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Ukrainian schismatics angry with President Kuchma

NG-religii, 8 August 2001

Metropolitan Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the Kievan patriarchate (UPTsKP), which is not recognized by other local Orthodox churches, declared on 29 July on one of the Ukrainian television channels that he has not spoken against the visit to Ukraine by Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus, which might occur at the end of August during the celebration of the 950th anniversary of the Holy Dormition Kievan caves lavra. However Patriarch Filaret explained that a necessary condition of the visit of the head of the Russian Orthodox church (RPTs) to Kiev is support on his part for the idea of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox church.

The head of UPTsKP considers it necessary to establish "fraternal relations" between the Ukrainian and Russian churches on the basis of equality of rights and mutual recognition. Patriarch Filaret sees the Ukrainian church's future only in unity and independence, which "other Orthodox churches of the world" possess. According to the primate of UPTsKP, official recognition of autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodoxy will become the chief goal of the visit to Ukraine by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Patriarch Filaret refused to specify a date for this visit because such an event, in his words, "requires serious preparation."

Filaret's interview was given against the background of the fuss between UPTsMP and UPTsKP in Crimea, where by decision of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma the restored Saint Vladimir's cathedral at the site of the ancient Crimean city of Chersonesus was turned over to the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate.

The largest public church association of "Filaretites," the Ukrainian Orthodox Brotherhood of Saint Andrew the First-called, distributed in Kiev at the end of July its own open letter addressed to the head of the Ukrainian state. The brotherhood members claim that at the time of the pope's visit, adherents of the Moscow patriarchate "showed no concern" for the Ukrainian people and for the Ukrainian president personally by demonstrating to the eyes of the whole world their hostility to Ukraine and its people. The open letter also notes that tens of millions of hryvnias earned "by the bloody labor of Ukrainians" were collected to construct the Saint Vladimir's cathedral. The authors of the letter criticize Leonid Kuchma because he "has not left anything" to those Orthodox Ukrainians who are adherents of UPTsKP and who supported him on the eve and during the time of the papal visit. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

Religious Information Service of Ukraine, 6 August 2001

On 1 August 2001 a splinter group of the Ukrainian National Movement political party ("Rukh") publicized a statement protesting what it considers to be the creation of privileged conditions for the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. In particular Rukh maintains "that this tendency, which has been noticeable throughout the 10 years of Ukrainian national independence, has especially increased as Ukraine prepares to celebrate the jubilee of its statehood." Ukraine will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of independence on 24 August of this year.

The statementís authors note that Moscow Patriarch Alexis II was recently granted the right to consecrate a rebuilt Ukrainian sanctuary, the cathedral of St. Volodymyr in Khersones (see RISU articles of 23,24 and 31 July for details.) Members of Rukh are indignant because this church, restored at the expense of the city of Kyiv (and, therefore, of Kyivans), has been handed over to a Church which has its center outside Ukraine.

"This section of the Ukrainian National Movement, in the name of its members and supporters, who are also taxpayers, lodges a firm protest against financing, at the cost of Ukrainian citizens, the needs of the Moscow Patriarchate (in particular its worship buildings)."

Rukh considers the intention to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the Kyivan Monastery of the Caves at the same time that the citizens of Ukraine are marking the 10th anniversary of national independence to be rather cynical. This is because the Monastery of the Caves is now used by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, a structural part of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the same time Ukrainian patriots from the whole world will be traveling to Kyiv for the Third Worldwide Forum of Ukrainians. Rukh views the celebration of the monasteryís anniversary as a demonstration of the expansion of the Moscow Patriarchate into Ukraine, "dedicated" to the 10th anniversary of Ukrainian national independence.

Rukh also notes that only a month has passed since Pope John Paul IIís visit to Ukraine. As Alexis II was the one church leader who tried to prevent the visit, Rukh considers the invitation of Alexis a clear sign of the "scattershot" approach of Ukrainian leadership regarding religious issues.

