Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Orthodox vs Catholic Christmas

From time to time, each time at Christmas time,  I hear of some Orthodox Christmas or Catholic Christmas. The idea is as great a popular misconception as the bizarre notion which made itself into school textbooks and CIA-administered Wikipedia that the Holy Roman Empire was founded by or in fact has anything to do with Charlemagne.

The Orthodox Church in Russia, an insitutition that was called Orthodox or Right-believers Graeco-Catholic Russian Church (Православная каѳолическая греко-российская церковь), the establishment that is called Russian Orthodox Church was in today's Russia was founded by Stalin in 1943 and in my opinion has little to do with the Empire's Graeco-Catholic Russian Church,  also celebrates Christmas on December 24 but the Orthodox Church in Russia uses Julian Calendar - one that was introduced by Julius Ceasar in 48 BC - while the rest of the world and other churches (I think some Orthodox ones like the one Greece which switched a few decades back) use a different calendar, one introduced under Pope Gregory XIII in the year in 1586-1587 when it was adopted in Austria, Spain (then both in a dynastic union?), France, and all states of Italy.

England kept using Julian calendar until 1752, so for almost 200 years from 1587 to 1752 France and Austria had one calendar and England and Russia used a different one (the one that is still used by the semi-official Orthodox church in Russia).

Despite this article (http://www.hermetic.ch/cal_stud/cal_art.html#Julian_Calendar) - where I got the reference to important dates from, I don't remember dates,  - aside from inconvenience of pushing Easter closer to the summer months,  I could never figure out why the perfectly sound Julian system had to be replaced by the Gregorian one or which one of them is more accurate. 

Merry Christmas to all. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vladmir Putin and the Fortune-teller

A few minutes ago I stumbled upon a delicious fable narrated in Russian and published on the pages of the Putinstan Facebook community (the community is obviously Russophone, though not Russophobe, what a difference a letter makes! and as its name implies has a somewhat ironic edge).

Here is the story:

Vladimir Putin comes to a fortune teller and asks her:
—You, tell me my fortune.
The fortune teller announces:
— Oh I see you being driven in a big automobile with an open top and there are crowds of people  all around you — she paused for a split second and then continued:
— I see that those people are jubilant, they are waving flags and balloons; they are applauding and are shouting "bravo". Their faces are radiant with happiness.
Putin smiled as he uttered: I knew that all along, the people love me. Can I shake their hands?
— Alas not, the coffin is nailed shut.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pussy Riot: why these riotous pussies are different

Some Alexander Lukashevich (a relative of the Minsk tyrant?), a functionary of the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry responded to the "criticism" that leaders of a few civilized European states timidly voiced, murmured rather sheepishly, by calling the verdict in the Pussy Riot case undeservingly harsh.  Comrade Lukashevich then said that there is no big deal about sentencing because Germany also has a law on the books that penalizes deliberate offenses against religion in the places of worship with up to three years in jail and Austria has a similar where maximum jail term is six months though ( "members" of or perhaps in the Pussy Riot, already spent five behind bars). Lukashevich conveniently forgot to mention that unlike the Russian Federation (which is neither Russian nor a federation), neither the Austrian Republic nor Germany are one man run dictatorships.

The Comrade did not say that in Austria and Germany a local equivalent of the Pussy Riot would be free to perform wherever they wanted without need to break into say Vienna's St. Stephan's Cathedral to make any point which if they made there would probably be misunderstood.  Also in Austria the church and the state are not separate but they are in Russia and the public funding of church buildings is not allowed while Christ the Savior building would hardly be classified as church in Austria or Germany, people would find it odd why a massage parlor or pizzeria should be called... a church.

 So what is the difference between Russian Federation (when I say Russia down in the text I still mean Russian Federation which is not Russia exactly, but let's keep it simple) and Austrian or Germany (I am less familiar with the latter)?

In Russia one in effect now needs an advance  permit to perform in a public place or people in fact need permits to gather in public with whatever purpose - be it to listen to the music or to pray for dismemberment of Putin.

This goes on while the Russian Constitution specifically spells out the right of citizens to gather freely or assemble in  public space, to demonstrate and to picket (government buildings) without asking one, lest the government, for a permission.

The Constitution says and mind you that it is the Fundamental Law and as such  overrides anything else unless it is suspended or done away with it.

Article 31
Citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to peaceful, unarmed assembly and may stage public gatherings, meetings, demonstrations, processions and engage in picketing.

anything else that infringes that right is legally null and void

Article 44

1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the freedom of literary, artistic, scientific, technical and other types of creative activity, and teaching. Intellectual property shall be protected by law.

