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Friday, December 31, 2004
Hockey is our national cult.
It's planned for 2005 to build four ice rinks in Tatarstan. Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov announced this Sunday at the opening ceremonies of the ice art and sports complex in the republic's Sabinsk district.
The 300-seat athletic complex was built in less than a year in the community of Leskhoz. It was intended to provide a place for ice hockey and figure skating for young people from the northern district of Tatarstan.
"Next year a 10,000-seat ice rink will become available in Kazan. Ice rinks will also be built in the towns of Neberezhny Chelny, Elabuga and Mamadysh," Minnikhanov told RIA "Novosti."
"Hockey is our national cult," he pointed out.
The premier of Tatarstan emphasized that the republic's interests were not limited to hockey. The following year a golf course would appear in Kazan and the city's central stadium would be renovated. We bought artificial turf for four of the republic's city stadiums, for Kazan, Almetevsk, Nizhiekamsk and Naberezhny Chelny, Minnikhanov reported.
As he said, these projects would receive financial support not only from their budget, but also from commercial companies in the republic.
According to information from the Ministry for Youth & Athletic Affairs, there are 7,685 athletic structures in Tatarstan, of which a thousand were built in the past four years. At the present, construction is underway at 75 stadiums.
Foreign sects expend vast amounts of money to get a foothold in Russia, said Fyodor Kondratyev, director of the expert department in the State Serbsky Center for Social and Forensic Medicine.
"There are documents that demonstrate what vast amounts of money are being expended to insert various foreign sects into Russia. The monies are also distributed to promote homegrown sects that undermine the spiritual foundation of Russian society: Orthodoxy," Kondratyev stated on Thursday at a Moscow press conference that was devoted to the rehabilitation of the victims of non-traditional religions.
In his opinion, one of the main reasons for sects expanding their realm is of a geo-political nature. "It is quite apparent that the intrusion of sects is part of the geo-politics of our so-called friends,"
According to his statements there are more than a thousand sects in Russia. Some of them pose a special risk. Those use harsh psychological methods that could lead to psychic damage.
"A personality is processed with crude methods to produce certain psychic harm, so that the person comes into total dependency upon the sect and feels completely helpless outside the sect," Kondratyev reported.
The director of the Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of non-traditional Religions, a clergyman of the John the Baptist Church, Oleg Stenyayev, said he has found that the West supports more than just the
traditional religious movements that originated in America and which belong to the Council of Church, such as the Baptists. "Yet the West does not support the Jehovahs Witnesses and the disciples of Hara Krishna," Stenyayev underscored.
According to him, eastern syncretic cults have the greatest impact on personality. Stenyayev believes that state, religion and science must combine their efforts in the rehabilitation of victims of non-traditional religions, of occultism, magic and mass hypnosis.
He stressed that the rehabilitation of sectarians should not be carried out only on the religious and religious-social levels, but also on the medical and the legal. Besides that it was necessary to publish everything having to do with sects in the country.
"For the time being one can see a decline of interest in sects. Therefore the prevention of sects is already a moot point. Now the victims of sects have to have rehabilitation," said Stenyayev. According to him that presently included not only Christians, but
also Muslims and Jews.
The founder of the psycho-criminal department to combat organized and violent crime at the All-Russian Research institute of the Interior Ministry, Alexei Skrypnykov, emphasized the "harmful methods of
totalitarian sects that alter the psyche." He underscored the necessity of consolidating various social forces with the goal of the rehabilitation of the victims of non-traditional religions (RIA).
Total danger from sects gone.
The danger of the "total sectification" of Russian is past, believes the deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchy's department for external church relations archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. That's what he replied to journalists' questions in Moscow on Tuesday.
The "danger of the 'total sectification' of Russian that appeared in the late '80s is now past. Lately sect influence has become considerably less. Sectarians are no longer hounding people at every metro station, and there's practically nothing about these organizations in the mainstream media," said Chaplin.
As he stated, the main reason for the improvement in the situation is that "people understand that where there is a sincere wish to help and inform, there are also sordid attempts at influence."
"Nonetheless, the danger of sectarianism remains in Russia at the same level it exists in the majority of countries in Europe today," noted the Moscow Patriarchy chairman.