President Kuchma is addressed at the conclusion of the letter, with a plea "not to allow the degradation of the national dignity of Ukrainians and the possible consequence of aggravating the social and political situation as Ukraine marks the jubilee of its national independence."

Materials for this article were taken from the Ukrainian-language source   (posted 9 August 2001)

by Evgenia Mussuri,
Kyiv Post, 2 August 2001

Ukraine's two main Orthodox churches, which have been squabbling over title to church property for most of the last decade, have found something new to fight over.

At the heart of the latest dispute is the oldest Christian shrine on the territory of the former Soviet Union, Saint Volodymyr's Cathedral in Khersones near Sevastopol.

The cathedral, which is noteworthy as the scene of the baptism of the first Christian prince of Kyiv Rus, Volodymyr the Great, was demolished by the Bolsheviks in the 1930s. It is currently undergoing restoration financed by the Kyiv City Administration, and the work is scheduled to be completed by Independence Day on Aug. 24.

While the restoration work was still in progress on July 28, a new cross was erected at the site in the presence of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who was in Sevastopol to observe a joint Ukrainian-Russian naval parade.

Once the work is completed, the Ukrainian government will hand the church over to the branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is loyal to the Moscow Patriarch, which will hold a consecration ceremony.

The rival Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate is unhappy with this arrangement.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, which broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church soon after Ukraine proclaimed independence, was anathematized by the latter and is still not recognized by Orthodox churches around the world. In accordance with Orthodox canons, anyone who worships with those anathematized is automatically excommunicated.

"The restoration has been carried out at the expense of the Ukrainian people," said Yury Doroshenko, a spokesman for the Kyiv Patriarchate. "Therefore, we consider that the church should be given to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, and not to the Moscow Patriarchate."

This is unlikely to happen, though, given that Crimea is the most ethnically Russian part of Ukraine.

However, the Kyiv Patriarchate still hopes to use the cathedral.

"If this is not possible, we think that the St. Volodymyr Cathedral should belong to the Ukrainian United Orthodox Church," Doroshenko said.

The only snag is that there is no such thing as the United Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Though the process of unification between the Moscow and Kyiv patriarchates plus a third Autocephalous Orthodox Church was launched last autumn, little progress has been made.

The Kyiv Patriarchate is not the only entity protesting the consecration by the Moscow Patriarchate. Representatives from 20 political parties and national-democratic public organizations in Sevastopol signed an appeal to the country's top officials asking them to halt the transfer of the Cathedral to the Moscow Patriarchate, adding that the Ukrainian community in Sevastopol does not have a church of its own to worship in.

Unlike the other churches that have emerged in Ukraine since independence, like the Mormons and Baptists, which have built their own churches, the Kyiv Patriarchate has not built a church of its own in Sevastopol.

The Crimean diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate claims not to have received any official protest either from the Kyiv Patriarchate or from any political groups.

"We did not receive any letters or statements of protest against the consecration of St. Volodymyr's Cathedral [by our church]," said Lyudmila Yaselska, the spokeswoman of the diocese.

Kyiv City Administration spokeswoman Svetlana Kryvoruchko said the city agreed to fund the project because it was of great significance as the location from where Christianity started spreading across the Slavic lands. (posted 8 August 2001)

BBC News Online: World: Monitoring: Media reports· 28 July 2001

The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have come together to celebrate the consecration of a newly-restored cathedral in the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea, which has huge symbolic significance to this part of the world.

A thousand years ago, in a cathedral near the ruins of the ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus, Prince Vladimir I was baptized by Byzantine clergy into the Orthodox faith and married the Byzantine emperor's sister, Anna.

Thus Christianity was introduced to Russia and the supremacy of the Orthodox church ensured.

And at the ceremony to bless the newly-resplendent 19th century cathedral named after St Vladimir, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma chose to emphasize the importance of the Orthodox religion to their modern states and to the relationship between their peoples.

Mr Putin said that spiritual values constituted the foundation of unity between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples.

He said that often cliches referring to fraternity and brotherhood were used without people really thinking about what they meant.

New age

"Sometimes, we do not think of the meaning behind these words. It is when we come to a place like this that everything falls into place.

