Daily Archives: September 14, 2007

Putin’s Russia Leads the World . . . in Toxic Waste Dumps


Reuters reports that Russia continues to dominate the vast majority of the world . . . in generating toxic pollution and poisoning its population:

Four of the world’s 10 most polluted places are in Russia (Dzerzhinsk, Norilsk) and two former Soviet republics (Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Chernobyl, Ukraine), an independent environmental group said in a report released on Wednesday. Encompassing seven countries, the top 10 sites may cause some 12 million people to suffer health problems ranging from asthma and other respiratory ailments to birth defects and premature death, the New York-based Blacksmith Institute said. “These places are sapping the strength of the populations around them, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” Richard Fuller, the nonprofit group’s founder and director told reporters on a conference call. He said simple engineering projects could make many of the places safe, but that funds, political will, and technical ability were often lacking. Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more cars and electronics — habits that had been limited mainly to rich countries like the United States. The polluted sites in Russia and the former Soviet republics include Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which until the end of the Cold War was one of the country’s major chemical weapons centers, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986, Blacksmith said its second annual report.

Putin’s Russia Leads the World . . . in Toxic Waste Dumps


Reuters reports that Russia continues to dominate the vast majority of the world . . . in generating toxic pollution and poisoning its population:

Four of the world’s 10 most polluted places are in Russia (Dzerzhinsk, Norilsk) and two former Soviet republics (Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Chernobyl, Ukraine), an independent environmental group said in a report released on Wednesday. Encompassing seven countries, the top 10 sites may cause some 12 million people to suffer health problems ranging from asthma and other respiratory ailments to birth defects and premature death, the New York-based Blacksmith Institute said. “These places are sapping the strength of the populations around them, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” Richard Fuller, the nonprofit group’s founder and director told reporters on a conference call. He said simple engineering projects could make many of the places safe, but that funds, political will, and technical ability were often lacking. Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more cars and electronics — habits that had been limited mainly to rich countries like the United States. The polluted sites in Russia and the former Soviet republics include Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which until the end of the Cold War was one of the country’s major chemical weapons centers, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986, Blacksmith said its second annual report.

Putin’s Russia Leads the World . . . in Toxic Waste Dumps


Reuters reports that Russia continues to dominate the vast majority of the world . . . in generating toxic pollution and poisoning its population:

Four of the world’s 10 most polluted places are in Russia (Dzerzhinsk, Norilsk) and two former Soviet republics (Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Chernobyl, Ukraine), an independent environmental group said in a report released on Wednesday. Encompassing seven countries, the top 10 sites may cause some 12 million people to suffer health problems ranging from asthma and other respiratory ailments to birth defects and premature death, the New York-based Blacksmith Institute said. “These places are sapping the strength of the populations around them, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” Richard Fuller, the nonprofit group’s founder and director told reporters on a conference call. He said simple engineering projects could make many of the places safe, but that funds, political will, and technical ability were often lacking. Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more cars and electronics — habits that had been limited mainly to rich countries like the United States. The polluted sites in Russia and the former Soviet republics include Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which until the end of the Cold War was one of the country’s major chemical weapons centers, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986, Blacksmith said its second annual report.

Putin’s Russia Leads the World . . . in Toxic Waste Dumps


Reuters reports that Russia continues to dominate the vast majority of the world . . . in generating toxic pollution and poisoning its population:

Four of the world’s 10 most polluted places are in Russia (Dzerzhinsk, Norilsk) and two former Soviet republics (Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Chernobyl, Ukraine), an independent environmental group said in a report released on Wednesday. Encompassing seven countries, the top 10 sites may cause some 12 million people to suffer health problems ranging from asthma and other respiratory ailments to birth defects and premature death, the New York-based Blacksmith Institute said. “These places are sapping the strength of the populations around them, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” Richard Fuller, the nonprofit group’s founder and director told reporters on a conference call. He said simple engineering projects could make many of the places safe, but that funds, political will, and technical ability were often lacking. Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more cars and electronics — habits that had been limited mainly to rich countries like the United States. The polluted sites in Russia and the former Soviet republics include Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which until the end of the Cold War was one of the country’s major chemical weapons centers, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986, Blacksmith said its second annual report.

