension which is alien to the welfare of the church, we shall get through the difficult time not being experienced by our church and nation. "Let us pursue what leads to peace and mutual edification" (Rm 14.19). "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace forever in everything" (1 Tim 3.16).
Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus, Alexis
members of the Holy Synod
Department of External Church Relations
(tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 11 June 1998)
INTRACHURCH QUARRELS LED TO SYNOD'S CONCLUSION
MOSCOW, 10 June. The decision made on Tuesday by the Holy Synod not to participate in the ceremony of burial of the remains of the last Russian sovereign Nicholas II and his family was motivated by intrachurch problems and not by problems of the remains themselves and their burial, according to a statement today by Viktor Aksiuchits, advisor to vice premier of the government of Russia Boris Nemtsov, made in an interview with an ITAR-TASS correspondent. Aksiuchits said that the representative of the Russian Orthodox church in the state commission on problems of the identification of the royal remains, Metropolitan Yuvenaly, participated in the adoption by the commission of the decision on identification of the remains. Both Master Yuvenaly and Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus, in his words, frequently stated that they had no basis for doubting the conclusions of experts. At the same time Aksiuchits noted that all ten questions which were posed by the patriarchate in 1995 for the state commission were given exhaustive answers. Both the answers to these questions and all materials of the commission in full were presented personally to Patriarch Alexis II and Metropolitan Yuvenaly. In addition all materials were sent to the Holy Synod.
Viktor Aksiuchits emphasized that "there are no legal or moral grounds to put the conclusions of the state commission in doubt." Officially, he added, the Moscow patriarchate never even expressed doubt about these conclusions. Therefore, Aksiuchits said, "the government has no basis for a review of its decisions regarding the burial of the remains of Nicholas II and those close to him."
At the same time Aksiuchits emphasized that in the case of such complex problems as those of the identification of remains, all doubts and contradictions never can finally be eliminated in society, and therefore the only proper decision in this case is the decision not to put off the burial, about which the church fully agrees with the government of Russia.
Aksiuchits also reported that at the present time a working group created by the government is active, preparing for publication all materials of the commission, but he noted these materials are voluminous. In this regard in the next couple of weeks a brief collection of materials of 200 pages will be prepared and published and then the full materials will be prepared.
Commenting on the attitude toward the emerging situation of the Moscow mayor, who on Tuesday declared that he agreed with the church and expressed doubt that the remains really belonged to Nicholas II and his family, Aksiuchits cited a letter by Yury Luzhkov to Russian President Boris Yeltsin of 22 January 1998 in which Luzhkov wrote: "The enormous work conducted with the authorization of the commission by experts and scholars permits one to make the basic conclusion that the remains found at the site of the old Koptiakov road really are the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, members of his family, and their companions, who were shot in July 1918 in the city of Ekaterinburg." (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 10 June 1998)
RELIGIOUS SITUATION AT FIRST OF YEAR
by Yury Kolesnikov,
Radiotserkov, 9 June 1998
According to data of the Central Asian Missionary Conference which was held in Karaganda in May of this year, 15,671,800 persons live in Kazakhstan. Of them, only 50% are of the titular nationality. The other half comprises Russians, of whom there are about 5,000,000, Ukrainians, appr. 700,000, Tatars, appr. 300,000, Germans, 260,000 and other nationalities.
In the fourteen districts of this country there are 826 Islamic religious associations, 202 parishes of the Russian Orthodox church, 478 protestant organizations, most of whom are members of the churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (218). At the same time, as was noted at the conference, the trend of rapid growth of Islamic organizations and charismatic churches is evident. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Radiotserkov
(posted 10 June 1998)
HAMID WAS GIVEN EXPLOSIVES
Trud, 3 June 1998
by Valery Biriukov
Trud has reported about a series of crimes committed in the past year in the Namangan region of Uzbekistan. Law enforcement agencies after long months of painstaking "investigations" arrested "practically all the perpetrators of the cold-blooded murders." They managed also to get to the instigators of these crimes.