"This is because values such as kindness, mercy and love are the true spiritual roots that tie our peoples together."

He said events such as this showed that Russia and Ukraine had begun a new phase in their development, that they had "entered a period of creative, restorative and constructive effort in the true sense of the word".

For his part, Mr Kuchma described the proceedings as an "important landmark" not only for Ukraine but for all people of the Orthodox faith, which he said was demonstrated by the presence of Mr Putin.

Saying that progress was impossible without spiritual and Orthodox foundations, he stressed that spirituality was one of the priorities of Ukrainian policy.


"No violence, cruelty or blindness is able to destroy Christian values," he said.

But the buildings symbolizing these values can certainly be destroyed by neglect and the more prosaic requirements of everyday life.

The cathedral built on the ruins of the ancient building where Vladimir was baptized became a museum after the Communist revolution of 1917, and little attention was subsequently paid to its upkeep.

Discordant note

Damaged during World War II, the cathedral suffered the indignity of having its bricks pilfered by locals during the decades that followed to satisfy their construction needs.

It was not until three years ago that the mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, initiated the restoration of the cathedral, which has culminated in the consecration ceremony.

Yet even as a new cross was raised above the cathedral's dome, the talk of unity was somewhat dampened by the crowd in this predominantly-Russian speaking region greeting Mr Putin with chants of "Russia, Russia". (posted 9 August 2001)

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Indian government objects to negative publicity for Russian Krishna followers

Moskovskie novosti, 31 July 2001

Journalist Sergei Ivanenko reports to us that an extremely adverse reaction was evoked in India by the inclusion of the Society of Krishna Consciousness in the category of totalitarian sects. This happened at a conference "Totalitarian sects--threat of the 21st century" that was held in Nizhny Novgorod under the sponsorship of Metropolitan Nikolai of Nizhegorod and Arzamas. At the conference a list of "dangerous" religious organizations was published, which included the Society of Krishna Consciousness. At the same time Metropolitan Nikolai promoted an initiative to forbid or at least restrict legislatively the activity of organizations that were included in this list.

Despite the fact that this suggestion violates Russian legislation on freedom of conscience, the "Profil" magazine published this list, presenting the matter as if it were the point of view of the Russian Orthodox church. The article in the magazine did not go unnoticed in India; the bureau chief of the "Indian Foreign News Service" agency and the "India Abroad" newspaper, expressing the point of view of the government of India, reported with alarm that the Russian Orthodox church has included in the black lists an organization that is associated with India and its spiritual culture. The chairman of the Association of Indians of the city of Moscow, Sandjit Kumar Ji declared that "such publications do hard to Russian-Indian friendship." (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

Mir religii, 8 August 2001 (excerpt)

"This is the editorial blunder of a popular publication and not reliable information," commented a member of the leadership of the Center of Societies of Krishna Consciousness in Russia, Brahman Radkha Damodar Das (Sergei Zuev) regarding the situation [reported by Moskovskie novosti]. "Krishnaites have made a notable positive contribution in the life of Russian society. We not only strictly observe the principles of spirituality, charity, and nonviolence ourselves, as required by the ancient vedas, but we also proclaim them. We are always open to and ready for any interreligious cooperation for the sake of the common good." (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

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Voronezh Pentecostals overcome obstacles to acquire church

Mir religii, 8 August 2001

There was a ceremonial opening of the first Pentecostal prayer building in Voronezh, Blagovest-info reports. The congregation belongs to the Russian Association of Christians of Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals). The prayer building is located in a private structure.

Construction of the two-story worship building, that accommodates 450 persons, was carried out over the course of three years by the efforts of one of the two registered congregations of Christians of Evangelical Faith in the city. The prayer building is located on one of the main rail lines of the city, near the exit from Voronezh in the direction of Moscow.

