Cultological Culture

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Friday, July 30, 2004

City without sails.
A typical picture for any western port city: along the seafront towers a forest of sailing masts. You don't see that in Petersburg. The sailing fleet has fallen into decay, new yachts are not being built, and the yacht club is in a state of neglect. Olympic master sportsman and yacht racer Igor Mikhailovich Dementev has been boating nearly his entire life, since the time after the war back when he was still a teenager, and he went to the Central Yacht Club (now the Rechnoi). As with any salty dog, he has a sizable arsenal of interesting stories. Besides that, Igor Mikhailovich has not given up hope that someday yachts will again be blessed with their past popularity. Otherwise how could Petersburg ever be thought of as a sea city?
Cult of Sails.
In the current day the fleet of the Saint Petersburg river yacht club, which by the way is the largest in Russia, numbers nearly a hundred sailing vessels. (Really, many of them have long been in need of major overhaul and are not seaworthy.) This is practically the only spot in the city where any one who wants to can test his mettle as a yachting sailor. With absolutely moderate membership dues, no less. Along with expenses for yacht maintenance, it come to no more than 100 dollars a year.
"Last year our yacht club gradually started to come back to life," says Igor Mikhailovich, "but on the whole, the sport of yachting is not living in the best of times. The Baltic Sea steamship line has sold its club to pay off debt. After the restoration of the Constantine Palace, and the Strelna became a prestigious location, the berths at the Kirovski Yacht Club were all taken up by the more expensive cutters and hardly a berth can be found for yachts. The sail section is vanishing from the maritime college, they could barely make ends meet with the children's sailing school...
Overseas the cult of sailing is surviving in all the port cities. Everybody knows how healthy this is and that this is the romantic side of the sea. Our city doesn't have any information about yachts and the sport of sailing. It's not surprising that many just don't know that yacht clubs exist in the city."
Will a regatta never "set foot" in St. Petersburg?
The popularization of the sport of yachting could be conducive to an international regatta, but they avoid the Petersburg area. "The last time a large number of yachts pulled in to Petersburg was in '96," says Igor Dementev. "That was the "Cutty Sark" regatta. Honestly speaking, it was pitiful to look at. For the whole world, the sailing regatta was a show and a major festival at which crowds of people thronged. With us all that happened was horribly boring, the seafront was devoid of people and everything had a sheen of dreary bureaucracy. All this caused a bad impression on the participants and organizers of the regatta, and they've simply avoided us since then."
Nevertheless, this did not stop the Petersburg yachtsmen from taking part in and winning regattas, even though they were a long was from their home city. As you read this article, the yacht "Zvezda," which is commanded by Igor Dementev in his free time, is enroute in to the Swedish city of Karlskrona, where the "Baltic Sails" retro-regatta is supposed to start. This is one of the biggest sailing festivals in which old yachts and sailing ships take part. This year the regatta's itinerary includes ports in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Poland. Petersburg, alas, is not mentioned on the list.
Goebbels yacht
It's no accident that the "Zvezda" is taking part in the Baltic Sails." The yacht has a noteworthy history. Legend has it that it was built in 1934 in the German city of Bremerhafen especially for the propaganda minister of the Third Reich, Heinrich Goebbels. However, as Igor Mikhailovich underscores, this is only legend. Of course, you don't see an interior of beautiful wood or a deckhouse made of teak on every yacht, but all the same, by the level of trim and by the dimensions according to which it was built, it was not for a leading official of Nazi Germany.
Another version of the story origin is more realistic: the yacht was built as a training vessel to prepare navigators ... for long-range air raids. They say that this idea was the brainchild of Goering, the head of Germany's Luftwaffe, who noticed a similarity in the operations of both sea and air navigators. There was the motion, operating area, and identical navigational problems, but training the navigators on a yacht was cheaper than flying them in the air. Of course, Goering did not forget to go out sailing on the yacht with his friends, Goebbels and Martin Borman included.
After the victory over Germany, the "Zvezda" and several other German yachts were towed for indemnity to Leningrad and added to city's yacht club.
Night Landing
Of all the things he's done in his life aboard his beloved yacht, Igor Dementev has never gone entirely around the world. There was a storm and a shipwreck, but the thing that left the most lasting impression was the encounter with the whale. "I remember it like it was yesterday," says Igor Mikhailovich, "We were going to France. Early morning, Bay of Biscay, marvelous long sloping waves and a light haze. And suddenly something broke the surface of the water beside the yacht. It was not an island, but from within it appeared a hole, from which air gushed. Whale! Then with the same kind of whistling noise he inhaled air and, with a huge glossy twist, dove down. It was unforgettable!
And the shipwreck ... we were tossed around for two days near Kaliningrad. Then it was calm. We approached the coast, but in our exhaustion did not look properly at the barometer. The calm was temporary. Before long the wind was blowing with redoubled force, and we were tossed aground. Fortunately, nobody was killed. Before sunrise we wandered along the shore in pitch darkness, without finding an outpost, but by that time they had already managed to report to the authorities, "Unknown vessel foundered on shore. No survivors." The funny thing was that in getting to shore, we literally passed under a lookout tower, right under the clock."
Cognac from the Metropolitan.
The stories about the journeys and astonishing encounters of Igor Mikhailovich can go on forever. "Once we were at anchor in Valaam in the monasterial bay," he continues. "The monks there had not yet returned to the island, and the monastery had a center for invalids. I had a friend on Valaam who worked at the weather station. He, along with a middle-aged man and several other people, boated over to us. It turned out that this was the Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod, Aleksiy, who today is the Patriarch of all Russia. With them we explored all the channels of the island. Aleksiy was very pleasant in talking with the men; he possessed staggering knowledge about the history of the monastery. We all listened to his stories, so that we just barely managed to make the departure of the tourist boat he was taking out. Just as the Metropolitan climbed on board, the tourist boat took off. And it should be said it was not all that easy for Aleksiy to get to Valaam. At the request of two former monks at the monastery, who were living in Canada at the time, he gave a service at the monastery's church. On the first floor there was then a stable and a hayloft, but the upper part of the church was preserved practically as it was. Besides that, he brought two stones from the island as presents for these monks, but he forgot them! The tourist boat had already pulled out and, naturally, did not want to turn around again. The officials who were accompanying the Metropolitan rushed about the deck, not knowing what to do. We grabbed the stones and just barely managed to throw them so they landed on the deck with an awful noise. Afterwards my meteorologist friend fetched us a bottle of expensive cognac and said the Metropolitan had asked him to give us a gift.
Mikhail Severov
Argumenti i Fakti, 27.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109118089687313152

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Night Patrol computer auctioned.
The Apple Macintosh iMac, G4/1GGb computer from the cult movie "Night Patrol" (or "Night Watch") will be sold at an auction. As IA Regnum learned from the "MakTsentr" press office, the Apple Macintosh iMac, G4/1GGb (serial no. W83300a7NHX), with a 17-inch monitor, was present in filming.
The Mac was used in a scene where the main hero first visit the apartment of the OTHER boy. The starting price has been set at 1,500 dollars, however now on the page of the auction (
http://www.maccentre.ru/mac.php, its value has already risen to 2,000 dollars.
The auction will go from 27 July to 9 August 2004. In the course of this timetable the price of the iMac will be shown in real time, and afterwards the owner of the Macintosh will be verified.
Source: IA Regnum, 26.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109109508588031297

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Chief Turkmen releases poem.
Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov publicly presented another of his poems. The presentation in the pompous Azhkhabardsky "Rukhmet" palace coincided with the State Grain Festival. The lyrical creation is called "New Spirit of Turkmen."
In it Saparmurat Niyazov writes about himself in the form of a Turkmen god - all-knowing and all-embracing bodiless being of true Turkmen descent. "I am the new spirit of Turkmen, born again to take you into the golden age," is how the poem begins. "I am not sorry for you, I am devoted to you, I am your salvation," asserts the author of "New Spirit," translated by "Newsru.com."
Niyazov further remembers about his exclusive right of access to the innermost, most minute details of the lives of his compatriots. "My gaze is keen, I see everything. If you are honest in your actions, I see it, but if you walk the wrong path, this also becomes known to me." "In protecting those on my side, I recklessly strike down enemies," the head Turkmen writes.
Niyazov is our everything, Turkmen may as well say. It is obvious that the poem "New Spirit" is another in a series by Niyazov, including "Spiritual Constitution of Turkmen," "Program of the nation's spiritual development," and "Summary of moral-ethical commandments." Niyazov's lyrical creations will probably be studied in schools, in businesses and in organizations.
Niyazov, a former mold worker at a factory in Leningrad, a former instructor of the Turkmen ComParty CC, and former first secretary of that CC, has managed the republic in the capacity of president since October 1990. From the very start of its government, the Turkmen chief has assiduously worked at a cult of personality, and has been more than a little successful at it. In 2004 Niyazov became the winner of the championship for megalomania, surpassing colleague Kim Chen Ira in a pertinacious fight. It has not been ruled out that another poem by the Turkmen chief will follow.
For-Ua.Com, 27.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109100590959816751

