Category : Russia

(NPR) Stanislav Petrov, ‘The Man Who Saved The World,’ Dies At 77

Stanislav Petrov was a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, and his job was to monitor his country’s satellite system, which was looking for any possible nuclear weapons launches by the United States.

He was on the overnight shift in the early morning hours of Sept. 26, 1983, when the computers sounded an alarm, indicating that the U.S. had launched five nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov told the BBC in 2013.

It was already a moment of extreme tension in the Cold War. On Sept. 1 of that year, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean Air Lines plane that had drifted into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 people on board, including a U.S. congressman. The episode led the U.S. and the Soviets to exchange warnings and threats.

Petrov had to act quickly. U.S. missiles could reach the Soviet Union in just over 20 minutes….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, History, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isabel Hapgood

Loving God, we offer thanks for the work and witness of Isabel Florence Hapgood, who introduced the Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church to English-speaking Christians, and encouraged dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox. Guide us as we build on the foundation that she gave us, that all may be one in Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Truly Terrifying Piece from the [London] Times about Putin Critic Bill Browder-The West can’t imagine how evil they are in the Kremlin regime

The extraordinary story of Mr Browder’s transformation from hard-nosed capitalist to human rights campaigner, based on his 2015 book Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s Number 1 Enemy is being turned into a film. “There are a couple of things that are so crazy in the story that the Hollywood screenwriter says, ‘No one will believe it. They will just think it’s not true’,” he says. Yet the plot is still unfolding. “The book doesn’t scratch the surface — it finishes in 2012 and crazy stuff has happened since then: assassinations and cover-ups and western enablers.”

The grandson of Earl Browder, the former leader of the American Communist Party, he became a capitalist as an “act of rebellion” and spent more than a decade living as a businessman in Moscow, running Russia’s most successful investment fund. He was deported in 2006 after he started to expose corruption, and was blacklisted by the Russian government as a “threat to national security”. Since then he has been convicted in absentia on what he calls trumped-up charges and sentenced to nine years in jail.

The death in 2009 of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who had uncovered details of a $230 million tax fraud, made him only more determined to get to the truth. “They arrested him, tortured him viciously for 358 days and they killed him at the age of 37,” he says. “To this day it’s a burden I carry on my shoulders that a young man died in my service to protect me. It’s my duty to get justice for him and make sure that the people who killed him don’t get away with it.”

Others who have worked with Mr Browder to expose the links between the Russian mafia and the Kremlin have also mysteriously died or been injured. Only last week Nikolai Gorokhov, a Russian lawyer who is representing the Magnitsky family, fell from the fourth floor of an apartment building near Moscow in suspicious circumstances. “He had come across dramatic and important evidence of collusion and corruption and cover up of the murder by the Russian law enforcement authorities,” Mr Browder says. “He was going to go to court the day after he plunged four storeys. I believe that he was pushed off the balcony.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

Bridget Kendall Ramsey Murray Lecture 2015

Selwyn College Cambridge presents the annual Ramsay Murray Lecture on the subject of modern day Russia [including relations with Ukraine and Europe] under the Presidency of Vladimir Putin and given by the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, Bridget Kendall.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A new Orthodox church next to the Eiffel Tower boosts Russian soft power

The skyline of Paris has just acquired yet another arresting feature. Only a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, a spanking new Russian Orthodox cathedral, complete with five onion domes and a cultural centre, was inaugurated on December 4th by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, amid sonorous rhetoric about the long and chequered history of the Russian diaspora in France.

To secular observers, this was the latest success for Russian soft power, showing that even in times when intergovernmental relations are frosty, ecclesiastical relations can still forge ahead. In October, Patriarch Kirill reconsecrated the Russian cathedral in London and had a brief meeting with the supreme governor of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth; this was a more cordial chat than any conversation the political leaders of Britain and Russia have had recently.

The new temple in Paris was, in a sense, both a product and a hostage of secular politics. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s then-president, agreed to its construction, with Russian funds, back in 2007 as a good-will gesture to Russia. Plans to turn the cathedral’s opening into a moment of diplomatic togetherness, attended by the French and Russian presidents, foundered after the countries’ row over Syria sharpened. But nothing prevented Patriarch Kirill from inaugurating the new house of prayer, with French cultural figures like the singer Mireille Matthieu in attendance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Amy Frykholm–What we can learn from Orthodox nun Maria Skobtsova

In the midst of Nazi-occupied Paris, an independent-minded Russian Orthodox nun lamented that Christians were not equipped to meet the challenges of the moment. “I look everywhere and nowhere do I find anything that would point to the possibility of a breakthrough from material life to eternity,” wrote Maria Skobtsova in an essay titled “Insight in Wartime.” She did not see around her any forms of Christian life that had the “right voice, the right pathos, the kind of wings” to stand against the terrors of the era.