During the past ten years Voronezh Pentecostals have rented the premises of palaces of culture and movie theatres for their meetings. Officially the newly opened prayer building is the private residence of a Pentecostal family with several children. Earlier attempts by local Pentecostals to get official permission from city authorities for the construction of a prayer building did not meet with success. This was connected with the fact that in April 1994 Orthodox activists along with residents neighboring the site proposed for construction of the prayer building organized a protest demonstration against the construction. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

See report about Voronezh Catholics and Voronezh Lutherans.

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Increased state regulation of religion in Azerbaijan

MINELRES, 6 August 2001

Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev approved new regulations for work with religious organizations. The new Committee for Work with Religious Organizations (CWRO) is to create the conditions necessary to ensure freedom of conscience; control implementation of relevant laws; oversee registration, including the possible liquidation of unregistered religious groups; and organize pilgrimages to foreign countries, Turan News Agency reported. It will also defend government positions in disputes; bring relevant issues before the proper state authorities; control publication of religious literature, the import and distribution of religious attributes; and supervise religious schools. The CWRO can also initiate legal suits for incitement of religious discord and subversive activity against national security. The institution is also authorized to collect information about religious propaganda by foreigners and stateless persons and to notify law enforcement bodies, reports "Zerkalo" on 24 July.

MINELRES, 6 August

There are today 7,000 religious communities in Azerbaijan of which two-thirds are not registered. "Most of these religious communities are sects which historically have nothing to do with Azerbaijan," said Rafik Aliev, chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations. Aliev said that such communities as Adventists, Krishnaists, Bahai, Baptists, and Baku Christian Church, must obey Azerbaijan's laws and should not be regulated by their foreign headquarters. Aliev also said that limitations should be placed on the number of foreign pastors and missionaries, and the length of their stay in Azerbaijan, the Turan News Agency reported on 26 July. (from RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies, Vol. 2, No. 31, 8 August 2001, posted 8 August 2001)

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Moscow patriarch intercedes with Estonian government

Sluzhba kommunikatsii OVTsS MP, 8 August 2001

As has been reported frequently in the past, the Estonian Orthodox church, which is in the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate, has been trying unsuccessfully for eight years to gain state registration.

Last month Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar sent a letter to the most holy patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus, Alexis, in which he expressed concern regarding the situation of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate (EPTsMP). After stating that believers in Estonia enjoy complete freedom in the conduct of their religious rituals, the head of the Estonial government expressed anxiety about the circumstance that the church structure of the Moscow patriarchate in Estonia still has not received state registration. Noting his resolve to act exclusively in accordance with Estonian legislation, M. Laar rejected as baseless claims about the impossibility of composing a charter for EPTsMP which would at the same time be acceptable to both it and the Estonian state. The prime minister expressed confidence in the possibility of a rapid resolution of the problem of registration of the diocese and parishes of the Russian Orthodox church in Estonia.

In his letter of reply, Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and all-Rus noted that he shared the anxiety expressed by the chairman of the government of Estonia and he views positively his words about the attempt to correct the problems that have arisen on the basis of a strict application of the legislation.  He also expressed his satisfaction that the president of the Estonian republic did not approve the new law on churches and parishes, which contained a number of provisions that would have restricted substantially the rights of the Estonian Orthodox church and would have directly conflicted with generally accepted international legal standards.

At the same time the primate of the Russian Orthodox church did not agree with the argument advanced in justification of the last refusal to register the charter of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate. In particular, it was noted that the name "Estonskaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov Moskovskogo Patriarkhata" [Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate] is clearly and unambiguously distinguished from the name "Estonskaia Apostolskoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi" [Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church],  which was registered by the Estonian government in 1993. In the state register of churches of Estonia there are examples of names that are much more similar; however this did not serve as a hindrance to the registration of the respective organizations.

Besides, there was expressed disappointment with regard to the unwillingness of the Estonian government to recognize the historical and legal continuity of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate to which its history, dating back to the eleventh century, testifies indisputably.

Patriarch Alexis also expressed his disagreement with the suggested alternative of the registration of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate as a diocese of the Russian Orthodox church. Recalling that this church has enjoyed the rights of independence granted to it by St. Patriarch Tikhon in 1920 and confirmed in 1993, the patriarch noted that among its believers there are people of diverse nationalities and thus there does not exist a reason for changing the traditional principle of designating the church in accordance with the local church territory.