Article 29.

4. Everyone shall have the right to freely look for, receive, transmit, produce and distribute information by any legal way. The list of data comprising state secrets shall be determined by a federal law.

5. The freedom of mass communication shall be guaranteed.

Censorship is illegal.

end of quote

Now those four provisions of the Russian Constitution are illegally suspended and citizens are stripped of most basic liberties.
Article 76/3 of the Russian Constitution:
Federal laws may not contradict/be in conflict with the federal Constitutional laws

(the above means that those rules and laws passed by Putinista state restricting civil liberties or in effect banning demonstrations and public performances are really not worth  Putin's own used toilet paper).

Furthermore the right of Russian citizens to assembly, to non-discrimination and their freedom of expression are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, which under Russian Fundamental law takes precedence over all federal laws:

Chapter 1. The Fundamentals of the Constitutional System
Article 15
4. The universally-recognized norms of international law and international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation shall be an integral part of its legal system. If an international treaty or international agreement   the Russian Federation is a party to, presupposes  other rules than those envisaged by the (domestic) law, the rules of the international agreement shall be applied (instead).

It is obvious that Pussy Riot would have been arrested had they merely asked for a permit to do what they did. They would have never obtained that permit. We have the evidence of wholesale denial of permits to assembly although the authorities' demand that citizens even appply for such a permit is totally illegal  - in no place does the Constitution state  that any minor demonstration must be explicitly permitted in writing by those against whom the people are demonstrating.

Recently, authorities in Nizhni Novgorod had denied permission to a group of citizens who wanted to make a collective trip to a store in order to buy a loaf of bread. May be in a country like Sweden the authorities would have told the petitioners that there is no permit required to buy bread. In Putinista  Russia they denied it because the saw this application as a form of protest.  As dissent.

Now whether Pussy Riots are talented musicians or not is a different story.  I believe they are perhaps one of the most talented musicians in today's Russia  (that says more about the state of music in the Muscovite state rather than about talents of those riotous pussies).  But their talents are irrelevant. You have a right to express yourself in public that is protected by the constitution and by the international treaties the Russian Federation is a party to.

My argument is that if they are illegally denied the freedom to perform in public that is guaranteed to them by the Constitution (the fundamental law of the land that is superior to all other laws) and by the European Convention on human rights, then they are entitled to perform anywhere, including the public building - as the cathedral of Christ the Savior is not a church but a public building maintained at the public expense , at the expense of members of the Pussy Riot group and of their parents, in a country where state and church are constitutionally separate

In case of the Pussy Riot, the Putinist state is clearly outside the law and not the Pussy Riot.

The state might have power of coercion like courts, prisons and concentration camps at its disposal but be still acting illegally.

Here is an example,  Nazis in occupied France or Greece had passed laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, sentenced people, executed them, shipped people off to concentration camps,  but their activity was considered illegal by most of the world and by the subjugated  populations, which though might have temporarily submitted to the terror unleashed upon it did not hold the regime of occupation as legitimate. I think what we see in Russia is a parallel to that - in some cases like in parts of northern Caucasus where the only authority is the force the situation is almost that of a mirror, in large Russian cities people refer to government officials, their servants and police as "occupiers" although I'd say that perhaps the Nazis had more legal and moral authority in some of the occupied territories (say in the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia)  while Putinista state is clearly acting outside of the domestic and international law, i.e. is the state in what is left of Russia that is an outlaw.  And here lies the  fundamental difference from Austria and Germany.

If the state as is clearly the case in Russia has placed itself outside of the boundaries of  law and is acting obviously illegally then it cannot judge Pussy Riots who   acted within their constitutional rights. If we transplant the case  to the soil of one of US states, say to Rhode Island, or to France, and if we had a situation when the Pussy Riot could perform anywhere they wanted to but instead chose to break into a  church (which is not public property there but private) and stage a mock concert there during a service to which  people came for quiet worship, then they would deserve to be arrested and prosecuted with disturbance of public peace or perhaps with the offense of trespassing, although in all likelihood in a realthey would be let go to avoid a scandal.

However the Pussy Riot's case is  entirely different, in fact it is the opposite of what I described in the previous paragraph.

One also should keep in mind that Pussy Riot did not perform in the Temple of Christ the Savior Commerce because the short staged movie clip that is being circulated on the Internet is clearly out of tact and there is loud music but the video does not show any musical instruments deployed, there are no electrical guitars playing, no percussion, so the audio track was then laid over the video, it is not authentic, and  that presents the story in an entirely different light.