Skobtsova herself was perhaps the exception. Born in 1891 under the czar, she had by the 1940s been a Bolshevik, a poet, and a refugee. She was almost killed by both White and Red armies during the Russian Revolution of 1917. She fled Russia after briefly serving as the deputy mayor of Anapa, a city near the Black Sea. In exile she returned to the Orthodox faith, and in 1932 she became a nun.

She refused, however, to take up residence in a convent or traditional religious community. Issuing a thoroughgoing critique of monasticism, she insisted that she would seek instead “to share the life of paupers and tramps.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Russia, Theology, Women

(Sunday Telegraph) Russia and the West have 'entered a new Cold War'

Russia and the West have entered a new Cold War that could lead to growing confrontations across the globe, as Vladimir Putin challenges American international hegemony.

That is the consensus among military and foreign policy experts in Moscow, who have warned that Russia and the West are headed for a standoff as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia

Archbishop Welby welcomes Patriarch Kirill to Lambeth Palace

The visit represents the first time that Archbishop Justin and Patriarch Kirill have met, but it is the second time a Patriarch of Moscow and an Archbishop of Canterbury have met at Lambeth Palace in recent times. The first meeting was that of Archbishop Michael Ramsey with His Holiness Alexey I in 1964.

The relationship between the two churches has endured for more than three centuries, through some very difficult times as well periods when the two countries have stood side by side. This relationship has been cemented through many personal contacts and through the spiritual and cultural interchange which has enriched both churches.

After welcoming Patriarch Kirill and his delegation to Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Justin had a personal conversation with Patriarch Kirill. Uppermost in the conversation was their shared compassion for Christian, and other, minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, where they have been systematically targeted and persecuted and their communities decimated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia

(AFP) Gorbachev warns of 'dangerous point' as US-Russia ties sour

Relations between Moscow and Washington — already at their lowest since the Cold War over the Ukraine conflict — have soured further in recent days as the United States pulled the plug on Syria talks and accused Russia of hacking attacks.

The Kremlin has suspended a series of nuclear pacts, including a symbolic cooperation deal to cut stocks of weapons-grade plutonium.

“I think the world has reached a dangerous point,” Gorbachev, 85, told state news agency RIA Novosti.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia

England show signs of promise, then squander a 1-0 lead at the end to get a tie w Russia in Euro2016

England were unrecognisable from the side knocked out of the 2014 World Cup after just five days and yet a similar story unfolded in Marseille. Roy Hodgson, at 68, holds the most coffee-stained birth certificate of any manager in France this summer and yet he has thrown together the youngest squad.

Tarred with a not entirely unjustified reputation for preferring a conservative, risk-management brand of football, Hodgson’s top-heavy troupe carry a vibrancy about them seldom witnessed in the past decade. Russia, however, were low hanging fruit and yet they still managed to penetrate a leaky back-four. For all of Hodgson’s intrepid intentions, it’s the same old story.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Europe, France, Men, Russia, Sports

Niall Ferguson–A message from Dostoevsky to the 21st century: Worry About Big Data

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems….

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states ”” and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states ”” at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, History, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Russia, State Government, The U.S. Government, Theology

Heartwarming–WWII Refugee Paying it Forward With Care Packages to Syrian Refugee

When Helga Kissel was 16, she fled Berlin as Soviets marched in. She met a U.S. soldier in Bavaria, who sent her care packages, and now, she does the same for a 16-year old Syrian girl.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Russia, Stewardship, Syria, Theology

11 Sobering Quotes from Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn

Great food for thought–read and ponder them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology

(FT) Dmitry Medvedev warns of new cold war

The world has entered a “new cold war,” Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, as he held out an olive branch to western powers, urging conciliation.

“Sometimes I think, are we in 2016 or 1962?” Mr Medvedev asked, in a speech that reeled off the long list of familiar Russian grievances ”” from Nato expansion to western regime change projects ”” but also included some of the firmest calls for rapprochement with Europe and the US since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea two years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrei Rublev

Holy God, we bless thee for the gift of thy monk and icon writer Andrei Rublev, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provided a window into heaven for generations to come, revealing the majesty and mystery of the holy and blessed Trinity; who livest and reignest through ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer