Cultological Culture

English mirror of Russian-European cultural media, including cults in Art, Entertainment, People, Cultology and more ...

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Alblong returns to the Middle Ages.
In contemporary Poland there is a 13th century city. Today Poles live in some of these same homes, where Germans lived eight centuries ago. After the Second World War, Albing, today Alblong, was reduced to ruins. Today archeologists have restored the town. NTV correspondent Marina Naumova tells how they did it.
There are plenty of medieval buildings in Alblong, Poland. One cannot immediately make out that in this case the ancient buildings were constructed with modern technology. For example, the Roman Catholic church was erected several years ago. It is an exact copy of the church that adorned the old Prussian city of Albing in the 13th century. It was on its site many centuries later that Alblong emerged. The inhabitants of Albing were German, but building began 800 years ago. It was not until after the Second World War that this part of East Prussia withdrew from Poland, but by then the city was completely destroyed. Not a single historical building remained.
Archeologists gathered all the historical material. In the course of the excavations they uncovered minute details about the city's appearance. For example, the width of its streets, and the thickness of building walls. In the very center of Alblong, at a depth of 10 meters, Polish archeologists found the foundation of ancient buildings, a cult structure, chapel, and residential buildings.
Today's Alblong is being rebuilt according to a rare historical sketch, which served as the basis for the information obtained by the archeologists. Each structure is being built according to its original architectural plan. The external construction duplicates the building that used to stand there and is entirely in the medieval style. The modern structures are being built restored on their old foundations.
The only inconvenience which the city dwellings have to put up with is that the old streets weren't built with parking in mind. The narrow streets and roads, paved with cobblestones, were not intended for constant motor vehicle traffic.
NTV.Ru, 28.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109396807874257603

Monday, August 30, 2004

Christians and Muslims unite against Mormons in Saratov.
Muslims and Christians have stepped out against construction of a Mormon cult building. That organization, which was officially recognized in Russia 14 years ago, is considered a sect by representatives of traditional confessions.
Mormons showed up in Saratov eleven years ago. The first ones were American missionaries.
On a small street in the very center of Saratov, the main city mosque is situated. From here an Orthodox shrine is easily visible. Not far from here, too, is where construction is in process of the cult building for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormon Church.
Representatives of the Orthodox and Muslim clergy oppose this and have appealed to city authorities with a call to cease and desist construction.
The Mormons bought a thousand square meters of building space at 62 Gorky three years ago. It used to belong to the notary's office. From a legal viewpoint the transaction was not brought into question back then. But information about the building being reconstructed for a cult establishment only recently surfaced.
Pavel Kozlenko, representative of the public affairs committee for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints: "Perhaps someone needs this building in the center of town. Could be someone is afraid of losing their parishioners, who will be going to other churches."
More than 200 Orthodox parishioners gathered for a protest operation against construction of the Mormon church. While one gathered signatures, others did information work about the harm of Mormonism.
Hieromonk Nektariy, director of the office for external church relations of the Saratov diocese: "Many Mormon rituals have a concealed sacrilegious character. For instance, there is the baptism of the dead, or marriages with the dead."
Imam Mukadas Bibarsov of the Muslim spiritual administration for the Volga region held a special press conference. It was explained there what the representatives of Islam saw and the political aspects.
Mukadas Bibarsov, Imam of the Muslim spiritual administration for the Volga region: "The roots of this organization are in the United States of America. You know that Muslims, not only in the Russian Federation, but all over the world, have a very intricate attitude toward this state."
Now, by a decision of the city administration, construction of the building has ceased. It explained that not all the documents for construction were in order.
Andrei Yezhov, chairman of the committee for public relations for the administration of Saratov city: "The existence of a legal precedent in many cities of the Russian Federation testifies about how the public opinion of the social organizations were neither sought nor expressed, and meanwhile they are powerless against this kind of sect. So what is needed, in my opinion as deputy of the state Duma, is a fast as possible review of the legislative situation that governs the activity of religious organizations on the territory of the Russian Federation."
Representatives of traditional confessions prefer to call the Mormons a sect, usually modified by the word "totalitarian." In the opinion of church ministers, the Mormons still have too few parishioners in Russia for such an expensive monumental building. The Mormons stress that they do not want to build a church in Saratov, but an assembly hall. Now 1,800 people in the city consider themselves to be Mormon, 300 in this parish alone.
Anatoliy Reshetnikov, manager of the Saratov religious organization of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints": "Take a look at article 14 of the Constitution: religious associations are separate from the state and equal before the law. All religious associations, including ours."
The Mormons are not planning any rallies in response. Neither are they in a hurry to desist work on the site in question. The decision to stop construction work is temporary. Now participants in the dispute have a wait-and-see attitude. The law is the only thing that can finally decide. All those concerned are confident that that will be on their side.
NTV.Ru, 24.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109388067644349580

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Soviet cult flourishing 13 years later.
Irina wears gaudy red earrings and jeans with a red belt. And under the denim jacket the 16-year-old girl is happy to show a red t-shirt with an embellished "USSR" - Union of Soviet Socialists republics. "Very stylish," I say in recognition, and Irina smiles meaningfully. She and her friend Lena are sitting at the Manezhny Square on a marble parapet with feet dangling. Young people, under 21, consider "Maikas" (t-shirts) with suggestive symbols rooted in the past, to be in fashion this year. "I am proud of the Soviet Union. It was a strong government that everybody respected," Irina believes. "The Soviet Union made a lasting place in the world." Irina dreams about a strong Russia. President Putin, as she says, is doing the right thing in seeking not to be left behind by the Americans.
By the glassy globe of the world, not far from Irina, Ruslan has come across his friend Tanya, and his t-shirt has the GDR emblem. Ruslan works in MacDonalds on the Arbat. He proudly displays his work ID. "I got paid and went to the store to find a nice t-shirt. I want to look good." Weren't the two Germanies reunited? He doesn't know that. How would he know what happened? When the Soviet troops pulled out of the GDR, Ruslan was only nine years old. His friend Andrei, who is five years older than him, is not attracted to Soviet symbols. "Back under Gorbachev you had to stand in line to buy bread, and back then we three families to one apartment. Now you can go into the store and, if you have money, buy anything you want."
Behind Manezhny Square, in the "Perekhod" boutique, I meet Irina Kontaeva. The 29-year-old designer supplies the store with unusual head attire. She has just finished delivering a shipment of red-white leather caps with sickle and hammer. "Not long ago somebody bought five 'maiki' from me: one had an image of Putin, another with "Rossiya," another with "KGB," and two had the letters "USSR," says the saleswoman. "This is not nostalgia, this is pride, this is our fatherland," she said with conviction. Her shop is frequented by many Russians from abroad. "Maiki with the USSR inscription are especially popular among Russians from the Ukraine and from America."
"Russky radio," the most popular radio station in Moscow, which specializes in Soviet pop music, recently began an advertising campaign with the slogan "Our homeland is the USSR." The Communist Party of Russia sponsored a video clip, "In the white ghetto," from the rap group "Sixtynine," which made the charts on MTV.
There is no doubt that certain contributions have been made by the Kremlin in the growing nostalgia for the Soviet era. Vladimir Putin reinstated the Soviet hymn to Russia (but really, with a new text), the army can once again raise the red flag and many speak well of the Soviet cosmonauts. Neither did the NTV television station failing to show the serial "Made in the USSR" in its "Namedni" program. It resurrected the success of the Soviet complex, which to this day holds a solid place in the markets, such as a Moldavian wine-making center or the fish plant in the Baltic region that cans sardines. The producers of "Rizhsky balsam," a popular herb drink from Riga, have also been praised.
The Soviet cult continues unimpeded in Saint Petersburg too, Vladimir Putin's hometown and the Russian Federation's "city of culture." On the contrary, in Fontanka, in the "Purga" club, located in the cellar of the premises, gather students, employees and former convicts. On the screen a Soviet children's movie, "Vzglyad v budushchee" ("Glance into the future") is playing. The waiters, who are in white rabbit suits and pass around food for the crowd, are in an excited mood. Every night New Year's is celebrated, and the students have noisemakers and sparklers, and, at zero hour, the wholeheartedly pealing of the Kremlin chimes are heard, on the monitors of the establishment, Leonid Brezhnev appears with his New Year's address with his mandatory and just as legendary promises.
In direct line-of-sight from the "Purga," on Nevsky Prospect, is the "USSR" cafe, an establishment in uniform red-black tones in which everything occurs discreetly and fashionably. Guests sit at glass tables, drink vodka from glasses inscribed with "GenSec," and adorned with pictures of Stalin, Brezhnev and Andropov. Vasily the disk jockey believes this is not about politics, but about a style of life. "I have respect for the old things, just like when they appreciate old wine." They are enjoyed by the cult, primarily of middle-class children. The "precious youth" prefer to meet in the "Che" cafe outside the Moscow terminal at Saint Petersburg, and spend time together there among the bright red-colored walls and smoke cigarettes at 1,200 rubles (35 euro) apiece. For those for whom this is too much, one can also find a MacDonalds on the corner.
At the present time around the new Moscow city highway a ring of 100 high-rise buildings are being built, including the Triumph Palace, "the highest apartment building in Europe," in the Sokol district. They say that upon examining them closer one can discover an undisguised duplicate of the celebrated Stalin skyscrapers. The price of a square meter in a building 264 meters high, including the pointed tower, is 2,700 US dollars. Those who can afford this, as a rule, gets several apartments at one time. So the newly rich Armenian merchants and their familial clans live beside Tatar oil magnates and Russian arms lobbyists, a refined multinational mixture, almost like in the Soviet era. One agent from a construction company that specializes in lodgings for the elite thinks that "well-to-do people here, like anywhere else, quickly discover a common language."
Original source: "Freitag", Germany, Ulrich Heyden
InoSMI.Ru, 20.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109377346627457280