Patriarch Alexis informed the head of the Estonian government of the reaction of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox church against the last refusal of registration of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate.

In conclusion he expressed the hope that the assurance of the good will of the government of Estonia toward the resolution of the problems of believers of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate will be translated into practice for the good of the people of Estonia and Russia. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

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Rabbi doubts antisemitism in Russia

Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar promised them money.

by Igor Saskov
Kommersant-Daily, 7 August 2001

Yesterday the chief rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, made a one-day visit to Krasnoiarsk. And although the trip itself was exclusively for purposes of getting acquainted, the Krasnoiarsk Jewish community was very happy with the chief rabbi's arrival--he promised to provide his fellow believers in the center of Siberia what help he could, including material aid.

The visit began with prayers at the Krasnoiarsk synagogue, where for the first time there was an unprecedented stream of believers on an ordinary working day. The Russian chief rabbi himself appeared democratic in his communication both with Krasnoiarsk Jews and with local journalists. Having noted that he was very pleased to be in Krasnoiarsk, Mr. Lazar declared that one of the main goals of his visit was help in completing the construction and opening of a Jewish center in the city.

The building of the center, where in addition to a prayer hall it is planned also to build an archive and assembly hall for 200 persons, has been under construction next to the synagogue since the end of 2000. Already three million rubles have been collected but in order to complete construction another nine million rubles at least are needed. To the direct question of how much money he will give for construction of the center Berl Lazar answered rather evasively, although optimistically:  "As much as is needed. I am sure that G-d (Jews do not pronounce God's name--KD) will find the money either in Krasnoiarsk or in Moscow or abroad but construction will be 100 percent finished in the near future."

At the end of the meeting with journalists, the chief rabbi of Russia touched on the problem of antisemitism, stating that, in his opinion, there is none in Russia although individual expressions of it by young people, aggressive ones, nevertheless occasionally occur. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 August 2001)

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Orthodox church acknowledges tsarist naval commander a saint

by Pavel Dulman
Rossiiskaia gazeta, 7 August 2001

This past weekend the distinguished Russian naval admiral Fedor Ushakov was enrolled in the canon of saints. The ceremony of canonization was conducted in the Sanaksar monastery of Mordovia.

According to reports from the clergy, the ceremony was attended by more than 8,000 pilgrims from Russia and countries of CIS, as well as from Greece and Bulgaria. An entire tent-city was pitched, with field kitchens, especially for the guests, and security was provided by almost 200 soldiers from OMON and the cossacks. The higher clergy was represented by seven bishops of RPTs, led by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. The secular delegation was led by the head of Mordovia, Nikolai Merkushkin. Also invited was the head of the Navy, Vladimir Kuroedov, although in his place the commander of the naval staff, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, and other naval commanders attended the ceremony.

"This canonization was unique in many ways. It is the first time since the days of Byzantium that a sailor was canonized," the archivist of the Sanaksar monastery, Hieromonk Venedikt told "RG." It is the first canonization of a servant of God who lived during the period of Peter I and Catherine II, which was not notable for its righteousness from the point of view of the Orthodox church. It was the first time both ecclesiastical and secular, military elements joined in the ritual of canonization. Strictly speaking, the imperishable holy relics were discovered back at the end of June when we exhumed the remains of the admiral from his grave and began to compose the appropriate ceremony for the ritual of canonization. The ritual itself began at five in the afternoon of Saturday with the all-night vigil and a procession of the cross. There were so many people that the service was conducted not in the cathedral but in the cathedral square at a portable altar. The ceremony and act of discovery of the holy relics were conducted in the church of the Resurrection where the casket with the remains was placed. Pilgrims received communion at the holy relics. A solemn liturgy, civil display, and military salute were conducted.

