Fr. Basil writes Putin

Deacon Basil Alexandrovich Yakimov writes to Acting Russian President Putin about Jericho

Dear Mr Putin:

Further to my previous correspondence on the subject of Jericho.

I have for many years been loyal to the ideals of Holy Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. At every opportunity I have defended Russia & Orthodoxy. I have written to your predecessors Gorbachev & Eltsin as required. I have written to the soviet patriarch Alexei and when I was posted in London between 1992-96 (Australian High Commission) even defended, in the English press - the then, President Yeltsin. The dilemma of the Jericho take over needs to be resolved quickly. This is not an inter-church squabble, this is a PROPERTY RIGHTS ISSUE. When ANY entity who has legal claim to property is arbitrarily evicted, all property ownership is put in jeopardy.

I know you - yourself worked for the KGB but I hope you did not betray the ordinary Russian people as some others have, including the majority of the hierarchs in the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). It has long been an open question which post soviet group or institution in Russian public life engages in behaviour most worthy of contempt. "The communist party built the church in its own image," says dissident orthodox priest Father Georgi Edelshtein, whose outspoken views mean he is ostracised by the Patriarchate. "All the bishops were carefully picked so that they would work with the soviet government. All were KGB agents. It is well known that Patriarch Alexy was recruited by the KGB, under the code-name of Drozdov. Today, they are preserving the same politics that they had 20 or 30 years ago.....

In some cases, members of the council for religious affairs, the soviet body charged with controlling religion, have found alternative employment in the bureaucracy of the church, with one prominent ex-member Victor Kalinin, now legal advisor to the Patriarch... This intimacy with government and power has brought the church dividends, such as state-sponsored ..... It has also resulted in such damaging and highly publicised scandals as the involvement of the church in the importation of oil and cigarettes...." The line of reasoning taken by Moscow Patriarchate in regard to Jericho seems to throw the whole system of Russian & international law in the bin.

On the other hand the Palestine Authority (PA) and the Russian Government imitate soviet methods with soviet style results.

I was also a former ardent supporter of the USA but with the end of the Cold War the US strategic position changed radically. We now have one superpower, the US. Its policy in Eastern Europe has destabilised relations with Russia because, at the behest of the US, NATO has extended the coverage to the Russian border & bombed Yugoslavia without a UN mandate. Now I am not sure if the conduct of your government is any better.. For the sake of all good people of the world I hope modern Russia will be an honourable country and your Presidency will hark back to the times of the last 3 great Emperors of Russia - who were known for their peace initiatives & other good works.

I emphasise that the actions of MP/Russia in Palestine are offensive to the 10+ million worldwide Russian White diaspora -- descendants of those who built and defended Russia over the centuries.

With respect & hope that we will all be working for a political process that will enable Russia to be a true powerful friend of all.

Basil Alexandrovich Yakimov

Deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church (Abroad)
Canberra Australia - 27/01/2000