Friday, August 27, 2004

Americans bought Night Watch.
Bidding was held among 20th Century Fox, Dimension Films and other movie companies. For two million dollars, 20th Century Fox bought Timur Bekmambetov's movie "Night Watch" ("Nochnoi Dozor"). With that much money the second movie of the trilogy can be made. And, according to the agreement, they will pay a significant amount towards filming the third and final part, "Twilight Watch." The soonest the American audience can see the picture, however, will be next year. It will be interesting to see how the average American views "Night Watch." Will the picture provoke a new movement, like what happened after the filming of Tolkein's work or the distribution of "Matrix"?
So, the movie with a bigger budget than any other Russian movie (4.2 million dollars), after being seen by more than four million viewers in a month and collecting 15,300,000 dollars, was of interest to overseas producers. Along with distribution rights, the 20th Century Fox company also acquired the rights for the English-language re-make of the first two movies.
The overflowing pride, however, is somewhat dimmed after a few things are realized. For example, the long-standing American cult that has a spot in the breadth of our country, and which over time has given way to no less comical chauvinism, has left its indelible print -- most of us more or less have an idea about its realities. And so, while watching another "Blade" in the movie theater, we, as an audience, tell ourselves that America is not what is being shown on the big screen, that this is only a part of its culture.
Americans have to have an entirely different perception, since they often do not have an idea of where wild Russia is located, and how it differs from other wild countries. So the why is not really that important for them in a movie, whether they are looking at something exotic or getting better acquainted with any Russian themes, it might be a good advertisement, or just another show. That is not what has meaning, what's much more interesting is what exactly the spectator sees in this picture.
It is understood that the video sequence is one and the same, this is not about that. Recalling how many basic drawbacks occurred with us: very many tiresome commercials, movie not shot according to the script, obsolete special effects and the plot falling short, but on the positive side, realism in our sound sense of humor.
But now we think how the onlooker reacts to each point. For advertisements "Lara Croft II" is indicative, where the producers "hide" more than a few advertisements than they do in our movies. What strikes the eye powerfully?
The movie is not shot according to the script. This is the reason the nursery school wail of "this is not fair!" accompanied the picture since it was first distributed. Many sensitive children experienced disappointment. We narrow the immediate argument to the topic of "have to do it this way" and we see a possible reaction of the overseas spectator.
If this is strictly judged, then by comparison to what the producers did with Duma's the "Count of Monte Cristo" in the process of shooting the movie by the same name, along with the creators of "Troy" and Homer's "Iliad," then the picture "Night Watch" is simply an exact copy of the corresponding novel by Lukyanenko. So that even if the mass audience gets around to reading the book, it will still not get used to the difference between the written and the movie versions.
Granted, obsolete special effects are all that's left of the negative drawbacks, really, seriously. They're all that's left because when they do our "spindled and mutilated" scripts, they call them "fast-paced and dynamic" -- a widespread technique for the creation of an engrossing plot with continuous action.
Granted it is too early to express the patriotic wish "Hurray, we've made it!" Although the reason for pride is also pleasantly serious -- producer Timur Bekmambetov is contracted to shoot three movies for the 20th Century Fox movie company.
RII Egoza, 20.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109360000863291912

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Secret Nazi Koenigsberg-13 show broadcasts on Kaliningrad TV.
Sixty years ago, in August 1944, English pilots began the carpet-bombing of Koenigsberg. The basic goal of the bombardiers was four medieval buildings in the historic center of the city-fortress. It was here, at Koenigsberg 13, where a victory in German weapons was being forged by the staff in the secret laboratory of ancient cults. According to local historian Sergei Trifonov, who prepared the script of the "Secret laboratory of Koenigsberg-13" series for Kaliningrad TV, more than a little mystery was connected with this. On the first two floors of the laboratory, an extensive collection of cult items were laid out - from Orthodox icons to Scandinavian runes. The basement was equipped with a huge refrigerator and a great number of baths, which contained ice and ... eyes of farm animals that had been brought in from the slaughterhouse. One can only guess as to the purpose of such an "alchemy" for the uninitiated. Koenigsberg-13 research, Sergei Trifonov asserts, was a component part of the German war doctrine. Three times the mission of the English air forces was to bomb this district with high-powered bombs and napalm. But here is the paradox. Six bombs landed right on the laboratory and did not even explode!
Now this is an old address, but today in the building on Sovetsky Boulevard in Kaliningrad there is the "Blindazh" museum. And the mystical aura of this site is full and powerful. In the "Blindazh" peculiar things happen. For example, museum staff are getting tired in the morning of shutting off the water taps, which they carefully turned off the night before. It is here with the onslaught of darkness that swarms of bats like to gather. And here bums and drunks prefer to walk to the other side of this mysterious island.
New Izv.ru, 20.8.04, Valeriy Gromak
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109351552442391967

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

20 Orthodox against Jehovahs Witnesses.
Today is the second day in Novosibirsk of the regional congress of the Jehovahs Witnesses, who are prohibited in Moscow. Orthodox Novosiberians met the congress with picket signs. The regional congress of the Jehovahs Witnesses began in Novosibirsk on Friday and will finish on Sunday. For the congress in "Chkalovets" stadium in Dzerzhinsky district, three thousand people are supposed to show up.
The Orthodox community of our city responded. Their representatives will be carrying picket signs in front of the stadium day and night. In the evening they're sending 9 people and today, 20 people.
The assistant manager of the Information-consultation center on issues of sectarianism in the Cathedral of the blessed saint and great prince Aleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Vladimirovich Zaev, related in a conversation with our correspondent that activity was forbidden in Moscow for the Jehovahs Witnesses on 16 June 2004. Its dogma opposed the RF Constitution: the sect forbid its members to enlist in the army and did not accept the arms or flag of the RF.
However, as IA Regnum reports, the decision is in effect only in Moscow and does not have legal force beyond the capital city limits, nor does it restrict the constitutional right of the Jehovahs Witnesses to freedom of speech, practice of belief or assembly in Moscow, nor anywhere else.
The sect's activity, according to Oleg Vladimirovich Zaev, goes like this: its members have to buy propagandistic literature from the sect (its price is overly high, compared to how much it costs) and to distribute for free. In other words, the Jehovahs Witnesses are a corporation for the realization of nonliquid production. The sect members need to get money from somewhere, but devote much time to preaching on the streets and in apartments. The result is sale of lodging and belongings.
The sect management in Novosibirsk has been able to obtain a permit from the local authorities to hold the congress, and they've gotten authorization for construction of a temple in Novosibirsk. The sect already as a temple built in Kuibyshev, NSO.
It's interesting that the last day of the congress of the Jehovahs Witnesses, 22 August, falls on RF National Flag Day, which they do not recognize.
Oleg Vladimirovich Zaev reported to our correspondent that an International Conference on "Totalitarian sects and the democratic state" will be held 9-11 November in our city.
nsk.ru, 21.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109342743946971971

In Veliki Novgorod active discussion is continuing about the issue of construction in the city on Nekhinsky Str. of a cult building for the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization. German businessman and social figure Mr. S. Paul, who arrived on a business visit in the center of the province, had a talk with an IA Regnum correspondent about the activity of one of the Kingdom Halls of Germany. In the businessman's words, in the course of his social work, which concerns problems of emigrants from Russia into his country, he repeatedly ran into the work of this religious organization in the sphere of Russian emigrants, and even repeatedly visited one of the instruction centers that propagates Witness teachings from Russia. This center is located in the Kingdom Hall in the German city of Rostock.
According to S. Paul, during instruction conducted in the Center by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the propagandists specifically reported that after the end of the world, which was going to happen in the near future, earthly governments would collapse and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are noted for their preaching work, would be allocated a vast territory on Earth for life by God. Besides that, the territory of Siberia and the Russian provinces in general, according to S. Paul, are of particular interest to Jehovah’s Witnesses from the viewpoint of manning a number of organizations with local residents. In the opinion of the management of the Rostock training center, Siberia had the largest number of people who had a weak religious and worldview background. The methodical aids of the training center's arsenal even included a special video to familiarize future preachers with the conditions of life in Siberia.
It was interesting, in the German businessman's opinion, that during training activities from the Rostock center's speakers, they spoke of Russia as a backward country. For instance, according to S. Paul, they repeatedly justified the attack by Fascist Germany on the USSR, by saying the goal of the USSR was take the profits of Russian civilization. One of the examples given of Russia being outdated was the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, which the Witnesses considered one of the most fierce religious sects.
S. Paul broke off contact with the Witnesses' Rostock organization after the local elders requested he use his business contacts with the government of Veliky Novgorod and the province for expanding the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Novgorod province.
In concluding the conversation, talking about his attitude toward construction of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Veliky Novgorod, S. Paul commented that Germans, for the greater part of their history, anxiously guarded their traditional state, belief and mentality. This approach would be a good one for Russia to take, too. It is known that during the Russian Empire era, German settlers emerged who were escaping the horrors of the Seven-year War, which was waged because of a conflict on religious grounds. It's entirely possible that the origin of such a conflict, with consequences deplorable for the state, is forming with different centers of religious influence today on Russian soil, said S. Paul.
IA Regnum, 20.8.04

archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109342741336533926

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The good land Mongolia...
is flooded with sunshine, pristine lakes, waterfalls, the shiny spurs of the Mongolian Altai-Hangai and, of course, the steppes. They stretch to a horizon of endless length, with its gentle curves calm and soothing. Any person who gets away to this vast expanse under this dazzlingly clear blue sky, who breathes the delicate fragrance of the grass and alpine meadows near Khubsugul, who touches the holy stone of Khentei in the woods of Delyun-Boldok, has some higher sense of existence revealed. The experts at the World Tourist Organization recognize all this grandeur as the second most popular tourist area of the world for 2004, after western Europe.
Hello, Mongolia!
Among the nicest things of the tourist season, which is almost over, is the opening of the second regular "Ulan-Ude-Ulan-Bator" bus. This correspondent was convinced with her own eyes of its popularity. Comfortable, with snug curtains, equipped with digital television, the "Buryatintur" motor bus, with its friendly and courteous drivers, was full of satisfied passengers. Now, going through today's MAPP "Kyakhta-AltanBulak" in the shortest time, if you leave from Ulan-Ude you will be having dinner and breakfast in the amazingly inexpensive Mongol "guanz" cafe. The price for one hot, scrumptious meal, which more likely than not is "buzu" or "khuushur" - a kind of meat patty - of impressive size can be had, funny to say, for two rubles in Russian money.
The bus ticket from Russia for the trip to its neighboring country can also be had for a good price, 750 rubles one way. Lodging can be found in fairly private hostels, and also in yurts, for from 5 to 10 dollars a day, which normally includes a hot breakfast with real Mongolian tea and buuzi. It should also be noted that those who are less frugal can have four- or five-star hotels open up their doors for them for 100, 250, 500 or even more dollars in Ulan Bator. The "Genghis Khan" is a head and shoulders above the rest, magnificent in its red-black mirrored parallelepiped with fountains and pools, satellite link, entertainment complex and car parks.
According to statistics from the tourism agency, which is a part of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Mongolia, each tourist that comes into the country spends 120-150, or even 180 dollars a day. This does not count the tips given by rich Japanese, Germans, Dutch, Italians, Americans, South Koreans and Chinese.
Hundreds of hotels, motels, private hostels and boarding houses in the form of traditional felt yurts, along with modern camping grounds with European facilities, where a quarter million {!} vacationers from all over the world have taken a hot shower this year. For comparison’s sake, in the Baikal region there were nearly 25,000 "organized" tourists this year, as was reported in "Otkrytyi mir Aziya," an Irkutsk magazine.
The "number one" burning question that has been raised more than once is why Buryatia, which has immense potential for recreation, is just as close, and could be on a par with Mongolia, is not yet however as economically developed. The secret of their staggering success is the tourist industry of our neighbors, which in 2003 brought in more than 250 million dollars profit, so that it has been said of this leader of the world tourism business, in a good-natured gibe, that "A chicken is not a bird and Mongolia is not a foreign country." So the megastar of the leading tourist markets on the planet, Mongolia, opens a little curtain to an age-old puzzle for you.
The business of Genghis Khan lives and conquers.
The tour operators in Mongolia have special "cards" that they play, secrets that this correspondent was able to figure out. So for you, gentle reader, here is a rare opportunity to look into the "Golden Book" of the currency business - the fastest paying and safest way for anyone to ensure their future and be comfortable in the present day.
From within the ranks of state politicians all forms of myth-making are praised, as long as they vividly and graphically propagate the grandeur of the past empire. At the same time the global brand of Genghis Khan can definitely contend with our small land of Buryatia, and China with its Inner Mongolia, where they built one of the most grandiose memorial complexes in the world - the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ordos, on the winding Hwang Ho river. Something else that attracts foreigners is the atmosphere of non-conformity in the presentation of tour products, such as in the re-creation of "absolutely authentic" historical decor in hotels.
For example, in Ulan Bator the "Genghis Khan headquarters" is recreated, where, in the main yurt, one may behold an unprecedented spectacle - cascades of highly valuable pelts of snow leopards, sable, ermine and Siberian polecat. Along the side of khan's tent are valuable decorations - engravings, expensive silk, porcelain with the imperial emblem in the shape of a soaring eagle. To get into the door of the main yurt costs a dollar, but to be photographed in the armchairs of the august rulers - Genghis Khan and Borte - another five dollars. For 3-5 dollars you can even wear the national costume.
Moreover, in the last three to four years it's considered profitable and especially prestigious to "exploit" the female images of the beautiful and wise mistresses of the Son of Heaven.
In Ulan Bator, respectable merchandising centers, karaoke bars, fitness clubs and beauty salons which have enjoyed popularity are named after Borte, Esui, Kulan and the parents of the emperor - Alan-Goa, Goa-Maral and Oelun. There the sums of money spent by Mongols and newly-weds is exceeded, but just barely, by foreign tourists. Stylish Mongolian cosmetics - bleaching and rejuvenating cream, gels and balsam are produced in joint ventures by Japanese-Mongolian and Korean-Mongolian cosmetic companies that use old popular beauty recipes based on therapeutic kumiss and fresh colostrum to produce charm and an irresistible smile with white teeth.
By the way, the home town - Bargudzhin-Tukhum - of the world conqueror's mother, our present day north Baikal, can also lay claim to the emblem of the cradle of the royal clan. This is supported by the historical chronicles known to us as the "Secret History of the Mongols," and also by information provided by historians, archeologists and ethnographers.
By the Law of Heaven.
To live in harmony with nature is an immutable law of the steppe dwellers. In Mongolia the puzzling story of what happened with a movie team from the English BBC corporation when it started shooting a documentary about Genghis Khan has been widely debated. On the initiative of ardent subjects of the British crown, a sacred tree, "Ezhin-Modon"/"Mother Tree," was cut down near the "Terelzh" tourist base, not far from Ulan Bator. In the evening of that same day, with only the mass battle scene left, the tree came down, a river burst its banks, flowed close by, changed into a furious torrent of mud, stones and washed away the movie team's camp, causing significant damage. The frightened Brits somehow carried the ruined gear that was left into the desert.
An endeavor to inflict the minimum damage to nature is expressed as much in Mongol psychology as it is in the means of conducting domestic economy, and also in the rations of public kitchens. For example, throughout Ulan Bator are scattered small, cozy yurts with advertising signs, "Always fresh Airag!", where for a token price one may taste different kinds of kumiss, invigorating, with a gentle spicy-tart aftertaste. A small percentage of alcohol (2-3%) yields a remarkable effect - instant energy. Mare's milk, or more correctly, cream, is an ancient elixir for a hundred maladies. And still it gives an unbelievable feeling of satiation - it's wide open for domestic dietitians here. It is in the period of July and August that Mongolian tourist firms sell fabulously expensive tours to the Gobi, Ara-Khangai, Hantai, Zavkhan and Mongolia Altai Khubsugul. There they conduct special "kumiss feasts," dairy cuisine festivals that attract throngs of tourists. In order just to watch the mares being milked, one has to pay a thousand dollars and more, after driving a hundred-some kilometers on impassable trails.
The especially ardent tourists love visiting, who would've thought it, the "Mongolian rodeo." The children of the smoggy cities, prisoners of the computer age and victims of the cell phone boom literally lose their heads screaming, stamping, whistling and moaning in rapture when in the beginning of June the 9-12 year-old riders tame young horses, and then more mature teens hold on to the crupper of a formidable horse as if by a miracle. They could not get so much adrenaline watching the "Formula One" racing pit or a beauty competition, which is why they will open their wallets and pull out the credit card for the bright Mongolian headliner tourism business, world renowned companies like "Zhulchin," "Nomad Tour" and a hundred others.
By the way, this year in Tunk we had occasion to see a sample of initiative, when the local horsemen let tourists ride on horses, 10 minutes for 50 rubles. But then this timid stride developed into a special ethno-tourism. After all, in Arshan, too, in Zhemchug, Nilova Hermitage, in pilgrimage sites for prosperous Muscovites, Irkutians, Krasnodars, and now also foreigners from near and far can also have everything arranged that the author of this article was able to spot after a week in Mongolia.
Actually, I hope to move a long-awaited promise of federal border and customs services to finally open before the next tourist season the international automobile Monda-Khankh crossing, not only to Russians, but also so foreign tourists can travel on Khubsugul through the beautiful federal highway, which crosses the Tunkinsky Valley, site of sacred sites and curative springs. The more quickly the pass is opened, as was verified for us by Russian special plenary Ambassador to Mongolia Oleg Mikhailovich Derkovskiy, the greater the chance that Buryatiya and eastern Siberia become tourist meccas on the global map.
Is a desire (to hunt) stronger than compulsion?
But now about one of the inexhaustible "gold mines" in the currency stream of Mongolia's budget. This is hunting. For the right to take two or three shots at a mountain sheep, roe deer or a bear, and bring home a trophy costs twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars. This includes the price of transportation (helicopter, automobile, horse), the services of guides, security guards, lodging with local residents, groceries and non-alcoholic drinks. Today in Mongolia, as we were told by the head of the representation of the administration of Irkutusk Oblast in Mongolia, Valeriy Kislov, hunting for wolves (year round) and shooting several other kinds of animal is permitted, even though they're listed as endangered species in other countries.
Happily Mongolia is still able to take the liberty of using its natural resources for the time being. This is profitable, too, after all, why ruthlessly uproot the forest, isn't it better to allow the forest animals, which mature after 3 or 4 years, to be hunted? Of course, one can hear other opinions, but today the forests in Mongolia are not so exposed to barbaric destruction, as ours are, by two-legged predators. So the ancient nomad's tradition of beating the brush continues, which spares the pregnant mother and defenseless cubs according to the precept of the "Great Prohibition" of the forefathers. This also raises the prices of specialized hunting tours, which ensures our southern neighbors a strong currency the entire year. In Mongolia, amateur wolf hunters especially love firing from helicopters.
Nonetheless, pragmatism, for the Mongols, combines a striking appearance with a cautious veneration of a cult of wolves as mythological divine hounds, noble, powerful, merciless to traitors, and recognizing the leader's will.
Dora Khamaganova, Ulan Bator
Babr.Ru, 18.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109339009148525035

Friday, August 20, 2004

Natalia Gulkina rewrites history of Russian pop music.
In recording a new joint work of Natalia Gulkina and Margarita Sukhankin, vocalists who formed the Disco cult group "Mirage" in the 1980s, guitarist Sergei Proklov took part. Like Natasha and Rita, in 1987 Proklov took part in recording "Mirage's" debut album, "Stars await us" ("Zvesdy nas zhdut"). His instrumental part was subsequently used in performances that duplicated the mix of the legendary disco group.
"The song 'Simply Mirage,' on the one hand, appeals to the audience to remember our group, but on the other it ends the 'mirage' of the past. I would not have liked to always perform live music with the present musicians," said Natalia Gulkina. "This served as an occasion for quarrel and conflict with producers, who only recognized recorded performance. Therefore I did not desert the group. When Margarita and I began to talk over plans of more activity, Sergei came to mind as a candidate, similar to us, who was undeservedly deprived of the fame of an 'original' genre. We know that he is a perfect guitarist and hope that our new song becomes relevant and stylish."
IMA "Kushnir Prodakshn"
ShowLife.Ru, 17.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109300145855254405