The admiral is recognized as a saint for now only in "local veneration," that is, services and prayers in honor of the new saint will be conducted only in parishes of the Saransk and Mordovia dioceses, which had been the initiators of the canonization. To be sure, it has been proposed that at the next bishops' council "the holy righteous warrior Feodor" will be introduced to the calendar of saints of the Russian Orthodox church (RPTs). This may happen in approximately six months. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 August 2001)

by Andrei Gavrilenko
Krasnaia zvezda, 7 August 2001

In the Sanaksar monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God, which is in the Temnikov district of Mordovia, a solemn ceremony of canonization of the distinguished naval officer, one of the creators of the Black Sea fleet, Fedor Ushakov, was held. Ivan Ushakov, grandfather of the Russian admiral, who once was the father superior of this monastery, was also canonized several years ago. The ceremony of the canonization of this sailor was attended by representatives of the naval staff and the Orthodox church of Russia.

Fedor Ushakov devoted all his lift (1744-1817) to naval service. He did not lose a single one of the forty three naval battles in which he participated, nor was a single Russian ship under his command lost or a single sailor taken captive by the enemy. Admiral Ushakov won a number of major victories over the Turkish navy and conducted a successful Mediterranean campaign of Russian ships during the war against France, liberating several islands.

A bay in the Barents Sea and a cape in the Sea of Okhotsk are named for the admiral. In 1944 the Order of Ushakov with two degrees and the Ushakov Medal were established. Several ships of the Russian navy have been named for this naval commander. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 August 2001)

by Oksana Altynova
Kommersant-Daily, 6 August 2001

Fedor Ushakov was canonized as a righteous person by the Russian Orthodox church. High officers of the navy also participated in the ceremonies associated with the canonization.

About a year ago, on the initiative of the Saransk and Mordovia diocese, with the blessing of Bishop Varsonofy of Saransk and Mordovia, all materials and documents necessary for canonization were sent to Moscow. The Commission on Questions of Canonization of Saints of the Russian Orthodox church did not find any impediments for glorification of the righteous Fedor Ushakov (he was canonized as a righteous man [pravednik] and not a holy saint [prepodobnyi] since he did not receive monastic tonsuring) as a locally venerated saint. Until a second canonization his name will not be in the saints' calendars of the Russian Orthodox church but this does not prevent the admiral's being venerated in all parishes during this period nor the righteous Fedor's icon being painted, hung, and consecrated in the churches. As the abbot of the Saransk annex of the Sanaksar monastery, Fr Innokenty, said, the glorification of people who accomplished a military feat, for example, Alexander Nevsky and Dmitry Donskoy, is an old Russian tradition.

After finally leaving the service, never having either a family or children (which is one of the rules of the monastic life), the retired admiral settled in the quiet Alekseevko hamlet in the Temnikov district of Mordovia. The testimony of the then abbot of the Sankasar monastic priest Nafanail has been preserved:  "Admiral Ushakov is a neighbor and significant patron of the Sanaksar cloister who upon his arrival from St. Petersburg led a life of solitude in his own home in the Alekseevko village, located about three versts through the woods from the monastery. On Sundays and feast days he came to the monastery to worship at the divine services every time. During Great Lent he resided in a cell in the monastery for keeping the fast and preparing for the holy mysteries for a whole week and he stood without giving out during every extended service with the brothers in the church and attended piously. From time to time he contributed substantial gifts out of his zeal for the cloister. He also gave alms and aid constantly to the poor and needy."

In 1944 a question arose about the place of Admiral Ushakov's grave. A state commission was created which conducted excavations and found the admiral's grave on the grounds of the monastery beside the wall of the cathedral church. The remains turned out to have been preserved, which was certified in an appropriate document of the commission. In the opinion of the Holy Synod, this fact is the clearest proof of the sanctity of a person.

After the return of the Sanaksar monastery to the Russian Orthodox church in 1991, according to the report of its current abbot, Fr Varnava, veneration of the righteous man has been growing year by year. Requiems are served at his grave and numerous pilgrims, among whom often one sees sailors from the navy, come to venerate Fedor Ushakov.

