RUSSIA RELIGION NEWS
Monitoring news media reports about religion in Russia
countries of CIS
Copyrighted material. For private use only.
If you quote material, please credit the publication from which it
came. It is not necessary to credit this Web page for any print use of
the material. If any electronic reproduction is made, please
the URL: http:www.stetson.edu/~psteeves/relnews/
of News Items
Links to Useful
ALEXIS II CONDUCTED WORSHIP IN POKROV MONASTERY
Mir religii, 2
Tuesday morning Pariarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus led the
festival divine liturgy in the Pokrov convent of Moscow. Around
9:15, Moscow time, the patriarch was met at the gates of the cloister
by a large crowd of Orthodox believers who greeted the primate of the
Russian Orthodox church (RPTs) with the proclamations "Christ is risen"
and "Many years."
Against the background of the festive peeling of bells and the singing
of the women's convent choir, Alexis II entered the main cathedral of
the cloister where the service began. The cathedral of the
Resurrection in Pokrov convent, where Alexis II celebrated the divine
liturgy, was unable to accommodate all who wished to enter.
According to reports from RIA Novosti, around 1,000 believers gathered
in the church. About another 2,000 persons worshipped in the yard
of the cloister, where the service was broadcast on a large screen.
The patriarch greeted the audience with the joyful paschal proclamation
"Christ is risen."
An unusual atmosphere of animation and joy ruled within the convent. At
the entrances to the cloister one could catch sight of a multitude of
festively dressed people rushing to the service with flowers.
Also in festive robes were dozens of clergy who concelebrated the
liturgy with the patriarch.
Before the beginning of the liturgy Alexis II venerated the relics of
St. Matrona of Moscow, who is buried in the Pokrov church [church of
the Protection of the Virgin] of the monastery.
The line of believers who came to venerate the saint's relics with
traditional flowers wound for hundreds of meters beyond the gates of
the cloister. Now approximately 3,000 persons were located in the yard
of the convent, where those desiring to do so continued to arrive for
venerating the relics.
This year, on 2 May, the Russian Orthodox church celebrates the 55th
anniversary of the death of St. Matrona of Moscow, whose relics are
located in Pokrov monastery.
Matrona Nikonova was born in 1885 in the village of Sebino in Tula
province, into a poor family. The girl was blind from birth, but God
granted her spiritual vision. From her early years Matrona was
acquainted with human intents and sins and she predicted natural and
social disasters. Through her prayers people received healings from
diseases and consolation in their sorrows, according to the vita of the
In 1925 St. Matrona resettled in Moscow. She would receive up to forty
persons as day. Her aid to people was selfless. Matrona prayed for
victims and she stressed that it was not she that helped, but
God. St. Matrona died 2 May 1952. According to her vita, before
her death she said: "Everyone, everyone, come to me and tell me
about your life and your sorrows and I will see you, listen, and help
you." In the autumn of 2004 the bishops' council of RPTs
canonized Matrona of Moscow as a church-wide saint. (tr. by PDS,
posted 2 May 2007)
Religion News Current News Items
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE CONDEMNS MEDIA SPREADING RUMORS ON PATRIARCH'S
Interfax, 1 May 2007
The Russian Orthodox Church has exposed a reason behind rumors on
drastic health deterioration of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all
Russia and is indignant over attempts by a number of journalists to use
rumors in their work.
"The Patriarch lives a tense life devoting himself to serving people.
He, as well as every one of us, has the right to remain alone and to
take care of the health sometimes, several times a year. However, some
do not respect the right," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of
the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told
Interfax on Tuesday.
Speaking about origins of rumors, the archpriest said: "Someone from
the Russian 'best society' wanted to speak with the patriarch about his
problems, as usual the most important in the world; however, he was not
allowed. This generated a rumor: if he does not speak with me, things
are very bad The rumor was spreading among officials and diplomats for
a couple of days, and then thanks to admirers of hot sensations, the
rumor got on the Internet," he said.