Masyanya cartoons.
The Mult.Ru animation studio distributed a press release by Oleg Kuvaev, the creator of the Masyanya character, which announced that the heroine of the merry young cartoonist will again become his property.
This decision was carried out by the Savelovsky intermuncipal court of Moscow, which decided to dissolve the contract between Kuvaev and the "Masyanya" corporation on transmission of authorship rights for the use of the cartoon figure.
It was back in 2002 that Oleg Kuvaev transferred rights of ownership to the "Masyanya" studio, which was operating under the management of producer Grigoriy Zorin. After a year Zorin transferred Masyanya rights to the "Alvins" company, and Kuvaev found himself removed from any possible control over the use of the figure that was loved nationwide.
After reports about the return of the author's rights became known, the management of the "Masyanya" company appealed the court's decision, so the fight for ownership rights is still not over.
RG.Ru, 17.8.04, compiled by Ramilya Tuktarova
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109300132469125846

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Shamansky cape expedition returns.
The international expedition of archeologists celebrated their professional holiday yesterday, when they returned from the Baikal and from the Shamansky Cape. Russian and Canadian scholars examined burial grounds, which were from six to seven thousand years old.
Several prior finds were ironed out for the Irkutsk archeologists. For example, historians only supposed that bone figures of elk and seal had cult significance and were used in ritual ceremony. It was easier to determine what the ancients used such bone articles for. Some of them were hunting harpoons and fishing gear, but the earrings of Siberian deer teeth, jade pendants, necklaces and bracelets of clay beads were adornments of the ancient beauties. These examples attracted the attention of more than just the specialists.
"Sometimes bones lay in the open, so it wouldn't hurt to take a walk before going to bed and just look. Tourists caused many problems," said expedition participant Petr Kurzybov.
The excavations at Shamank have been going on for five years. This year has been the most productive of the whole expedition. In a month and a half twenty graves were excavated and 800 items that were found were described.
Archeologists are very careful about how they treat each find. They wash and dry it, measure it and give it a number for the book. Canadian specialists conduct tests for bone tissue and do a genealogical analysis. For the time being the students cannot describe how they found people from 6,000 years ago. At the same time they managed to find out much about the ritual of burial.
There were many problems with double graves. The people of the past had a custom - they destroyed old graves, threw away the bones and buried people there anew.
Included in the expedition were history students of the Irkutsk State University and Canadians from the university in the city of Calgary. The Canadians were especially interested in the multi-layered graves. Kate Fara has been to Siberia three times now and has no problem with communication. The Irkutsk students themselves try to converse in English. Kate studied the Russian language 10 years ago in the university and found it simple and interesting.
In their professional holiday, which they celebrated August 15th, the Irkutsk archeologists brought their Canadian colleagues to a night club.
Vesti.Irk.Ru, 16.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109290824387708377

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ukrainian arms trade cult.
The presentation of the book "Kult: oruzheiniy bisnes po-ukrainski" ("Cult: Ukrainian arms business") took place today in Kiev. "This is the first domestic publication to tell about Ukrainian arms and their trade in the Ukraine," commented one of the authors of the book at the presentation, director of the center for research for army, conversion and disarmament, Valentin Badrak.
According to Badrak, little is said about the arms business in our country, so when working on the book, its authors applied themselves toward "making this theme more public."
Commenting on domestic arms business, Badrak noted that the Ukraine by volume of arms sales was in the top ten states that traded in arms and the yearly turnover for this sort of activity is 530-550 million dollars. In his opinion, next year the Ukraine could boost its income from the arms trade up to 700 million dollars.
Badrak also believes that, besides weapons trade, our country should gradually "convert to new forms and systems of sales," such as military technology. In expert opinion, noted Badrak, such a form of activity could bring the Ukraine an additional 100-150 million dollars a year at least, reports "Unian."
In his turn the manager of scientific programs of the Center for research for army, conversion and disarmament, Sergei Zgurets, said that in today's Ukraine its new development of new weapons and modernization of the old is formed on the basis of 1980s and '90s technology. In this the financing of new projects on the government's part does not exceed 37 million dollars a year. He believes there should be no less than 250 million dollars allotted in the current budget.
Speaking about the adoption of new technology in the field of developing new aspects of weapons technology, Zgurets said that "neither in the Ukraine nor in Russia does this exceed 1 percent a year," but at the same time the USA has reached 70 percent. If the situation does not change, says Zgurets, the Ukraine will not stay in the top ten arms dealing countries for more than five years. He emphasized that by that time all the orders for weapons in the Ukraine would be filled. "Therefore a decision should be made about the adoption of know-how into the VPK," said Zgurets.
As ForUm reported earlier, over the course of ten years (from 2004 to 2013) nearly 200 new tanks will be produced. For this same period more than 7,900 tanks will be produced in the world. The total market volume is $32 billion.
ForUm, 13.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109282168355276722

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Cult of Chubash Cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolaev.
On 5 September 2004 the legendary son of the Chubash nation, pilot-cosmonaut of the USSR, major-general of aviation, twice Hero of the Soviet Union and Distinguished citizen of the Chubash Republic, Andriyan Grigoryevich Nikolaev, would have been 75 years old. Today, August 13, in the Administrative Center of the Chubash Republic, under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Labor, Social and Demographic Politics Valeriya Andreev, the first session of the planning committee was held for the preparation and carrying out of this significant date.
Preparations for the 75th birthday of A. G. Nikolaev began in Chubash back when the hero was still alive. Plans to celebrate his birthday were discussed in his homeland and during the cosmonaut's last visit home during the All-Russian rural games. Andriyan Nikolaev wanted to invite his close friends from Moscow to his birthday celebration, and so he will undoubtedly get his wish, reported V. Andreev.
Despite the fact that it was quite recently, the 11th of August, which was 40 days after A.G. Nikolaev's death, the 75 year anniversary is being planned as a memorial arrangement. The main event will be a ceremonial evening in the K. Ivanova Chubash Academy of Dramatic Theater on September 3. The arrangements also include a republic athletic measure, an assembly and evening of remembrance in all the republic offices.
There is supposed to be an extensive anniversary cultural program
The Chubash state academy capella is appearing in a choral concert and vocal music "Tebe poem!" in Shorshely and vocal-symphonic music "Pamyati A.G. Nikolaeva posvyashchaem." There will be special exhibits on display in republic museums, including the Cosmonauts Museum. The national and modal libraries will also hold an Internet action called "Shorshely. Space. Shorshely," which includes a presentation of an Internet CD project about pilot-cosmonaut A.G. Nikolaev. All the educational institutions of Chubash will have corner displays devoted to the legendary cosmonaut/fellow countryman. There will be a "Man and space" children's drawing contest and research work, "Lessons in courage." Besides this, the posters and portraits of A.G. Nikolaev have already been printed up in Chubash. The cosmonaut's nephew, Nikolai Petrovich Nikolaev, announced that a festive salute in programmed under the open skies of Shorshely on the evening of September 5. He also commented that the cosmonaut's relatives plan to have a book of memoirs published on the anniversary of his death, consisting of anecdotes and letters which have not yet been seen in the official publications. Members of the planning committee have expressed a willingness to render the necessary help in the publishing preparations.
At the session the discussion included the necessity of passing a schedule of events to immortalize the memory of their legendary fellow countryman. Already though, at the end of the year at the site of the hero's grave, in Shorshely, construction of a chapel is expected to be completed. The first deputy chief for the administration of the city of Cheboksara, Kreta Valitskaya, commented that the name of Andriyan Nikolaev will be placed on a plaque, along with another 80 heroes of Chubash, in Hero's Alley, construction of which is beginning in the "Pobeda" memorial park.
A suggestion for a memorial plaque honoring the birthday and immortalizing the memory of A.G. Nikolaev in the names of streets, schools and institutions also was raised by a number of citizens and countrymen from different regions of Russia. For example, a school where Andriyan Grogorevich studied is planing on calling itself after its countryman. And in Novoe Churashevo of the Ibresinsky district, where the close relatives of the cosmonaut live, a new street, where young families and employers live, will be called Star Street in honor of A.G. Nikolaev.
Today the ideas discussed at the planning committee session included a suggestion about building a monument, establishing a medal, a foundation and souvenir products in the name of A. Nikolaev.
This was reported by the Ministry of Labor, Social and Demographic Politics of the Chubash Republic.
Regions.Ru, 13.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109273433089136387

Monday, August 16, 2004

Fanagoria expedition.
Fanagoria is the largest ancient monumental site in Russia. Its ruins are covered not only with earth, but with the water of the Taman Bay. It was under this water that archeologists recently made a find which possibly shed light on a secret that will not give scholars much rest: when and under which circumstances was the capital of the Asiatic Bosporus under water? And wouldn't this be the place to search for signs of the mysterious Atlantids?
When the pontoon brought ashore a one-and-a-half meter marble pedestal, it was met by the entire group of the Archeological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science. No sooner had the stone arrived when expedition leader professor Vladimir Kuznetsov stood on it, struck a Herculean pose and made a speech. The occasion of this was that a similar unique find does not happen often.
On the front of the pedestal was a bas-relief of a bull, on the top was a well-preserved ten-line inscription, "Great king Savromat, son of the king of Remetalk, great priest, friend of Caesar, friend of the Romans dedicated to honor..." Really, what was behind the statue on the pedestal and how King Savromat, who ruled the Bosporus in the 2nd century A.D., could have been a friend of Caesar, who died at the hands of conspirators in 44 B.C., is unknown. The ancient Greek text is in need of detailed deciphering.
"The science of archeology is silent," says Kuznetsov, "the results of the excavations can be interpreted in different ways, therefore it's important that historical facts that are still unknown be related to events in written history."
The excavations at Fanagoria have gotten down to six meters in depth. For 10 years of work the scholars have studied only 900 square meters of the monumental area. Taking into account that the territory of the city along is approximately 65 hectares, it looks like the case at hand will last for several generations of archeologists.
The scholars are in a hurry; the ancient Greek city is washing away into the sea. Almost a third of it has been under the waters of the Taman Bay for a long time. The underwater research is being done by a Voronezh company. The marine archeologists have found fragments of four ancient buildings, one of which dates back to the 6th century B.C. It is possible that all these buildings made up a single cult or social center of ancient Fanagoria.
Recently scholars have extracted from under water yet another valuable find: fragments of a sculpture and a large slab dedicated to Aphrodite. On the Russian Black Sea the cult of gods existed for several centuries.
"According to legend this lady, with the help of Hercules, made short work of the giants," relates marine archeologist Vitaliy Latartsev. "Aphrodite made eyes for the giants and invited them to come over one by one. But then Hercules was waiting behind the door with a club." Next everything happened according to the well-known "criminal script" of myth. One way or another, but with the help of feminine treachery and guile, Aphrodite saved this area from the giants.
The Taman historical-archeological museum is furnished from the shore of the ancient Fanagoria site. Here the scholars are continuing their research. Perhaps the "talking" stones will continue to shed light on many more secrets from the ancient past.
Rg.Ru, 14.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109264989051826155

