Who poisoned Viktor Yushchenko?
That is one of the sensational claims being examined by Ukraine's chief prosecutor as he gets to grips with the new inquiry into how Mr Yushchenko - the main opposition candidate in last year's elections - apparently ingested a large dose of dioxin. It severely disfigured his face, and according to some accounts, almost killed him.
The allegation is contained in a leaked tape that has been impounded by the prosecutor. A copy has also been obtained by Newsnight, which has conducted its own investigation into the poisoning.
On Tuesday, the man at the centre of the allegation - Gleb Pavlovsky, the head of a pro-Kremlin Moscow think-tank, categorically denied the suggestion that he had thought up the idea of giving Mr Yushchenko the "mark of the beast".
"For what reason anyone would do this is hard to imagine," he told Newsnight. "And how I could have come up with the idea... it's absurd, and absurd that in Kiev it's being discussed seriously."
When the tape of an apparently tapped telephone conversation mentioning Pavlovsky was first aired on Kiev's Channel 5 television, it was widely dismissed as a falsification.
It was seen as a deliberate attempt by Pavlovsky's enemies in the Kremlin to discredit him after his failed attempts to promote the Kremlin's preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, in the election battle.
The prosecution's decision to use it as evidence in their inquiry has surprised everyone - including Pavlovsky.
"When the tapes appeared on Channel Five, I took it as a joke," he told Newsnight. "A bit vulgar for my taste... in the style of Orson Welles... But when I heard the prosecutor-general had taken them, that turns a TV joke into a lie."
Officials have said the poison could only have been produced in one of four or five laboratories, probably in Russia or the United States.
The interior minister claims he knows who brought the poison across the border, and which member of parliament accompanied it.
Viktor Yushchenko, who campaigned for more democracy and closer links with the West, was taken seriously ill on 6 or 7 September with severe abdominal and back pain.
He was flown to Vienna for emergency treatment. Doctors could find no explanation for his illness, but when he returned to Kiev he claimed he had been poisoned by the "political cuisine" of the Ukrainian government.
Suspicion centred on a mysterious dinner attended by Yushchenko on 5 September 2004 - hosted by Volodymyr Satsiuk, the deputy head of Ukraine's secret service, the SBU.
Mr Satsiuk has denied any possibility of poisoning at the meal - and Newsnight has seen a photo of him embracing Mr Yushchenko at the end of the evening.
But witnesses and experts Newsnight has spoken to have cast doubt on whether Yushchenko could have been poisoned at that dinner.
Mykola Katerinchuk, an MP and friend of the Ukrainian leader said: "It would have been too obvious, too unprofessional".
And Alistair Hay, professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University in the UK points out that dioxin does not normally cause severe gastro-intestinal damage as suffered by Mr Yushchenko.
The likelihood is either that Mr Yushchenko ingested a cocktail of poisons, or that he was poisoned earlier than is generally thought - and possibly on several occasions.
The inquiry still seems a long way from the truth. No one has yet been arrested and Newsnight has learned that some key witnesses have not been formally questioned.
But it has the potential to provoke a serious political rift between Ukraine and Russia - two countries that now say they want to work together again.
Tim Whewell's film was broadcast by Newsnight on Tuesday, 22 February, 2005.Newsnight is broadcast every weekday at 10.30pm on BBC Two in the UK.
Newsnight was 25 on 30 January, 2005. Click on the link on the right-hand side of this page for more on the show's history.
Tuesday, 22 February, 2005
Bp. Vladimir's letter to Bp. Anastasy 2005
Always mindful of informing you, I send you herewith the letter _xxx_
That letter shows Bishop Vladimir’s amazing turnaround. In 2005 he quite clearly saw, like we did, all Bishop Anastasy’s faults, which are dangerous for our Church, whereas now he completely sided with him and, because of that, against Father Benjamin.
Thank God _xxx_
A Happy New Year _xxx_ !
+ ”Rebuke not a scorner, lest he hate thee. Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (Proverbs 9:8)
Dear Bishop or father Anastassy! Gracious arch- or simply –shepherd!
Do not be surprised and forgive me for addressing you in such manner, for due to your reasoning you are the very cause of such addressing.
It is unclear why you are introducing the letter that you wrote half a year ago again and which was already considered by the Synod of Bishops. How come something that was not accepted by the Synod is introduced again and again with such pushiness?
I will try to reply to all of the letters signed by you and sent to my electronic address: the letters of June 18th/July 1st 2004, Oct. 24th/Nov. 6th 2004, Nov. 1st/Nov. 14th 2004, and, finally, Dec. 2nd/Dec. 15th 2004. Even though strictly speaking anybody can send any kind of nonsense via the Internet, and frankly speaking I consider all of your essays to be such, I have to react to them due to pain that I feel for our Church and because of your defamation with regard to our diocese. In the opposite case, all of your epistolary creations should better be recommended for some medical research rather than for Church’s consideration. Perhaps, it was not without reason that bishop Evtikhy (Kurochkin) stated at one point that “father Anastassy Surzhik is schizophrenic”. I do not condone his present deceitful conduct, but as far as you are concerned, considering your current arguments, his statement should be taken very seriously, as it is, to all appearances, not entirely unjustified. And now I am more and more convinced of it. One bishop of our Church said after having read your letters: “this one is insane!” Would you agree that a normal person in his right mind cannot write to his hierarchy that his “brains are inside out” (your words) and compare in blasphemous madness the Holy Church to a “matryoshka”? It is not without reason that your candidacy to become a bishop was not approved by the Bishops of the Church Outside of Russia even before Lavr’s schism took place. I think that your “ordination” was a big mistake which all of us have to repent and which must be annulled as soon as possible, while you should be sent to some psychiatric hospital for therapy. May God help you in your recovery.