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Heathens from Middle Earth. In the middle of the summer an enigmatic breed of people mobilized in the Urals. These people had free reign, far from the smoggy cities. They didn't go out there with farm implements, though, nor to sit by the camp fire with guitars and cook shashlik on the open fire. The people found their way out of the suburbs of Chelyabinsk or Yekaterinburg for the perfect mystic hideaway. They are members of the Bazhovites sect, readers of the works of well-known story-teller Pavel Bazhov and his main book, "Malakhitovaya shkatulka" ("Malachite Box").
"NI" correspondents saw with their own eyes how the "Mistress' service" took place. It began in the neighborhood town of Sysert (50 km from Yekaterinburg), not far from the birthplace of the well-known story-teller, where the "advance group" started out. The goal was to find a suitable place for carrying out "the secrets." A spacious field by a stream was located. People got busy chopping with axes, and after a couple of hours a large bonfire was blazing. Then the "main force" of sectarians approached, and the activity began. Fifteen people used material at hand to quickly begin building a large doll. The result of their labor strongly resembled a scarecrow, but this was not disturbing. Carefully, like carrying a dozen eggs in a bag, proudly, as if it were a proletariat red flag, the merrymakers came down through the woods, frightening in appearance and making strange dog noises, on a walk in the woods to get a breath of fresh air. "Not in a fairy tale, but in reality they came to the mountain of the Mistress, to whom the handicraft of the people was devoted, to whom the beauty of their labor was suddenly directed, by which knowledge of a higher force is illuminated," the enthusiasts that surrounded me sang cheerfully.
"Naiv people think that Bazhov's works are just children's fairy tales," the leader of the Yekaterinburg Bazhovites, Evgeniy Feklistov, said during the procession. "We all know the innermost secrets of his magic tales. Read it a few more times and you will see that the Mistress of Middle Earth is the sovereign mistress of the Urals. She can do anything! With the aid of psychic energy even transform feces into gold! She is the goddess of our earth, as well as the Great Runner, the grandmother of Synyush, Ognevushka-Poskakushka (another character in Bazhov's tales) is her loyal helper."
"Listen closely, the Great Zoroaster is singing under the ridges of the Urals through the layers of the centuries; over the fire of the Sacred ritual he is connected to us with cosmic fire," after an hour of singing this and walking around two of the group approach to where the fire had been prepared.
"Shh! The Mistress is here!" a feminine voice calls out suddenly. People momentarily surge, then are instantly silent as they form a magic circle around the fire. "Two Mistresses have moved into the large doll, and you can telepathically ask them for any advice," George whispered into my ear. The pain of the process of contacting the disembodied spirit was evident in the concentration of the surrounding people. "She's gone!" the same voice unexpectedly exclaimed five minutes afterward. Without thinking about it a long time, they threw the scarecrow into the fire, and set a cup going around that had neither beer nor mead in it.
Work for the Bazhovites - there's no escaping it in the woods. Resting and enjoying life, not sweating in a stuffy office or a dusty building, this is the main principle of their worldview. Of what little is done, work is considered harmful both for spirit and body, but avidly pursuing work goals is not put on a level with a mortal sin. They call the 8-hour workday they have slavery, therefore they try to make themselves comfortable on a part-time wage. They do a little work, and rest and think about salvation for the world. This goes on every day. Besides all the other holidays, Bazhovites enjoy celebrating all the secular ones: International Women's Day, Constitution Day along with a long bout of drinking in May. The Ural heathens have more than enough amusing pastimes. Besides nature trips on days off, on the day of the summer solstice the Bazhovites have their annual Bazhov festival. Over the course of a week on Chebarkul Lake near Chelyabinsk there is a full course of merriment: jumping through the fire, round dancing and setting up wooden idols, Pavel Bazhov's characters, all around the camp.
Waiting for the astral microbes
The father-founder of the occult-heathen sect in the Urals is Vladimr Sobolev from Chelyabinsk. A little mysticism and occultism, a pinch of Orthodoxy, with an interest for Russian heathenism, for seriousness - the teachings of Rerikh and Zoroastrianism, for easy accessibility - the works of well known story-teller Pavel Bazhov. Russian heathenism has been almost out of the picture in Russia for a thousand years, but with it hiding in the minds of jubilant children, all sorts of newly proclaimed messiahs may easily find an audience in Russia for their teachings.
In the first case Sobolev called himself an incarnation of Confucius. The religious model he devised was like this: the greatest mind in the universe and Logos, the cosmic father of earth, was Lucifer. Long, long ago on Earth, under instructions from Logos and Venera, a party of cosmic scholars landed, who were supposed to improve Earthlings and resettle them on Mars and Mercury. Lucifer did not at all like what was going on: he preferred a course of destroying Earth and turned into a villain. In 1917 he instigated the revolutionaries on to greater evil. But the forces of light sent Lenin with the mission of easing the destructive forces of the revolution. As this was accepted by all the prophets, Vladimir Sobolev predicted the end of the world. He is actively looking for the invasion of the "astral microbes" that possess reason and will, which American astronauts brought back from outer space in the 1970s.
Bazhov's tales have become an ideology.
The religious aspect of Bazhovism is like lyric poetry. It's nothing steep, but nonetheless a worldview of today's Russian people that carries more of an ideological than it does a religious character. It's already come out that it is boring for them to just pray to god and think about salvation of the spirit. For them it's mandatory that an idea about the salvation of Russia be offered without fail.
The worldview postulate of Sobolev is just enough to be used as politics. In the Urals they remember that it was here that the first Russian president was born, and this still, if carefully looked at, can also be a sign of fate. Then a successor comes alive and an heir to Yeltsin at the local administrative helm is governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast - Eduard Rossel. He made a statement about the creation of a Ural republic. For taking this liberty he was even removed from oblast administration for a while. But at this point the "republican" idea lives on in the Urals.
Bazhovites maintain educational establishments - the Bazhov academy of secret knowledge, and they publish a newspaper. The movement has organized a Urals Eurasian club, where astrologists, UFO specialists, clairvoyants and bureaucrats all get together on friendly terms and work out concepts on how to develop the Urals region. The Bazhovite sphere of influence includes the Chelyabinsk culture fund, the academic institute, the culture department of the Chelyabinsk administration, the pioneer center and even the military college. In a word, popularization of the concept. Advertising posters with pictures from Bazhov's tales are fixed to cars of the Chelyabinsk-Moscow train.
Among the adepts of the movement is spread the idea that Russia combined three basic people - Russian, Tatar and Jewish. The Russian contributed love and kindness, the Tatars - will, and the Jews - intellect. These are the three people that are supposed to be the future of humanity. But with the forces provided by the ruling Mistress of Middle Earth. After all, the Urals are situated at the junction of Europe and Asia, which would mean the "energy core of Russia."
The "Navel" of Earth - Arkaim.
One of the cult sites for the Bazhovites is Arkaim. This is the site of an ancient settlement unearthed by archeologists not far from legendary Magnitka, in the middle of the Bashkir steppes under the hot scorching sun; it became the site of pilgrimages for people of the many countries of Russia. The only dwelling on the vast area of land is a trailer with pilgrims. When the excursion bus, melting from heat, pulls up, the tourists, many of whom are fans of Ognevushka-Poskakushka, debark. Some of them pray, some gather stones - "to surmount the economic crisis" - which they will afterwards spread in various parts of Yekaterinburg, Petersburg and Moscow. With the arrival here of Tamara Globa begins the invasion of Arkaim by clairvoyants. Then come the UFO specialists, who will establish this as an observation outpost from which to daily await the arrival of the UFOs. This spot is often visited by Krishnas, who boil hemp in milk and use this mixture, called "soma," without appetizers. The Krishnas consider soma to be the holy drink of the Indoiranians.
Bazhovites do not get left behind the rest of the miracle-brothers in their state of exultation. They believe that it is here, in Arkaim, that an ancient Russian dark-skinned people lived long ago who possessed unprecedented knowledge and force. And they still maintain that Arkaim is the "navel" of Earth. In the opinion of the Bazhovites, after the Last Judgment and a series of world catastrophes, it is here that Christ will turn up for humanity. After that Arkaim will be the center of Russia and the whole planet. And the "Ural Chude (ancient Russian people being referred to here)" will have risen again. The Bazhovites often visit the holy site to perform rituals and to examine the situation: is the Second Coming near?
BY YURI ZUDOV, Executive Director for the Center for Religious Research: "This is more of a mass gathering than a sect."
"Religion can be built on anything that's convenient, including science fiction. Could be built on the story "Malakhitovaya shkatulka" ("Malachite Box"), or on a book "On delicious and healthful nutrition." As long as there is a demand, and in our gloomy Russia this is more than sufficient. Bazhovism belongs to a group of cults that we classify as "New Age." The translation of this English phrase to Russian means "Novoe Vremya" or "Novyi Vek." It's used by, for instance, the "Age of Aquarius" movement and the "Era of Aquarius" group. The "New Age" movement originated in western society from a blend of ideas that a number of people have accepted. It combined beliefs that are alien to Christianity and the Bible, including occultism, teachings of eastern gurus and the laws of Kharma and reincarnation. Sects of the "New Age" type, like the Bazhov Academy for secret knowledge," are not thought of as totalitarians sects. It should still be said that a number of adepts themselves have a dangerous psychology that gets into the realm of religion. It starts with thinking the same as everybody else and that it's important not to think too much. This boils down to one thing: a person can be subjected to psychological coercion and not even be aware of it. Sects are often cleverly hidden under the guise of various social organizations using that which is attractive, such as humane, human, or even religious ideas. The Bazhovite sect is not a destructive formation. It is more of a mass gathering, but not a sect. Still they have impressionable people for whom even this, at first glance, innocent idea could be rendered dangerous for the mind. Therefore it should be remembered that the best way to get out of a sect is not to get in to begin with."
BY SERGEI MIKHAILOV, historian: "People want to search for meaning in life."
In the current religious situation in Russia, two tendencies can be singled out: one is clearly restorational, when belief in the Christian God is combined with a belief in transmigration of souls, sorcerers, aliens and astrology. All these combinations of beliefs often provide material for the construction of a worldview system, on which the basis of a sect is formed. The Ural Bazhovists teeter on the borders of sectarianism, politics and the elementary aspirations of people to find a new meaning for living. This results in local abnormalities which now and again can even be frightful. But what to desire, if the current stretch of history in our society is constantly on a bend? Probably it ought to be strongly supported.
In Russia it is considered that there are from 300-500 different sects. The number of people who have been drawn into destructive or occult religious organization is near a million, 70% of which are people between the ages of 18 and 27. According to the expert assessment of the Center for Religious Research, there are at least 600-800,000 permanent sectarians. The most vigorous of these is the neo-Pentecostal movement, which is widely spread in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East. The ranks of Jehovahs Witnesses and Mormons, as before, continue to grow.
NewIzv.Ru, 26.7.04, Oksana Semenova
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109093267361816426

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Toys for oligarchs. Yekaterinburg.
The trend among oligarchs to imitate Arab sheiks is the new wave in Russia. They make fine acquisitions to wow rich colleagues and competitors, both in the capital and in the provinces. The "Arguments & Facts" newspaper put together ratings of the most high-flown purchases of Russian businessmen. So, according to A&F information, the unqualified shopping leader is Roman Abramovich. They call the Boeing-767-300 he bought his summer headquarters. The owner of "Chelsey" also has three yachts, two of which cost 72 and 50 million pounds sterling respectively, and a London residence, price 47 million euro. For Viktor Vekselberg, each payment he makes is a measure of love for Faberge's work on eggs. It's not known exactly, but according to some information, the collection he acquired cost 100-120 million dollars. Recently A&F wrote information leaked to the mass media about another grandiose acquisition. The former owner of the "Severnaya Neft" northern oil company, Andrei Vavilov, gave his spouse three diamonds at a price of 107 million dollars for her birthday.
It should be noted that Ural oligarchs, compared to the ones in the capital, are viewed as being much more modest. Notwithstanding all the desire to be the equal of "cult" figures like Abramovich and Vekselberg, Sverdlovskites are left far behind. Their "toys" are cheaper. For instance, industrialist Anatoliy Pavlov spends money to replenish his collections of swords and of American medals. Anatoliy Kozitsyn, who heads UGMK holding company, has managed to collect a garage full of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The most original of the local oligarchs, Pavel Fedulev, is considered far from poor. According to "Noviy Region" information, the scandalous businessman is not indifferent to the philosopher, Confucius, and has collected all his books. Meanwhile, according to witnesses, Fedulev is not exactly lost in contemplation on the books, which are merely gathering dust on shelves.
According to expert assessment, aspirations of the rich to possess fine toys can be explained by three things: a desire to show themselves that they have finally gotten out of their "destitute Soviet youth," cultivating opportunity and reliably building their capital in the West, and attempting to use this as a way for their "sins" to be made up for with power.
(Novyi Region, Darya Travkina)
Region.Urfo.Org, 22.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109075368094441839

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Aborigines of the North. Russia, 22 July 2004.
Two new books that talk about the spiritual culture of the Aborigines of the North have been released.
Well-known Nenets ethnographer, historian and artist Leonid Lar has gotten his book published, "Kultovye pamyatniki Yamala. Khebidya Ya," on the ancient spiritual culture of the Yamalsky Nenets. In his research the author not only analyzed new material gathered in numerous expeditions, but also summarized information already accumulated on the topic of sacred sites, cult sculpture and national cemeteries. It is noted that Leonid Lar has been involved with this subject since 1986. During this time he conducted expeditions through the Yamalsky, Tazovsky, Nadymsky and Purovsky districts of the autonomous region.
In his research on the Nenets, the scholar not only talks about the traditional religious views of the Nenets, but gives an original description of the sacred sites, paramount in putting together the spiritual heritage, preservation and development of the culture and the traditional way of life and interaction with nature of the native people of the North.
This work will be useful not only for specialists - archeologists, geographers, ethnographers, historian and artists - but to anyone who is interested in the traditional culture of the native people of the North.
There is another anthology dedicated to the traditional mode of life and ceremony of the native people of the Russian North that has been released. It is called "Importance of safeguarding the sacred sites of the native people of the Arctic: sociological research in the North of Russia." Publication of the book came about with the financial support of the regional administration for the regional program "Culture, language, traditional styles of life of the few native people of the North of Yamalo-Nenetsky Autonomous Region for 2003-2007," the press office of the YNAR told us.
The publication maintains information about research into important sacred sites of the native people of Yamalo-Nenetsky and Koryaksky Autonomous Regions in the context of the problem of protecting the regional environment.
In the Tazovsky district of the Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous region, on land where the nomadic Nenets live seasonally, 66 interviews were conducted with deer breeders, fisherman and elders to describe 263 sacred sites, which are charted. In the Olyutorsky district of Koryaksky autonomous region, 30 senior representatives of the native people (koryaki, chukchi, zveni) were questioned, and 84 sacred sites were charted on the map.
MUP "Studiya Fakt"

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109066214863585579

Friday, July 23, 2004

Hermitage in Siberia program. 21 July 2004.
The last exhibit this year of the "Hermitage in Siberia" program is being held July 26 in Kemerovo. Our newspaper reported on the commencement of the project: the formalities took place 22 October 2003 in the Novosibirsk picture gallery when Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky and a representative from the board of directors for the "Bazovy element" company, Oleg Deripaskoy signed an agreement to implement the program.
Kemerovo is the fifth city on the Siberian itinerary for the country's leading museum. During its Siberian travels the Hermitage has shown two portable exhibits. Symbolically speaking, there was the epic, "Ancient heritage in the art of Western Europe" (it visited Irkutsk and Novosibirsk), and the lyric, "Individual life in the art of Western Europe" (shown in Ulan-Ude, Abakan, Kemerovo). The principle sponsor of the project, the "Bazovyi element" company, managed to come up with over one million dollars for the program. The money didn't go to waste. Nearly 300,000 people visited Hermitage exhibits in Siberian museums this past season (meanwhile the population of the individual republics of Siberia does not exceed 600-900 thousand). This was the first step toward the main goal of the project, which Mikhail Piotrovsky called enacting "the restoration of a single cultural area for the country." The policy of the late 1920's of the Hermitage not traveling throughout Russia ended with the late Soviet and post-Soviet crisis. Apart from that, on each of its visits to Siberia, the Hermitage tried to change into a full-valued educational program. The exhibits are accompanied with a well published catalog, lectures on the history of art and the Hermitage collection, concerts by the highly professional Hermitage orchestra, and finally, a showing of a movie from another museum, Alexander Sokurov's "Russian ark." Of course, the most fastidious critic can grumble and say the "cult educational" collection (the exhibits, the lectures and the conservatory concerts) were somewhat archaic and not entirely adequate in the age of subtle showmanship. But the ministers of the museum cult themselves would answer him, "Don't confuse us with a variety show! The Hermitage is not making a guest appearance."
Finally, the annoying word, "archaic," can be replaced by the solidly respectable term, "conservative." And here the obstacles to the project, bureaucratic stupidity and hypocritical lies of Russian bureaucracy, are called by their own names.
Originally the sixth city-partner was supposed to be Krasnoyarsk. But Hermitage is a finicky guest. It presented each partner with a list of 400 specified requirements, from transport of the exhibition freight from the airport, a system of security signals in the auditorium, including guarding the transportation and dwellings of accompanying exhibit staff. These conditions were also made for Krasnoyarsk. However, demonstrating fine bureaucratic casuistry, the city and regional administrations had not decided who would take upon themselves the modest expenses of playing the host. At a meeting of managers of the regional and city governments on the Krasnoyarsk stage of the program, it was discussed in all seriousness why the Hermitage curators and lecturers ought to be admitted if they had their own specialists. The conclusion of the St. Petersburg museum was to abandon the trip to Krasnoyarsk that had been planned for early April. Summarized briefly: "We do not permit the Hermitage to be used as a doormat."
Recalling the October article, I called the announcement of the project "Living without frequent, complex meetings." We trust that this becomes the model of behavior defined for the Russian partners of the Hermitage.
Inscription under picture: In the "Individual life" exhibition, the Hermitage included a burlesque picture of the Flemish 17th century David Tenirs the younger's "Monkey in the Kitchen." The theme seems particularly current in connection with the scandalous behavior of the Krasnoyarsk bureaucrats.
Sergei Khachturov

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109057543735920446

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Cult of Mobile Phones. Nigeria, 20 July 2004.
Kelechi Eze, Anglican bishop if the city of Ukvi in the southeast of Nigeria, has forbidden his congregation to use cell phones in church, calling the love for the mobile connection a "new form of idol worship," reported Blagovest-Info with links to ENI.
The Anglican prelate appealed to all of his coreligionsists and to Christians of other denominations to give up using telephones during church services. In Bishop Eze's opinion, the ringing of the mobile phones "upset" church services and distracted the faithful from thinking of God.
During the sermon in the Anglican church of St. Bartholomew in Abudzhe, Bishop Eze said that the ban on using telephones during services ought to be declared the "11th commandment" in addition to the 10 Biblical commandments. "This commandment is necessary because many Christians in Nigeria and all over the world have begun to worship their mobile telephones as idols," said Bishop Eze. The prelates also suggested taking away receivers from parishioners if they did not switch them off in church, or if their phone started ringing during services.
Today the most populated country in Africa, 130 million people live there, and more than 6 million use a mobile connection. The first cell phone appeared in the country four years ago. The phones have had a favorable effect on the national economy. The revenue the state collects from taxes for telephone use is second on the list after revenue from oil sales.
Source's source: NewsRU.Com