Felix Nakov, historian and physicist from the Kabardino-Balkarskaya Republic (KBR) studies old Adyg bladed weaponry. Not only does study the theory, though, he also mastered the practical skills - he's learned to skillfully manage this sort of weapon. In his research, the scholar found a preference not so much for the external appearance of the weapons of the ancient Adygs who, by the way, were not noted for personal pretentiousness, as much as for the technology of its manufacture. As a result of his scientific work, new methods of studying bladed weapons of other nations were developed, including mathematical modeling, say specialists. Over the course of many centuries, the scholar himself emphasized, the forming of the Adyg ethos ran in parallel with the forming of certain types of weapon, which developed into a cult and represents a component part of the knightly culture of the Adygs. Felix Nakov with working with blacksmith specialists to recover the technology for the manufacture of old Adyg armament.
Regions.Ru, 13.8.04, Irina Antonova
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109264986608882841

Believers sue for return of cult buildings.
Today in Russia more than 140 petitions have been filed in court for the return of cult buildings to believers, not only those from the Orthodox congregations, but also from Muslims and Buddhists. This was reported by attorney Mikhail Voronin at a press conference in Moscow held on the situation around the Moscow Shrine of the Resurrection in Kadash.
As he said, according to the RF Constitution and the law "On freedom of conscience and religious associations" of 1997, as well as the Moscow government order of 7 December 2000, parish property nationalized in 1918 should be returned to the faithful.
"Organs of state power should respond to the issue presented and accept responsibility," said the lawyer.
As he said, 20,000 parishes, which are registered in the country, have submitted petitions to the RF government for the return of principal cult buildings, "but they have been met with practically nothing, besides cynicism. In the legally set two-month deadline, not one congregation has received a response. The real deadline of appeal is more like 5 to 10 years," said Voronin.
Last week parishioners occupied the building of the church of the Resurrection of the Lord in Kadash, in which an artistic scientific-restoration center had settled. They started holding services in the church.
RIA "Novosti", 10.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109264983054455073

Friday, August 13, 2004

Rembrandt picture in Hermitage.
On Tuesday, August 10, an exhibit will open in the New Hermitage museum from the "Masterpieces of world museums in the Hermitage" cycle, in which Rembrandt's "Blinding of Sampson" will be shown.
As RIA "Novosti" reported from the press office of the State Hermitage, this famous canvas, which is based on the biblical legend of Sampson and Delilah, was created by Rembrandt in 1636.
Those who have examined the creative work believe that the picture "Blinding of Sampson" is related to another piece by Rembrandt, "Danae," which is kept in the Hermitage.
Analysis of the pictures' canvas shows that its structure is probably identical - canvas for both pictures was probably cut from the same roll. The masterpieces are related not only in dimension, but also in design composition. They both depict scenes in alcoves, and the figures were presented in natural size.
Specialists have also stated a supposition that the picture was presented by Rembrandt as a gift to the secretary of Prince Fredrich Henrick, Constantijn Huygens, with whose assistance the artist received important orders.
For instance, in one of the letters the painter notified Huygens about the completion of two compositions and added that as a sign of thanks he wanted to give him a picture "10 feet long and 8 feet high." Although the story and name of the canvas is not indicated, it's believed that the discussion in the letter was about the "Blinding of Sampson." The picture of the "Blinding of Sampson," which is part of a collection of the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, in Frankfurt am Main is very seldom shown on museum walls. The first showing of this canvas in the Hermitage was a singular "response" to an exhibit in Germany of the picture
"Flora" from the Hermitage collection.
"Blinding of Sampson" can be viewed in one of the halls of the New Hermitage until the end of October.
Source: RIA "Novosti", 9.8.04, Anna Novak, St. Petersburg
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109238978315806381

Operating beyond the law.
Apparently the sect of Scientologists, which was banned in a basic court decision, has resumed its activity in Tolyatti. Flyers, which appeal to people to buy soft-cover booklets called "Communication" and "Dianetics," recently appeared in residential mailboxes. The author of the books is said to be Ron Hubbard, who founded the applied religious-philosophical teachings of Scientology in 1951. His works, it says in the flyer, became the sensation of the twentieth century, and have been published in more than fifty languages in a hundred countries of the world. According to the author's claims, Dianetics, as a science, applies universal practical methods which supposedly allow people to control all problems of health, family and to reach any conceivable goal. Besides that, the flyer's composers invited people into certain testing centers to determine to what extent their "intellect and ability" are related "to income, the future, and life interrelationships." "If you are not satisfied with yourself, you can find out why!" say the flyer's composers. Also, those who would like to get a book may do so as long as they write their first name, middle name, last name, address of residence and telephone number in the card attached to the flyer and send it to the post box indicated.
At first glance, it looks to people like they have in hand only an innocent advertisement that urges them to buy a book, of which there are quite a few in mailboxes. As to Ron Hubbard, world renowned personality, he is adored in the literal sense on both side of the Atlantic. Proud of their membership in Scientology are Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta (the latter even made his "teacher's" science-fiction book into a movie, "Battlefield Earth," which went over like a ton of bricks - auth.). In some American schools the subject of "Scientology" is even promoted. But this is only at first glance.
A little history.
As soon as they got the opportunity, Scientology, accompanied by representatives of other religious movements, communities and denominations, appeared up in our city. In Tolyatti they founded the "Dianetics" center and opened an office at 13 Frunze St. with 12 people. New people who wanted to familiarize themselves with the works of Hubbard and his followers and discover "great untapped opportunity" in themselves were offered free questionnaires, on the basis of which their individual "life activity" program was then put together. They subsequently attained the secrets of Dianetics for a fee, and not a small one at that.
Law enforcement structures, including the federal security police, are interested in sectarians. There are formidable reasons for this. Scientology's non-traditional religious teachings are called a destructive doctrine that bear an anti-scientific character. People at the highest levels see it as a haphazard mixture of separate Eastern cults, some scientific methodology and absurd ideas of the founder himself. The pivotal element of the doctrine's religious practice is "auditing," an invasion of the person's subconscious which is implemented with the aid of psychological technology, including Eriksonian (diffuse) hypnosis. Information received in the course of this is used without the knowledge of the subject, not infrequently to his own detriment. Several years ago in Samara one of this organization's novices had to go to the local psychiatric clinic. As a result of the effect of the destructive psychological methods used on him he was found to be seriously mentally ill. Fortunately such an incident has not been detected in Tolyatti.
What really matters: function as a group
In the opinion of guardians of the law, in Scientology no single individual knows anything. They think globally, recruiting new people into their ranks wholesale.
Nearly four years ago, law enforcement agents established that adherents of Hubbard had started to work to attract into their ranks representatives of the political and business elite in Tolyatti and Samara.
Scientology works according to the following scheme. They present to a number of companies their services in administrative technology for managing a firm that is able to pay a certain sum. According to the terms for introduction of such technology, practically all the management staff of the commercial organization have to go for training in the Scientology center in Moscow. There full submission of the personnel to the ideas of the religious association is attained. As a result the organization gradually becomes a financial donor for Scientology. According to some law enforcement agents, "brainwashing" was used on employees of a number of large Tolyatti firms so that rivers of money flowed into the (unnamed while under investigation - auth.) Hubbardist's pockets.
Out of Tolyatti!
Europe has been long aware of the damage inflicted upon society by sects. Scientology has officially been shown the door in Germany and France. Lately however, the Hubbardists are considered to be beyond the law. The call in Tolyatti to ban their extremely harmful and destructive activity was no different than all of Russia. On April 24, 2002, according to a decision by the Central district court the "Dianetics" center was liquidated as an "untrustworthy social organization that rendered a negative impact on the public psyche." On the basis of this decision, as well as the conclusions of religious studies experts the activity of any structure using Scientology doctrine on the territory of Tolyatti was seen as illegal. In June of that same year the federal law "On counteracting extremist activity" was passed, on the basis of which the Main office of the RF Justice Ministry liquidated a number of Scientology organizations in Samara province in whose operation the lawyers suspected there to be elements directed no more and no less at the "forcible change to the constitutional construct and infringement upon the integrity of Russia, undermining state security, creation of armed units, kindling social, racial, national and religious discord."
Nobody canceled the court's decision. Judging from everything, however, the law was not written for the omnipresent and stubborn Scientologists. Maintaining a pause, they renewed their activity, beginning with the distribution of the above-mentioned flyers. This is in spite of this being a violation of the ban for which the present criminal code provides for penalties under several articles.
It's interesting that anyone who is interested is invited to purchase the historical works of Hubbard in the office of an old acquaintance, the non-commercial partnership of the "Dianetics" Center, located at 1 Frunze Street.
Volga.Ru, 11.8.04, Sergei Davydov, IA "ARiA"
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109238974789509747

