Window On Eurasia: Orthodox Schism Threatens Moscow Patriarchate, Kremlin

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 7/18/2008 1:56 PM
Friday, July 18, 2008
Window on Eurasia: Orthodox Schism Threatens Moscow Patriarchate, Kremlin
Paul Goble

Vienna, July 18 – Embattled Orthodox Bishop Diomid yesterday anathematized Patriarch Aleksii II, Metropolitan Kirill and their supporters, an action that not only threatens to deepen the split within the Russian Orthodox Church but to affect that denomination’s relationship with the Russian state and thus undermine Kremlin policies both within Russia and abroad.
Given that the stakes involved in this conflict are so high, the Patriarchate and its government supporters have launched a campaign to portray Diomid as an obscurantist and tool of “dark forces” and to suppress his movement rather than to take seriously his calls for greater accountability within the church and greater independence for the church relative to the state.
But because Diomid speaks for millions of Russian Orthodox believers, because he enjoys at least some support within the church’s hierarchy and even the government, and because canon law gives bishops enormous power, such efforts by the Patriarchate and its Kremlin backers could quickly prove counterproductive, spreading rather than suppressing his ideas.
Diomid, who was stripped of his position by the Patriarchate on June 28 but has refused to repent, yesterday declared anathema Aleksii, Kirill, and all others in the Orthodox hierarchy who slavishly follow the dictates of the state, ignore canon law, and who promote ecumenical ties with other churches (
Repeating his argument that he personally has nothing to repent of and saying that he is not ready to leave his 20 million supporters to be destroyed by “false democracy,” the bishop said that his actions were not those of a schismatic but rather a defender of the faith. Certain “dark forces” are trying to present the situation otherwise, he suggested.
Among those apparently are the Patriarchate itself whose hierarchs quickly dismissed Diomid’s position as “nonsense” ( and outspoken Deacon Andrei Kurayev who cast doubt on Diomid’s ability to draft such a document on his own, suggesting it might have been prepared “in New York” (
(An intriguing counterpoint to this is a suggestion that the fight between Diomid and the Patriarchate in fact reflects a conflict between more conservative church leaders who have been linked to Vladimir Putin and several more liberal ones who are known to be close to Dmitry Medvedev (
Similar comments, which seek to portray Diomid as someone completely out of touch with modern life and the needs of the Russian state rather than as someone who is attempting to defend what he sees as the canonical principles and requirements of Orthodoxy as a distinctive religious community.
Why is this dispute within Russian Orthodoxy so important not only to those within the church but to the Russian state as such? There are at least three reasons. First, because canon law allows a bishop to appoint others, Diomid’s independent stance threatens the “power vertical” within the church that the Patriarchate and the Russian state have cultivated.
On the one hand, his ability to challenge the Patriarchate both via the Internet and through the use of some of the oldest religious tactics known, including seizing liturgical materials (, mean that he will spark a discussion the results of which are unclear to all involved.
And on the other, Diomid’s actions will make it more difficult for the Kremlin to continue to use the Patriarchate as its unquestioning handmaiden in the pursuit of Russian government policies abroad, something that will deprive Moscow of a tool it has regularly deployed.
Second, however quickly and brutally the Patriarchate and the Kremlin act against him – and both are likely to do so — Diomid is unlikely to be the last independent-minded bishop to appear – indeed Deacon Kurayev suggested that it was little short of “a miracle” that there had not been more questioning bishops already in the post-1991 environment.
Consequently, it is entirely possible that other bishops will now enter the fray, not only further weakening the hierarchy of the Patriarchal church but reviving the intellectual life within the church that was largely shut down by the Soviets and that until now had not revived after the collapse of the USSR.
That could make Orthodoxy more dynamic, more attractive, and even more powerful – qualities that could make its relationship to Russian society and the Russian state far different than they are today and far more problematic for those who would like to see the church continue in its bureaucratic subservience.
And third – and this may be the most immediate reason why this church dispute will matter to others – Diomid’s actions could help promote the development of autocephalous churches in Ukraine and Belarus and thus shift the balance within Orthodoxy away from Moscow toward Constantinople.
In declaring Aleksii II anathema, Diomid also declared the bishopric of Minsk a “widowed” see, thus at least in principle opening the way for him to appoint his own man there. If that were to happen, the Belarusian church would be autocephalous in all but name, at least from the point of view of the Patriarchate.
And there are indications that the Ukrainians might invite the dissident bishop to the upcoming celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the baptism of Kyivan Rus’, thus elevating his status relative to Aleksii and putting both churchmen in a position to speak with the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople, who is slated to come as well.
That arrangement – and political analysts in Kyiv and Moscow say it is now under active consideration ( – could contribute to a shift in the administrative allegiance of Orthodox in Ukraine and to a shift in power from Moscow to Constantinople within Orthodoxy more generally.
Posted by Paul Goble at 6:15 AM