Then, "a mean and dirty campaign began," the archpriest said. For
example, one 'parareligious' website "was posting materials every hour
that the unification with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is
under a threat," he said.
"Such publications go as following: dear foreign priests, do not come
to Moscow, because chekists in budenovkas and with Mausers will sign a
canonic communication act instead of the Patriarch. And of course a
famous near-Moscow komsomolets in its declining years began to spread
rumors on the health of the Patriarch, distorting statements made by
religious figures and materials of various media organizations," he
The priest said that the journalist writing such materials was not
embarrassed by the fact that representative of the Church came up with
"absolutely clear comments."
"The person is unlikely to repent his main sins, lies and attempts to
pit religious figures, at a confession, which does not help him," the
Archpriest said, recommending the journalist "to ask a psychiatrist for
a piece of advice."
"I am certain that there are people among Orthodox doctors, who will
help him free of charge. However, should the issue deal with demons,
other help is required in this case," he said.
PATRIARCH ALEXY II PHILOSOPHIC ABOUT RUMORS OF HIS "DEATH"
Interfax, 1 May 2007
Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia ‘treated philosophically’
the rumors about his ‘demise’, Sergey Kravets, director of the Orthodox
Encyclopedia church research center, told Interfax.
‘I inform you that I am still alive’, these were the words, according
to Kravets, with which the patriarch greeted him the day after
disturbing news appeared in some mass media.
Alexy II’s first reaction to these rumors was ‘a sincere astonishment
at the incompetence of some journalists’, Kravets said adding that ‘the
patriarch began to wonder even more why the false report continued to
be replicated even after the official refutation’.
‘Significantly, Patriarch Alexy, contrary to what has been reported
about him recently, has never undergone coronary artery bypass
grafting, nor has he survived an apparent death, though some wrote
there were even two of them. In other words, the only truth was that
the patriarch’s name is Alexy’, Kravets remarked.
He said on May 1 the patriarch, as was expected, would return to Moscow
and already on May 2 his rather tough schedule of divine services and
working meetings would begin.
He also shared his opinion that ‘the mass media which put the patriarch
into an intensive therapy ward and hastened to ‘bury’ him should
apologize to the primate’.
Kravets described the rumors as ‘absolute nonsense’. ‘We will find out
if there was a malicious intent. But I would remind my colleagues that
they should learn to use the freedom of information they enjoy, not to
turn it into a phantom’.
In conclusion, Kravets noted that ‘in popular belief, if a rumor seeks
to ‘bury’ a person, it means he will live a long life’. (posted 1 May
Religion News Current News Items
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS REQUIRED TO SUBMIT ACCOUNT OF ACTIVITIES
From Slavic Legal
An audit form for religious organizations has been issued by the
government of the Russian federation. Religious organizations are
required to submit an account of their activity no later than 1 June
In accordance with a decree from the government of RF, No. 213 of 10
April 2007, a form has been issued for giving an account of the
activity of a religious organization, and information about the
leadership and the composition of administrative bodies of a religious
organization, expenditure of financial resources by a religious
organization and its use of other property, including what has been
received from international and foreign organizations, foreign
citizens, and persons without citizenship, for the year 2006.
It is now clear that the deadline for submitting these accounts is 1
June 2007 and it will not be postponed any longer. We recall that
previously religious associations were required, like all ngo's, to
submit a detailed annual accounting of their activity, including
persons participating in services and other kinds of events and
financial actions. Leaders of major denominations have noted
frequently that this is impermissible interference in their activity.