Putin’s Russia Leads the World . . . in Toxic Waste Dumps


Reuters reports that Russia continues to dominate the vast majority of the world . . . in generating toxic pollution and poisoning its population:

Four of the world’s 10 most polluted places are in Russia (Dzerzhinsk, Norilsk) and two former Soviet republics (Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Chernobyl, Ukraine), an independent environmental group said in a report released on Wednesday. Encompassing seven countries, the top 10 sites may cause some 12 million people to suffer health problems ranging from asthma and other respiratory ailments to birth defects and premature death, the New York-based Blacksmith Institute said. “These places are sapping the strength of the populations around them, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” Richard Fuller, the nonprofit group’s founder and director told reporters on a conference call. He said simple engineering projects could make many of the places safe, but that funds, political will, and technical ability were often lacking. Concern about polluted places is growing as the world’s population swells and people in developing countries like China and India buy more cars and electronics — habits that had been limited mainly to rich countries like the United States. The polluted sites in Russia and the former Soviet republics include Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which until the end of the Cold War was one of the country’s major chemical weapons centers, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986, Blacksmith said its second annual report.

Annals of Russian Efficiency

The Telegraph reports:

Foreign spies in Russia have been handed an unexpected gift by officials in the town of Sarov who accidentally posted details of a new top secret submarine on the local administration’s website.

The embarrassing leak followed what was supposed to be a confidential meeting between the commander of the secret submarine and officials in the closed town, which is home to Russia’s main nuclear research facility. Instead, overly assiduous officials wrote a press release that covered the meeting in minute detail, not only naming the prototype vessel’s commander as Capt Sergei Kroshkin but even revealing the project’s code number: 20120. Other technical and tactical specifications were also given, including the submarine’s water displacement of 3,950 tonnes. It was not until the story was dutifully picked up by local newspapers that officials noticed the slip.

The offending press release has now been removed from the website, and Russia’s navy, defence ministry and armament manufacturing industry have all denied the existence of project 20120. Military analysts who have studied the data suggest the new craft, also named the Sarov, is similar in appearance — although much larger — to the fabled Soviet Kilo Class “Turbot” submarine, acknowledged as one of the quietest vessels in the world. Leading Russian newspaper Kommersant said the leaked details suggested that the 20120 contained technology radically different from any other submarine in service. It hypothesised that the Russian navy had revived, perhaps successfully, a Soviet era plan to install a small nuclear reactor on a diesel powered submarine — making it capable of patrolling underwater without surfacing for 20 days.

Current Russian submarines have to surface at least once every three or four days. The revelations are the latest sign of Russia’s rapid rearmament. The country’s defence budget has quadrupled since Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, came to power in 2000. Earlier this year, Russia launched its first new-generation nuclear submarine since the Cold War while yesterday generals said they had successfully tested the world’s largest non-nuclear vacuum bomb — a device they christened “the Father of all Bombs”.

Russian Orphanages are Criminal Prep Schools

Blogger Paul Goble reports that orphanages in Putin’s neo-Soviet Russia are nothing more than prep schools for a life of crime:

Ninety percent of the graduates of Russia’s network of state orphanages land in jail within five years of leaving these institutions, a tragic pattern that a senior Russian Orthodox cleric says should lead the government to put those responsible “up against the wall.” Yesterday, during question time in the Russian Duma, Education Minister Andrei Fursenko, Health and Social Security Minister Mikhail Zurabov and the First Deputy Head of the Interior Ministry Aleksandr Chekalin jointly presented a report on how the government is dealing with orphans and other unsupervised children. Fursenko stressed that over the next three years, the government plans to close another 400 children’s homes, bringing the total number down to 1370. He said such cuts were possible because the number of orphans was now falling, although he admitted the declines were small and that 80 percent of all “orphans” have living parents.
Zurabov said the number of adoptions is rising and that Russians now adopt more than twice as many Russian children as foreigners do, a shift from the 1990s. And Chekalin used his time to discuss crimes committed against children rather than crimes committed by them.

But today, in an interview carried on the Russkaya liniya portal which has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Dmitriy Smirnov, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for work with the military and security agencies, focused on the failure of children’s homes to adequately socialize their charges. He said that at present “our state system of childrens’ homes is preparing criminals,” with 40 percent of their graduates landing in jail within one year of finishing and another 50 percent doing so before the fifth anniversary of their departure from these institutions. Archpriest Dmitriy, who has a longstanding reputation for speaking his mind speeches and articles directed at Russians in uniform, said that “for such work, [those responsible] should be put up against the wall” and presumably shot. Obviously, he continued, the orphanages are not the only ones responsible for this unfortunate trend. The mass media is full of stories celebrating crime and violence and making fun of those who live by the rules. And Soviet-era attacks on religion have left the Russian people without the moral guidance they need.