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109050318542870602

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Rapping for Christ. Russia, 20 July 2004, Aleksei Napulov.
The Russian Orthodox Church regards them as sectarians. They pretend to have the correct understanding of the Bible.
In the very beginning of this year the residents of a number of buildings in the Avtozavodsky district wondered about the sound of loud music alternating with a lengthy speech. Extremely loud sounds could be heard in the courtyards in the centers of the buildings, and they were audible at a great distance. The residents of the nearby apartments saw fit to swear and close their windows to mute the noise a little bit.
It was later explained that all this noise could not be blamed on the committee for youth affairs or the TOS deciding to suddenly hold a concert with local groups. Idlers who drifted toward the epicenter of the music were liberally provided with flyers from the church of the "New Generation." So the main soloist of the group liberally used words of the sort, "God," "faith," "Christ," "church," "angels," "apostles" and spoke about being saved from drug addiction and alcoholism. All this, of course, was thanks to the "New generation."
Vigilant citizens were outspokenly outraged at the improvised concerts in the courtyards. "What's going on here!" they said, complaining to the district office that hands out permits for such occasions.
The district officer replied, however, that no permit had been issued for the public appearance, not to "New generation," not to anyone, nor would they.
The newly risen church of the "New generation" used to be known under the name of "Open heaven." It operated in Tolyatta since 1998. At its head is "pastor" Vadim Nikonov. The New-generationers are related to the Pentecostals. This sect lives, according to official statements from its members, by collecting tithes from its parishioners.
The Pentecostal centers in Russia were originally founded by Americans. Today all of them have ample revenue from multiple "churches" of this current, they have a firm grip on their propagandist operations on their leased properties (in Tolyatta "New generation" holds its meetings in the "Yubileiniy" cultural center.
The Avtozavodsky district administration has all the same granted permission to "New Generation" to hold concerts in several locations. The inner courtyards are already too small for the sectarians, and they persistently try for a chance to hold their homilies at the DKiTVAZ culture center. Happily they have not yet succeeded ...
"What's bad about this?"
We turned directly to "New Generation" for comment. A girl agreed to respond to our questions provided that we only report her name as Julia and that she is a trained psychologist.
Correspondent: In recent times the residents of Avtozavodsky district have been regularly forced to listen to your concerts. Even if they don't want to. Do you have permission to hold these sort of events?
Julia: We will get them in the future, but are arranging concerts for the time being without them. We just didn't know that permission was required. After all, what could be bad about these concerts?
Corr.: Well, even if the content of the lyrics being shouted by the soloist is not counted... It's simply unpleasant for many people to have music thundering for several hours outside their apartments.
Julia: Unpleasant? But many like it. People come up and they listen. They talk about how thanks to faith in Christ a person can be saved from vice such as drug addiction, and return to life.
Corr.: How do you comment on the relationship of your church to a sect? And the relationship of a "baptism by the Holy Spirit" to mass hypnosis that you, according to sectologists, practice?
Julia: Are you educated people here? If yes, they you ought to have analyzed the primary source independently. Baptism by the Holy Spirit is talked about in the Bible. In the "Acts of the Apostles," for instance. Nothing about us is a sect.
"Two times"
"New generation" is considered to be an American-Swedish branch of Christian Pentecostals, therefore, a sect.
We decided to get the viewpoint of an Orthodox cleric explained by Father Illarion, senior parish priest at the church of the protective veil of the Holy Mother of God, a recognized specialist in sectology.
Corr.: What can you tell us about the use of the "baptism by the Holy Spirit" by the "New generation"?
Fr. Illarion: Which "holy spirit" could one be talking about at the given events? Any apostolic succession has been removed from such a "church." They are headed in the direction of ruining people.
Corr.: Much has been written about one of the better ways to start working is to start a new religion and become the head of the new church. Doesn't it seem to you that the abundance of various "churches" and religious associations we have today is explained by this?
Fr. Illarion: It's unlikely that this is just a craving for profit. There is also an urge for the destruction of our country here. After all, Russia was formed as an Orthodox state. Having its people be splintered by numerous religious communities means the ruin of them and the country.
Corr.: What's dangerous about these sects for people?
Fr. Illarion: They seriously infringe on their psyches.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109040857640783226

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Returning church property in Moscow. 19 July 2004.
An English newspaper showed an interest in the return of church property in Russia. A precedent was set today for the "Independent," a British newspaper, in the first legal proceedings for the return of church property, which had begun the day before in the Moscow court of appeals.
The topic is the Moscow Prophet Elijah Church on Voronets Field, where one of the sites of the State Museum of the East is now located. The parish of the church brought the Federal agency for administration of federal property and the capital department of property to court to recognize its right of ownership for the church building.
More than 80 years after churches in Russia, on the basis of a Leninist decree, were seized by the "godless Bolsheviks" and converted into everything conceivable and inconceivable "from granaries to shoe factories, the Russian Orthodox Church has started an unprecedented legal battle to win back state property which it considers its own," wrote [in paraphrase] the "Independent." The newspaper article emphasized that before the revolution the Church in Russia was a large landholder. Its property was nearly 7.5 million acres of land (3 million hectares).
This is the first legal proceeding after the October Revolution to hear a case about the restitution of property with the government as defendant, to whom, as the article's author noted, the majority of the cult buildings in the country still belong 13 years after the collapse of communism.
The newspaper rated the start of the proceedings as a precedent that could open the gates for thousands of other claims for return of property, which, as the article said, could originate not only with the Church, but also, for instance, with representatives of distinguished Russian aristocratic families.
Meanwhile, the "Independent" is not so far off from reality with its prediction. As the "Vremya Novosti" newspaper wrote recently, a similar claim for return of land and real estate is planned for another 158 Moscow churches. Among them are the churches in Kadashi, the patriarchal residence on Nikolsky and the Church of St. Clement in Zamoskvorech.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109031623731829922

Sunday, July 18, 2004

"Night Patrol" box office hit. Russia, 17 July 2004.
This week, one and a half million people saw the mystical "Nochnoi dozor" ("Night Patrol") movie, reported ITAR-TASS.
As a result, "Night Patrol" became the biggest hit of domestic movies, surpassing theater leaders like "Antikiller-2" and "72 meters." It left behind the Hollywood pictures, "Harry Potter, prisoner of Azkaban" and "Day after tomorrow." "Lord of the rings, return of the king" and "Troy" barely have it beat.
"The combined cash receipts of 'Night Patrol' have reached 5.3 million dollars," reported general director Michael Shlicht of the company "Gemini Film International," which is distributing the movie in Russia and the mass media.
The second and third parts of the "Night Train" trilogy will be appearing soon in the country' movie theaters, together with other movies based on the fantasy books of Sergei Lukyanenko. As the author himself announced, "the second movie in the trilogy is almost ready, with only a few more scenes to be shot, and then work will soon begin on the screen version of the third part."
Lukyanenko, who appears as a co-author of the script in the shooting of the movie, continues to be satisfied with the picture and the performance of the actors, despite his feeling that "his work was freely deviated from and the actors by no means had read the book before shooting." The main shortcoming of the screen version, the author supposes, is the "excessive, concentrated, dark tone." Meanwhile the fantasy writer does not think the movie is an "answer to 'Matrix' or Tarantino."
The successful release of "Night Patrol" was called a triumph for all Russian cinematography by the general director of "First Channel" and movie producer Konstantin Erist. "The successful distribution of 'Night patrol' was not only a success for the individual theater project, but a triumph for all Russian cinematography," he believes.
"It was necessary to overcome an obstacle in audience awareness and in the perception of the distributors who were convinced that our theaters are not able to draw in the same audiences that the best Hollywood productions do," underscored Erist. The general director of the television channel expressed confidence that "after 'Night Patrol' other Russian movies would be created that competed with Hollywood not only at home, but in the world distribution of movies."
Lenta Novostei.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109015451051872234

Friday, July 16, 2004

13th annual international arts festival in Vitebsk, 15 July 2004.
The "Slavonic Bazaar" is considered the largest and most prestigious world forum. Taking part in the competition program this year are 22 young performers from 19 countries. The jury is led by Tamara Gverdtsitela.
In the general composite there are 72 projects: theater works, performances and solo appearances. An audience of 120,000 will rate the new program of the festival, which is being broadcast over Belorussian television. The program includes a "Bolshoi Balkanskiy" concert, put on by representatives of all the peoples that populate the Balkan peninsula.
Belorussia, Ukraine and Russia Days will be diverse and fulfilling. In the realm of Russian Day there will be a gala concert, "Viva Saint Petersburg," which is dedicated to the Palmira of the North.
The competition of young performers includes 22 participants. Representing Russia are Elena Gulyaeva and Olga Zabuga. By tradition the first song will be performed in the language of its own country and the second in the language of one of the Slavic peoples.
Appearing on the main stage of the festival in solo concerts are Russian variety stars Edita Pekha, Oleg Gazmanov, Leonid Agutin and Anzhelika Varum.
For the first time Vitebsk is seeing a dance ensemble under the direction of Igor Moiseyev, the renowned theater of Boris Eifman, and the "Vivaldi Orchestra" conducted by Svetlana Bezrodna.
RIA Oreanda.Ru

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#109002008670302280

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Word of God in Rap style. Arkhangelsk, 15 July 2004.
Last Sunday Terekhin Square in Arkhangelsk was crowded. Such a fine day beckoned people to go for a pleasant stroll.
General attention was attracted by a group of people in a little park not far from the monument to the leader of the world's proletariat.
Women in white scarves and neatly dressed men, booklets in hand, read verse, sang songs accompanied by an accordion, and articulated words of a religious theme. Preacher's children were also there.
It turned out that the people included members of an evangelist organization. This was the third Sunday in a row they were attempting to "save" the lost souls of Arkhangel city and to make appeals for them to join the fellowship. They say that the "kingdom of God" is not some distant place and the time has come to think about life, see the "light" and be purified.
In principle, there's nothing wrong with this, if it were not for one thing. Evangelist Christians have their house of prayer under whose roof they can carry out their proselytizing operations. A public performance in a common-use area requires the local authorities be given notice in advance. However, as the chief of the administration of Solobalsky territorial district Mikhail Epstein told us, the evangelists were on the square in unsanctioned violation of legislation.
The local authorities regard the behavior of the fellowship as honest, so don't call the police. Rightly so, if they did somebody would complain. Moreover the public religious meeting did not rouse any special interest. There was no public outcry against it.
Nevertheless, facts like these call for watchfulness. The increasingly frequent discussions about the activation of various persuasions of non-traditional religious movements have not been in vain. What's more, operations are being planned on a serious scale. One of those is scheduled for the middle of July at an International festival of contemporary Christian music, which is taking place in the Arkhangel city cultural center. In general the Center is widely known for its tendency to any sort of healing or fortune-telling charlatan that used to seek refuge within the walls of the former DK cultural center. Here and now the Arkhangelsk Bible Church, the "Life in Christ" and "New generation" churches and the western Global Missions Fellowship have rented the auditorium for performances by various Russian, as well as foreign, rock and rap groups with beautiful names like "Living Faith," "Heavenly Factory," "Estremadura" ... They're even expecting a comedian from Hollywood to show up. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with: comic satire with a Christian theme?
The festival has been held twice before. It's financed from overseas, and not for a paltry sum. Last year the festival cost 3,000 dollars. Besides music, much of the time was spent preaching. The press called the rap and rock concert a "trap." Arkhangelsk and Kholmogorsk dioceses condemn the activities not only on Orthodox principles, but also on the cultural tradition of the north.
Where does the interest of the trans-Atlantic preachers/musicians in the far north city of Arkhangelsk come from? It's all very simple: big starts out small. Sect inculcation always happens as if it were not importunate... Here music is what opens the door. During the widely advertised "Festival of Christian Music," which offers a variety of church artistic performance, one religious current is found in the presence of many denominations. And access, of course, is easy, too. Why not a publicity stunt?