Around 6,000 pilgrims arrived for the canonization at the Sanaksar monastery. A tent-city was pitched for them and field kitchens were opened; order was maintained by 180 police officers. The Orthodox church was represented by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, delegations from many dioceses of Russia, and representatives of a Greek delegation. There also were representatives from all fleets of the Russian navy. The reliquary with the holy relics of the righteous Fedor Ushakov, made in the form of a boat, was carried at the time of canonization by the chief of the Russian navy, Admiral Kuroedov, Admiral Komoedov, commander of the Black Sea fleet, assistant to the commander of the Baltic fleet, Vice Admiral Valuev, and the commander of the atomic rocket cruiser "Admiral Ushakov," Captain Alexander Fadeev. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 August 2001)

Photographs of ceremony are posted on the web site of the Moscow patriarchate.

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Catholics seek replacement for building destroyed under Khrushchev

Mir religii, 3 August 2001

The apostolic administrator for Catholics of the Latin right of the south of the European part of Russia, Bishop Clemens Pickel, is making a pastoral visit to Voronezh, Blagovest-info reports. The local Catholic parish of the Virgin Mary, Mediatrix, was restored at the beginning of the 1990s; it received government registration in 1993 and was reregistered in 1999.

Representatives of the parish maintain that no fewer than 2,000 baptized Catholics reside in Voronezh. Voronezh Catholics have not had at their disposal permanent premises for divine services since their church that was built in the nineteenth century was destroyed in 1962. The local Catholic parish intends to ask Bishop Clemens Pickel to petition the Voronezh authorities for allocation of a plot of land for constructing a church or chapel.

As Vadim Riazanov, who occupied the post of warden of the Voronezh Roman Catholic parish from 1991-1999, reported, "the authorities have not refused to grant premises to the Catholics, but at the same time they have not solved our problem." (tr. by PDS, posted 5 August 2001)

See report about Voronezh Lutherans.

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Charges of church's antisemitism disputed

Slovo, 3 August 2001

Despite all the protests of the Jewish National Cultural Authority, the book by Sergei Nilus, "It is near, even at the doors," with a chapter of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," continues to appear in the diocesan book stands of the city [of Ekaterinburg].

The society of national authority of the provincial center thinks this work is a bulwark of antisemitism and incitement of interconfessional discord. All attempts of the leader of the authority, Mikhail Oshtrakh, to put an end to the distribution of the book in Ekaterinburg have not met with understanding. What most disturbs Oshtrakh is the fact that the Ekaterinburg diocese itself is engaged in sale of the book sowing religious discord. "The Orthodox church has become insolent and directly claims that Jews are the enemies of Orthodoxy and accomplices of the devil," Oshtrakh stated. As proof of the involvement of the church in the spread of antisemitism the leader of the Jewish authority cited the following. An investigator of the provincial prosecutor's office, to which Oshtrakh wrote a declaration requesting the opening of a criminal case on article 282, "incitement of national, racial, or religious discord," stated: in the course of investigation it was determined that representatives of the Orthodox church do not deny that they consciously distribute the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

"We are already accustomed to the fact that separate marginal groups preach antisemitism, but when a mighty religious confession calls people to antisemitism, it frightens us," Oshtrakh declared.

Oshtrakh's statement was denied in both the diocese and the synagogue. According to an aide to the ruling bishop of Ekaterinburg diocese, Archpriest Vladimir Ziazev, the Orthodox church never was an enemy of Jews and it always has tried to support friendship between the two confessions.

As regards the prohibition of the sale of Nilus's bok, Fr Vladimir declared:  "If we forbid this book, then it is necessary to remove from sale all atheist literature aimed against the church and other books that offend us, like pornography, and even the New Testament. After all, in holy scripture Christ himself, who was by his human nature a Jew, says in addressing the Jews, 'O faithless and perverse nation, how long will I be with you and how long will I tolerate you.' And in other chapters of the gospel the Lord often condemns Jews." Besides, the priest noted, Nilus' book came out in the last century and millions of Russian people have read it, but it did not evoke antagonism toward Jews in anybody, while such statements can evoke antagonism.