But the archpriest’s reference to the Soviet period in this context may cause some of his readers to recall the role that orphanages played at that time. As a result of war, collectivization, and industrialization, a far higher percentage of Russians ended in state orphanages than has been the case elsewhere. And these children — called “detdomtsy” [“children’s home people”} played a very special role: while some may have landed in jail even then, a far greater percentage became Communist Party officials – often as senior as union republic first secretary – militia men, or even KGB officers.

Socor Slashes Schroeder to Bits

Writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, the always brilliant Vladimir Socor (pictured) rips the treacherous Gerhard Shroeder a new one as the latter continues his malignant effort to support the rise of the neo-Soviet Union:

On September 8 in Moscow, former German chancellor and current Gazprom official Gerhard Schroeder launched the Russian edition of his memoirs, courtesy again of Gazprom. Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Gazprom chairman Dmitry Medvedev contributed the preface to the memoirs’ Russian edition and acted as host at the book launch. The Kremlin’s top political consultants, Gleb Pavlovsky and Vyacheslav Nikonov, delivered supportive comments on foreign policy issues alongside Schroeder in front of Russian and international media.

Schroeder and his hosts used the occasion to send a message to the European Union ahead of next month’s EU-Russia summit. It will be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s final summit with the EU, and he clearly wants a summit on his terms.

Postulating that a “democratic process” is ongoing in Russia, Schroeder urged “Germany and Europe to support this internal process without conditions or reservations.” Whether he knew it or not, Russian authorities were on that same day (Interfax, September 8) launching events to mark the 130th anniversary of the birth of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the institutional founding father of Russia’s main ruling group today.

Schroeder depicted the EU as being about to “fall hostage to the nationalist anti-Russian interests of certain member countries. The EU must reject such narrow-minded nationalist interests in order to avoid damaging the development of its relations with Russia. It sometimes is in Europe’s interest to forget about the interests of some individual countries,” he advised, alluding to the EU’s new member countries, but failing to explain what constitutes an “anti-Russian policy.”

Schroeder cited Poland as a country “that can damage Germany’s relations with Russia.” He thereby suggested that Germany ought to separate itself from EU policy when the latter treats Polish concerns as EU issues in EU-Russia negotiations. This advice implicitly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for Poland on such issues as Russia’s embargo on Polish meat products, which became one of the tests of EU-Russia political relations. The EU’s German presidency under Merkel listed the demand to lift that embargo among the prerequisites to signing a new EU-Russia framework agreement, in place of the existing one that is about to expire.

Schroeder criticized U.S. plans to station elements of an anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic as “superfluous and dangerous” and apt to “trigger an arms race”; but he failed to explain why or how. In line with Moscow’s position, he urged Europeans to call for abandonment of this plan. He also echoed Russia’s insistence that the Kosovo conflict be handled “only in consensus among all interested parties . . . only through a lengthy negotiating process.” In practice, this would freeze the situation, enabling Moscow and Belgrade to block U.S., EU, and NATO decisions indefinitely.

As could be expected in his current capacity as chairman of the Russo-German gas pipeline project, Schroeder addressed energy issues at some length. Observing that critics of Russian state control over the energy sector see nothing wrong with the state’s role in Norway, he condemned the critics for “double standards,” claiming that the two situations were comparable. In a similar vein, Schroeder urged “European countries to open their internal energy [distribution] markets to acquisitions by Russian companies, exactly as Russia is open to European companies to develop Russia’s energy reserves.” This “reciprocity” doctrine, championed by Gazprom and lingering in Russia-oriented German circles, is losing credibility in most of Europe, thanks to the Kremlin’s recent confiscatory measures against Western energy companies in Russia.

The doctrine of “reciprocity” or “mutual dependence” in the sphere of energy has its parallel in the foreign-policy doctrine of “convergence through interlocking” with Russia at the institutional level. Both concepts are legacies of the Schroeder government’s final phase (until 2005); but are clearly on the wane, as the incompatibility with Russia in terms of values and interests gains widespread recognition in Europe. At the Moscow event, the former chancellor tried to boost German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeyer’s “convergence-through-interlocking” approach to relations with Russia. As Schroeder’s closest political associate, Steinmeyer tried in vain to turn this doctrine into EU policy during the German presidency in the first half of 2007. Nor has it become the policy of Germany’s coalition government, in which Steinmeyer serves under Merkel. Thus, Schroeder’s urge from Moscow seemed out of date and almost forlorn.