With the fall of the Union, into Uzbekistan, as also into other states of the Commonwealth, have flocked not only "businessmen" but also many religious extremists. Activists of the Wahhabi sect settled in Namangan where traditionally there were very many believers. One of the spiritual leaders of Wahhabis of Pakistan, Amjet-ali, created a Wahhabi headquarters in the Namangan Atavalikhon mosque, from which he directed unsanctioned meetings and processions. The authorities then with great difficulty discovered the underlying cause of the religious enthusiasm. Foreign preachers staying in the republic without visas were sent back where they came from and the situation in the district normalized. However, as now has become clear, the Wahhabis did not leave.
There were many training grounds for breaking in the newly emerging "warriors of Islam." Right next door, a half hour by car, in Tajikistan a civil war flared up. It required great expense and time to build an effective barrier against it. Often volunteers were simply lured into the warriors' camps with promises of learning business and commerce.
The fate of a youth named Hamid is significant in this regard. After school he was not able to get into a Tashkent institute and he returned to his native Namangan, where he lazed around without work until some experienced young men from the lower structures of power suggested that he go abroad for a six-month course for businessmen. True, for some reason they told relatives to say that he was going to study in Tashkent.
So one evening Hamid got in a car and he turned up in the Tavildarin district of Tajikistan at the base of the so-called Namangan battalion. Here about 400 warriors were learning tactics of terrorist explosives. The thirty-year old Juma Hojaev (alias, Juma Namangansky), who had fled to Tajikistan back in 1992, commanded the battalion. To Hamid's declaration that he had gotten to the camp by chance and he wanted to learn commerce and not military affairs came the laconic response: "Forget your parents; our goal is jihad in the name of Islam; from now on you are a warrior of Islam and there is no going back for you. Otherwise you will lose your head."
The battalion consisted in the main of people who had come from the Namangan, Andizhan, and Fergan districts of Uzbekistan. Every new recruit was turned into an experienced warrior. Classes were taught by instructors from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Arab countries. After six months of study the "warriors of Islam" were given one more test. After long talks and psychological "testing" Juma Namangansky gave each warrior a specific task. Upon returning home Hamid along with some others was supposed to carry out a bombing at the auto factory in the city of Asak in Andizhan district. Hamid was given several dozen containers of TNT, fuses, Kalashnikov automatics, and a large number of shells.
Having returned home, Hamid turned over his arsenal to law enforcement agents and sincerely described everything he had seen and heard during his "study." However, not everyone, by a long shot, followed his example since not all of the people had fallen into the ranks of the warriors by chance.
The entire Fergana valley was terrorized by the cold-blooded murder in his own home of the deputy head of the administration of Namangan district. Then followed the heinous murder of the director of the economy in the valley. The crowning crime was violence against a police officer. The murderers set his head in front of the building where the department of internal affairs was located. As has been shown, all these crimes were in the main the work of hands of former activists educated in Namangan district back in 1991 from societies called "Adolat" (Justice) and "Islom lashkarlari" (Warriors of Islam). The majority of them then fled to Tajikistan and from there to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, where they underwent special theological and military training.
Of course the goal of the Wahhabis was a jihad and the creation of a fundamentalist state or Kokand khanate on the territory of Uzbekistan. In the course of the jihad it was intended not only to eliminate physically all infidels but also Muslims who do not adhere to the ideas of Wahhabism. For these goals, according to testimony of eyewitnesses, special lists of people intended for physicial elimination had been drawn up. Training for these acts was highly skilled. For example, at the time of arrest one of the warriors played the role of a pious man absorbed in prayer so well that the OMON soldiers let down their guard for a moment. This turned out to be enough for the warrior to pull out a pistol and literally shoot several men. In reply he got automatic fire from one of the fatally wounded soldiers.