Even though this document was worked out taking into account the
opinions of representatives of religious associations, a number of
provisions can be interpreted ambivalently. Thus, for example, it is
not quite clear whether an organization must give an account regarding
all of the property that it used or only that which was acquired by the
organization in the past year. And there are rather many of such
provisions. Considering that only a month and a half remains
until the deadline, religious organizations have to figure out urgently
the true intent of the authors of the audit form in order that they
will not, God forbid, make mistakes in filling it out. Because
then any organization could arbitrarily be accused of violation of
legislation and undergo liquidation on that basis. (tr. by PDS,
posted 1 May 2007)
[tr. note: this audit form was published 18 April 2007 in
Rossisskaia gazeta. It is available through the Slavic Legal
. The following is a translation of the items that
are to be entered into the lines on the form]
1. Forms of activity in accounting period in accordance with
1.1 Basic forms of activity (indicate
by check mark)
1.1.1 Conduct of religious rituals,
sacraments, and ceremonies
1.1.2 Religious education
1.1.3 Dissemination of religious teachings directly or through mass
1.1.4 Cultural-educational activity
1.1.5 Distribution of religious items and literature
1.1.7 Charitable activity and other activity in sphere of social
1.2 Other activity (list)
2. Sources of acquired property (indicate by check mark)
2.1 Received from Russian legal entities
2.2 Received from foreign legal entities
2.3 Grants, technical or humanitarian aid from foreign states
2.4 Income from manufacturing activity
2.4.1 Commodities, labor, services
2.4.2 Other (list)
2.5 Other acquisitions
3. Information about expenditures of financial resources,
including those received from international and foreign organizations,
foreign citizens, and persons without citizenship
3.1 Total expenses for accounting period
3.2 Forms of expenditures of financial resources received from
international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens, and persons
3.2.1 Expenses for basic activity
3.2.2 Expenses for wages
3.2.3 Expenses for obtaining basic resources
3.2.4 Expenses for construction, repair, and reconstruction
3.2.5 Taxes, duties, and other fees
3.2.6 Other forms of expenditures of financial resources (identify)
126.96.36.199 Humanitarian aid
4. Information about use of other property acquired from
international and foreign organizations, foreign citizens and persons
4.1 Basic resources (identify)
4.2 Other property (identify, grouped by type)
Appendix: information about leadership and staff of
administrative bodies of a religious organization (list A)
Accuracy and completeness of information confirmed:
Authorized person of the religious organization appointed (elected) in
accordance with charter:
Religion News Current News Items
Orthodox burials for Russian leaders
THE HOLY TOUCH
by Andrei Zolotov, Jr.
Russian Profile, 30 April 2007
The last contribution that Boris Yeltsin made to building a new Russia
was that he inadvertently gave the country a new ritual of state
funeral. What we all saw on Wednesday was an important step in the
formation of a new canon. Future leaders may introduce some changes to
it, but the precedent and the frame of reference are now set.
No longer will Russian leaders lie in state at the Hall of Columns of
the House of the [Trade] Unions – Moscow’s former Nobility Assembly,
where Lenin’s body was first displayed in 1924 and where all subsequent
Soviet leaders lay in state. And no longer will they be buried near
Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square – in the necropolis of the Soviet elite
whose future is at present being debated.
Instead, on Wednesday the whole world watched the solemn beauty of the
Orthodox Christian burial service, with CNN and BBC commentators using
epithets like “grandiose” and “majestic” to describe the proceedings.
Everybody has pointed to the fact that the funeral service was taking
place in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, which was rebuilt under Boris
Yeltsin as a symbol of the extraordinary revival of Russia and the
Orthodox Church after the demise of the Communist era.
Similarly to Yeltsin’s own life and rule, the reconstruction of the
cathedral was a controversial venture, and far from everyone was happy
with it. But today it stands as a monument to our recent history and
the desperate attempts to reconnect, however inconsistently, with our
“Boris Nikolayevich’s fate reflected the dramatic history of the 20th
century,” Patriarch Alexy II wrote in a message read out in the
cathedral before the service. Yeltsin felt “the people’s will for a
free life” and helped to make it happen, the patriarch wrote, recalling
Yeltsin’s kind treatment of the Russian Orthodox Church and his own
personal relationship with the former president. “For the first time in
more than 100 years, we are sending off the head of the Russian state
in a church, with prayer,” he wrote.