Medvedev demonstrated awareness of this fact at the Moscow event when he expressed “real worry that Germany is no longer a bridge” between Russia and the West. During Schroeder’s chancellorship, Moscow had hoped to see Germany move toward such equidistance. This is no longer in the cards; but it can become a medium-term possibility if Germany’s energy dependence on Russia keeps growing disproportionately.

At this stage, Schroeder looks more like a sinecure-holder than an effective asset for Russian policies in Germany or Europe. He seemed indirectly to acknowledge this fact at the Moscow event when complimenting Russia as “a country with which I am tied both politically and personally.”

You Can’t Fool All of the Faithful all of the Time

The Moscow Times reports on pockets of resistance to the growing centralized stranglehold of the Holy Neo-Soviet Empire:

BUENA, New Jersey. In this wooded corner of New Jersey under the golden onion-shaped domes of a Russian Orthodox church where slender candles light up a wall of religious icons, the Cold War lives on. A small group of worshipers gathered on a recent Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may be one of their last services. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with a decision by their parent church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. The decision to reconcile was abhorrent to the worshipers, who revile the Moscow church for its cooperation with the Soviets years ago and for its close ties with the Russian government today.

“This was seen as just a Soviet church, a man-made arm of the government,” said Maria Nekludoff, 56, whose father was the longtime priest at the Buena church before his death in 2004. “I just don’t understand how suddenly this became ‘the mother church,’ and we need to unite with it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” Adelaida Nekludoff, Maria Nekludoff’s 83-year-old mother, from Ukraine, dismissed the legitimacy of the Moscow church with a shake of her head, “It’s not a church.” The Sviato-Pokrovskiy church was established in 1957 as part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, an extensive network of churches created after the Bolshevik Revolution by people who had fled the Soviet Union and shared a central belief that communism was evil. The Soviet Union, in an effort to destroy the religious soul of the country, which had been mostly Orthodox for hundreds of years, slaughtered thousands of priests and parishioners and destroyed churches across the country.

What they could not eradicate, they tried to co-opt, often by forcing priests to support communism and report to the KGB secret police about members of their congregations. Many believers who survived the purges fled the Soviet Union and made their way to the United States. For decades, worshipers at the Buena church, and other exile churches around the world, practiced their faith and preached against communism. But the fear of persecution was never far away. The elaborate iconostasis, a central part of any Russian Orthodox church holding paintings of saints, was built so it could be taken down in an hour if they had to flee. The church walls were left bare of murals since they were often painted over in churches in the Soviet Union.

With the Soviet collapse, it might have seemed natural for the schism to heal. But for a long time it did not. Then, last year, the Church Abroad announced that it had decided to reconcile with the Moscow church. In May, a ceremony in Moscow celebrated the healing of the 80-year rift. It was attended by President Vladimir Putin, who lobbied heavily for the reconciliation. A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church is currently touring the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to celebrate the reconciliation.

But for many worshipers like those in Buena, the Moscow church is still considered to be riddled with people they feel collaborated with the Soviet government and has never truly atoned for its sins. There is also a worry that the Moscow church is too closely aligned with the government, which they feel is sugarcoating communism to revive Russians’ pride in the Soviet-era history.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Alexei Timofeyev, said the unification was something desired by all Russians — both in and out of the country. Although there is no official count of how many parishes or parishioners have left the Church Abroad, priests and worshipers say it has driven apart churches, priests — even families. “Husband and wives, mothers and sons, everybody has been divided. It is a very big tragedy,” said Bishop Vladimir Tselichtchev, 41, who led the recent Sunday service.

Many Russian Orthodox churches and worshipers are following the Buena lawsuit closely to see what effect it may have on their own situation. Father Stefan Sabelnik, who has led the Trenton-based Assumption of Holy Virgin Church, said that after it became apparent that the Church Abroad would reconcile with Moscow, his parish of about 40 people sent a letter saying they were breaking away and asking to be left alone. “Maybe the Cold War is not the same but it’s not over,” Sabelnik said.