As he stated, in society there will always be a certain number of people who are prone to suggestion, who are inclined to convert from one confession to another. "But the main thing is that there is a large enough amount of power and means invested in sect activity on Russian land, basically from abroad," said Chaplin.
Former "Leningrad" singer produces new Zemfir album.
Zemfir's fourth album will be released the second half of February of the coming year. The CD has been prepared, and it has become known that the date of its release depends on marketing interests (the album wasn't finished by New Year's, and it doesn't make sense to put it on the market halfway through the holiday season.)
The name of the album and its releaser are being kept secret for the time being, according to the artists' manager, while negotiations are in process, reported Top Show Production. Only the producer's name is known. He, as has been stated repeatedly, is the author of last year's favorite CD, Igor Vdovin.
Working with Zemfir seems quite normal after the release of the soundtrack for the movie, "Boginiya: kak ya polyubila" by Renata Litvinova for Igor Vdovin (for those not in the know, he is the lead singer for the cult group "Leningrad, and it is his voice that is heard on the "Publya" album).
Dog learns how to give Fascist salute.
A resident of Germany had to appear in court on charges of having taught his dog to raise his paw on the command "Heil Hitler."
The mongrel sheepdog's name is Adolf, and it was with pride that his 54-year-old owner, Ronald T. from Berlin, had the dog give the salute for the police. This came about as a result of a call to officers to pacify Ronald, who was disturbing the public order, using bad language and shouting at pedestrians.
Ronald was charged with using the symbols of an anti-Constitutional organization. If he acknowledged guilt, he would be faced with up to three years imprisonment.
As concerns Adolf, it's most likely that he will be given to an animal shelter. In the opinion of the local animal protection organization, Karola Ruff, it's impossible to judge the dog based on what he had been taught. "This is awful, when a dog turns into the victim of it's owner's sick mind," she said
from material at Ananova.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Ryazan. "Night of the Living Advertisement".
On Monday, 20 December, in the Ryazan "Ivan Vasilevich" restaurant, organizers held a press conference for the "Night of the Living Advertisement," which is being held in the S. Yesenina Concert hall the nights of 25-26 December. The director of the project in Russia, Daniil Kostinskiy, and producer of the project in Ryazan, Tatyana Pavlova, spoke at length about the upcoming event.
During the event, the audience will be presented with advertising clips from the French collection of Jean-Marie Boursicot. An average of nearly 25,000 new clips are put into this vast collection each year. Project staff have arranged no less than 80 showings all over the world this year. According to D. Kostinskiy, the same program that was put on in 150 other cities of the world will be presented in Ryazan. This year's theme is "Movies and Advertisement." So one of the symbols of the event was cult hero James Bond, whose movies usually show plenty of different brands. Three one-and-a-half hour showings start at midnight, and each clip lasts from 30 seconds to five minutes. Events staged in tandem with the showing depend on local organizers, and they, as D. Kostinskiy stated, are often a surprise, even for him. Ryazanites can expect to enjoy a bar show, at which world flairing champion Seyran Gevorkyan will perform, and there will be a free photo session from "Hennesy" at which participants will receive not only a magnificent photograph, but will be able to take part in a drawing for valuable prizes. A laser show is planned, live jazz will be performed by the "La Fille" group, a dance program, and there will be many presentations at the "Hennesy" bar, with big-name sponsors, reports "7 Novostei" information agency.
The whole arrangement, according to D. Kostinskiy, is to "get the audience acquainted with aesthetic advertising, much of which has not been seen anywhere before, and to improve the creative level of advertising in Russia. After all, during the viewings the best aspects of world shows, personally collected by Jean-Marie Boursicot, will be presented."
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
China took an important step on the path of guaranteeing religious freedom,
reported Interfax. As the "Xinhua" news agency reported on Tuesday, the "Position on religious affairs" was published in the country. It is the first comprehensive integrated law on legal relations in the sphere of religion.
This document, consisting of 48 articles, will have the force of law and will go into effect 1 March 2005. The "positions" are broken down into seven chapters: "General positions," "Religious organizations," "Location of religious activity," "Cult services," "Church property," "Legal responsibilities" and "Addendum."