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108993729192008265

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Night life bus in operation. Moscow, 12 July 2004.
From July to September the music bus will be running in the capital city. The tour passengers can use the schedule to get acquainted with the most interesting events of club life in Moscow, and also with exclusive and memorable events of the summer season.
Residents and guests of the capital can select the most interesting events of the evening: visiting the better clubs of Moscow or an excursion by night of the city streets in the company of friends.
Every Friday and Saturday from 16 July to 11 September the musical bus will depart at 10 p.m. from the "Piramida" Cafe on Pushkin Square and will make stops near the trendiest cult night spots of the capital. The bus route will include the "Zeppelin," "Leto," "First," "Shambala dj-bar," "Fabrique," "Jet Set," "MIO," "Garazh," "Gaudi," and the bus will also visit Moscow Beach.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108976442331504547

Duma questions Lenin's name in subway. Moscow, 13 July 2004.
State Duma Deputy Sergei Abeltsev proposed deleting the name of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin from the name of the capital subway. He wrote about this in a letter addressed to Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
As Sergei Abeltsev noted, it was necessary to rename the Moscow subway with regard to a need to overcome and eradicate the cult of Lenin in contemporary Russian reality, and also to consider the opinion of the majority of Moscow residents who were oppressed. Abeltsev proposed deleting Lenin's name from the subway name on the 70th anniversary of the Metro, which will be held in 2005.
In the deputy's opinion, the mayor of the capital should, in the near future, introduce a proposition to the Moscow City Duma about calling the Moscow subway the "Moscow Metropolitan." The Moscow City Duma has the historical possibility of presenting a gift on the anniversary to our city and to Muscovites, along with, at last, overcoming the unsound practice of using the name of an historically criminal villain for city properties, the deputy believes.
Few people know that renaming the Moscow subway has already been attempted. In 1935 the name of an "iron narcom" ("Iron people's commissar") - Lazar Kaganovich - was appropriated for the capital subway. In the mid 1950s, after the defeat by Krushchev of the inner party group "Molotov, Malenkov, Kaganovich and their associate Shepilov," the Moscow metro was named the "V.I. Lenin Moscow Metropolitan."

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108976439695897932

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Antique gold exhibit. Yalta, 10 July 2004, Yuri Pershikov.
Crimean archeologists are finding some rare objects. In the Yalta historical-literary museum one can admire an exhibit of antique gold and silver ornaments and cult articles.
"Looking down from this mountain gives you the impression of dominating everywhere below," department leading archeologist Natalia Novichkova recalls the details of the latest expedition. At the foot of the mountain Roman-Kosh, scholars discovered an antique shrine untouched by scavengers. Museum staff have already called this find sensational.
Natalia Novichenkova, who leads the archeology department at the Yalta historic-literary museum says, "Each of these statuettes exists as a one-of-a-kind in the world. Up to now we knew about 107 antique gold and silver statuettes. We've found nine more statuettes."
Coins with images of Alexander of Macedonia, Emperor Augustus and regent of the Bosporian kingdom Mithridates Eupator are in ideal condition. In the shrine at a height of 1,400 meters the scholars discovered an as yet unknown coin of Hellenic Chersonese. Gold petals with ritual garlands were neatly laid out in the vicinity with silver Gothic fibulae. Only a small part of the collection is on exhibit: the majority of the items are in need of restoration. The statuette of the god of fertility was deliberately smashed on the sacrificial altar so that a harmonious Cosmos would be newly born from chaos. In the immediate future, duplicates of these ancient heroes and gods will adorn the town's seafront.
Sergei Braiko, head of Yalta city says, "We will have these small forms on the third stage of seafront reconstruction. Why not make these forms in the likeness of those figures we have in the museum? We are dividing the exhibits up so that people can see the most valuable articles."
Today from the museum's reserve stock the keepers draw a rare collection of the works of Chinese, Iranian and Indian masters, which has never been on display before. Carvers worked more than three years on a sphere of ivory. In Europe this sort of technique is thought devilish: it's considered that it is not within human power to create such a fine microscopic design. After the exhibit is over some of the items will again be specially maintained for restoration.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108958695089106311

B-2 appeared on "City Day" in Donets, 9 July 2004.
A concert that was held 27 June on Lenin Square on the occasion of the Youth Day festival culminated with the appearance of the "B-2" group. Even far from its passion for rock music, B-2 is well known for the song "Polkovniku nikto ne pishet," (Nobody writes the colonel), which is the soundtrack for Aleksei Balbanov's cult movie "Brat-2," (Brother-2) where the musicians play themselves. In particular, they wrote a hymn for the expensive ORT telecommunication project, the "Last Hero" show. The group's visit planned for spring of this year did not come about, therefore B-2's appearance at the holiday was particularly long overdue.
The group's story began in 1985, when two Belarusian teenagers Leva and Shura met on a Minsk stage of the theater absurd. Shortly thereafter it closed, and the talented youngsters decided to try their hand in the musical field. Shura entered a musical college, and Leva wrote lyrics. Thus a group was born under the name of "Bratya po oruzhiyu" (Brothers-in-arms), first profoundly renamed to "Bereg istiny" (Shore of Truth), and then shortened to "B-2," which became a big hit in Belarus over the course of two years. In 1991 they arrived in Israel, where after two years Shura set off for Australia, since the Promised Land had not provided stimulus for the group's development. Leva stayed in Jerusalem, enlisted in the Israeli army and worked with computer graphics. They composed songs with the over the telephone. In 1998 Leva arrived in Australia, and the group "B-2" was back together. At that time the group attained success in Moscow, but it was virtual in that their songs were not heard on television or radio, and no albums had been released or concerts held. The namesake of the teacher of Ukrainian stage, producer Alexander Ponomarev, saw world celebrities, and B-2 began the ascent to peak of the rock Olympus.
Shura has Australian citizenship and Leva, Israeli, their family is from Belarus; they met in the Ukraine as a group from Russia. They consider themselves to be cosmopolites. They write music that grown-ups like to listen to at home and teenagers gladly dance to at the discotheque.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108954805801298062

Friday, July 09, 2004

Guitar din at children's matinee. Samara, July 6, 2004
On June 27 the 2004 "Open river" festival was held as scheduled for the Samar "Ekstrim" rock club in the field by the "Tower." As with the previous festival, the present one was not conspicuous for its high level of organization, nor for its selection of participants (including, of course, "Tequilajazzz," the festival's headliner group), nor for a literate master-of-ceremonies, but all these minuses were compensated for, perhaps, by enormous pride.
Nonetheless, the youthful, local listeners were not the most austere critics. They were in a condition to forgive the festival for all its faults, which were bombastic, for the flowing river (which was open for all) and for the complete absence of any large departure from the "Open river" of last year. Even more so in that for a drunken teenager, in principal, it makes no difference what gets played, a car horn for example, or even the group "Tikhie igry"...
Of all the local groups that participated in the event, it was possible to listen without shuddering to Adika Lytkina, the group "Forsazh," and "Cold Own." Sergei Petrov sang something unbearably painful (although the harmonica is always nice to listen to). "Tikhie igry" played their "I only left a cigarette on the table," and everyone who wanted to joined in. After all, any song that contains the word "cigarette" automatically becomes a cult song. Even though "Igry" has been singing about this same cigarette for not even a year yet, it somehow doesn't seem new anymore.
The sound for the open area was quite good, and if any of the musicians could not be heard, then this to a great degree was due to their own non-professionalism and reluctance (or inability) to emit sound. But there the competition was simply miserable, even a comparison with a children's matinee would not be appropriate. Specifically, it resembled an organized festival with the only difference being that the children themselves seemed to be in charge of the adults, and the adult organizers and musicians took the places of children. After their appearance, each group held a press conference in the tent, although they could hardly be called press conferences. Not able to control themselves after their performances, the musicians explained their attitude (and not just in words) before all those present. Honestly speaking, the level of the local groups did not permit them to hold a wholesome meeting with journalists in that the achievements, which could have been written about, were non-existent, but arousing a keen interest for their performance seemed less foolish for the press. As concerns the groups that appeared, for whose sake, personally, all came (although not everyone waited), and Tequilajazzz in particular, for that everyone can thank the organizers, even in spite of the one and a half hour delay, so that "Tequila" had only 40 minutes to play. After the long recording of its, perhaps, best album "Vyshe oseni" two years ago, "Tequila" remained in hiding and was nowhere to be seen. However, one of the better groups in the country shouldn't sit on its laurels in a time of total musical crisis, but needs to step forward from time to time. Even in Samara. Even at "Open river." The Tequilites played 7 or 8 songs, basically hits from their albums "Strelyali?," "Virus" and "Vyshe oseni." And quality is entirely compensated for by quantity, which shows that those who are half forgotten are the present standard.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108937309718020654