Yet, despite their long-standing personal relationship, Patriarch Alexy
chose not to interrupt his treatment in Switzerland to give Yeltsin the
last blessing. The fact that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church
goes several times a year to an unidentified Swiss clinic is never
publicly announced, but it is widely known in church circles. He
telephoned Yeltsin’s widow, Naina, and sent two official messages. But
the funeral itself was led instead by three senior bishops:
Metropolitan Yuvenaly, who presided and read the patriarch’s message,
and Metropolitans Kirill and Kliment, who are both seen as potential
successors to the patriarch.
It is hard to say whether the reason behind the patriarch’s absence was
just his state of health and the importance of the ongoing treatment
after the exhausting Lenten and Easter services and ahead of the
historical reconciliation with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
scheduled for May 17. Perhaps. But the fact remains that the head of
the Russian Orthodox Church was away at a historical moment, when the
eyes of the whole world were fixed on his church. Or maybe this
decision added a subtle detail to the ritual being formed today – that
a funeral conducted personally by the sitting head of the church is
reserved only for the royals and possibly a head of state who died in
office, not in retirement?
Much has been said about the monarchist instincts of most Russians and
the authoritarian character of Yeltsin’s 1993 constitution, which made
the Russian presidency more powerful than Tsar Nicholas II was after
1905. Yeltsin himself was rumored to refer to himself as Tsar Boris and
was depicted as such by many cartoonists. Interestingly, this
monarchist tendency was delicately reflected in the service, too.
While thousands of Russians filed past the casket to pay their
respects, the Book of Psalms was read overnight, as befits laymen, over
Yeltsin’s coffin by Moscow seminarians – and not the Gospels, as
tradition prescribes for priests and the emperor.
But in a layman’s funeral service broadcast worldwide on Wednesday (the
last rites for clergy are different), the priests prayed not “for the
repose of the soul of Boris, the servant of God,” which would be the
case in an ordinary funeral, but, using a formula that sounded odd to
the ears of Orthodox Christians, for the “first President of Russia
Boris Nikolayevich.” I don’t know if those who prepared the service
were thinking about it, but the use of the patronymic form of the name
in Russian Orthodox liturgy used to be reserved solely for royalty.
That’s how the emperor and his immediate family were commemorated in
the liturgy before the revolution – by their name and patronymic. It
has never been done since then.
The honor guard and the gun carriage recalled the past funerals of
Soviet leaders. But the site was not Red Square, but Novodevichy
Cemetery – the country’s most esteemed place of internment, where
Nikita Khrushchev was buried in near secrecy in 1971, seven years after
he was ousted from the country’s top post. Priests, family members and
the sitting president followed the carriage, not Politburo members. And
the carriage itself was draped not in Communist red, but in the
white-blue-red tricolor of present-day Russia. It was a new ritual, yet
a very organic one.
Watching Yeltsin’s funeral, I recalled the only time I saw Boris
Nikolayevich up close, at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on Easter
in 1996. It was Easter Vespers, a short festive service in the evening
on Easter Sunday, which that year fell on April 14, and was the first
service conducted on the main floor of the cathedral just two years
after its reconstruction had begun.
The walls were already up, but none of the decorations were in place.
Carpets were placed on concrete floors and, amid the immense grey walls
and iron rods sticking out, the continuous chant of “Christ is Risen! –
Indeed He is Risen!” sounded with particular joy.
For me, it was also the day of my engagement. As my wife-to-be and I
were leaving the church, the bodyguards were making way for a giant man
with a heap of white hair. He was indeed a head taller than the crowd
around him. “Look, Yeltsin!” I told my bride. She couldn’t believe it.