At the time it goes into effect, the 1994 "Position" on control of sites for religious activity is rescinded.
According to this document, believers and non-believers have equal protection under law, but the government is held responsible for violations of religious rights.
Meanwhile the "Positions" emphasize mutual respect of religions, their coexistence in concord, impermissibility of coerced faith, as well as the impermissibility of mutual discrimination.
, 21.12.04, Peking.
Saddam warns world of American plot.
Having visited his client on Thursday, Saddam Hussein's lawyer talked about what the former dictator said. Saddam appealed to his fellow countrymen and all the Arab people of the world to oppose American occupation, reported attorney Halil al Duleimi.
"He explained that the USA intends to bring disunity to the Iraqi people by dividing it into sects and religious groups and weakening Iraqis in other ways, too," added Lebanese attorney Bushra Halil. "He said that the Kurds, Arabs, Shiites, Sunnis and Christians who live in Iraq should resist the American plot."
When Saddam heard the roar of the jets above the base on which he is being held, he said, "They are probably flying to Falluja. I live with their pain."
As a reminder, Saddam was detained a year ago, on 13 December 2003, however the location of his detainment, the Camp Cropper military base, has only been recently known.
Hussein and 11 of his associates are charged with numerous crimes against their people.
Russia's leading Rabbi Berl Lazar proposed banning religious sect activity.
"There should be a clear definition of what is considered a sect and what is a "traditional" religion -- separate the wheat from the chaff, then simply ban sect operation so that they cannot conduct missionary work in Russia," Berl Lazar stated today in an interview with the Interfax agency.
He expressed perplexity with the accusations that he was limiting religious freedoms based on his not encouraging activity of religious organizations new to Russia.
"I don't understand how one can stand with the sectarians and talk about freedom of religion. The concept of "freedom of religion" is appropriate when the topic is religion or practice of a belief that is of benefit to people. Unfortunately, there are many organizations today that call themselves religious, but only do harm," commented the leading Rabbi.
"Unhappily," he complained, rights advocates sometimes forget that there are values necessary for our society, and if one of them is forsaken, possibly the others will be."
Serbsky Institute Director criticizes Scientologists' operations in Russia.
The head of the largest psychiatric center in Russia expressed displeasure with the influence the Scientologists' church has had upon the mental health of the country's residents.
"Now we are having a special problem with the Scientologists who are interfering in all spheres of life," emphasized director Tatyana Dmitrieva of the V.P. Serbsky Science Center of social and forensic psychiatry today at a meeting with Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexei II.
Specifically, as she said, the Scientologists carried out recruitment attempts among the victims of the Beslan terrorist act, but "city residents offered great resistance to the sect."
T. Dmitrieva said that the sect, whose victims with which a Center specialist continued to work, not infrequently bordered on the criminal. "Sometimes the courts turn to us for expert material on sects, as they influence the mental health of the Russian people," she added.
In speaking on the rehabilitation of Beslan's former hostages, T. Dmitrieva told the Patriarch that many children from there, along with their parents, had received treatment in the Science Center. Some of them were baptized in the home church near the V.P. Serbsky psychiatric institute.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Professor Alexander Dvorkin is considered the "leading sectologist" in Russia, his name is known both among the Orthodox believers and by those whose activities he studies, the sectarians. Professor Dvorkin president of the St. Irenaeus Lyon Center for Religious Research, Ph.D., M.Div., chair of the sectology department at the St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanities University, gave a lecture in Arkhangelsk. His speech on the problems of sectology was heard by both residents of Arkhangelsk and the surrounding province. The information he imparted and the video presentation made a big impact on the audience.
- Alexander Leonidovich, we have gotten used to thinking of you only as a sectologist, but probably your field of interests goes beyond that?