Bulgarian clergyman arrested for terrorist threat, reports "Focus".
A drunken male voice was heard July 22nd on "Mobiltel" telephone lines in Sofia saying that it was part of the "Al Qaida" network and that many people would die. After several hours, expert criminal investigators were shocked to learn that the voice belonged to a clergyman, Emil Lalov, who worked for a parish in the city of Zlatograd in southern Bulgaria, not far from the Bulgarian-Turkish border. He was finally arrested August 8 for theft of a mobile telephone. After interrogation, the district prosecutor required he be medically examined, and clergyman Emil Lalov was sent to the hospital.
Lalov is a former restorer of items of art, and a graduate of the art academy. He accepted the Orthodox faith when he worked in the Rilsk monastery. He is the only cleric in a large region that is populated mostly by ethnic Turks. The parish council repeatedly insisted in letters to Metropolitan Plovdivsky Arsenio that Father Lalov should be disciplined for drunkenness and disruptive behavior, however the bishop did not once respond.
If Father Emil Lalov should be convicted of terrorist acts, he faces two years in prison.
Portal-Credo.Ru, 10.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109238969842990735

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Gates of Judgment Day found in Derbent.
Archeologists have found an Islamic cult structure in the central part of Derbent. "The uniqueness of the object lies in the fact that it does not have an analogy in the Islamic world. The monument began to function almost a thousand years ago," said Murtuzale Gajiev, professor of Dagestan State University.
The cult structure, which Arabs call "Bab-il-Kiyam" ("Gates of Judgment Day) and is also regarded as the gates into the great beyond, was found by archeologists with preserved fragments of the ancient city stone walls, which go from the Naryn-Kala citadel to the shore of the Caspian Sea. The estate is thought to have been built in the 10th-11th centuries A.D., when Derbent was one of the centers of Sufi currents in Islam. The Sufis performed their ceremonial rituals here. They've corroborated this conclusion and found various cult articles in their excavations.
In the beginning of the 18th century, Dmitri Kantemir, who accompanied Peter the First in the Persian cruise through the Caspian (1722), described this cult monument in his diary with admiration, but archeologists have only now uncovered it, reported RIA "Novosti."
Derbent, which has a 5,000 year history, is one of the oldest cities on Earth. It is located in the south of Dagestan on the Great Silk road along the western part of the Caspian Sea. It has been on UNESCO's list of world cultural sites since 2003. The monument found by the archeologists is also under the aegis of UNESCO.
Primary source: RIA "Novosti"
Travel.Ru, 9.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109230483256267351

Indian artist Shri Chimnoy on display in Veliki Novgorod.
In the "Art Lyuks" art gallery in Veleki Novgorod the works of well-known Indian artist, thinker and musician Shri Chimnoy are on display, reported Veliki Novgorod portal.
As staff member of the Novgorod regional center for the development of education, Anna Stepanova, said, the display of the original work of Shri Chimnoy was part of a large-scale cultural action being held throughout all of Russia. According to Anna Stepanova, 150 of the original works of Shri Chimnoy were on display in the embassy buildings of India in Moscow, and also in the Museum of contemporary history of Russia. That is why the collection was separated into three parts, each of which is moving through Russia. Today one part of the collection is found in Volgograd, another in Vladimir and the third arrived in Veliki Novgorod. This part of the collection was earlier seen by residents of Smolensk, after August 15 the exhibit moves to Saint Petersburg and later through cities of northern Russia.
The social organization "Shri Chimnoy Center" has been operating in Veliki Novgorod for 12 years now. Its activists are constantly arranging various educational events that are directed toward the development of the human spirit. Early every Sunday morning one may encounter Shri Chimnoy's followers on a run around the Novgorod Kremlin. Twice a week Shri Chimnoy's followers assemble to study the books of this Indian sage and for communal meditation in the hall of the municipal establishment "Center of social aid for family and children."
Portal-Credo.Ru, 10.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109230479599715908

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Nepalese artifacts in religious history museum.
The reserves of the St. Petersburg museum of religious history have been replenished with unique cult items from Nepal. The museum has received nearly 70 items of Buddhist sculpture, implements and ritualistic weapons. They were purchased by a private individual, a Russian doctor who worked in Nepal for many years.
Specialists in the Eastern religion reserves say that the collection was very expertly assembled. The items were not shown before because they were the object of serious scientific research. First the entire collection was put in order and photographed. Then information about the new collection was put in archives and libraries.
Reserve custodians want to appeal to their Nepalese colleagues for aid. Among the exhibits are items signed by masters, but there are not that many specialists in the world who are able to read the ancient language. Most likely the majority of the objects are from the 18th century, but there will be surprises, historians assert. The addition of the collection to the museum has been long-expected.
Primary Source: Vesti-Peterburg
Lenisdat.Ru, 9.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109221733074547589

Novgorod Lutherans against Jehovahs Witnesses.
Leaders of the religious communities of Novgorod province and the residents of Veliki Novgorod continue to discuss the issue of the planned construction of the cult building of the Jehovahs Witnesses religious organization. Pastor Aleksandr Litvinov of Novgorod's St. Nikolai Evangelical-Lutheran church share his opinion on this topic with an IA Regnum correspondent:
Please tell me what is the position of the Novgorod Lutherans to the erection of a cult building for the Jehovahs Witnesses in the city, and what about this organization in general?
The activities of any religious organization can be view from two sides: from the spiritual viewpoint and from a position of secular state law. In Russia the legislature assures from of practice of religion, and from this viewpoint the Jehovas Witnesses have a full right to preach a erect a cult building. But it's also impossible to leave out the spiritual side of the question. Namely that from the spiritual viewpoint the organization and doctrine of the Jehovahs witnesses are destructive.
What exactly to you have in mind with this term?
To get of sense of their destructiveness it's enough to see how they depict Armageddon in their brochures: fire and brimstone rain down from the sky, buildings and churches collapse and crosses topple. This kind of representation about the future of Christianity is, to put it mildly, annoying. From their teachings in general, they can't truly call themselves Christian.
How do you assess the fact itself of the construction of a "Kingdom Hall" in the city?
Without a doubt the appearance of a "Hall" will be conducive to their activity. Having heard from the brothers in other regions comparing information, I can say that today in Novgorod province the Jehovahs Witnesses are conducting work far more passively than in the other regions of Russia. For traditional Christians, the mobilization of the Jehovahs Witnesses on Novgorod soil can serve as a reason to unite and do educational work. I think that all three of the historical branches of Christianity who have the Trinity and Jesus Christ in their faith - Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant - are today ready to work together against the Jehovahs Witnesses. I want to emphasize this is a spiritual, not political, enemy. With us in the Lutheran community I have repeatedly explained in lectures about who the Jehovahs Witnesses are and how Christianity regards their teachings. I plan to continue doing this.
IA Regnum, 6.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109221720909637593

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

All-Russian yacht regatta.
The 2004 Lower Volga Cup regatta for cruising yachts will start in Saratov August 7. It is customary for the regatta's 400-kilometer itinerary through Saratov, Akhmat, Kamyshin and Volzhskiy to be called a cult competition. This is one of the biggest sailing regattas in southern Russia, with teams from various cities of Russia and 7 different classes of yacht participating. This year nearly 50 yachts are expected to take part. The organizers of the open regatta are appearing on the "Saratova Federation of Cruising Yachts" and the "Maksimum" radio station in preparation for the holiday program. The general sponsor of the Open Regatta is the market leader for cell phones in Saratovsky province, the "Bi Lain GSM" company. Sponsorial support is also being rendered by the "ChDK-Saratov" company, leading provider of beer cooling and dispensing equipment, and the "Overta" telecommunications company, the leading service connection in Saratov. The ceremony to officially open the sailing regatta takes place August 7 in Saratov, and at 11 a.m. the first race starts, which Saratovans can watch from Naberezhny Kosmonaut. The celebration program and victory award for the first race will take place in the "Edelweiss" yacht club in the evening. Participants and guests of the regatta are expecting competition with prizes and gifts from the sponsors, a lottery, a presentation of Rusich beer, and concerts from Saratov groups and discotheques.
Regnum.Ru, 6.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109214467351073242

Monday, August 09, 2004

Long-distance wedding.
At the end of last week the 84-year-old former president of Uganda, Godfrey Binaisa, married for the second time, but did not remember the name of his new bride. He never met his fiancee, as she was not at the wedding.
Last year the 84-year-old Binaisa, who was overthrown from his position as head of the African nation a quarter century ago, buried his first wife. His second life companion was chosen for him by the leaders of the Unification Church, also known as the Mun sect. Husband and wife for adepts of this doctrine are selected by computer -- the future spouses have to be from different countries and more often than not see each other for the first time at the wedding.
Binaisa and 58-year-old Japanese woman Tomoko Yamamoto, who now lives in the United States, wed by long-distance, with the aid of a satellite link. The funniest thing happened - for several days after the ceremony, Binaisa, in responding to journalists' questions, remembered only the family name of his newly found life companion, although, as he said, they frequently spoke by telephone. During all this he said he was very fond of his wife and asserted that the feeling was entirely mutual. The spouses plan on living together in Uganda.
Thousands of adherents of the "Luminous moon of the dragon' (said to be the translation from Korean of the name of the sect founder Sun Myung Moon) were said to be at the wedding ceremony. This is a special day for them, as the goal of the sectarians is to settle the Earth with families of Moonists who are free from sin. Speaking of that, getting married by their rules is permitted only after three years of sexual abstinence and hard fundraising work for the organization.
The father-founder first "purifies" parishioners of suspicious elements which might show up in intimate relations. He's been convicted three times: for failure to pay taxes, bigamy and decadence. But in recent years Moon has apparently changed his rites.
The methods with whose aid the sect garners influence deserve special mention. In as much as money drives the world, Moon preaches the theory that the Messiah needs to be richer than everyone else, with which he has had success. His personal wealth is 15 million dollars and his church may spend up to one billion dollars a year on political and religious projects. During recruitment of new converts, primary attention is given to prosperous people and representatives of government.
Once even a Catholic clergyman fell under the influence of the Moonists, although the Vatican feuds with sects and does not weary of shredding their dogma. For instance, an archbishop of Zambia also found himself in sect ranks and married a Korean woman according to their rites. However, when the leading minister of God threatened to excommunicate him from the Catholic Church, he got rid of his newly acquired wife and repented.
Utro.Ru, 5.8.04, Anastasia Ivanova
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109207708301420417