The whole series of crimes was directed at worsening the unmanageable situation and destabilizing conditions throughout the Fergana valley, the junction of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan. At first the Wahhabis were successful at this. However the murders and the decisive actions of the authorities opened believers' eyes to the true essence of the Wahhabis. As has become clear, extensive organizational and material aid for the Wahhabis who had become entrenched in Fergana valley came from Afghan Taliba. The Taliba freed from a prison in the Pakistani city of Peshawar at great expense the leader of the Namangan organization "warriors of Islam" Takhir Yuldashev, who had fled there from Uzbekistan, and helped him organize the so-called "battalion of death." At the base where the detachment that Yuldashev put together was located, classes in military training were conducted by the Pakistani Abdullah, and classes in handling explosives and poisonous substances and in code were taught by the Tajik Abdulaziz. A sheik from the Arab Emirates taught classes in firing antiaircraft weapons and using mines.
Law enforcement forces of Uzbekistan threw their best efforts into the struggle against religious extremism and managed to get the situation under control. In essence, the situation is stabilized not only in Uzbekistan, but also throughout Central Asia the outbreak of extremism has been averted. Many weapons' arsenals have been found and confiscated and practically all warriors who had gone abroad for training have been arrested. In the Namangan district and in the higher courts of Uzbekistan trials of the perpetrators of numerous crimes and their instigators are underway. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 10 June 1998)
LUZHKOV ADVOCATES FURTHER STUDY OF EKATERINBURG REMAINS
ST. PETERSBURG, 8 June. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov declared today that it is necessary to prolong the examination of the "Ekaterinburg remains" and to conduct it "calmly and cautiously." He explained his position to Petersburg reporters by saying that among the remains there may be some that do not have any connection with the royal Romanov family. The mayor of Moscow said in this regard that "there should not be any hurry until everything has been examined." According to him, "the government made a hasty decision." The mayor of the capital also denied the opinion that he supports the burial of the remains in Moscow. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 10 June 1998)
SYNOD AGREED WITH PATRIARCH
by Roman Kostikov
Kommersant-Daily, 10 June 1998
It has been learned from sources in the patriarchate that the main topic of discussion -- who nevertheless will be going to St. Petersburg for the burial ceremony for the remains that are recognized by the state commission as tsarist--did not evoke great disagreement. No one even mentioned Alexis II.
The decision reached consists of three points: to conduct a requiem for the souls of murdered innocents on the day of the 80th anniversary of the shooting of the tsarist family, in all churches of the Russian Orthodox church; to permit lower clergy of RPTs (white clergy) to be present at the ceremony (the service will be said not for members of the tsar's family but for victims of the theomachistic regime); and to recommend to federal authorities that they conduct the burial of remains in a symbolic grave-monument.
Today, having escaped from the heavy burdens of publicly expressing his own position with regard to the burial ceremony, the head of RPTs will be accepting congratulations on the eighth anniversary of his enthronement, namely on 10 June 1990 Aleksei Mikhailovich Rediger became Patriarch Alexis II. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
(posted 10 June 1998)
REGULAR SESSION OF HOLY SYNOD
9 June 1998
Upon discussion of the 80th anniversary on 17 July of the day of the passion-bearing death of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family and their faithful servants, the Holy Synod decided:
1. In comemoration of the 80th anniversary of the passion-bearing death of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family and their faithful servants, to conduct in the churches of the Russian Orthodox church a panakhida (requiem) with prayers "for the rest of the souls of the departed servants of God, the murdered Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their children Olga, Tatiana, Mariia, Anastasiia, and Alexis, and their faithful servants and all those martyred and slain in the time of fierce persecutions, whose names are known to You alone, O Lord."
2. In connection with this sad date to send a letter from the Holy Synod to the plenitude of the Russian Orthodox church.