- On the basis of education I am a historian, occupied with the history of the Church. They try to follow that up with publications, for instance, in connection with Byzantine history. Besides that, I have an education in philosophy. But, unfortunately, reading artistic literature simply for enjoyment happens infrequently, only when I'm sick and lying in bed. Mostly I'm involved with work connected with sects, it's very tiring, especially the diversions and distractions. It turns out that the literature I read for pleasure is connected with my work. It's necessary to look at all the new things that claim cult status. I'm often asked to assess one book or another. In trying to recruit people, sects often get their books on contemporary "bestseller" lists. Besides that, I consider my activity to be of a missionary nature, so I need to know the cultural sphere, what young people think, for example. To understand today's occult, I recommend Umberto Eco, especially "Mayatnik Fuko," to my students. This author's cold-hearted view of the occult has a sobering effect on many people.
I like Tolkien, but read the original English; the translations are inaccurate. And my favorite Russian author is Dostoevsky. He played a big role in me becoming an Orthodox believer.
- Will you tell us how you became a believer?
- Religious faith came to me when I was in emigration status. Fifteen years I lived outside of Russia. A large part of that was in America, and I did doctoral work in Germany and Italy. But faith came to me in America. I converted in the Orthodox Church in New York, in a small church of Christ the Savior. They have those kind of churches there, built by the same Russian emigrants who rebuilt the church of Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, after it was destroyed [under Communist rule]. This was their answer in reply to the destruction of the Moscow church. I also studied in the Orthodox spiritual academy in America. America gave me a lot, but now my place is in Russia.
- Quite a few people have dreamed of going to America, but you came back ...
- I returned because I considered myself a political emigrant, not an economic transplant. When I lived there, I joked that the Babylonian captivity wouldn't last more than seventy years. Then suddenly everything turned around here, and I felt I had to go back. Along those same lines, not to get too excited about it, just that my life makes more sense here. This is my native land, and what I do in Russia has more meaning than it would if I had stayed there. At the same time I'm not sorry I was there for 15 years, they were not wasted.
- By education, you're a historian. What made you into a sectologist?
- After returning from emigration in 1992, I started to work in the Department of religious education and catechization at the Moscow patriarchy. A priest in the same section I was, Father Gleb Kaleda, once said that Russia was starting to have a problem with sects, but nobody knew about them. "Since you're the only one that lived in the West, where they came from, certainly you would be more familiar with the problem than we are. Besides that, you know the western languages and would be able to cope with this correspondingly." I flatly refused, saying this had never interested me, and I was a very retiring person. Father Gleb did not insist.
Almost right after that, though, I saw a mother come to the church, whose child had become a victim of sectarians. This woman was very distraught, and I didn't know what to do or how to help. I tried to do a little consulting and went to other departments. Then I decided to hold a seminar on the Mother-of-God center, which was the most aggressive, dangerous cult back then. Interestingly, it was that seminar at which the phrase "totalitarian sect" was heard for the first time. I made use of it, not knowing at the time no one else in Russia ever had. The phrase took root, everyone started using it. The seminar went very well; journalists called me up afterwards, and my world was transformed into the study of sectarianism.
- Few decide to delve into this problem; it's too difficult, a thankless task. It's very complicated for you, too, isn't it?
- It's difficult, but somebody needs to do it! I think of what I do as "cleaning out spiritual septic tanks." I'm a septic tank cleaner. Of course, splashing about in filth all the time is hard, but, on the other hand, if it doesn't get done we get flooded with it. I do this as a work of penance. This is my churchly penance. Everybody in the Church has their own pursuit. The Church is a single organism, and every member of this organism performs his function. It's important that each do something in their spot and pray for each other. So I go to church all the time, too.
- Do you think praying helps?
- Certainly, especially in hard times. I remember my first big court process, when a whole bunch of sects sued me. That was a very difficult time for me. The process and all its trapping lasted nearly a year with all the pre-trial and post-trial stages. The most active phase lasted 6 weeks. For the whole six weeks I went to the court room every day - from 10 to 6 I say there under constant pressure, and at night I had to prepare for the next hearing. But all the same I think back on that time as one of the happiest of my life, because I felt the prayers of support like never before, even physically. People sent us letters of support and money to pay expenses. But I felt the prayers of support so much that there is no doubt in my mind that we did it - correctly.
- What's most important for you in personal life?
- My family. It's not big, just a wife and a long-awaited little daughter. Unfortunately I can't be with my family as much as I'd like, because I'm on the road so much.
- Do you have a lot of friends?