Share Button

Itar-Tass: Two Policemen Wounded In Attack In Dagestan, Gunman Killed

From: Eagle_wng

Two policemen wounded in attack in Dagestan, gunman killed

08.02.2008, 08.50

MAKHACHKALA, February 8 (Itar-Tass) — Two policemen were wounded in an attack by armed gunmen in Dagestan’s city of Khasavyurt.

The incident took place at Datuyev Street at about 23:00 Moscow time on Thursday, a source at the Khasavyurt city police department told.

Two unidentified persons opened submachine gun fire at a traffic policeman who was returning home after work. The wounded policeman fired back several shots at the attackers. A police patrol arrived at the site of shooting. One of the attackers threw a grenade at the police car. The blast tore off a leg of one of the policeman. The attacker was shot dead by retaliatory fire. He had a belt with two grenades on him. The second attacker escaped from the site. The killed gunman is identified as Mukhamed Bidayev, an 18-year-old resident of Khasavyurt.

The wounded policemen were operated on. They are in grave condition, physicians said.

On Wednesday evening, under similar circumstances, unidentified persons attacked a traffic policeman in Khasavyurt at Dagestanskaya Street. The policeman with a gunshot wound had a leg amputation operation. The attackers escaped.

Police operations “Interception” and “Volcano-5″ are under way in the city to catch the attackers.

Share Button

DeepikaGlobal: Medvedev Promises To Probe Attacks On Journalists

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 6/6/2008 12:13 AM
Medvedev promises to probe attacks on journalists
BERLIN, Jun 5 (Reuters) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised today that all attempts to harm, hinder or kill journalists in Russia would be investigated.

”All instances related to attempts on the life and health of journalists in our country will be investigated and prosecuted to the end, regardless of when they occurred,” Medvedev told a gathering of political and business leaders in Berlin.

”This is our obligation, the government’s obligation, and we are obliged to carry it out. This we will do.” International concern over Russian press freedom and the safety of journalists has grown as a result of the unsolved murders of two Moscow journalists and dozens of other deaths and attacks in the country.

Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was shot dead in 2004. Anna Politkovskaya, who documented abuses in two Russian wars in Chechnya, was killed outside her Moscow apartment in 2006.

Medvedev said Russian media were still in danger after being freed from Soviet shackles in the early 1990s, and still needed protection, although the nature of the threat had changed.

”If several years ago (media) needed protection from corporate enslavement, then today it is from attacks by bureaucrats on various levels,” he said.