Nicholas Ohotin, a spokesman for the Church Abroad, said people were allowed to leave the church but that they could not take church property with them. Ohotin said the agreement with the Moscow church allows for a “very broad independence,” and Orthodox believers should not fear they will be subject to Moscow’s rule. “The church hopes that all of its parishioners, any of its members that left the church do find their way back to the bosom of the church,” Ohotin said.

That is not very likely, said Maria Nekludoff, who grew up attending the Buena church and whose father, uncle, brother and grandmother are buried in its well-tended cemetery. She said her parents and parishioners put their life into building up the church.”That would break my heart to see that basically their life’s work was taken away,” she said. “I feel blessed that I was able to defend these people who were defenseless. … I felt it was my duty.”

You Can’t Fool All of the Faithful all of the Time

The Moscow Times reports on pockets of resistance to the growing centralized stranglehold of the Holy Neo-Soviet Empire:

BUENA, New Jersey. In this wooded corner of New Jersey under the golden onion-shaped domes of a Russian Orthodox church where slender candles light up a wall of religious icons, the Cold War lives on. A small group of worshipers gathered on a recent Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may be one of their last services. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with a decision by their parent church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. The decision to reconcile was abhorrent to the worshipers, who revile the Moscow church for its cooperation with the Soviets years ago and for its close ties with the Russian government today.

“This was seen as just a Soviet church, a man-made arm of the government,” said Maria Nekludoff, 56, whose father was the longtime priest at the Buena church before his death in 2004. “I just don’t understand how suddenly this became ‘the mother church,’ and we need to unite with it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” Adelaida Nekludoff, Maria Nekludoff’s 83-year-old mother, from Ukraine, dismissed the legitimacy of the Moscow church with a shake of her head, “It’s not a church.” The Sviato-Pokrovskiy church was established in 1957 as part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, an extensive network of churches created after the Bolshevik Revolution by people who had fled the Soviet Union and shared a central belief that communism was evil. The Soviet Union, in an effort to destroy the religious soul of the country, which had been mostly Orthodox for hundreds of years, slaughtered thousands of priests and parishioners and destroyed churches across the country.

What they could not eradicate, they tried to co-opt, often by forcing priests to support communism and report to the KGB secret police about members of their congregations. Many believers who survived the purges fled the Soviet Union and made their way to the United States. For decades, worshipers at the Buena church, and other exile churches around the world, practiced their faith and preached against communism. But the fear of persecution was never far away. The elaborate iconostasis, a central part of any Russian Orthodox church holding paintings of saints, was built so it could be taken down in an hour if they had to flee. The church walls were left bare of murals since they were often painted over in churches in the Soviet Union.

With the Soviet collapse, it might have seemed natural for the schism to heal. But for a long time it did not. Then, last year, the Church Abroad announced that it had decided to reconcile with the Moscow church. In May, a ceremony in Moscow celebrated the healing of the 80-year rift. It was attended by President Vladimir Putin, who lobbied heavily for the reconciliation. A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church is currently touring the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to celebrate the reconciliation.

But for many worshipers like those in Buena, the Moscow church is still considered to be riddled with people they feel collaborated with the Soviet government and has never truly atoned for its sins. There is also a worry that the Moscow church is too closely aligned with the government, which they feel is sugarcoating communism to revive Russians’ pride in the Soviet-era history.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Alexei Timofeyev, said the unification was something desired by all Russians — both in and out of the country. Although there is no official count of how many parishes or parishioners have left the Church Abroad, priests and worshipers say it has driven apart churches, priests — even families. “Husband and wives, mothers and sons, everybody has been divided. It is a very big tragedy,” said Bishop Vladimir Tselichtchev, 41, who led the recent Sunday service.

Many Russian Orthodox churches and worshipers are following the Buena lawsuit closely to see what effect it may have on their own situation. Father Stefan Sabelnik, who has led the Trenton-based Assumption of Holy Virgin Church, said that after it became apparent that the Church Abroad would reconcile with Moscow, his parish of about 40 people sent a letter saying they were breaking away and asking to be left alone. “Maybe the Cold War is not the same but it’s not over,” Sabelnik said.

Nicholas Ohotin, a spokesman for the Church Abroad, said people were allowed to leave the church but that they could not take church property with them. Ohotin said the agreement with the Moscow church allows for a “very broad independence,” and Orthodox believers should not fear they will be subject to Moscow’s rule. “The church hopes that all of its parishioners, any of its members that left the church do find their way back to the bosom of the church,” Ohotin said.