Much has changed in Russia since then – for better and for worse. The
cathedral’s interior, reconstructed according to the old designs,
shines today with marble, paintings and gilded decor. Two empty thrones
are the latest addition – for the tsar and tsarina. And in the middle
of it stood the coffin with Yeltsin’s body, covered by the traditional
shroud depicting Golgotha and the Russian national flag, brought back
by Yeltsin in 1991. The choir intoned “Christ is Risen!” and
“Memory Eternal!” Eternal indeed! (posted 30 April 2007)
Religion News Current News Items
Concern over patriarch's health
PATRIARCH BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH
Gazeta.ru, 27 April 2007
Rumors about the death of the head of the Russian Orthodox church,
Alexis II, are being spread by the Internet. According to news media
information, the patriarch experienced two clinical deaths and expired
on Friday in a Swiss clinic. The patriarchate categorically
denied this report; they said in the church that the head of RPTs is in
Switzerland for scheduled treatment and will soon return to Moscow.
On Friday, soon after the report of the death of Mstislav Rostropovich,
the Russian internet carried a report that Patriarch Alexis II of
Moscow and all-Rus had died in a Swiss clinic. Blogs reported even the
time of death, 15:35 Moscow time. It was also reported that the church
will not make this news public earlier that Saturday. Soon information
appeared on several news sites on the internet. A bit later reports
appeared in news media that Alexis II had not died on Friday, but had
experienced clinical death twice and is in critical condition.
The Moscow patriarchate categorically denied reports of Alexis II's
death as well as of his critical condition.
The patriarchate expressed surprise that "such information has appeared
from somewhere." "Recently the patriarch confirmed the schedule
for events following divine liturgy on the next day," Vladimir
Vigiliansky, director of Moscow patriarchate press service, told
In fact, the head of RPTs left some time back for scheduled treatment
in Switzerland. According to Gazeta.ru's source, persons accompanying
the patriarch reported that the head of RPTs is alive. They said that
they were astonished when people began calling them Friday morning from
Russia and persistently inquired about the state of Alexis II's health.
Somewhat later ITAR-TASS news agency, citing the patriarchate's
information, reported that on Friday Alexis II called his aides and
confirmed that he intends to return to Moscow on 1 May.
According to schedule, on 2 May he is supposed to conduct divine
liturgy in the Pokrov monastery in Moscow on the occasion of the 55th
anniversary of the death of St. Matrona of Moscow. On 5 May the
patriarch is scheduled to celebrate the divine liturgy, a prayer
service, and a requiem on the day of the Synaxis of the New Martyrs of
Butovo Prison at Butovo Polygon.
Almost simultaneously with these assurances information appeared on
news services that the patriarch had expressed condolences upon the
death of musician Mstislav Rostropovich.
Reports about problems with the patriarch's health have appeared in
news media for a long time. The patriarch has suffered from heart
disease and has had several heart attacks. Information appeared in the
press that he lost consciousness several times in public during trips
In October 2002 there was news that when Alexis returned from
Switzerland, appearing in recovered health, he inspired the Orthodox
community. During a visit to Astrakhan to mark the occasion of the
400th anniversary of the local diocese, the patriarch felt ill and was
hospitalized for recovery in a local hospital. The next day Alexis was
transferred to a clinic in Moscow. At first it was thought that His
Holiness had experienced a crisis of hypertension, but later it was
reported that Alexis II had undergone a minor heart attack, which led
to problems with a brain hemorrhage.
In the first half of 2003 the patriarch was hospitalized twice.
According to official information, that was for a cold. Doctors then
gave assurances that there was no reason for concern about the
patriarch's health. It later became known that in April Alexis ii had
suffered a serious case of flu, complicated by bronchitis.
Following that illness the patriarch seldom conducted services and he
was even unable to attend the Paskha evening service.
In the summer of 2004, it was reported, Alexis II had a stint inserted
into his aorta at a German clinic. After ceremonies connected with the
return of the Tikhvin Mother of God icon to the motherland, Alexis felt
sick and was immediately hospitalized. The patriarch did not attend the
250th anniversary of St. Serafim of Sarov in Kursk on 20-21 July.