- There's plenty, but they live in different towns and in different countries. My favorite people are in various places. I still have some good friends in America, as well as Paris, Germany, Novosibirsk, and several people from Moscow. Earlier, as a boy, I knew a lot of people, but now, unfortunately, there is physically not enough time to see and meet with others that often. Still we keep in touch; we have friendship and harmony, that's still there.
- What in fact does your religious studies center do? What does it do with itself?
- We have a room full of a library with sectarian and anti-sectarian literature (we call it "gurutech"), and a big archive, both paper and electronic. Besides that there's a constant flow of traffic on the Internet. We maintain contact with other counter-sectarian organizations both in our country and abroad; we take calls from people with questions and requests. We go to lectures everywhere; we publish articles and books, and work with the mass media.
Counter-sectarian work, roughly speaking, happens in three phases. The first is PREVENTION (what we are mainly involved in: the best way to leave a sect is not to go in). This is gathering information, compiling and distributing it. Many of the people in sects would not be there if they had known more about them. The second phase is CONSULTATION: this is work with individual sectarians to help them leave the sect. When I work with them, my primary task is not to haul the person out, but to get him to think, so he can think himself. We are involved in exit counseling simply because there are few who do this. We arrange to meet with sectarians, and a merciful God provides some assistance. On the average, every other one that comes to us manages to get out of the sect. The third phase, which hardly anyone in the country is involved in is REHABILITATION: helping a person who's already out of the sect. People leave with very many problems: declining health, nowhere to go socially, with mental and spiritual problems. This requires serious qualified help from a great number of specialists: psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, social workers and the clergy.
- Tell some kind of story with a good ending...
- We are in a time we call the "seasonal frenzy." This happens several months a year, when one thing or another causes the calls to our office to increase. September, for example. Parents call from various cities with the standard story: the child has finishes school, goes to the capital to go to college, calls home, says he couldn't get enrolled, but found some good people, and is hanging out with them. A good many sects stand watch near the bulletin board that have the results of the college entrance examinations posted on them. They're on the look-out for children who didn't pass, and they recruit them. The children are experiencing stress from not being admitted, and it's not hard to recruit them. One day we got a call from Samarsk region, from a small city. A boy went to the St. Petersburg and disappeared. The parents felt a sect was to blame, so they looked up our phone number. I assumed that their son had joined the Munists. I gave them the number of the parents' committee in St. Petersburg and they went there, got a list of all the Munist quarters, and visited them to find their son. Fortunately, the boy was not yet 18, so the parents could make him leave, and the Munists did not have the right to keep him. The new sect recruit was in our offices first thing the next morning. I started working with him. He sat with glazed eyes and said, "You are a liar. I don't want to listen to anything you say." It was very difficult and we spoke for a long time. All in vain. But at some moment the young sectarian said "Mun is my true father," and the father, who was sitting nearby, who was obviously a strong and resolute person, stood up, turned to the wall and started crying. These tears worked a miracle - they broke through the wall. Something in the spirit of the young person began to stir; this was reflected in his eyes. This is the most moving moment, when you see the first thought shine through the glazed eyes. God's word, after this everything went find. In the evening the youngster went home with his parents. After a year he went to Moscow, where he was accepted, and he stopped by to say hello to us.
- We are used to talking about the "fight with sects." Is that legitimate? Do we need this fight? Perhaps, there is a better way?
- People are afraid of the word "fight." And it's very important to underscore what kind of fight with sects. The fight with sects ought not to transform into a fight against sectarians. We are not fighting people. We are fighting inhumane organizations that suppress and exploit people, and deceive them. Sectarians are the unhappy people who have become victims of totalitarian organizations. Therefore our fight against sects is a fight for sectarians, for every one of them so as to win them back. I think that in this context the use of the word "fight" is entirely normal.
- What would you advise people who have decided to get involved with action against totalitarian organizations?
- There is plenty of practical advice. But the main thing is that one of the basic aspects of work with sectology is war. War is an exchange of blows. It's very important not to get discouraged and to understand that we are not fighting against people. It's important to remember the central principle of a priest of "hate the sin, not the sinner." There is the risk of being lured into attacking people. It's important to catch and restrain oneself in time. After all, we are working to help people, not to destroy them.