The Holy Synod had a discussion of the upcoming burial of "the Ekaterinburg remains" on 17 July 1998 in St. Petersburg and resolved:
1. To affirm the position of the church expressed in the determination of the Holy Synod on 26 February of this year in which, in particular, it was said: " Evaluation of the reliability of the scientific and investigatory conclusions, as well as the evidence about whether they are beyond doubt or refutation, is not within the competence of the church. . . . The decision of the state commission identifying the remains found near Ekaterinburg as those of the family of Emperor Nicholas II has evoked serious doubts and even conflicts within the church and society. . . .In this regard the Holy Synod has spoken in favor of immediate burial of these remains in a symbolic grave memorial. When all doubts relative to the "Ekaterinburg remains" have been removed and reasons for confusion and opposition within society have disappeared, then it will be necessary to revisit the final decision on the matter of the place of their burial."
2. Considering the above, to conclude that it is impossible for the primate of the Russian Orthodox church or any other of its hierarchs to participate in the burial of the "Ekaterinburg remains."
3. Having in view the requests reaching the church hierarchy about appropriate church actions accompanying burial and recalling that the church never refuses anyone such actions, to approve his holiness Metropolitan Vladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga sending clergy from among those under his jurisdiction for conducting on 17 July a requiem in the cathedral of saints apostles Peter and Paul in the Peter-Paul forgress of St. Petersburg. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Moscow patriarchate
(posted 9 June 1998)
from AP: RUSSIAN CHURCH COOL TO TSAR SERVICE
Filed at 2:22 p.m. EDT
By The Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) -- The Russian Orthodox Church distanced itself Tuesday from the lavish state funeral planned for the country's last czar, deciding that the patriarch will not preside over next month's ceremony.
The church has been skeptical over the identity of nine sets of bones recovered from a pit in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in 1991, despite a six-year investigation and forensic tests in Russia, Britain and the United States.
The decision Tuesday by the church's Holy Synod means no member of the church hierarchy will officiate at the burial in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg.
However, the Synod said in a statement that in accordance with the church's obligation to officiate over funerals whenever requested, priests from the St. Petersburg diocese can take part.
Russian media have said that President Boris Yeltsin will not take part unless Patriarch Alexy II does.
The nine skeletons have been identified as those of Czar Nicholas II, his wife, three children and four servants.
Hundreds of foreign representatives, including many European royalty, have been invited to attend the funeral on July 17 -- the 80th anniversary of the family's execution by a Bolshevik firing squad.
(posted 9 June 1998)
by Olga Pestereva and Roman Kostikov
Komersant-Daily, 9 June 1998
Today at eleven o'clock in Saint Daniel's monastery the session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox church will begin. At it the main question of recent days is supposed to be decided: will RPTs participate in the burial ceremony of the remains of the family of Nicholas II? At the personal meeting held last Friday by Alexis II and Boris Yeltsin, the decision was reached: neither the patriarch nor president will take part in the ceremony. In essency the synod now only has to decide which of the bishops will represent the church at the event.
The decision of the synod, as in the case of the previous April decision, will be essentially a formality. Just as then, two days before the meeting of the senior church hierarchs, Alexis II met with Boris Yeltsin face to face. Only then it took more time; judging by everything the conversation was complicated. The question at the meeting was precise: to go or not to go to St. Petersburg on 17 July in order to give the upcoming funeral the status of a national event.
The patriarch and president conversed more than an hour. After the meeting the patriarch left without say a word to any of his aides. No announcements about the results of the meeting were made by either patriarch or president. Moreover, the agreed that before the official decision of the synod they would not comment on the situation. Boris Yeltsin maintained a complete silence.
Kommersant has learned from well informed sources that the patriarch and president, having discussed the sore question for a long time, agreed about everything: neither one would go to Petersburg for the burial ceremony of the last Russian emperor.