Friday, August 06, 2004

Econo-class movies.
Service in Tolyattinsky movie theaters leaves something to be desired.
In big cities movie theaters have long been transformed into entertainment complexes, where one may pick out various methods of spending time and money. Movie halls, restaurants, a few bars, night clubs, a casino, arcades, bowling and pool are typical fare for the theater complexes of Samar and Moscow. Tolyattinsky establishments, however, have always seemed modest with the others in the background. So, anyone who wants to use their expendable income to the best advantage goes to Samar or the capital.
In Tolyatti there are several establishments that can could be considered cult by their guests: the "Saturn," "Pyramid" and "Burevestnik." They are profiting from an increase in popularity among young merrymakers by virtue of easy accessibility and a lack of real alternatives. Perhaps that is why their equipment, with different elements of the relaxation and entertainment industry, is so modest. Those who want to relax as much as possible would be better off going to Samar or Moscow, where the theater complexes are literally packed with bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, billiard halls and other entertainment establishments.
"Saturn," the biggest movie theater in Tolyatti, is considered the city's premiere movie theater. It has one of the biggest screens in the country (20 x 10 sq. m.) with Dolby Digital sound, and capacity for 756 people. Like all good theaters it has air conditioning and more, with one exception: it's uncomfortable to sit in the seats. In planning the layout, they economized on space. Although there is a little more room in the center of the auditorium, the circumstance hasn't changed; when looking at the movie you do your best not to slide down in the seat. An even greater disappointment awaits visitors near the movie theater: there is a small and dull selection of amusement, a modest movie cafe; on the first floor there are several arcade machines, and on the street there is one more cafe. The interior of the movie cafe on the second floor is touching in its simplicity: tables, chairs and a coat stand. Orders are placed at the bar, with choices typical of a "fast food" place. While waiting to see the movie, there are arcade machines in the hall for amusement. On the left side of the building is free parking. Concerning price of movie tickets, during the day you pay from 40 to 100 rubles, but at night from 100 to 200 rubles. Basically the "Saturn" shows the main blockbusters of the season. The most unpleasant thing for the "P.S." correspondent was not only was there a line to buy a ticket, there was also a line for the women's restroom. In winter a trip to the movie theater is turned into torment, because there is no coatroom and people have to carry their things with them. One can only hope that the "Saturn" will be privatized and sold to the "Enon" company; they would make the situation normal.
The "Pyramid" is the city's most trendy movie theater, with up-to-date movie projection and sound equipment: it has a six-channel Dolby Digital Surround sound system. The "Pyramid" has 260 seats, seven of which are "love seats," with 27 VIP chairs. Sitting was comfortable, but even though there were vacant seats in the VIP area, it was still impossible to sit there - they were monitored by electronic sensors. Now and then during the show the walls shook - the discotheque next door had opened for business. For entertainment here there were arcade games, billiards, a casino, a movie bar and a bar of the restaurant variety, where they serve both hot and cold food. During the day the price of a ticket is 30 rubles, but they start at 80 in the evening. The "Pyramid" used to show what the "Saturn" did, but now all the blockbusters are shown between the two main movie theaters.
The "Burevestnik" is the city's central movie theater. It has 236 seats, air conditioning, and when you walk around the ushers follow you with a little flashlight. They don't leave the auditorium but keep thing in order. The Burevestnik" is visited mainly by guests to the Central region. On the second floor is the Cinema cafe. The location is pleasant and stylish. Just as you sit down the waitress comes up to inquire whether you would like to place an order. The selection of food is not that great, but you can't say it is skimpy, either. Tickets are 30 rubles during the day, and up to 100 rubles evenings. The repertoire is just good movies. The obvious minus is the lack of normal parking - cars are parked close to the entrance, so that visitors have to squeeze between them to get into the building.
Volga.Ru, 3.8.04, "Postscript," Yekaterina Namestnikova
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109178807197350782

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Novgorod Baptists regard Jehovah’s Witnesses as heretics.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are planning to build a "Kingdom Hall" in Novgorod proper. On this occasion, an IA Regnum correspondent asked a representative of one of the widespread denominations of Novgorod province, assistant to the bishop of the Evangelical and Baptist churches of Novgorod province, Lev Vyacheslavovich Shults, to share his opinion with us.
- Lev Vyacheslavovich, what is the relationship of Baptists to the religious teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Our church views the Witnesses as a sect, and the teachings they propagate we consider to be heresy. I also notice, from our point of view they could never be called a Christian sect since they deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. I emphasize that we are not against those people who go to the meetings of the Witnesses. At the same time we consider that they, as followers of Russel (founder of the "Jehovah’s Witnesses" religious organization, IA Regnum), propagate teachings that lead to damnation.
- But what can you say on the occasion of the immediate construction plans?
Naturally we are against the appearance of a religious Witness building in Novgorod. I think we have solidarity with representatives of all the Christian branches here. I personally, as a Christian, am against the construction.
- What disturbs you personally about the religious practices or teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?
In principle, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not bad people. They can meet with you amiably, drink tea, pass out pastry, and even offer you free lessons in the English language... But as a Christian I can not reconcile myself to the distortion of texts in Holy Scripture permitted by the Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not recognize the Holy Trinity and deny the divine nature of Christ. After all, it is on this that the canons of all three branches of Christianity are based: Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism. Outside of that, concerning daily practices, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have come forward against, for example, the use of donated blood. I know from the media of cases where Witnesses have forcefully taken family members from the hospital to "save" them from a blood transfusion. As a result the one they "saved" dies. I read this has happened more than once in the USA, Estonia, Bulgaria and other countries.
- Do the Evangelical and Baptist churches of Novgorod province plan to undertake any sort of special measure to counteract the appearance of a cult structure for the Witnesses in Novgorod?
We continue to preach an undistorted Gospel. We are using the synodal text. That is the same text of the Gospel in the Russian language read by Orthodox and Catholics, too. We expect to have former Witnesses in our church, too, who meet with our preachers, renounce their mistake and become Christians.
IA Regnum, 2.8.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109169779327778093

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

From Volgograd to Stalingrad.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made arrangements to rename Volgograd to Stalingrad. Actually, not the city itself, but only its name at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with soil from the Mamaeva burial mound in Alexander park by the Kremlin wall. This is a gift from the president to veterans in preparation to celebrate the victory in the Great Patriotic War 60 years ago. However, the head of state gave GAZETE to understand that the return of the name "Stalingrad" to Volgograd will not be discussed in the near future.
Veterans who arrive to celebrate the 60-year Victory in Alexander Park will be pleasantly surprised. At the parapet by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where soil from the Mamaeva burial mound is walled up, the customary inscription "Volgograd," by order of the President, will be changed to "Stalingrad." It is remembered that the memorial, where a capsule was buried with soil from the site of the city's heroes, was opened in 1967. Over 6 years before that, in 1961, the name of Stalin disappeared from the Mausoleum (at the same time as the body of the generalissimo was moved and buried by Kremlin wall), and the city of Stalingrad was renamed to Volgograd.
The necessity of the present renaming by President Putin was based on the "significance of the Stalingrad battle, which marked the fundamental turning point of the war," and on the need "to give tribute of respect to the heroism of the defenders of Stalingrad." The Moscow government has three months to fulfill the presidential order.
"The idea of renaming belongs to a member of the 'Victory' planning committee who is a war veteran," it was explained to GAZETE by the president's administration. As a reminder, the planning committee is involved in preparations to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the end of the GPW. In a desire to make things pleasant for veterans, President Putin does not intend to go further. GAZETE was told there is no discussion about renaming Volgograd to Stalingrad.
It is apparent that the Kremlin believes the nostalgia of "Soviet" Russian citizens would be satiated by replacing Glinka's "Prazdnichnoi pesni" with a hymn by Alexandrov-Mikhalkov (in December 2000, the State Duma passed a law about hymn that had been introduced by the president), and by the return in 2003 of the star on the banner of the Russian Armed Forces.
Really, along with the star on a red cloth a two-headed eagle will be depicted.
The inverse renaming of Volgograd to Stalingrad is an old idea of a State Duma deputy, member of the "Homeland" party, Valentin Varennikov. The general spoke of the need to restore the "original name" to the city on the Volga on the eve of the 55th anniversary of the Victory in 2000 and during the celebration of the 60 year anniversary of the victory by Stalingrad in February 2003. The idea of restoring "historical fairness" did not have the support of President Putin in December 2002 when he said that restoring the name of "Stalingrad" to the city "today would give rise to the suspicion that we are returning to the era of Stalinism and this would be of advantage to any of us."
Quite recently, on July 2, during a session of the State council dedicated to preparations for the celebration of the 60 year anniversary of the Victory, Valentin Varennikov attempted to revive the discussion. "On the eve of the anniversary of the victory Stalingrad should have its historical name restore," he said. Nobody argued with the general at the time.
In Volgograd the news about the name change on the stone at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier did not raise a stir. City mayor Evgeniy Ishchenko was out of the area. And the governor of Volgograd province, Nikolai Maksyuta repeated what he had said earlier, "An all-city referendum needs to be conducted for the name of the city to be changed." But Maksyuta approved of the change of name in the memorial at Alexander Park.
While Varennikov is fighting to rename Volgograd, in Saint Petersburg the authorities resolved this issue "by secret procedure."
On July 17 a GAZETA correspondent drove by car into Petersburg on the Tsarskocelsky highway (in a southerly direction from the Pulkovsky hill area), he saw a new sign at the city limits. On the top of the sign, as before "Saint Petersburg" was written in black letters, but on the bottom, clearly marked in red paint "Hero City Leningrad." The word "Leningrad" used to be only on monument and memorial signs at Vosstanie Square, Victory Square, Piskarevsky and Smolensky cemeteries, and also on Nevsky Boulevard on the inscription that has survived since the time of the blockade, "Citizens! During shelling this side of the street is dangerous."
Tsaritsyn - Stalingrad - Volgograd
The citadel built at Tsaritsyn in 1589 played a key role in the defense system of the Lower and Middle Volga regions.
The garrison of the royal citadel consisted of musketeers, Slyzhivy Cossacks and "willing people," - hirelings. They protected mercantile caravans and repelled raids by Turks, Crimeans, and "thieves' Cossacks." For water operations a fleet of "eagles" was based near the citadel that had royal boats with musketeers and cannon on board. In the 17th century the citadel was stormed by the forces of Stepan Razin and Kondratiy Bulavin. Tsaritsyn finally acquired the status of "key city," the main one in the Volga region, under the first czar, who was staying in the citadel, Peter the Great. The emperor ordered a fortified structure that was unique at the time, a sentry line of defense that extended 60 km between the Volga and the Donau, and also established the Volga Cossack forces. In 1774 an unsuccessful attempt to take the city was made by Emelyan Pugachev. In the 19th century Tsaritsyn turned into one of the main transportation hubs of Russia when the Volga-Donau railroad was built, the third on Russian soil.
By virtue of its strategic location, serving as a connecting link with the Caucasus, the city had great importance in the matter of providing central Russia with food and fuel, therefore during the civil war Tsaritsyn was an arena of fierce battling between the reds and the whites. Commanding the 10th army, defending Tsaritsyn, was Voroshilov, and commissar and plenary representative of the RSFSR peoples war committee attached to it, under Trotsky, was Stalin. After Lenin's death, Stalin, staff general secretary of the CC ACP(b), urgently began to create the idea that the defense of Tsaritsyn from Denikin's and Vrangeli's armies were the main battle of the civil war, notwithstanding an obvious fact: the Caucasian army of Vrangeli took the city all the same and held it from June 1919 to January 1920. In April 1925, the USSR CEC decided to rename the city to Stalingrad. In 1928 construction of the first ever tractor factory in the USSR began. In the course of the defeat of Stalingrad the city was practically wiped off the face of the earth. At the end of May, 1945, reconstructive work began in which a hundred thousand German war prisoners took part. In 1956, after the historical 20th CPSU Congress, the process began in the USSR of "surmounting the consequences of the cult of personality." On November 1, 1961, Stalin's body was taken from the Mausoleum and buried by the Kremlin wall, and on November 10, by order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, Stalingrad obtained not its historical "Tsaritsyn," but a perfectly neutral name - Volgograd. In 1965, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Victory, Volgograd, as the site of the great Stalingrad battle was granted the title of "Hero City."
GAZETE, 25.7.04, Pavel Aptekar, Olga Redichkina, Nadezhda Magnitskaya, Volgograd, Veniamin Ginodman
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109161307414820172