Good relations with Orthodox believers also were confirmed today by the chief rabbi of Ekaterinburg and the province, Zelig Ashkenazi. He said that despite Jews' hostile attitude toward Sergei Nilus' book, such disagreements should be resolved by means of peaceful, private conversations and not by political uproars. In the near future such conversations will be held with the diocese. It also was reported in the synagogue that the National Cultural Authority does not have any connection with the Orthodox Jewish community, and Mikhail Oshtrakh did not consult with representatives of the synagogue before making such declarations in the name of all Jews. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 August 2001)

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Ukrainian Greek Catholics expanding

Greek-Catholics Reorganize in South of Country, 30 July 2001

The Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine is beginning to reap the first fruits of John Paul II's recent visit, with the establishment of two new exarchates, in Odessa and Donetsk.

The move, in fact, constitutes the reorganization of this Church in the south of the country.

The decision was taken by the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Lviv in early July, to meet the spiritual needs of the many Greek-Catholics living outside the traditional western Ukraine territories of Lviv, Ternopol and Ivano-Frankovsk.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches. It includes 39 bishops (13 in Ukraine and the rest overseas), 3,300 parishes, 2,700 churches, 2,000 priests and 79 monasteries. Greek-Catholics number close to 5 million in Ukraine.

The Russian Orthodox Church and other hierarchies have reacted negatively to the reorganization, viewing it as an attempt by the Greek-Catholic synod to proselytize.

The Russian and Ukrainian people in general haven't shared the Orthodox leaders' hostility. Even the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, which met July 17, took no official position in regard to recent events in Ukraine. Instead, it limited itself to a complaint about the unilateral activity of the patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine and Estonia.

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Council of Europe seeks information about Estonian situation


Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil-Robles expressed interest in the situation of the Estonian Orthodox church [EPTs] of the Moscow patriarchate and asked that information on this question be given to him. This was reported to journalists on Wednesday by parliamentary deputy Evgeny Tomberg, a representative of the largest Russian-speaking political group, the United People's Party.

In his words, during the course of his meeting in Moscow with Alvaro Gil-Robles that was held at the beginning of the week, the commissioner reported that he knows the situation regarding the refusal of authorities to register EPTsMP "in general terms" but "he would like to become acquainted with it in more detail."  "Alvaro Gil-Robles asked that we compose for him and for the Council of Europe a report describing the history of the question and the current situation of EPTsMP and stating our view of the problem and the possibility of resolution of the problem," Evgeny Tomberg noted. "Today the leaders of our party are preparing these materials."

Evgeny Tomberg, who also is a co-chairman of the parliamentary group of Orthodox deputies, noted that the question of the registration of EPTsMP is "one of the most acute matters in Estonian society and in Estonian-Russian relations." The government of Estonia recently, under various pretexts, has refused eight times to register the church, which is acknowledged by 100,000 parishioners, in the main from among Russian speaking residents.  "This question long ago became a political one, violating the rights of the non-native population," the deputy stressed.

Earlier Evgeny Tomberg expressed confidence that Estonian President Lennart Meri would not sign the law "On churches and parishes" if it were to be returned to the head of state by parliament for another signature. Evgeny Tomberg came to this opinion in the course of a meeting he had with Lennart Meri when he was a candidate for the presidency of the republic. The question about the registration of the Estonian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate [EPTsMP] was prominent in that meeting. "The head of state told me that in June he did not sign the law 'On churches and parishes' because he considered it unconstitutional, and he returned it to the supreme body of legislative authority for improvement," E. Tomberg said. According to the deputy, he "got the opinion that Lennart Meri will again reject it," if parliament does not agree with the president's position and again sends it to the head of state for signature. According to the deputy, the president told him that the government of Estonia "has drawn out the resolution of this problem" and he advocates "its solution as soon as possible."

Evgeny Tomberg was the first candidate for president after the restoration of Estonia's independence to come from the political forces representing the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the country.  (tr. by PDS, posted 2 August 2001)

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