Valentina Musykina, special for "Russkiy Sever" information agency.
Witches and quacks get the evil eye from Russians.
Mr. Kashpirovsky receives an urgent change to his instructions. And Alan Chumak quickly rouses himself, choking, to drink his charged water... The "folk healers" in Russia are in danger. But those who have the right to treat people, those who are willing to get a license and pay taxes, have nothing to fear. It is the evil spirits, the magicians, witches and charlatans, that the legislators have decided to do away with.
Today the deputies of the Moscow City Duma reviewed a special request to City Duma chairman Gryslov, with a petition to pass a law about folk healings.
An attempt to curb the quacks was made some years ago. Back then the law fell through. Now deputies from the city of Vladimir have come forward with the initiative, and the Moscow colleagues support them. They are also disturbed that naive "chumps" are increasingly victimized by magicians/witches. In the best case they are simply conned, in the worst they suffer direct harm. How can the people who do this go practically unpunished?
At present the law does not at all demand that healers possess the knowledge or skill to cure people. Those who have experienced trouble with black magic even include Moscow City Duma deputy Valentina Presyazhnyuk. Several years ago at a healers forum in Turkey they asked her to remove a spider's web from the auditorium, and when she got back to her hotel room she fell ill right away, not even able to move.
A healer-compatriot was done away with in a similar manner in "Night Watch": there the deputy was brought back to life with a simple movement of the hand. This strange tale, however, did not weaken the resolve of the deputy to fight the magicians/charlatans. Mrs. Prisyazhnyuk believes that the zombification of people by those who use spells, the evil eye and love potions needs to be prohibited by law. Same with any advertisement by quacks and witches who operate without a license to get rich from sick people.
The times when quacks and healers worked in Russia for free are long gone. Now behind those pretty eyes there is not even a sign of the country grandmother, much less a Moscow miracle worker. But soon the wise grandmothers and magicians and witches will have to get licenses with the full list of ailments they are able to treat people for. And diplomas, too.
The Moscow deputies think that before attaining a diploma each healer needs to show that he is capable. How? There are methods for doing this. For example, measuring bio-energy is something they're already doing in the official center of folk medicine with the Health Ministry.
However, what's the sense of this energy for a sick person, even if it's there, that's a question the authorities have yet to decide. But passing a law is worth it if only because of the absurd advertisements that the mass media are overrun with. This is something that is much more harmful than beer.
Today on Moscow, according to expert estimates, nearly 300,000 witches, sorcerers and other charlatans are working in Moscow.
Yekaterina Pichugina, "Moscovskiy Komsomolets," 20 October 2004
Source: St. Irenaeus Lyon Center for Religious Research
Children from Beslan will be protected from sectarians.
North Ossetia has become the first Russian Region in which the activities of missionaries of non-traditional religions have been taken under strict state control. As Stanislav Kesayev, deputy parliament chief of North Ossetia told Vremya Novosti on Thursday, "every missionary who intends to pursue his activities on the territory of our republic from now on must possess all necessary documents and permits to substantiate his authority and competence." Besides that, "the locations where permissible missionary activity is allowed are legally determined."
Alina Levtskaya, North Ossetia Education Minister, based the necessity of such documents on the increase in activity of various totalitarian sects after the hostage-taking in Beslan. Literally within days of the tragic chain of events, law enforcement agencies started receiving complaints from psychologists, from staff of the republic's health and education ministries, as well as from Beslan residents about sectarian activity, but primarily about Scientologists.
"The missionaries availed themselves of the extremely difficult situation the people were in to run a recruitment campaign, which they held forth as psychological aid work," according to Levtskaya. "This is absolutely impermissible for the victims, the children in particular, to be exposed to further psychological damage. We have taken all possible measures to protect the friends and relatives of the deceased from such contact. The first thing we had to do was ask the Scientologists to leave."
The North Ossetia Interior Ministry's press service communicated that after the new law was passed, it would be easier for law enforcement agencies to also neutralize the activities of other religious sects, which operate on republic territory, Jehovahs Witnesses and Krishnas among others.