The light is that of a fabrication, of a show trial, of a grotesque political persecution of three young women who attempted to exercise their constitutional rights and were punished for doing so by the illegitimate outlaw of a state because in their message they offended the usurper that stands at or rather sits on the head of that lawless state.

Together with the recently passed illegal discriminatory legislation that bans lesbians and homosexuals from gathering in public (the laws are illegal fourfold or rather eightfold  as they violate both the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights separate provisions on non-discrimination, the right to assembly, the right of self-expression, the right of legal recourse), the political persecution of the Pussy Riot can become a foundation for the Defense of Freedom in Russia Act in the USA and similar sanctions in the EU, modeled perhaps on Belarus and targeting officials instead of ordinary people, something I see in the form of a Magnitsky List on steroids. At this stage when the state in Russia has become an international and domestic outlaw, only foreign sanctions targeted at deputies and officials of the Muscovite state would force it to modify its nasty behavior. As far as individuals are concerned, the deputies, functionaries and officials of the Muscovite state are fully oriented toward countries where civil liberties are respected, such "abominations" as gay parades permitted and a group of citizens won't need to ask for a permit to make a collective purchase of a loaf of bread -  they drive or are being driven in big foreign cars, send their kids to study to civilized parts of Europe and the USA, have foreign residence permits and hold enormous assets, as one of Putin's chief inquisitor, a lowlife named Bystrikin, the Head of Investigative Committee,   has a residence permit in the Czech Republic, owns a company there and real estate in Bohemia, and keep their funds abroad. If the most vicious persecutors and violators of civil rights and their family members  are denied the privilege of travel to the EU and the USA and of having assets there, then the Putinist state would disintegrate as the only glue that holds it  together is the privileged consumption of the top level nomeklatura and of the Muscovite Thieving Class that is affiliated with it

The Pussy Riot case can also become another reason to move faster toward suspension of the Russian Federation's voting rights at the Council of Europe

The final thought on the "verdict":  I am fairly confident that the case will be go before the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg where the Putinista state  would get a ceremonial whipping.

The European Convention on Human Rights

The Constitution of the Russian Federation

On riotous pussies

I am discoursing with Mike Averko here and will then post my own opinion on the case, which - my opinion and not the case - is based on Russian Federation and international law.

Mike Averko:

They shouldn't have been prosecuted?

They didn't carry on in a way that in a Western setting would lead to a stiffer crime?

It was brought to my attention that in the UK, some football fan used racially abusive terminology when referring to a black British footballer who had suffered a heart attack during a match. The person who Tweeted that insulting and hurtful remark about the unfortunate sportsman was arrested and charged with committing a "racially aggravated public order offence". He was sentenced to 56 days imprisonment. I suspect that defendant showed more remorse and respect than PR. Mind you he said such at his own toilet of a Tweet. Pussy Riot could've blabbed on like they had been doing before. Specifically, outside a venue that had been previously targeted with left of center anti-religious violence.

Imagine the reply to a hypothetical Anti-Pussy Riot group uninvitingly entering the home of the husband of one of the PR performers (who was in a BBC segment) and doing a taped performance with lyrics that include something along the lines of : Pussy Riot are a not so talented group of ****** *** stooges.


Of course not,  Pussy Riot should not be prosecuted! They are heroines.  They stood up for the nation's collective rights.

I do not consider the United Khalifate - I guess that what you meant by the abbreviation "UK" -  either free or democratic in any sense but the victim of what sounds like unjust persecution on that island tweeted his remark. I do not use the Twitter but I assume it is akin to a form of Internet broadcasting, i.e. in making a statement you intend others, potentially millions, to hear.

The victim never classified his message as politically motivated or as art.

And as an upfront disclaimer, I don't think we should bring in legal practices of the UK, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Uganda into the equation here. If we want to make comparisons, let's make them with comparable European states or with America(s).

Next is why do I think Pussy Riot's case is different, unique, and should not be confused with situation in other countries. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Anti-Putin Propagandist Absurdities of the Pussy Riots trials

While I consider this to be totally plausible, that the Pussy Riots accident was set up as a trap by Putin's foreign "partners" - as the dwarfish Usurper calls Russia's enemies, I am unsure if a hint of humor is present in phrases like  "our American partners" , the trap for the increasingly paranoid and delusional corrupt Muscovite junta to fall in head on - the Pussy Riot "performance" was by all counts a spectacular success for the organizers (the "partners"), the propagandist onslaught goes over the top as the employees of the enemy's propaganda ministry lose last vestiges of restraint.