Metropolitan Cyril on sects. 8 July 2004.
In reply to a question by a journalist about the attitude of the Moscow patriarchy toward the situation around the construction of the Krishna center in Moscow, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad Cyril said, in part:
The Russian Orthodox Church shares the anxiety of Orthodox believers, same as do Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, who speak out against a site close to the center of Moscow on land with an area of more than one hectare, the largest center of this new religious formation in Europe.
Spiritual leaders, who represent traditional religions in Russia, have expressed themselves in no uncertain terms as being against not only the construction plans in the Khodynsky field district of a Krishna complex with a height of a 16-story building, which exceeds the capacity of the Christ the Savior cathedral, but also against the "charitable" program of the Society for Krishna Consciousness, which in reality is either an undisguised form of proselytizing or a cunning practice of serving sacrificial Krishna food as "communion" to Russians who do not suspect a thing. The Russian Church welcomed the statement by M.A. Mene on behalf of the Moscow leadership that supports the position of the Interreligious Council of Russia on the issue of the construction planned on Khodynsky field of a so-called "Center of Vedic Culture," whose gigantic dimensions are not in the least appropriate to the specific population of this denomination in the life of the city or country.
One of the journalists made a calculation by which, taking into account the numbers of the Krishna community, and the essential ratio of the Orthodox Muscovites to their churches, instead of a hectare of valuable land on a capital square it would have gotten nearly ten square meters.
We are duly surprised that the esoteric Krishna organization of all people demand for themselves and get such a considerable sum and have done nothing to merit this privilege, which, by the way, it does not have the right to expect, if the letter of current legislation is all that is being observed. Meanwhile several religious organizations that are traditional for our country, the Buddhists, for example, so far have not had the chance to decide the issue of their building a modest shrine in Moscow.
Commenting on the court decision in the case of the "Jehovahs Witnesses" organization, Metropolitan Cyril said:
The sect of Jehovahs Witnesses is one of the most active pseudo-Christian movements in contemporary Russia. Complaints from our countrymen who have been victimized by their activity are being received from throughout the country. Jehovahs Witnesses really kindle religious discord, they've permitted abusive attacks at addresses of Orthodox Christians and of representatives of other religions traditional to Russia. Inhumane rules have been adapted in this sect, the ban on blood transfusions, for instance, have often led to death of people, children included.
This is far from the first case in which the Russian judicial powers have had occasion to rise up to protect the mental and physical health of the people, and oppose their being drawn into the activities of various pseudo-religious movements. Take, for example, the quite recent decision of the Supreme Court of Russia to leave in force a decision issued by the Supreme Court of Bashkir in February to prohibit the activities of the "Dianetics Center" (Church of Scientology) organization. In supporting the charges, Bashkir public prosecutor Florid Baikov noted that in the course of the process that the Center indicated, while it did not have required license, performed extensive educational and medical activities that "had a negative impact on the mentality and psychology of training" and "presented a threat to public health."
The "Dianetics Center" organization operated in Bashkirya since 1994. According to the public prosecutor's information, more than 3,000 people underwent training there.
Both the Jehovahs Witnesses' case and the Scientologists' case were only isolated individual episodes of the state fighting for the people, who are tangled in the snares of foreign preachers. However, these legal proceedings, while having had great public resonance are also of small extent and are not a response to the amplitude of the activity by the pseudo-religious movement in contemporary Russia.
That is why the actual position of the Russian Orthodox Church was introduced in a statement 27 May 2004 in the State Duma of the Russian Federation at a parliamentary hearing on the theme "Improvement of legislation on freedom of conscience and on religious organizations: practical applications, problems and paths of resolution." Specifically, we emphasized that today a principal change to the existing Law on freedom of conscience and on religious associations does not state the actual problem. This, in particular, means preservation of the current operating standard about a 15-year stay on Russian land as a condition of registering a religious group in the capacity of a legal person. Our church has also spoken out against attempts to remove any limitations from religious organizations' offers to foreign staff.
In conclusion Metropolitan Cyril noted that the archbishops council of the Russian Orthodox Church that was held in December 1994 duly determined that the "Jehovahs Witnesses" and the "International Society of Krishna Consciousness" were pseudo-Christian and pseudo-religious organizations. The basis for this decision was the distinctive beliefs and practices of these two sects, which do not have their own traditional religious organizational traits, along with the destructive consequences realized by their activity, in particular, aggressive proselytizing.
This was reported on the official web pages of the Russian Orthodox Church.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108937303321855224

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

US experiments in freedom. Ukraine, July 4, 2004.
The United States is a large-scale experiment in the province of freedom - this feeling was expressed in an UNIAN interview by American Ambassador John Herbst. The experiment is how citizens defeat problems and evil, in particular, slavery.
During two hundred years of independence, Americans have gotten used to experiencing freedoms and, according to the convictions of the Ambassador in Kiev, that is the same feeling he sees in Ukrainians, although the experience with freedom is shorter here.
The popularization of American democracy in the Ukraine is another happy sign in the family history of the US Ambassador in the Ukraine. Due to a conference on this theme at the time he made the acquaintance of his wife, Nadezhda. This happened in Zaporozhe. On the eve of the American Independence Day Mr. Herbst agreed to an interview with the ICTV channel and told about his values.
Being the wife of an ambassador is a difficult job. Nadezhda Herbst, wife of American career diplomat John Herbst, accompanied him to Uzbekistan, and now to the Ukraine. Her status often obligates her to meet with people, especially at reception for the United States Independence Day at the embassy and the wife, according to diplomatic etiquette, the wife is supposed to welcome and shake the hand of every guest, and this year there was more than a thousand of them. Along with that, Nadezhda is involved in charities and, in particular, she supports children without excessive attention from the press.
Nadezhda Herbst, wife of the US Ambassador to the Ukraine:
"They are the next generation, they will lead the country, if it were not for them there would be no one left, there would be no country. It's easy for me to be involved with this, because my husband is the ambassador, and doors are opened for me."
Nadezhda has five children, with the two older daughters in America. One, like her father, is a diplomat, she got an appointment to Armenia, the other is learning to be a teacher, like her mother. In the Herbst family children are a real cult.
Nadezhda Herbst:
"I always make an effort to be home when the children are home, and my husband has a great obligation in that he often needs to be at the embassy in the evening for a reception, but I make an effort to be with them two or three times a week. The family, then teaching, then there are still the obligations of an ambassador's wife, an embassy couple, and my husband knows this."
Nadezhda has one more passion - work. She arrived in the Ukraine on Friday, and by Monday she was already going to work. She teaches the Russian language in an international school in Kiev. She considers the pupils her children.
Nadezhda Herbst:
I had one, he was a 16-year-old South American, at the end of the year he told me, "When I came to you for a lesson, I was very frightened of you somehow, that it would be difficult with you, but you know, I love you like a mother."
The Ukraine has symbolic significance for the Herbsts. There in Zaporozhe she met her husband-to-be, when they both talked about America for the Soviet citizens. Nadezhda was born in Austria, her first language was Russian, but her roots are in the Chernigov community.
Nadezhda Herbst:
"My granddad on my mother's side was in Chernigov, we only began research, and even found the village and where the property was."
Nadezhda and John Herbst are Orthodox, and so could probably say that the Ukraine is not foreign to them.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108919460507720752

Suicide rate growing. Kursk, 5 July 2004.
Last week the frequency of cases increased of residents of Kursk and the region trying to take their lives by suicide. In the city of Zheleznogorsk, for example, three suicides ended only as attempts - one person jumped off a building and two poisoned themselves with pills. But a fourth Zheleznogorskian, a 19-year-old guy, could not be rescued from the noose around his neck.
In Kursk a young woman ended her life with suicide by throwing herself out a fourth story window. In her pocket the investigators found a note from the deceased, but they are not revealing its contents for the time being. According to one version told to Regions.Ru by a source in the Kursk regional police department, the woman chose suicide out of religious conviction. As a neighbor of the deceased woman explained, she never concealed her membership in one of the religious sects of the anti-Christian persuasion.
Feliks Aleksandrov

