Patriarch Kirill Comes out for Russian History
Addressing the 16th World Russian People’s Council, which opened in Moscow on Monday, Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called for victory in the information war being waged by the West against Russia.
There are moments in history where there is no visible frontline, but still you cannot retreat because otherwise you will lose your country, he said, adding, “This is exactly the moment we are experiencing today. Physical battles have been replaced by information wars. A battle for minds is in progress, in which we must not retreat.”
The Patriarch reminded his audience that Russia and the Western world had emerged from one and the same church. However, after the separation of the churches, the West has persisted in its aggression against both “our land and our souls. … We are witnessing attempts to rewrite Russia’s history. Russian history needs to be defended.”
Patriarch Kirill concluded his address by making an appeal: “While celebrating the 400th anniversary of the end of the Time of Troubles, we need to draw a line under the turmoil that followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union.”
Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov delivered a message of greetings from the president and praised the unique experience of cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state. He also promised that “the state will continue to employ the full force of the law in order to protect the religious feelings of the Russian people against any attempts at sacrilege or blasphemy. After all, it is the erosion of the spiritual foundations that has been the source of all the tragedies experienced by our country.”
Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said that the Orthodox Church was responsible for shaping Russia’s national character, which combined a love of freedom with the ability to get along with other peoples. She urged the “soft power” of the Russian people to be made use of in order to strengthen the country’s unity.
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky lashed out at the intelligentsia: “It is important to urge the intellectual elite to stop digging into our common past with a view to seeking out wormholes and mistakes. Enough self-exposure! Ours is a history full of great military and labor exploits. If we cherish it, it will teach us where to go and what our national cause is.”
Opposition Hopes for Tymoshenko’s Early Release
The Ukrainian penitentiary service has requested that Yulia Tymoshenko be moved from the hospital in Kharkov back to prison. If she is strong enough to raise scandals, she should be able to attend her trial, say the authorities.
Late last week, the hospital security service denied Tymoshenko’s colleagues entry. The three leaders of the united opposition movement kicked up a fuss at the entrance, while Tymoshenko beat on the door demanding that her visitors be let in.
At the same time, the opposition has made public Tymoshenko’s video address in which the opposition leader calls on the people to revolt. “The Yanukovych mafia has no respect for law or human rights,” she says in the video her lawyer filmed on his cell phone. “All that matters to them is lining their own pockets.”
The ardent off-screen calls in the opposition’s election video, previously read by a newscaster, have been replaced with Tymoshenko’s voice.
The opposition believes that the attempt to return her to prison is President Viktor Yanukovych’s revenge for her video address. The opposition leaders who are still free – Oleksander Turchynov, Arseniy Yatseniuk and Hryhoriy Nemyria – will be allowed to visit Tymoshenko, but the duration of their visit has been cut to 90 minutes.
Ukrainian experts believe that both sides are planning new moves to influence the election campaign. The hearing of Tymoshenko’s second case, which has been postponed several times, is now set for October 15, two weeks before the elections. The government will try to prove Tymoshenko’s guilt and that she was involved in financial swindles in the mid-1990s, before she entered politics. She could also face murder charges.
“The opposition is drawing public attention to their formal leader to snatch the initiative in the election race,” said Kost Bondarenko, head of the Institute of Ukrainian Policy. The opposition is running behind the ruling party and could be pushed further back by boxer Vitaly Klichko’s party. “The opposition has no charismatic leaders and hence needs Tymoshenko, her voice and her powers of persuasion, or at least some scandals involving her,” Bondarenko said.
The European Parliament will hear reports on the Ukrainian issue today and exchange opinions on the upcoming elections. Can their results be considered valid without Ukraine’s brightest opposition leaders – Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko?
The U.S. Senate earlier expressed concern over “the politicized nature of prosecutions and detention of Ms. Tymoshenko and other members of her party” and called on the State Department to “institute a visa ban against” the guilty Ukrainian officials. But Washington is waiting for the outcome of the elections.
Kost Bondarenko does not rule out the possibility of the opposition trying to incite the people to rise up, as happened in 2004, if it is dissatisfied with the election results. Opposition leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko yesterday told the Ukrainian media that Tymoshenko could be released sooner than the West expects. “The course of the growing internal crisis points to this outcome,” he said.
Immigrant Children Will Soon Account for 30 percent of Class in Russian Schools
Children of immigrants and migrant workers will account for one-third of students in Russian schools a decade from now. Although many of them are not fluent in Russian, their families are determined for them to be schooled in Russia and stay.
About a half of graduates at Moscow School No. 942 are immigrants, mainly from Azerbaijan. Nearly all of them got into local universities, although without government-sponsored scholarships. Teachers say immigrant children are very serious about their studies. Even if their parents are uneducated and barely speak Russian, they still encourage their children to put their utmost effort into their schoolwork. They never skip classes or neglect their homework.
The teachers believe that the current number of non-Russian children, 10 percent-15 percent, is the largest acceptable proportion and a higher proportion would weaken the influence of the Russian language environment and even provoke ethnic conflicts. At present, each class has four or five students from some former Soviet republic.
“We prefer not to enroll children who do not speak Russian at all,” the head teacher said. “However, we have one such child in elementary school. I coach him every day after classes. I know from experience that even children with weak learning abilities can master spoken Russian within a year.”
Larisa Arkhipova, history and social studies teacher at this school, encourages her students to speak out in class, but some of them do not know enough Russian for that. She believes that public schools should be authorized to open preparatory language programs where parents will be asked to pay for tuition.
“If someone is determined to go to college and then work in a foreign country, they should first learn the language. Russians have to learn English if they want to go to Europe or the United States. No one is going to teach you English free of charge there. But here, the government has to bear the cost,” Arkhipova says.
Teachers are only allowed to ask immigrant parents to enroll their child in a lower grade if testing shows that the student won’t be able to cope with the classwork. Not all parents agree.
According to different estimates, there are 4 percent to 10 percent non-Russian students in Moscow, up to 12 percent in the Moscow Region and 3 percent in St. Petersburg. Moscow has 12 one-year Russian-language programs for immigrant children in all administrative areas.
One of them, School No. 157 in north Moscow, trained 46 immigrant students last year, aged 6 to 14. Director Aida Kuliyeva is confident that such programs should be opened at more schools because the number of non-Russian students grows every year and their fluency in Russian is becoming lower.
“We have students from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They are eager to lean because they understand that speaking Russian is absolutely necessary,” she said. “Some parents even try to speak Russian at home to encourage their children’s progress.”
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