This blog is published on the pages of America's own Völkischer Beobachter

Here a vile Russophobe creature called Masha Gessen (who I assume is Hessen, though I doubt she has any relation to the indigenous inhabitants of that largest German state) rhapsodies on the much overused allegations of historic antisemitism blended with discharge from the riotous pussies

(Thanks to Mike Averko for pointing this out):
let me quote: 

Re: http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/the-stalin-in-putin/

Someone's rhetorically appropriate reply -

Masha Gessen is breaking her own records now.

“Thirteen members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were killed in Moscow 60 years ago this past Sunday”

“This coming Friday, the three young women of Pussy Riot, who have recently become known the world over, will be sentenced in a Moscow court.”

“There are obvious parallels between the two absurd and cruel trials”

Now, just imagine if the president of Russia would kill 13 Jews in Russia today, then it would be no worse than the Pussy Riot case.  Masha really devaluates the price of human life. All for the sake of some cheap propaganda.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'd be posting casual on the go comments to the Mike Averko's pieces, lest they just disappear in my mailbox.

The original:
 Re: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/silence-munich-the-olympics-7236

Excerpt –

“The Obama administration supports it. So does Mitt Romney. The ‘it’ in question is a moment of silence for the Israeli victims of a Palestinian terrorist organization called Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Eleven members of the Israeli team were murdered. An online petition calling for a minute of silence also exists.                                                                                                                                               

But IOC president Jacques Rogge sees it differently. He’s adamantly resisting a formal moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the London Games this Friday: ‘We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.’ When it comes to the Jews, the IOC curls into a fetal ball-as the Boston Globe points out, it has not resisted ceremonies for Bosnia or the victims of 9/11. But Munich is taboo.”


At present, I wasn’t able to successfully click into the aforementioned Boston Globe article. I’m not offhand sure how the IOC held a ceremony for Bosnia. There’s this RFE/RL photo gallery regarding Bosnia and the Olympics (11th of 14 photos, with a pointed omission of noting Russian athletes among the featured Soviets):


The photo concerning Bosnia was taken at the 1992 summer Olympics when Yugoslavia (then consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) was hypocritically kept out of that Olympiad. With some understandable disgust, Serbs and Montenegrins saw a Croat team take silver in men’s basketball, with the US finishing first. During this period, Yugoslavia appeared to have the second best men’s basketball team after the US. At the 1992 summer Olympics, Yugoslav teams were banned and individual Yugoslav athletes were made to compete as independent participants, not representing their country. The reason for this was quite hypocritical. Yugoslavia was accused of aiding Serb forces in the Bosnian Civil War, at a time when Croatia was doing the same for their brethren. In addition, the Bosnian Muslim nationalists were the recipients of foreign aid (military and otherwise) from abroad.

One wonders how multiethnic was the 1992 summer Olympic Bosnian delegation? At the time, I recall the Bosnian UN delegation being almost exclusively Muslim.

Bosnia continues to fall well short of a unitary mindset:


Excerpt (from the National Interest piece)-

“Fear of Arab pressure, even a boycott? The desire to maintain an upbeat tone rather than acknowledge the dark past? Whatever the motive, and nothing has ever been too craven for the IOC in the past, Rogge tried to pacify his critics with a minute-long ceremony at the Olympic Village on Monday a part of something called the Olympic Truce, which, as the Washington Post reports, is a United Nations initiative that calls upon everyone to lay down their arms around the world during the Olympics. (Is Bashar Assad listening?)”


Concerning that last particular, there’s another element having to do with the armed anti-Syrian government opposition. On the matter of laying down arms during an Olympiad, one can rhetorically bring this matter up in some other instances, including the Soviets in Afghanistan and the US in Southeast Asia.

Michael Averko - http://www.americanchronicle.com/authors/view/2713 - http://www.eurasiareview.com/author/michael-averko/

My commentary:

I think the reasons for the refusal, if true, to hold a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes could be the following:

the issue is political and the Olympics should stay out of politics, it is not the case as the US has politicized and scandalized Olympics, but in theory the politics should be kept out  - remembering victims of 9/11 is a different case as the issue is clearly not political. The 9/11 "attack" was organized by the US government to launch a series of wars of aggression and no political demands were made by any foreign power or party.

The event is relatively remote in time.  There were quite a few atrocities in the past one can remember - those moments of silence can be extended to hours.