In and of itself this outcome cannot be considered a sensation. Kommersant wrote already on 9 April that the head of RPTs would not go to St. Petersburg. And Boris Yeltsin, properly, never promised to participate in the ceremony. Several days before the meeting of the head of RPTs and the president the Russian government made its contribution to the resolution of the problem. Two weeks ago a letter was prepared for the patriarch over the signature of Sergei Kirienko requesting a determination of the form of RPTs' participation in the burial, in order "to pay its moral debt to the innocent Orthodox people who were murdered." But before the prime minister's departure for Paris he did not get around to signing the letter. Only yesterday, on the eve of the session of the synod, was the letter signed by the prime minister and sent to the patriarch. The document contains reference to the patriotic, spiritual, and historical significance of the action. It says that the government of the Russian federation considers the upcoming burial "as an act of repentance and reconciliation of Russian society." As regards the ceremony itself, messages of the president and patriarch were foreseen. The patriarchal message would be read by the one designated by the Holy Synod. The presidential message would be brought by a person of appropriate status.
Tomorrow the synod will announce its decision and name those bishops whose presence the church considers acceptable and worthy to accompany the last Russian emperor on his final journey. Upon the synod's decision depends not only the participation of the church in the funeral but also the final assessment and procedure of the ceremony. At least the status of the upcoming burial on 17 July depends on who takes part in the event from RPTs (and who takes part in general). (tr. by PDS)
Russian text at Pravoslavie v Rossii
REPENTANCE: HOW SHALL WE BURY THE EMPEROR?
Moskovskii komsomolets, 9 June 1998
In January of this year the Holy Synod decisively refused to trust the state commission. For seven years the best specialists of Russia, England, and USA labored on the identification of the remains of the last Romanovs that were found near Ekaterinburg. With a stroke of a pen, without bothering about any arguments, the members of the synod struck out all the conclusions of the commission from the presentation of Metropolitan Yuvenaly Poiarkov of Krutitsy and Kolomno, a permanent member of the state commission.
When the government made the decision about the burial of the royal remains in St. Petersburg and the president approved it, it seemed that the Russian church did not want to take part in the ceremony. This signifies one thing: the Holy Synod has separated itself from the Russian people who are ready to repent for all the crimes of bolshevism in which, willingly or not, they participated.
On the eve of Trinity President B.N. Yeltsin met with his holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus. The conversation was held at a suburban Moscow sanatorium where the patriarch is being treated. It had a confidential character, but it dealt in the main with one subject: particpation of the Russian church in the upcoming funeral on 17 July. This question will be reviewed today at the regular session of the Holy Syod.
We have learned that on the desk of the prime minister there is the text of an appeal which is addressed to the patriarch. Despite the fact that the letter at the time of publishing still has not been signed by the premier, we are publishing it without any comment.
To His Holiness Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus.
The upcoming burial in the cathedral of saints Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg of the remains of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, members of his family, and his household has been assessed by the government of the Russian federation as the fulfillment of a moral obligation to those innocent ones who were killed, an act of repentance and reconciliation of the Russian society. The conduct of the ceremony of burial is a symbol of social reconciliation and an event of great patriotic, spiritual, and historic significance, which, in essence, will close the twentieth century which has been tragic for Russia.
In light of the great attention of the Russian and foreign publics to the upcoming ceremony, the government of the Russian federation appeals to you with the request to determine the form of the participation of the Russian Orthodox church in the ceremony of burial of the remains of the innocent Orthodox people who were killed.
Chairman of the government of the Russian federation, S.V, Kirienko
(tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Pokaianie
(posted 10 June 1998)
NEW LEADERS DESCEND FROM THE MOUNTAINS
by Evgeny Krutikov
Segodnia, 6 June 1998
Moscow has noted that someone has been inserted into Dagestani affairs
Yesterday Russian President Boris Yeltsin received the head of Dagestan, Magomedala Magomedov. This meeting was unplanned and was occasioned by the recent events in Makhachakala and by the subsequent parliamentary investigation of corruption in the republic, initiated by the leader of the Union of Muslims of Russia, State Duma deputy Shah Nadir Khachilaev [see interview, below]. Boris Yeltsin said that today's circle of discussion is the solution of questions "what to do now," inasmuch as it is now obvious that the recent events in the republic can be considered overcome. At the same time Moscow continues to consider that certain forces outside Dagestan are trying to destabilize the situation in the republic. As Yeltsin said, "we nevertheless shall resolve the problems of Dagestan and, of course, will not allow anyone else to intervene on its territory and within its jurisdiction."