Share Button

Agency Caucasus: People Of Dagestan Protest Power Cuts

From: Eagle_wng

eople of Dagestan protest power cuts
Makhackala/Agency Caucasus – Frustrated with frequent power cuts over the past three days across the country, the people of Dagestan went out on the streets and staged demonstrations, though they were later forcibly dispersed by the OMON forces.
Public demonstrations were staged on Sunday across Makhackala in protest at three days of power cuts.
A group of as many as 100 people blocked a road to traffic on the
Kalinina Street
in central Makhackala. The OMON forces used force to disperse the crowd. Another group of as many as 200 people blocked the traffic at a juncture where the streets of Gagarina and Bakinkski Kamissarov meet. Demonstrations in some other parts of Makhackala continued up until late at night. ÖZ/FT

Share Button

Ingushetia becomes like Chechnya

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 8/14/2007 5:02 PM


Ingushetia becomes like Chechnya
Magas / Agency Caucasus – Hit by increasing violence, along with growing numbers of kidnapping, Ingushetia is attracting the military force of after . Russian Interior Minister ordered deployment of some Russian troops in Ingushetia.

A group of 2 500 soldiers and 10 armoured military vehicles arrived on August 9 in the region. Security forces here are nowadays far more meticulous about ID as well vehicle check-ins.
The Russian military forces will perform until September a thorough hunting for resisters who either hide in the mountains or pretend to be one among civilians, Russian Interior Minister Spokesman Vasily Panchenkov announced in a statement.

Additional troops are most feared to be likely to target a population of Chechen refugees of up to 60 000.

Magomed Mutsolgov, head of Masher, an Ingush human rights organization, said additional troops would only give rise to violence here. “Most human rights violations are carried out by security forces. And none of them get punished,” said Mutsolgov, and added that some masked forces would often carry out raids in cars without licence plate to abduct civilians to demand a ransom. “Masher has documents about security workers selling corpses to families.”

   Ingush President Murat Zyazikov met on August 8 to discuss the deteriorating course of events with ministers, chief police and intelligence officers, senior prosecutors, mayors and several other officials. The president stressed in his words the need to eliminate social factors that seduce people, especially the youths, into committing crimes. “We are living in a lawful country and the rule of law should always get the most priority,” said Zyazikov.


The president also criticized security forces for their lack of will to cooperate with the public. He then assigned different tasks to all governmental officials, including the interior minister and mayors. Agency Caucasus,16626,detay.htm

Share Button

Caucasian Knot: Residents Of Dagestan Capital Prepare Mass Protest Actions

From Eagle_wng


Residents of Dagestan capital prepare mass protest actions

Despite the promises given to residents of the microdistrict located in Shamil Avenue in Makhachkala who yesterday blocked the main transport route of the capital in protest against cutting off electricity supply, their houses are still without electricity.

Tens of thousands residents of Makhachkala continue to remain without electric power as a result of forced cutting-off introduced by the Open Joint-Stock Company “Dagestan Energy Supply Company.”

“After we blocked the road, late at night electricity was fed to our house in the ‘checkerboard order,’ that is, in several apartments only,” a woman-resident of house No. 57 in Shamil Avenue explained to the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent. “From today’s morning, there is no electricity again. Besides, there is no water, as we have an electric pump for water supply.”

“We shall not restrict ourselves with blocking the road, now the house organizing committee and residents develop new protest actions, to which residents of other houses are ready to join,” the woman told the correspondent.

The “Caucasian Knot” has already informed that on October 17 the OJSC “Dagestan Energy Supply Company” announced that it would introduce restrictions of electricity supply in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan because of huge sums of debts on payments for consumed electric power of the Municipal Unitary Enterprise (MUE) “Makhachkala City Electric Networks.”

Said Amirov, Mayor of Makhachkala, said, when making comments to the Dagestan mass media on the undertaken switching-off of electricity: “The power suppliers have created a deliberate problem aiming to alienate the city networks into the property of the ‘South Network Company.’ They want to buy them for 300 million, while the cost is minimum 3 billion. We’ll pay out the debts in due course of time. The present problem is deliberate, created with the aim to take away the networks.”

Share Button

Freezerbox: Pushing The Envelope Of Journalism Until It’s Inside-Out

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 3/8/2008 11:24 PM
Pushing the Envelope of Journalism Until It’s Inside-out

    “The ‘Chechnya’ special operation has infected the whole country, which is becoming more and more beastly and idiotic. The value of human life was already very low in Russia, and now it has slipped to almost nothing. We have all reached the depths, like the unrescued Kursk [the sunken submarine]. And there’s no order for rescue.”