Lastly the Palestine Israeli issue is not resolved, the conflict is ongoing so forcing everyone to take the Israeli side openly is hardly diplomatic or fit for Olympics (why not remember those 3500 Palestinian civilians,  women, small kids, murdered in the Sabra and Shatila massacre?). So though I am not condoning those who killed Israeli athletes in Munich, I think that if I were  Jacques Rogge I would be very reluctant with the idea of this going ahead because Olympics was never intended to be the place to show off one's politically motivated sadness or sympathy or turn into a platform for partisan foreign policy propaganda displays.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas dishes and the Christmas spirit.

I thought of writing down a list of Christmas dishes, but then discovered that the CIA-pedia (the Wikipedia thing which, or rather the English part of it at least, is run by the CIA information war thugs) already did a nasty job on Christmas.

I found a fantastic article (in English) about Christmas food in Italy. Italy is great in most respects and cooking is a pillar of its greatness. Like all great cooking traditions the one of Italy is composed of regional varieties, culinary dialects that are rich in vocabulary, expressive in their diversity and covered with layers of history, poverty, affluence and class. Although all classes can now enjoy similar foods, different historic layers remain. Great culinary traditions consists of different types of cooking, diverse by region, separated by class. That puts any major European cooking tradition apart from primitive tribal food of say Estonian humans, sort of, which is bland and uniform and in case of that miserable land consists of potatoes, fat and water mixed with flower. Now their diet is supplemented by Soviet industrial cuisine of manufactured cellulose frankfurters and frozen preparations. At Christmas Estonian lowlifes consume blood sausage (to the British that is blood pudding). Both Christmas and blood sausage are German cultural imports because these were Germans (actually probably also Frisians) who brought civilization and Christianity to what is now Estonia though civilization did not stay for long, the Christianity was always shallow, and the Germans were not divine themselves and so could not endow local soulless savages with any kind human spirit, which is still profoundly lacking in that part of the world. Thus said German Blutwurst (blood sausage) is a delectable delicacy compared to reddish industrial refuse slobbering Estonian tribesmen devour on Christmas eve. On the other hand or rather on the opposite shore, the Finns have a different tradition, at Christmas dinner they savor succulent baked ham . Good stuff. I always thought that there was something inherently unfair in the fact that though those two tribes are linguistic relatives, one group consists almost entirely of lowlifes and the other of more or less reasonable human beings.

Christmas is dead in Russia - at least in the culinary sense it is. The Bolsheviks, who for the most part were not Christians , did everything in their power to wipe off Christmas tradition. With secularization, New Year became the most important holiday, as it is in France. Another thing that did Christmas in was the calendar shift. Soviet state adopted heretical - from the standpoint of the Right Believers, so-called Gregorian calendar while the Church, by then abused and persecuted, clung to the true old one, the calendar that was introduced by Julius Caesar himself, the Julian one. Russian Orthodox Church (the name Russian Orthodox Church appeared only in the year 1943, the new name was Stalin's invention, before 1943 it bore the historic name of Orthodox Catholic Graeco-Russian Church) still uses Julian Calendar but that it turn meant that Christmas now comes after New Year or rather there are now two New Years to deal with in sequence. Because Russians enjoy about three weeks of uninterrupted New Year and Christmas holidays which became vacations, by the time Christmas arrives everyone is already exhausted. But in the past roast goose or duck, usually stuffed with tart apples and sauerkraut, was served at Christmas time. I roast ducks all the time though - no need to wait for Christmas or Hannukah to cook one.

In Bohemia and Moravia, now Czech Republic, Christmas dishes represent a bit mutated tradition from the glorious times of the very Catholic Habsburg (Hapsburg) monarchy. The principal dish here is carp. I did not make any typos. Carps are farmed in the Czech republic and the time before Christmas is when those fish are killed en masse to be served on the Bohemian and Moravian tables. A friend of mine who is not Czech but who lives in Prague says that she knows it's Christmas time by the wail of ambulance sirens. Carp is a bony fish.

Killing of a carp (my digital snapshots, click for larger versions, contact me if you want the huge ones):
The fish is pulled out of water

The henchman takes the wretched fish to the chopping block for slaughter.

The murderer then hits the victim's head with a hammer to render him or her unconscious.

The victim's throat is slit.

Merry Christmas

Here is a beautiful Christmas carol by Hilaire Belloc, a brilliant poet, not just a versifier though he classified himself as such, unfairly, and an insightful author of rare significance and immense power, still under appreciated, much maligned and occasionally slandered (I had the joy of translating two volumes of his poems for "children" into Russian - The Bad Child's Book of Beasts and the classic More Beasts for Worse Children ) here it is, the Sailor's Carol:

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
A Catholic tale I Have to tell!
And a Christian song I have to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!!