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108919457567588501

Opposing totalitarian sects in Russia. Silesian Ruda, Poland, 19 June 2004.
General Christian testimony: answer to the expansion of totalitarian sects
St. Irinaeus of Lyon Center
Professor Alexander L. Dvorkin
A short history of withstanding totalitarian sects in Russia
By official reckoning, the St. Irinaeus of Lyon Center began its work 6 September 1993. Actually, our work to counteract the invasion of totalitarian sects began at the end of 1992, when the Department of Religious Education and Catechization of the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church (where I was then working) began to receive visits from parents and friends of the first victims of religious and pseudoreligious new formations that were just beginning to appear in Russia. They had knocked on all the other doors, but no one wanted to listen to them so, as a last resort, they turned to the Church. That is how our first contact began.
Back then I had just returned from having emigrated and, although I had nothing in particular to do with sects (my specialty is medieval Church history), after my 15-year sojourn to the West I knew more about sects than the average Russian. And so it happened that matters of this sort were directed to me. At first I was very much against this, but who else was there to provide assistance for the unhappy mothers?
It turned out that the children of these women had become victims of the "Bogorodichniy center," a Russian apocalyptic new formation which, by the way, at first had a strong link with Poland, with its Catholic Church, and it received very significant resources from the Polish Catholics. It wasn't until later that the Polish Catholics looked into what kind of an organization they were doing business with ...
What these people told about the "Bogorodichniy center" amazed me! In so far as some of the doctrine of the "Bogorodichniy center" was similar to the near-Christian sect of Montanists in the 2nd century! (Named after Montanus, deceased 178 or 179 A.D., who preached Christ would return to lead a thousand-year kingdom.) I spoke about this, and the parents started to invite me to the meetings they held. As an expert, I was able to talk about sect doctrine from a scientific point of view. I accompanied them on their endeavors sometimes and found out how quickly this sect was spreading among us, and realized it would be useful to hold a conference dedicated to this theme, so as to put public and media attention on the problem. This conference was held, and in it I used the phrase "totalitarian sect" for the first time. This term has proved to be so obvious that now it's a household word.
The conference was very successful, there was a lot of publicity, and after that journalists started approaching me for consultation about other sects. In order to respond to them, I had to sift through and read much material, and after some time I realized that I was involved with sects, something I had not quite wanted to do at first. I also understood that if I were getting involved with this anyway, then it would be better to deal with it professionally.
So before long I met with Professor Aargard, director of the "Dialog-center," a Danish Christian organization that had been dealing with sects for more than 20 years and had accumulated vast experience in informational work and assembled a huge library on this theme. Professor Aargard invited me to Denmark to look through their work. I arrived and realized right there that we also needed to begin organizing an informational center. The director of the Department for Religious Education and Catechization approved of this idea. Thus the St. Irinaeus of Lyon Information-consultation Center came into the world.
Sometime during the discussion about its creation, it became evident that the Center should carry the name of St. Irenaeus of Lyon. This is a Christian saint who lived in the second century A.D. He was a pupil of St. Polycarp of Smyrna who, in turn, was a pupil of John the Evangelist. Saint Irenaeus was of Greek lineage, and served as bishop in the Gallic city of Lyon (today in France). Saint Irenaeus was the first in the history of the Church to start anti-sect resistance. He wrote the book "Against heresy," which described the doctrines of the most dangerous sects of that time. Everything was interpreted very correctly, and demonstrated convincingly why it was impossible to call these sects Christian.
So our Center began its existence on September 6th (the day in memory of Saint Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon by the Church calendar) 1993.
Back then the situation in our country was very grave - recruiters and disseminators of various totalitarian sect operated unhampered everywhere; the people, who were in shock from the painful changes of economic collapse and political instability, had not even the slightest immunity from sectarian lies. After all, back then they rang out from the highest government rostra! Remember that back in 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev, who was still the General Secretary of the CPSU, received Mun in the Kremlin as a state guest. The presentation of the Russian translation of Hubbard's "Dianetics" took place March 31, 1993 in the Kremlin Congress Palace (By chance I saw an invitation to this event in the office of one of the senior hierarchy of our Church and averted our church participating in the presentation by telling him about Scientology), and the chief guardian of Seiko Asahara in Russia was then the head of the country's Security Council, Oleg Lobov.
I remember a Saturday evening in spring 1994 when I was walking with my wife about a kilometer down the road in the middle of Moscow. During this time we were approached by no fewer than 10 recruiters of different sect, not including the leaflets and announcements we noticed of just as many sects on building walls and light poles!
Changing this situation required very much work. Our Center (now called the "Center of Religious Research") and its four regular staff and another 3-4 supernumeraries) became the first center of this kind in the country. A year afterwards, the St. Alexander Nevsky center started operation in Novosibirsk. Another couple of years and the St. Mark Efesskiy center started in Tver (now, unfortunately, its operations are down to almost nothing), and the St. Iosif Volotsky Center started in Yekaterinburg. Several large cities in the country also have two or three enthusiasts who work alone. That's all! Meanwhile, as you have observed, all these are Orthodox centers that are usually not really part of the official Church structure, but they nevertheless make use of support by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Since 1998 our center began to publish a magazine "Prozrenie," and since that time has randomly published 9 editions. Now we are in the process of printing number 10. We also maintain the anti-sect web pages that are most visited on the Russian Internet. Everyday we answer dozens of phone calls and receive visits from citizens and consult with them.
We actively work with the secular mass media, we print books, brochures and conduct conferences. We've had occasion to participate in several court proceedings and for the time being, with God's help, we've won all of them. The opportunity often presents itself for us to travel all over the country, from Sakhalin to Kaliningrad (on the Polish border), but also to the Ukraine, Belorusia, Moldavia, Lithuania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, with an extensive program of lectures. In each place I actively work with the local mass media; I hold meetings with scholars, police, government workers, the military, but most of all with students. Usually one of the evenings a public meeting is held that is open for anyone who wishes to attend. Those are often attended by representatives of various sectarian groups and the meeting is turned into a pointed discussion that is very interesting and helpful for those present. Depending on the size of the auditorium, there is usually 300 to 1,000 people, and this kind of meeting has never lasted less than three hours.
I think the main result of our work has been a drastic change in the public attitude toward totalitarian sects. Now everybody knows them very well. Let's say it's characteristic that at the latest Duma hearings to add an amendment to the law on freedom of conscience; let's say that Scientology is remembers in only the most negative context. And with this opinion about the obvious extreme maliciousness of Scientology coming from the most diverse of speakers, it is obvious that no one contests this fact.
But of course, problems are far from solutions. They simply develop a new angle.
When I go to difference dioceses, they often tell me that things have gotten easier with cults now. Five or ten years ago they were everywhere you looked; now there are not so many. On the same matter the wave does not look anything like a decrease; it's just that now the sects have appeared in their new period of development - they've reached a certain level of membership. Now membership is actively growing only in two sects, the "Jehovahs Witnesses" and the neo-charismatics (neo-Pentecostals), which have a very stable growth rate. At the present time in Russia (according to my rough estimate), there are more than 300,000 neo-Pentecostals ("Movement of faith") and they are very actively engaged in PR, positioning themselves in the capacity of main representatives of traditional Protestantism.
To a great degree, membership of the rest of the sects has stabilized, or even visibly decreased; they have reached the maximum level they can maintain. They are now occupied in fortifying their social niche: they're buying real estate wholesale; they've provided themselves with a political lobby; they have their own journalists, who work for them; experts who create a basis for them; and lawyers (advocates) who defend them in court cases. In a word, they are doing everything to show their muscle and manifest themselves as non-transient factor in Russian reality, so that, secure in their staging area, they are making a new grab for an increase in membership. Besides that, they also have strong foreign support, especially from the US State Department and other American state and near-state organs.
All the new tendencies are visible in "domestic" homegrown sects, which are growing and loudly making themselves known. In particular, one can mention the recently appearing cults of Anastasiya, "Radastei," "Ashram Shambaly" (same as the "Russian esoteric center) and others that operate in the context of neo-heathen "New Age" movements that have already acquired international renown. It's a reciprocal process: while the foreign sects all put on a bigger Russian mask, the domestic cults acquire more and more of an international character; they're a base for foreign representation and they recruit foreign adherents.
The number of nativist neo-heathen sects is rising, who assert that they are reviving traditional heathen belief native to the Slavic people, not yet tainted by a still spreading Jewish-Masonic Christian conspiracy.
But there are also newly arisen sects, which are different from those widely known, which succeed in recruiting new adepts with their "novelty." As a rule, these totalitarian sects do not have external religious indicators and operate in a non-religious field.
Besides that, the number of psychocults is growing, including those of new, domestic origin. This is in addition to the widely known psychocults like EST (Forum Landmark Education), Lifespring (including its Russian branch, "Avatar"), Bill Ridler's "world center of interrelations," and so forth. There are also many of the new psychocults that operate in the field of medicine.
And, of course, all the new commercial cults (pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing) have appeared, in which connection the international Herbalife and AmWay have reached the domestic pyramid formations.
So the amount of work we have continues to grow.
Such is the status at present in our country.
St. Alexander Nevskiy Cathedral

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108919454828899768

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Cultural sites being renovated. Russia, 2 July 2004.
This year 8 districts of the [Nizhegorod] Oblast will have completed construction and renovation of 15 cultural premises. This was stated at a briefing in the Oblast administration press center by cultural minister Mikhail Bryzgalov. At the present time, work is in process on construction, reconstruction and restoration of 2 theater buildings, a circus stage, 2 club buildings, and 5 cult buildings and establishments. Besides that, Mikhail Bryzgalov announced that the cultural ministry is preparing a "Village Culture" program. It will be oriented toward the financing and reconstruction of culture office buildings that are in the possession of municipal education. According to M. Bryzgalov, work is being carried out now only in Saratov on oblast buildings and the Pushkin library, the oblast philharmonic and the Radishchevsky Museum.