Meanwhile the unplanned meeting of Russia's president with the leader of Dagestan was the direct consequence of the activity of Nadirshah Khachilaev, who intended in the evening to request a closed session of the duma. In the past several weeks the political situation in the republic has changed radically and now even the meeting of Yeltsin with Magomedov is not seen as complete support of the federal government for the present leadership of Dagestan. Rather, Moscow is gradually changing its priorities and orientation in its north Caucasus policies, trying to get a larger return out of those partners whom it chooses among the numerous "respected people" in the region. Gradually the policy of support for the "developing status quo" which is costing the federal government much of its authority is fading into the past. It cannot be ruled out that in the near future the new allies of Moscow in Dagestan may be the influential leaders of several national movements, including Mayor Said Amirov of Makhachkala, the director of Dagneft, vice premier of the republic and leader of the Avar national front in honor of Shamil Haji Makhachev, and the Khachilaev brothers.
The arrival of the Khachilaev brothers into politics was connected primarily with the arrogant aspirations of the former athlete and their great financial potential. The elder brother of Nadirshah, Magomed Khachilaev, the leader of the Lak national movement "Kazakumukh," as a deputy of the Dagestan parliament, heads the committee on fish resources of the republic. Originally observers were put off by the arrogance of the "new Muslims"--their provincial manners, poor knowledge of Russian, "insubstantiality," and, what was most strange, the faulty understanding by the leader of the Union of Muslims of Russia of the fundamentals of Islam. Khachilaev's impulsive conduct and his wish always to have the last word, even when the argument was completely lost, created a distorted impression not only about the representatives of the Muslim movement but also about Islam itself. It seemed that the capital career of Khachilaev was finished.
However, Nadirshah Khachilaev showed remarkable talent and steadfastness. In a short time he almost completely changed his image, which became especially notable after he occupied the duma seat of the slain deputy from Dagestan, Gamid Gamidov. Khachilaev took lessons in Russian, expanded his knowledge of Islam, and became not only a Muslim but also an all-Russian politician. He faced a choice: either remain the deputy-emissary in Moscow of Muslim republics or try to become a politician on a federal scale.
Khachilaev tried to create a "Muslim fraction" in the Duma. He did not manage to achieve this goal, but he was able to strengthen this idea in the consciousness of deputies. Now, after the events in Makhachkala, Khachilaev has become before our eyes a politician on the federal scale. It is no secret that he has compromising information about the highest persons of Dagestan, and Khachilaev has already presented it to Sergei Stepashin and Yuru Skuratov. However the federal authorities surely will not publish the information about the leadership of the republic since such a precedent is too dangerous for regional authority. It's much more convenient to do business with the "weakened" regional leader than with one who is strong and confident about tomorrow. As a result of this Khachilaev declared yesterday that "in keeping with an earlier agreement with the minister of internal affairs Sergei Stepashin regarding cases of corruption among responsible persons it is now decided to keep silent in the interests of the investigation."
Khachilaev's speech in the duma was conducted behind closed door, and gradually the heat of passions around the Makhachkala events and corruption in the republic will fade. The basic result of these events is the sharp growth of the political weight of Nadirshah Khachilaev, who from a little known "Muslim deputy" and leader of one of the numerous national movements in Dagestan has become a figure of general federal proportions. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Novyie lideri spuskaiutsia s gor
(posted 8 June 1998)
"ANTIDEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT ENDS WITH UPRISINGS"
State Duma deputy Nadir Khachilaev is convinced that the seizure of building in Makhachkala was a provocation of the government of Dagestan
by Maxim Shevchenko
Nezavisimaia gazeta, 6 June 1998
Many of the mass media and politicians evaluating the events of 21 May have used the word "uprising." At the same time it is said that this "uprising" was planned by you, Nadirshah Mugadovich, and your brother in agreement with certain forces in Chechnia. Did these accusations come from Moscow politicans?