    — “A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya” by Anna Politkovskaya (University of Chicago Press, 2003)

One hundred twenty-six journalists have been killed in Iraq, many of them native to the country. We don’t mean to slight them, but we’ve chosen one from elsewhere to represent all journalists whose lives are imperiled.

It’s not just that she demonstrated as much courage as any journalists that ever lived while reporting on a conflict, the Chechnyan Wars, at least as savage as Iraq. But from the standpoint of convenience, it’s easier to examine her life because a large body of her work is available in English.

Anna Politkovskaya wrote for a Moscow periodical critical of Russian government policy. Its initial funding was provided by — get this — Mikhail Gorbachev. He used the money he won for his 1990 Nobel Prize to found Novaya Gazeta in 1993.

Imagine the American corollary? All you can come up with is Jimmy Carter helping get a new American Prospect off the ground with his Nobel Prize money. And that’s a stretch.

The Chechnyan separatist movement never garnered much sympathy in the US. What little most of us know about it is, for one, the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis (known to Russians as “Nord-Ost,” after the production playing there at the time).

After Chechnyan terrorists seized the theatre, 39 of them were killed in the chaos that erupted when Russian forces flooded the theater with poison gas. Worse, 129 to 200 of the hostages lost their lives as well.

Second, of course, we remember the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, which ranks as one of the most hideous events in this or any century. After another typically heavy-handed Russian response, at least 334 civilians were killed, including 186 children.

In both incidents, Politkovskaya herself was called upon to help negotiate the release of hostages with rebels who knew of her reputation. But they weren’t separatists as much as terrorists taking revenge for Moscow’s oppression of their people in the wake of the Chechnyan separatist movement’s onset.

From 1989 to 1991, the Russian republics, like Estonia, Ukraine, and Belarus, asserted their independence. When Chechnya, a small republic followed suit, Russia gambled that it could hold on to it without the major war required to prevent the large republics from leaving.

It’s not that Russia minded losing Chechnya. It’s just that its secession set a bad example for the other small republics whose resources and industries were more valuable to Russia than Chechnya’s.

During the First Chechen War, from 1994 to 1996, the Russian forces, despite obvious superiority, were unable to establish control over Chechen guerrillas in mountainous areas. Then the separatists seized a hospital in Budyonnovsk, a city in Southern Russia.

As with Beslan and Nord-Ost later, the troops were blamed for killing more hostages, over 100, than rebels. A shock to the Russian public, it discredited the Russian government’s mission in Chechnya.

7,500 Russian military, 4,000 Chechen combatants, and from 35,000 to 100,000 civilians dead later, Russian President Boris Yeltsin declared a ceasefire in 1996 and signed a peace treaty a year later.

But in 1999, unwilling to leave well enough alone, Chechnyan guerillas tried to invade the neighboring republic of Dagestan. After enduring a series of apartment bombings in their cities, including Moscow, the Russian people were less inclined to object this time when its government, working with increased efficiency, installed a pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya.

From 2000 to the present, Russian officials have periodically declared the war is over. While attacks continue in the north, Chechnya, in fits and starts, is finally undergoing reconstruction.

Throughout both conflicts, Politkovskaya interviewed Chechnyan victims in their homes, as well as in hospitals and refugee camps. In addition, she talked to Russian soldiers and federal authorities.

She portrayed wars in which thousands of innocent citizens were robbed, abducted, tortured, raped, or killed by, at first, Russian military forces and the Russian-backed Chechen administration. Later Chechens themselves joined in preying on their people.