That is not very likely, said Maria Nekludoff, who grew up attending the Buena church and whose father, uncle, brother and grandmother are buried in its well-tended cemetery. She said her parents and parishioners put their life into building up the church.”That would break my heart to see that basically their life’s work was taken away,” she said. “I feel blessed that I was able to defend these people who were defenseless. … I felt it was my duty.”

You Can’t Fool All of the Faithful all of the Time

The Moscow Times reports on pockets of resistance to the growing centralized stranglehold of the Holy Neo-Soviet Empire:

BUENA, New Jersey. In this wooded corner of New Jersey under the golden onion-shaped domes of a Russian Orthodox church where slender candles light up a wall of religious icons, the Cold War lives on. A small group of worshipers gathered on a recent Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may be one of their last services. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with a decision by their parent church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. The decision to reconcile was abhorrent to the worshipers, who revile the Moscow church for its cooperation with the Soviets years ago and for its close ties with the Russian government today.

“This was seen as just a Soviet church, a man-made arm of the government,” said Maria Nekludoff, 56, whose father was the longtime priest at the Buena church before his death in 2004. “I just don’t understand how suddenly this became ‘the mother church,’ and we need to unite with it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” Adelaida Nekludoff, Maria Nekludoff’s 83-year-old mother, from Ukraine, dismissed the legitimacy of the Moscow church with a shake of her head, “It’s not a church.” The Sviato-Pokrovskiy church was established in 1957 as part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, an extensive network of churches created after the Bolshevik Revolution by people who had fled the Soviet Union and shared a central belief that communism was evil. The Soviet Union, in an effort to destroy the religious soul of the country, which had been mostly Orthodox for hundreds of years, slaughtered thousands of priests and parishioners and destroyed churches across the country.

What they could not eradicate, they tried to co-opt, often by forcing priests to support communism and report to the KGB secret police about members of their congregations. Many believers who survived the purges fled the Soviet Union and made their way to the United States. For decades, worshipers at the Buena church, and other exile churches around the world, practiced their faith and preached against communism. But the fear of persecution was never far away. The elaborate iconostasis, a central part of any Russian Orthodox church holding paintings of saints, was built so it could be taken down in an hour if they had to flee. The church walls were left bare of murals since they were often painted over in churches in the Soviet Union.

With the Soviet collapse, it might have seemed natural for the schism to heal. But for a long time it did not. Then, last year, the Church Abroad announced that it had decided to reconcile with the Moscow church. In May, a ceremony in Moscow celebrated the healing of the 80-year rift. It was attended by President Vladimir Putin, who lobbied heavily for the reconciliation. A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church is currently touring the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to celebrate the reconciliation.

But for many worshipers like those in Buena, the Moscow church is still considered to be riddled with people they feel collaborated with the Soviet government and has never truly atoned for its sins. There is also a worry that the Moscow church is too closely aligned with the government, which they feel is sugarcoating communism to revive Russians’ pride in the Soviet-era history.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Alexei Timofeyev, said the unification was something desired by all Russians — both in and out of the country. Although there is no official count of how many parishes or parishioners have left the Church Abroad, priests and worshipers say it has driven apart churches, priests — even families. “Husband and wives, mothers and sons, everybody has been divided. It is a very big tragedy,” said Bishop Vladimir Tselichtchev, 41, who led the recent Sunday service.

Many Russian Orthodox churches and worshipers are following the Buena lawsuit closely to see what effect it may have on their own situation. Father Stefan Sabelnik, who has led the Trenton-based Assumption of Holy Virgin Church, said that after it became apparent that the Church Abroad would reconcile with Moscow, his parish of about 40 people sent a letter saying they were breaking away and asking to be left alone. “Maybe the Cold War is not the same but it’s not over,” Sabelnik said.

Nicholas Ohotin, a spokesman for the Church Abroad, said people were allowed to leave the church but that they could not take church property with them. Ohotin said the agreement with the Moscow church allows for a “very broad independence,” and Orthodox believers should not fear they will be subject to Moscow’s rule. “The church hopes that all of its parishioners, any of its members that left the church do find their way back to the bosom of the church,” Ohotin said.