--Everyone with whom I have met has managed to figure out what happened and how. Although it must be acknowledged that perhaps there were some elements of an uprising. If the government is antidemocratic, it always ends by uprisings. But the main uprising and provocation were against us, the legally elected deputies.
--You have been publicly threatened with violence; the relatives of the slain policemen have hinted at a blood feud. What do you have to say about these threats?
--In the Caucasus there are clear rules of the blook feud. If I had killed them, then probably there would be some basis for it. The police themselves know well that we did not participate in a conflict with their comrades.
--In recent days we have had occasion frequently to read or hear about the reports of the special services stating that there are seized telephone conversations between you and Grozny which were conducted just at the time of the events in Makhachkala.
--Let them prove it. It's stupidity. The special services have lost their professionalism and are creating confusion and chaos. Dagastanis never had any need for Grozny.
--Did you even put forward the notion of the separation of Dagestan from Russia and the establishment of an Islamic regime on its territory?
--I oppose all regimes. But as president of the Union of Muslims of Russia I cannot be against an Islamic state, although I never advocated the separation of Dagestan from Russia and I never preached enmity toward other nations and I am not about to do this. If Russia should be Orthodox then I do not think that it will become less fortunate.
--Let's return to the events of 21 May. You mentioned certain forces to whom, in your words, a plot against people's deputies would be advantageous. What are these forces? Can you define them concretely? What are their goals?
--For a whole year I have been trying to get a commission on corruption to come to Dagestan. But for some reason no one came in time. The situation in that time got worse. But I promised the people to shed light on where this money is going.
--Describe how the events came about.
--The cause of our going armed to the border with Chechnia came personally from the head of the government Khieri Shikhsailov, who arrived on the morning of 20 May at the home of my older brother Magomed. I immediately sensed that this was a ruse and I refused. It is puzzling that the prime minister, who has armed units at his disposal, should ask us for armed intervention. But then they began to call us from the border and said that the peoople were suffering violence from unknown armed units. At the site it appeared that armed intervention was not needed. The next day, 21 May, we had scheduled a meeting with the government of Chechnia, with Aslan Maskhadov. I dismissed the people and began to prepare for purification and evening prayers. Then someone came running to my house and said that on the street they had detained a vehicle and were demanding weapons. When I came out on the steps, shooting had already begun.
--Officially it was said that this was a vehicle with Chechen plates. . .
--That's not saying much. What are Chechen plates? What does "Chechen" mean? This is simply ridiculous. I guarantee that there was not one Chechen there. When I got to the place there already were wounded people. A policeman was sitting on the ground bleeding and he called my name. I went to him and got in the vehicle. There also were several civilians wounded. I put a stop to everything; I told everyone that they were getting both the police and us and that we are not enemies of each other. The police thanked me and they had no reason not to respect me.
But immediately they began to draw up a circle around my house in order to get me. The chief procurator of Makhachkala, Sultan Salauddinov, came. He dealt with the emerging situation very responsibly, also suspecting some kind of provocation. We discussed all this with Sultan until three in the morning and reached complete mutual understanding. I understood well that the house of a State Duma deputy had been surrounded and that I had not participated in the incident.
My older brother Magomed called the head of the government, Khieri Shikhsandov, and reminded him that he himself was the initiator of our going to the border armed. Shikhsailov promised to come and do something, but he did not come. When the procurator left and did not return we understood that all the conversations had been conducted as a formality. Several ministers also came to our place.
--What did they want from you?
--Surrender of the participants in the gunfire. We requested an investigation and clarification of who started the conflict. By our values to surrender people without an investigation would be shameful. They knew very well that nobody was hiding anywhere and that in the daytime we could sort everything out calmly.