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/07/#108910766027174506

Anti-sect experience in Siberia. Novosibirsk, 1 July 2004.
Speech of the manager of the Novosibirsk Information-Consultation Center on Issues of Sectarianism, protopriest Alexander Novopashin at the international scientific-practical conference "General Christian testimony: answer to the expansion of totalitarian sects," held in Poland 18-23 June 2004.
In essence the center reported of the Siberian region that the city of Novosibirsk was attracting special attention from foreign missionaries, as the city had not only a concentration of economic resources, but also was a politically active and strategically important center, whose true spiritual revival enabled it to have an influence on the situation throughout Russia.
In Novosibirsk and Berdsk diocese, several dozen large and several hundred small sects, groups and cults are in operation, whose activities can be rated as destructive not only to individual relations but to social relations on the whole.
The most well-known totalitarian sects in the world that actively operate in diocesan territory are the neo-charismatic "Movement of Faith" ("Word of Life"), "Church of Christ" ("Boston Movement"), L.R. Hubbard's Church of Scientology, the "Family" sect ("Children of God"), the "Jehovahs Witnesses," San Myung Mun's "Unification Church," the Mormons ("Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"), the "International Society of Krishna Consciousness," "Sahaja-Yoga," Sri Chimnoy, the "Bahai" society, organizations of pseudo-biblical and charismatic school of Korean origin and others.
Much activity is being demonstrated by the Reriki movement in propagating the occult Living Ethics Doctrine, ("Agin-Yoga"), which has become the basis for the rise of a huge number of small occult groups in the "New Age" movement.
Cults that originated in Russia are also active that more subtly address the Russian character in their activities. These are the "Church of the Last Testament" of the fake Christ Vissarion, who has proclaimed himself to be a present-day messiah; the pseudo-medical sect "Ayat" which is led by the creator of essentially everything, Farkhat the taxi driver from Kazakhstan; the sect that claims to be the only true Orthodox Church, the "Bogorodichniy Center," (new name "Orthodox Church of the Mother of God the Majestic").
Also operating on the territory of our diocese are cults and groups that originated in the territory itself or in the Siberian region.
First among these are the occult "New Age" groups: the "Pedagogic" sect of Tolgat Akbashev, "Ecology of human behavior" (the "Fakel"/"Torch" Club, which actively propagates the practices of the "Akademiya Zolotova" ("Academy of Frontal Problems"); revivalist heathen cult practices of "Troyanov Trop," the Novosibirsk City Social Organization (NGOO) "Amata-Sirius"; Ufology cult "Strana Anura"; the organization "Sotitanandana Yoga ("School of Shambala," "Everest," "Academy of the 'Way to Happiness'"), whose practices closely resemble satanic rituals. Special care has been called for in this past year with a sharp rise in the number of satanic groups that unite youngsters in the senior class and of student age whose activities are manifested not only in the practice of magic, but also in arson and desecration of Orthodox churches and sacred objects, human outrage and sacrifice. They have a site for human sacrifice.
The destructive consequences of cult activity have not been long in making themselves known. Psychiatrists of the Novosibirsk clinic have marked a sharp rise in the past several years of mental illness arising from or strongly aggravated by a religious basis. Especially strongly noted was a connection with the growth in the number of psychic illnesses among members of the charismatic movement "Word of Life," adherents of "Sahaja Yoga," the sect of San Myung Mun, and members of the occult "New Age" groups. Quite frequently the "sermons" of "Jehovahs Witnesses" and the Boston "Christians" are demoralizing for the members of the Armed Forces who, without that, are spiritually and materially diminished by the "new reformation" of the Russian Army. There's been a sharp rise in the number of families broken on "religious" grounds, which is especially typical for adepts of the "Jehovahs Witnesses" and Scientology; in the law enforcement agencies they are handling complaints from parents whose children go out of control and cast off family and studies to leave home to "serve God" under precise guidance from leaders of a cultic group.
Besides that, the activity of pseudo-religious cults is not limited only to the destructive influence on society and persons peculiar to all them, but often develops into concrete criminal acts.
- In the city of Berdsk in Novosibirsk Oblast on 22 March 1994 an adherent of the "Sahaja Yoga" guru movement committed the ritual murder of his one and a half year old daughter. Later when printed material of sect management was introduced into court it was disavowed by the adept, who said it was not relevant to the murder. Later on, however, cult members performed ritual ceremonies in the apartment where the abominable murder was committed, and on the grave of the dead girl.
- There is a well-known case of attempted murder of a husband by a woman who until that time was practicing "Sahaja Yoga." After the attempt she received treatment in the third psychiatric hospital in Novosibirsk for more than six months.
- 28 April 1994 in Novosibirsk, a murder was committed by a satanist, who had been involved in occultism with the carrying out of ritual satanic ceremony (establishment of a center with a satanic altar and equipped with the signs of satanic symbolism), and who used a ritual dagger on a 33-year-old woman to sacrifice her to Satan;
- on 12 June 1995 a 17-year-old girl fell sacrifice to Satan (according to the murderer's own statement in court) with the body being desecrated afterwards; the murderess was engaged in black magic and considered herself an adherent of satanism; the murder was done with the goal of attaining supernatural powers.
- in the period from the end of 1996 to the beginning of 1997 in Tyumen and the Tyumen region nearly 30 minors carried out a series of solitary ritual murders by hanging.
- In 1997 a two-story building, which had been given to our church for use as a Sunday school and information-consultation center on issues of sectarianism, located not far from the cathedral, was set afire, during which the guard was killed. Several times before that the cathedral received letters asking whether we would like an Easter bonfire.
- Parents whose children have disappeared after visiting one or another sect regularly come to our center.
And these are only isolated case that are presented as examples.
There is a large problem with the issue of the interactions of the law enforcement organs with the pseudoreligious organizations. The essential norms that exist in Russia are built on so-called democratic principles, which in essence are not able to limit the activity of destructive cults, which is intrinsically normal, because it is exactly these democratic principles, which are made for social interaction, that present the most nourishing means for totalitarian group to rapidly spread. Thus an absurd enough situation is formed. Representatives of law enforcement organs and organs of government, on the one hand, in observing and analyzing the tragic consequences of cult activity, have reached a conclusion about the need for its restriction and prevention, but on the other hand, the laws in force have been set in a framework which restricts their influence on the "freedom" of people to believe in what they want, which turns out really not to be capable of resisting spiritual aggression against Russia and the defense of its citizens from the arbitrariness of cults. The situation is worsened in that the majority their contemporary Russian state agencies contain people who are not even aware that the basics of the Russian Orthodox Faith, which is traditional for the greater part of the people, is the same as the basis for other religions traditional to Russia, and these civil servants are therefore not able to tell the truth from lies, true profession of faith from heresy. Nevertheless in the last two years there is a more clearly discernible tendency to treat the Orthodox Church as the guardian of the spiritual basics of life of the people in an effort to find support in issues relating to destructive cults.
In connection with the wide activity of sects and cults, as far back as 1994, in the cathedral of the great prince saint Alexander Nevskiy, with the blessing of Tikhon, then still a bishop, work was begun on collection and analysis of information about the activity of sects and counteracting their activity. Antisect activity included and includes two aspects: personal anti-sect activity as such and missionary activity, directed at the advocacy and strengthening of Orthodoxy.
Antisect activity includes informational measures for representatives of agencies of government and society, having as their goal the distribution of information about sects and destructive groups, the publication of antisect brochures and leaflets, picketing sectarian arrangements, the suppression of illegal activity by sectarians in the city, and rehabilitation work with people who were victims of sectarianism.
In its work our center cooperates closely with the center of St. Irineaus, bishop of Lyon, headed by Alexander Leonidovich Dvorkin, and with other similar centers in the cities of Russia, to obtain information about the activity of cults from organizations overseas, such as the Dialog Center in Germany, for example. Various regions of the country turn to us for aid.
The center consults about the activity of sects and cults with representatives of government, and comes across religious and pseudoreligious groups in its work. A basic need for similar aid is felt by the staff of the law enforcement organs that investigate serious and very serious crimes committed on religious grounds. Ritual murder is distinct from a personal act of cruelty and does not have the motives the investigative organs are accustomed to; for operational employees it presents one of the most complicated cases to crack. No small role is played in this by inadequate information about the rituals, ceremonies, cult practices and the influence they have on the consciousness of a human.
Our information-consultation center conducts work with people who've run directly into an operation by a sect or destructive cult and have been victimized by them. Such people can be categorized two ways.
The first, which happens most frequently, these are people who've been affected by adepts of sects or destructive cults, by adepts who have changed the lives of their children, relatives or friends. Very many of them have actually begun to realize that this is the sort of sect where people leave their home, relatives and friends, abandon their family or shirk life, drop out of school and work to completely dedicate themselves to life in the sect.
The second group of people are the sect adepts themselves, who have decided to turn to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. In its turn, this group can be further divided into people who are still adepts of the sect or cult, but are either still looking, or have doubts about the correctness of the route they chose, and into those people who are prepared internally to abandon their former way of life, and in some cases they wish to accept or return to Orthodoxy, but are in need of assistance.
The center sets aside a special day for rehabilitative work, during which the new arrivals meet with the staff of the center and interviews are conducted in which they receive answers to their questions and practical recommendations. Those whose children or relatives have become victims of sect or cult activity need to explain how this became possible as a consequence of a lack in a person's proper religious life, and a lack of religious nourishment that is present in a religious vacuum. It's always necessary to be oriented toward work with family on the whole, to note that in departing the current situation one cannot be out of the religious, spiritual sphere; departure results only in external, visible changes which are not social or living factors.
It's required to explain to the parents about the necessity of prayer for their children, to talk about responsibility which they have for their children before God. It's extremely important to help people realize the exact reasons people use for going into a sect or cult. Parents and relatives should make an effort to prompt a manner of conduct that enables the recovery of relations with the member of their family that was in the sect, and to suggest topics of debate. During this they organize meetings with people who have been in sects, after their relatives receive preliminary preparation. The meeting should be of a voluntary nature; it's impossible to force a person to listen. In order to prevent a serious rupture in relations it's necessary to hold the discussion very correctly. It's best to begin the conversation with a positive assessment of the spiritual search upon finding oneself in trouble. It should be emphasized that it's not all as simple as his teacher explaining the religious worldviews of many, and so it's necessary above all else to examine things carefully and thoroughly before making a final choice. With there being many teachers of false doctrine that agree to almost anything, it's useful to begin the discussion with a conversation about that and compare several items of dogma of one or another sect. There should be no hurry to make a final decision by an approaching day and hour; a person's path to making a decision is well-founded. It doesn't pay to expect instant success; it's necessary to be prepared for long painstaking work with the victim, which subsequently can give rise to doubt in a person's elected path, to evoke an interest in Orthodoxy. Even if there are no visibly observable results, there's no need to give up in despair, as it's entirely possible that there will be a further encounter with human feelings and that will play a role in straightening out the person's worldview. The goal of polemics is not only to refute the arguments of the sect as much as it is to reveal Orthodoxy to a person, to debunk the myths about it and show Orthodoxy's nearness to life.
It's mandatory to take stock of what helps the person, but in a very general way: family, mother's and father's families, place of residence, telephone (if the person has not kept this to himself), reason for visiting the center. If the possibility arises, one can invite attention as to whether the person might want to help the center out, and put literature and audio recordings at his disposal. In cases where this is possible, it necessary to have the person to put his reasons in writing and bring them to the center, and the story of his acquaintance with the cult or sect.
Taking stock is necessary not only for statistics and for accumulating information, but also because this information could be needed by representatives of law enforcement agencies who have come into direct contact with the consequences of the cult's activity. This particularly applies to cults that express an anti-social character. Thus, we ask the contact to Orthodoxy to put in his own words in written form the dogma of the sect that he was a witness to, with a packet of materials relating to the internal life of the cult (video, photos, etc.) The information accumulated about the victim can facilitate the work of and orient the staff of law enforcement organs. Thus it's also necessary to take note of the readiness of people to make contact with law enforcement organs, but this is done only on a volunteer basis, it is mandatory to take the desires of the person himself into account.
People who have abandoned the sect and have decided to accept Orthodoxy can officially join Orthodoxy after catechization and supplemental discussion is accomplished.
It's very important that further care of the spirit be accomplished, so that after active life in the sect organization the steady, calm life of the Orthodox parish appears in the fulfillment of rites. Parish activity should tend to help the person, so that the person can realize his strength. Such a person often wishes to help others, who reside in the sect, to leave, the more so that many in the sect bring them themselves. People also become indispensable as assistants in anti-sect activity, as they know the condition of things in the sect not by hearsay either, and they have the opportunity to meet with their former co-participants, and often bring other people out of the sect.
St. Alexander Nevskiy Cathedral

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