That is not very likely, said Maria Nekludoff, who grew up attending the Buena church and whose father, uncle, brother and grandmother are buried in its well-tended cemetery. She said her parents and parishioners put their life into building up the church.”That would break my heart to see that basically their life’s work was taken away,” she said. “I feel blessed that I was able to defend these people who were defenseless. … I felt it was my duty.”

You Can’t Fool All of the Faithful all of the Time

The Moscow Times reports on pockets of resistance to the growing centralized stranglehold of the Holy Neo-Soviet Empire:

BUENA, New Jersey. In this wooded corner of New Jersey under the golden onion-shaped domes of a Russian Orthodox church where slender candles light up a wall of religious icons, the Cold War lives on. A small group of worshipers gathered on a recent Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may be one of their last services. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with a decision by their parent church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. The decision to reconcile was abhorrent to the worshipers, who revile the Moscow church for its cooperation with the Soviets years ago and for its close ties with the Russian government today.

“This was seen as just a Soviet church, a man-made arm of the government,” said Maria Nekludoff, 56, whose father was the longtime priest at the Buena church before his death in 2004. “I just don’t understand how suddenly this became ‘the mother church,’ and we need to unite with it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” Adelaida Nekludoff, Maria Nekludoff’s 83-year-old mother, from Ukraine, dismissed the legitimacy of the Moscow church with a shake of her head, “It’s not a church.” The Sviato-Pokrovskiy church was established in 1957 as part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, an extensive network of churches created after the Bolshevik Revolution by people who had fled the Soviet Union and shared a central belief that communism was evil. The Soviet Union, in an effort to destroy the religious soul of the country, which had been mostly Orthodox for hundreds of years, slaughtered thousands of priests and parishioners and destroyed churches across the country.

What they could not eradicate, they tried to co-opt, often by forcing priests to support communism and report to the KGB secret police about members of their congregations. Many believers who survived the purges fled the Soviet Union and made their way to the United States. For decades, worshipers at the Buena church, and other exile churches around the world, practiced their faith and preached against communism. But the fear of persecution was never far away. The elaborate iconostasis, a central part of any Russian Orthodox church holding paintings of saints, was built so it could be taken down in an hour if they had to flee. The church walls were left bare of murals since they were often painted over in churches in the Soviet Union.

With the Soviet collapse, it might have seemed natural for the schism to heal. But for a long time it did not. Then, last year, the Church Abroad announced that it had decided to reconcile with the Moscow church. In May, a ceremony in Moscow celebrated the healing of the 80-year rift. It was attended by President Vladimir Putin, who lobbied heavily for the reconciliation. A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church is currently touring the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to celebrate the reconciliation.

But for many worshipers like those in Buena, the Moscow church is still considered to be riddled with people they feel collaborated with the Soviet government and has never truly atoned for its sins. There is also a worry that the Moscow church is too closely aligned with the government, which they feel is sugarcoating communism to revive Russians’ pride in the Soviet-era history.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Alexei Timofeyev, said the unification was something desired by all Russians — both in and out of the country. Although there is no official count of how many parishes or parishioners have left the Church Abroad, priests and worshipers say it has driven apart churches, priests — even families. “Husband and wives, mothers and sons, everybody has been divided. It is a very big tragedy,” said Bishop Vladimir Tselichtchev, 41, who led the recent Sunday service.

Many Russian Orthodox churches and worshipers are following the Buena lawsuit closely to see what effect it may have on their own situation. Father Stefan Sabelnik, who has led the Trenton-based Assumption of Holy Virgin Church, said that after it became apparent that the Church Abroad would reconcile with Moscow, his parish of about 40 people sent a letter saying they were breaking away and asking to be left alone. “Maybe the Cold War is not the same but it’s not over,” Sabelnik said.

Nicholas Ohotin, a spokesman for the Church Abroad, said people were allowed to leave the church but that they could not take church property with them. Ohotin said the agreement with the Moscow church allows for a “very broad independence,” and Orthodox believers should not fear they will be subject to Moscow’s rule. “The church hopes that all of its parishioners, any of its members that left the church do find their way back to the bosom of the church,” Ohotin said.

That is not very likely, said Maria Nekludoff, who grew up attending the Buena church and whose father, uncle, brother and grandmother are buried in its well-tended cemetery. She said her parents and parishioners put their life into building up the church.”That would break my heart to see that basically their life’s work was taken away,” she said. “I feel blessed that I was able to defend these people who were defenseless. … I felt it was my duty.”