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Mkalavishvili adherents protest.
Tbilisi. Adherents of a priest excommunicated from the Georgian Orthodox Church, Vasiliy Mkalavishvili, who is known for his intolerant attitude toward religious currents that are not traditional to Georgia, organized a protest operation in front of the Georgian state chancellor's building, and demanded he be freed from being under guard.
Participants in the operation said that the "prosecutor ended the investigation in the Mkalavishvili case long ago." Those at the rally also claimed that "Mkalavishvili himself was not present in 2002 at the burning of the literature of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tbilisi, in connection with which he is accused of deliberately destroying the property of others." In their words, "the priest's congregation burnt 200 kilograms of contraband brochures."
At the present time a number of adherents of the first president of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurd have also supported the operation.
In March of the current year, former priest Vasiliy Mkalavishvili, who is known for his intolerant attitude toward religious currents that are not traditional for Georgia, was apprehended along with eight close associates. He was charged under the third article of the criminal code, for "illegal interference with the practice of a religious ritual or other religious rite or custom, committed by means of force or threat, either in combination with insulting religious feelings of believers or those listening to the minister," for "damage or destruction of property, committed by means of arson," and also for "organization or leadership, by mass disorder and associated violence, of pogrom, arson, use of weapons or explosive devises or rendering armed resistance to representatives of authority."
The general prosecutor of Georgia at the time told journalists that Mkalavishvili's term of punishment, taking into consideration the gravity of all the crimes he committed, would be at least seven years in prison. During this he emphasized that Mkalavishvili was an ordinary citizen and not officially a clergyman, as he had been excommunicated from the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Law enforcement agencies in Georgia were looking for Vasiliy Mkalavishvili as far back as the middle of 2003, after a failure to implement the 4 June 2003 decision of the Vake-Saburtalinsky district court, city of Tbilisi, on his three-month preliminary confinement for deliberate destruction of the property of others.
In hiding since that time, Mkalavishvili appeared 11 March 2004 in Tbilisi at the office of the public defender of Georgia, which he was trying to get into for a press conference. As a result, the former clergyman appeared before the journalists gathered at the office, and promised start to fight for the Orthodox faith and start a new leadership in Georgia for it.
Mkalavishvili was apprehended 12 March during a special operation by special forces and security forces of Georgia in a church in Tbilisi. The church was taken by storm, with nearly a hundred security personnel taking part in the special operation.
RIA "Novosti", 26.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109153079704065909

Monday, August 02, 2004

Are Computers killing art?.
Two of the biggest movie hits this year, "Harry Potter and prisoner of Askaban" and "Spiderman-2" were 80% made on computers. Not lagging far behind are the cinematographers and musicians, especially the pop and rock performers -- their vocals are sometimes enhanced to the point of unrecognizability by "smart machines." The long arm of the computer is reaching deeper into pictures and music every day. Isn't it turning out that art is depreciating over time, losing its artistic value and gradually changing into a "beautifully packaged glob for the brain"?
Soulless stars
If in the sensational "Titanic" or the latest sequel to "Star Wars" the number of virtual actors hovers in the area of a hundred, then in the third part of "Lord of the Rings" their "population" is closer to 200,000. In the VCP laboratory - "Virtual Celebrity Productions" - in Los Angeles they've already created a 3D digital clone of actress Marlene Dietrich, legend of the 20th century. The legend's grandchild gladly signed a contract by which the deceased woman, resurrected in computerized hypostasis, will work as a movie star for another 300 years.
Producer Egor Konchalovskiy is willing to believe the ideal actor can be created, but does not comprehend why it should be done. "Moderate use of the computer still hasn't hurt anyone. But I don't think that virtual composing of modern movies will kill cinematography as an art. I am certain that even the most perfect copy of, for instance, the renowned actor Mikhail Ulyanov, will not be able to deliver to the audience half of what the gifted, excuse me, original does. Not long ago I participated in the making of an animation movie similar to "Shrek," which was created entirely on computer. Having the opportunity to draw anything and everything, the producers nonetheless hired me to engage live actors in order to have their rhythm and expression for the virtual heroes."
Singing "Electronics"
In the contemporary studio, anyone who wants to can record a disk, with the right amount of money. Computers can make voices more pleasant, too, and correct false notes. Ordinarily digital correction and finishing touches on sound recordings are not audible, but some of Vitas' creations ("Tatu," "Reflex," and others), for instance, have the singer's and computer's endeavors audible to the human ear. The songs of Glyuk'Oza are a separate matter entirely. It is perfectly obvious that her voice has been seriously reworked and disintegrated by high technology programs. By the way, recently the listeners of Nizhny Novgorod could "enjoy" the real voice of the singer -- pleasantly low and husky and not at all lacking rhythm or tonality. The concert in which Glyuk'Oza appeared was broadcast live, and by mistake the sound producer let her real voice come through.
"Until the appearance of computers in the studio, the musicians longed to work, perfecting their vocal quality and giving everything they had, but now many of them are disgracefully lazy," says well-known sound producer Vladimir Ovchinikov. "Technical progress spoiled artists so much that they often do not try to do anything with their volume. The funny thing is that this contagion has leapt over to the classical musicians. When the director of the academy orchestra told me that they would not work without a computer, because once they tried it, they wouldn't go back to the old way -- this, I think, is already excessive. I agree, if the singer or musician performed the work from the heart but made one mistake, then it's better to repair it with the aid of technology than to re-record the whole thing. But ... if musicians are from a computer cult, then sooner or later their performance degrades - there are more than enough examples of that."
Stars of the opera stage do not shrink from electronics, either. "Professional equipment improves the quality of the voice to a great degree. Even the classics singers like Muslim Magomaev know this and use this knowledge," conservatory professor Yuri Grigorev believes. "We admit that Magomaev's voice does not sound as interesting in the auditorium as it does on radio or in the studio. But as far as computers go, they are only continuing a new level of a long-term tendency."
All the same, notwithstanding the, it would seem, unlimited possibilities of technology, stretching out, for example, the voiceless (but omnipresent) Jasmine to the 4 octaves of Larisa Dolina is impossible for the time being. No sort of processor and no ear endures such "pornography."
Paintings, Recharging.
It's entirely possible that Vasnetsov would not have started to drudge nearly 20 years over his masterpiece "Three Bogatyrs" if he would have had a computer and printer. A great number of contemporary artists prefer to create with the aid of light pens, liquid crystal drawing boards and an all-powerful graphics program. Brush, easel, pencil and other traditional instruments of drawing are the lot of art school students. But what value is a picture that has been created on a computer if it can make any number of copies. "A similar problem arises when a photographer recognized a completely proper form of art," says well-known picture gallery owner Marat Gelman. "The way out is simple. The author prints 1-5 copies of the photograph, then destroys the negative. The same thing can be done with computer drawings. The artist, as before, exists for the artistic market, and so is compelled to artificially limit the publication of his work. As concerns the computer, it's an instrument of the programmer as well as of the users, for whom it does not have any significance for art. This is mainly intentional and not a craft. The artist is a thinker, an author of ideas, and not the one who incarnates them.
Sergei Grachev
Argumenti i Fakti, 27.7.04
archive url: http://cultology.blogspot.com/2004/08/#109144104092648905

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