The communications service of the Department of External Church
Relations of the Moscow patriarchate refrained from comment for some
time. But in the end it reported that the patriarch suffered heart
arrhythmia and needed rehabilitation treatment.
The patriarch's last public appearance was at the time of the Paskha
divine liturgy in the church of Christ the Savior. Some news media then
reported that the head of RPTs had been ill during the day.
There was concern about the health of the patriarch because of his
absence from the funeral of the first president of Russia, Boris
Yeltsin, held on 25 April. On the day of Yeltsin's death the
patriarchate announced that Alexis II would not interrupt his vacation
to return to Moscow. (tr. by PDS, posted 30 April 2007)
Russian original posted
on site of Credo.ru
, 28 April 2007
HEAD OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH FEELS WELL--OFFICIAL
Interfax, 27 April 2007
The entourage of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch
Alexy II has dismissed rumors alleging that his health has deteriorated.
"The rumors about the deteriorating condition of the Patriarch are
untrue. His Holiness is in satisfactory condition," Sergey Kravets,
head of the Orthodox Encyclopedia church research center, told Interfax
He said the patriarch was on holiday abroad where he is receiving
health-improving treatment. "The treatment of the patriarch proceeds
successfully and literally several minutes ago he confirmed the
schedule of his services for May," he said.
Kravets also said that the patriarch had extended his condolences to
the families and friends of Mstislav Rostropovich, the world-famous
cellist and conductor, and Kirill Lavrov, theater and film star and
artistic director of the Tovstonogov Drama Theater in St. Petersburg,
both of whom died on Friday.
In his turn, the Moscow Patriarchate representative reproached some
journalists with ‘idle talk’ concerning a deterioration of the
patriarch’s health. ‘The rumor about it is no more than an invention on
those who seek after sensation. We believe it immoral’, he stressed.
He also noted that ‘the patriarch is staying in contact with his people
in Moscow and discuss working matters with them’. (Posted 30 April 2007)
PATRIARCH ALEXIS II TO RETURN TO MOSCOW TUESDAY
30 April 2007
Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus will return to Moscow on
Tuesday, 1 May, after a scheduled medical examination and vacation
abroad. On the next day, 2 May, he will celebrate the liturgy at the
Pokrov convent in Russia's capital.
The directory of the press service of the Moscow patriarchate, Fr
Vladimir Vigiliansky, told RIA Novosti, that the wave of
unsubstantiated rumors about the critical condition of the patriarch's
health that spread on the Internet in recent days is "simply shocking."
"Especially disturbing are those news media reports that appeared even
after official rebuttal of the rumors about the illness or even the
death of His Holiness and after confirmation of the schedule for his
upcoming liturgies," Vigiliansky stressed.
He said that such a news campaign could be viewed as even having evil
intent, aimed at interrupting the signing of the Act on Canonical
Fellowship between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the
Moscow patriarchate. The signing of the historic document is scheduled
for 17 May of this year.
As reported earlier, Alexis II's regular vacation included a scheduled
medical examination in Switzerland and thus he missed the funeral of
Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin.
Last Friday the patriarch confirmed the schedule of divine liturgies
for coming days. On 2 May he will celebrate the divine liturgy at the
Pokrov convent on the memorial day and 55th anniversary of the death of
St. Matrona of Moscow, whose relics are preserved in the Pokrov
cloister. On Saturday, 5 May, Alexis II will celebrate the divine
liturgy and a prayer service and requiem on the Day of the Synaxis of
New Martyrs of Butovo. On 6 May, the memorial day of the holy martyr
St. George the Conqueror, the patriarch will celebrate the liturgy in
the church of St. George in Victory Memorial Park (Poklonnaia
gora). (tr. by PDS, posted 30 April 2007)
Religion News Current News Items
If material is quoted, please give credit to the publication from
which it came.
It is not necessary to credit this Web page. If material is transmitted
electronically, please include reference to the URL,