In the morning, at about seven, before they cut our telephones, we called the prime minister. He demanded that we surrender our weapons and suggested that we surrender ourselves. And that we do this in a way that is most humiliating for the Caucasus. We replied that he knows well that we are not the type to surrender in such a way and that no normal Dagestani would surrender someone who asked for assylum in his home.
Not long before the attack I had to send my wife and sister with the children on foot to relatives because we were surrounded and the situation was becoming dangerous. Most distrubing was that these unthinkable demands were coming from a friend of my older brother! The prime minister had visited him many times and on that day he also drank his tea. And now he coldly declared in the morning of 21 May that if we did not surrender we would be destroyed.
--He said that?
--Yes, and he emphasized that Alpha group was coming and no help would reach us.
--At that moment, when the prime minister declared the ultimatum to you, were the women and children in the house?
--Yes, of course. And he knew it. But he decided to be the master of our fate.
--How did events develop further?
--At seven o'clock heavy fire began. But behind the ring already about 3,000 men had gathered and its was they who broke through the police ring, rushed forward, and risking their lives under machine gun fire put an end to the shooting. After this everyone went to the square in order to demand of the head of the government of Dagestan an explanation of what happened. There was no uprising. Simply people went to the office of the man who at first had asked people's deputies to go armed to the border for the said of Dagestan and then decided to destroy them.
We came to the square and waited, expecting him to come out. But no one showed. Then the people broke into the Government House.
--It follows from your words that you became the victim of a provocation. But who benefited from this? In the opinion of many observers, the situation in Dagestan had begun to stabilize and at the upcoming elections your brother intended to support the current president of the State Council. A suddenly the republic is on the brink of civil war.
--There is a certain "third force," a team that is intriguing against the current president of the State Council, Magomedali Magomedov. I think that that decided to force events, complicate the situation, and show that the current president is not in control of the situation, and they, as strong individuals, can take the situation under control.
--Can you say who these people are?
--No, for the time being I shouldn't. At the time of the meeting with Sergei Stepashin we agreed to wait. But people in Dagestan see and know everything. We knew when we still were in Moscow that the president of the State Council had issued a strinct order not to shoot. But people in Makhachkala for some reason gave a different order. When Magomedali Magomedov flew to Dagestan, without the least fear or preliminary conversations he walked alone to the Government House. The only one with him was the commander of his personal bodyguard. We could not fail to consider this act. We generally respect age, courage, and humanity. And we left the building without the least conditions.
--Do the Khachilaev brothers have armed formations? The mass media often speak of hundreds of soldiers under your command.
--If we have them, then there are fewer than some of the well known people in Dagestan have. We hever resort to arms. The confidence of the people is not built on fear. But if one is going to be truthful then it must be said unequivocally that all of Dagestan is armed. The Laks are the least protected. When we had problems because of land, Moscow did not lift a finger to help [Apparently this refers to the events at the beginning of the 1990s dealing with the ownership of the former Aukhovsky (now part of Khasaviurt) district of Dagestan--NG]. We had to defend ourselves. In the years of soviet power people developed a feeling of confidence and safety. There was the Red Army, there was soviet law, which was always ready to protect a person. The people got weak. In the time of perestroika the Laks were on the brink of catastrophe. Now the humiliation of the Lak people is continuing. The day after we left the Government House, Laks were rounded up all over Makhachkala and the prisons were overfilled with them.
--Is it possible to disarm Dagestan?
--I will be the first to support disarmament. But history shows that no one is ever disarmed by force. It is necessary to remove the situation that made it necessary for people to keep arms at home. Then the authorities will be absolutely correct in their demands. But for now the need for self-defense remains.
--What do you feel about the elections of 26 June by the old method suggested by Magomedali Magomedov?
--Of course, I cannot remain indifferent to the fate of Dagestan, but I accept that version which will be best for the people, the one that leads to peace. War is a horrible thing and we do not want to be its instigators. (tr. by PDS)
Russian text: Antinarodnaia vlast
(posted 9 June 1998)
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