You Can’t Fool All of the Faithful all of the Time

The Moscow Times reports on pockets of resistance to the growing centralized stranglehold of the Holy Neo-Soviet Empire:

BUENA, New Jersey. In this wooded corner of New Jersey under the golden onion-shaped domes of a Russian Orthodox church where slender candles light up a wall of religious icons, the Cold War lives on. A small group of worshipers gathered on a recent Sunday at the Sviato-Pokrovskiy Russian Orthodox Church for what may be one of their last services. The tiny congregation is facing eviction because they disagree with a decision by their parent church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. The decision to reconcile was abhorrent to the worshipers, who revile the Moscow church for its cooperation with the Soviets years ago and for its close ties with the Russian government today.

“This was seen as just a Soviet church, a man-made arm of the government,” said Maria Nekludoff, 56, whose father was the longtime priest at the Buena church before his death in 2004. “I just don’t understand how suddenly this became ‘the mother church,’ and we need to unite with it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.” Adelaida Nekludoff, Maria Nekludoff’s 83-year-old mother, from Ukraine, dismissed the legitimacy of the Moscow church with a shake of her head, “It’s not a church.” The Sviato-Pokrovskiy church was established in 1957 as part of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, an extensive network of churches created after the Bolshevik Revolution by people who had fled the Soviet Union and shared a central belief that communism was evil. The Soviet Union, in an effort to destroy the religious soul of the country, which had been mostly Orthodox for hundreds of years, slaughtered thousands of priests and parishioners and destroyed churches across the country.

What they could not eradicate, they tried to co-opt, often by forcing priests to support communism and report to the KGB secret police about members of their congregations. Many believers who survived the purges fled the Soviet Union and made their way to the United States. For decades, worshipers at the Buena church, and other exile churches around the world, practiced their faith and preached against communism. But the fear of persecution was never far away. The elaborate iconostasis, a central part of any Russian Orthodox church holding paintings of saints, was built so it could be taken down in an hour if they had to flee. The church walls were left bare of murals since they were often painted over in churches in the Soviet Union.

With the Soviet collapse, it might have seemed natural for the schism to heal. But for a long time it did not. Then, last year, the Church Abroad announced that it had decided to reconcile with the Moscow church. In May, a ceremony in Moscow celebrated the healing of the 80-year rift. It was attended by President Vladimir Putin, who lobbied heavily for the reconciliation. A delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church is currently touring the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to celebrate the reconciliation.

But for many worshipers like those in Buena, the Moscow church is still considered to be riddled with people they feel collaborated with the Soviet government and has never truly atoned for its sins. There is also a worry that the Moscow church is too closely aligned with the government, which they feel is sugarcoating communism to revive Russians’ pride in the Soviet-era history.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, Alexei Timofeyev, said the unification was something desired by all Russians — both in and out of the country. Although there is no official count of how many parishes or parishioners have left the Church Abroad, priests and worshipers say it has driven apart churches, priests — even families. “Husband and wives, mothers and sons, everybody has been divided. It is a very big tragedy,” said Bishop Vladimir Tselichtchev, 41, who led the recent Sunday service.

Many Russian Orthodox churches and worshipers are following the Buena lawsuit closely to see what effect it may have on their own situation. Father Stefan Sabelnik, who has led the Trenton-based Assumption of Holy Virgin Church, said that after it became apparent that the Church Abroad would reconcile with Moscow, his parish of about 40 people sent a letter saying they were breaking away and asking to be left alone. “Maybe the Cold War is not the same but it’s not over,” Sabelnik said.

Nicholas Ohotin, a spokesman for the Church Abroad, said people were allowed to leave the church but that they could not take church property with them. Ohotin said the agreement with the Moscow church allows for a “very broad independence,” and Orthodox believers should not fear they will be subject to Moscow’s rule. “The church hopes that all of its parishioners, any of its members that left the church do find their way back to the bosom of the church,” Ohotin said.

That is not very likely, said Maria Nekludoff, who grew up attending the Buena church and whose father, uncle, brother and grandmother are buried in its well-tended cemetery. She said her parents and parishioners put their life into building up the church.”That would break my heart to see that basically their life’s work was taken away,” she said. “I feel blessed that I was able to defend these people who were defenseless. … I felt it was my duty.”