As Politkovskaya explained in “A Small Corner of Hell,” “Nighttime criminals attack the ruined homes of people who are already wretched enough as it is. On the one hand, this criminality is led and encouraged by Federal servicemen. . . . shooting, robbing, and raping. [Eventually] the gangs combing the ruins at night are a fraternity of criminals from the Chechen ranks, mixed with [Russian] servicemen [none of which] give a damn about. . . the fact that they belong to opposing sides.” And you thought you couldn’t tell the players in Iraq without a scorecard.

Poltikovskaya may have sealed her own fate with another book, “Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy” (Metropolitan Books, 2005). Besides chronicling the Russian leader’s brutal pursuit of the Second Chechen War, it also accused the Russian secret service, the FSB, of stifling dissent.

Nor was the Russian public spared. “It is we who are responsible for Putin’s policies,” Poltikovskaya wrote. Its rejection of the first war notwithstanding, “Society has shown limitless apathy. . . . The KGB respects only the strong. The weak it devours. We of all people ought to know that.”

Of her profession, Politkovskaya maintained that “if you want to go on working as a journalist, it’s total servility to Putin. Otherwise, it can be. . . the bullet, poison, or trial — whatever our special services, Putin’s guard dogs, see fit.”

Anna Politkovskaya was found shot dead in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006. Organizations like PEN and Amnesty International, both of which had given her awards, issued the expected denunciations. Also, more than 1,000 Russians, bravely distinguishing themselves from the ranks of the apathetic, filed past her coffin.

That Politkovskaya’s murder occurred on Putin’s birthday helped point the way toward official complicitness. If what was a likely attempt to curry favor with the president weren’t so obvious, the suspects might have avoided arrest.

But an FSB colonel, an officer from the Department for Fighting Organized Crime, and a federal authority in Chechnya were apprehended. In August 2007, Novaya Gazeta journalists and Anna’s grown son issued a statement concurring that those arrested were indeed deserving of investigation, still supposedly ongoing.

Parallels can be drawn between Politkovskaya’s work and that of the great Russian World War II journalist Vasily Grossman, who, arguably, saw more of life than any journalist in the history of the planet. (If that sounds hyperbolic, refer to “A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945″ by Anthony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova [Pantheon, 2006]).

While no one can match the range of Grossman, Politkovskaya enjoyed one advantage over him — the opportunity to interview participants and victims on both sides of the conflict. But Grossman, too, incurred the wrath of the Russian government.

He wrote odes to the Russian people and soldiers during the war that may well have helped inspire them to victory. But, after the war, he turned his efforts to documenting the crimes of the Holocaust during a period of vehement official anti-Semitism, as well as those of his own government during the collectivization of the late 1920s and early thirties. As a result, he was reduced to the status of a non-person who couldn’t get his novels published.

It’s one thing for journalists, caught up in a noble cause, to endanger their own lives. But the pressure on them is exponentially intensified when the effect on their families is taken into consideration.

The claim “I have a family” might seem like an excuse for journalists or would-be whistleblowers to avoid taking the high road. But the decision to put your family in a state of crisis, not to mention harm’s way, obviously can’t be taken lightly.

Taking responsibility for placing your family in that situation requires a breed of courage seldom seen and even less understood.

This was best illustrated when the Nord-Ost terrorists asked to see Politkovskaya. “I say ‘yes,'” she wrote in “A Small Corner of Hell.” “My son manages to get through to me in the midst of all the people calling me: ‘Please don’t do this! We can’t take it anymore!’ . . . It’s a difficult conversation.

“He can’t even express in words how tired everyone around me has gotten from these experiences that take up their whole lives. . . . But later, he will help me more than anyone else with the negotiations, talking with the terrorists on the phone until my arrival.”

But, after the attack, “the FSS [Federal Security Service] will put him under surveillance, listening to his phone conversations.”

However unlikely a legacy, at least Anna Politkovskaya could die secure in the knowledge that while her son would scarcely treasure it, he appreciated it. As do those with respect for human rights everywhere.

Russ Wellen is an editor at Freezerbox who specializes in foreign affairs and nuclear deproliferation.

Share Button