So you propose “to cancel the Council of Bishops’ Decree #22/04/M of 6/19 January 2004” which would reinstate monk Barnaby (who then was still a retired bishop) in his former authority. In other words, we should acknowledge our “mistake” and his rectitude. Well, let’s do as you propose, but we then should be consistent in everything, which includes agreeing on the “rectitude” of Bishop Barnaby as well. It goes without saying that we will not agree with Bishop Barnaby’s self-stated reception of the Romanian ecumenists and new style followers under his authority, as this is a purely confessional matter. However, if you agree with these not only anti-canonical but also unorthodox deeds of the Bishop of Cannes, of which you do not say a single word in your letter, than all the more you cannot be amongst Bishops of our Council Outside of Russia as a heretic and a defender apologetic of a heretic who has the same position on the issue of ecumenical new style. Moreover, you display bias as you do not consider this important confessional matter at all.
Well, in his letter of 14/27 December 2003, Archbishop Barnaby places your “ordinations” in Paris in quotes (in particular, we are only talking about your ordination), he names it unlawful and calls it an “outrageous disgrace”, which did not have the right to take place “on foreign territory” and “against his will” (performed) “by two vicarial Archbishops”. Characterizing you and your “callous” nature, he calls you not archbishop but Hieromonk Anastassy (Surzhik). Therefore, by canceling the Synodal Decree regarding archbishop Barnaby, we return to the previous disposition and start the investigation all over again, particularly including the firm claim of the Archbishop of Cannes and Western Europe regarding unlawfulness of your ordination. Okay, that’s settled, father Anastassy, let’s proceed according to your wishes. Furthermore, in another letter of 9/22 December 2003, written to archpriest Benjamin Zhukov, Archbishop Barnaby also states “Thus I let it be known, that the decisions made regarding establishing new dioceses in Russia have no proper grounds and are not legal and, therefore, are INVALID”. Which does not only place a big question mark on creation of Vladivostok and Far-Eastern eparchy but also establishes that the foundation of such is not recognized at all. Therefore you, father Anastassy, as a consistent person and, hopefully, a person whose words conform with his actions, for now and until the end of the investigation and the conclusion of correctly performed legal proceedings of this case (which should be enacted meticulously and without interfering haste) do not dare, please, to put on archbishop’s insignia, such as panagia, archbishop’s canonicals, and to call yourself an archbishop and even dream that you ostensibly have some Far-Eastern eparchy. As you see, according to confession of the Bishop of Cannes, you have no right to do so until the end of the reopened investigation of Archbishop Barnaby’s case. Moreover, you must be ready that the Synod may agree with the Archbishop’s reasoning of illegality of foundation of your eparchy in particular (other eparchies should not be concerning you as of yet – it is not your business, but Archbishops Synod’s of ROCOR and it’s decisions regarding finances). This is why, in accordance with Archbishop Barnaby’s statement, I do not dare call you archbishop, as based on words of the Bishop of Cannes your “ordination” is not legal. Have patience, father, and await the court’s decision. For now we will repent this lawlessness, which you should also do: repent the conscious and voluntary involvement in lawlessness and in self-acquisition of the high entitlement of “bishop”.
Before continuing with this letter, please allow me to also express my bewilderment regarding your incomprehension of letters of Vladyka Viktor and the Mitered Archpriest Benjamin Zhukov, the Secretary of the Sobor of Bishops, who simply and clearly explained your aberration, but for some reason you did not wish to give heed to their wise replies. Should it be so that even after my letter your stubbornness will overcome reason, then let’s leave the efforts of your correction to God’s will; and should that indeed be the case, I ask you not to bother me with your essays any longer, as I am not a psychiatrist and have no formal medical training and, therefore, most likely am not able to help you in any other way than to offer my unworthy prayer for you.
In your last letter you justify, as you say, “my rudeness and intemperance” with “using the method of critical analysis” and as a “scientific method”. However, any monk or even a lay brother who is even slightly personally familiar with the monk way of life and who is also familiar with writings of the Holy Fathers, could tell you that this method is rather diabolic and is not acceptable in spiritual life, because it is a reflection of the spirit of this World, which lies in evil. In his time, Holy Theophan the Recluse wrote about this constant negative-critical tuning of mind and soul, stating that such soul setting combined with critical and negative spirit – that is the true degradation of spiritual life. Just as far from a “scientific method” are your “essays”, because firstly they resemble soviet rudeness more than scientific research, and secondly because you possess no academic degree, much less a theological degree, which disables you from excusing yourself with such “method”, which, I will repeat, in your interpretation is completely unacceptable in church life. Perhaps such method is allowed in faithless-atheistic circles, but never in church or spiritual life. Moreover, you don’t even have theological education, and the soviet juristic education does not have anything to offer except for jesuitism and wickedness. One must cleanse oneself from such education as if it were leprosy and not justify and expose it as some positive asset. Sergian pseudo-education in “seminaries” and “academies” I do not account for anything and also believe that in fact it can only harm souls for many years and even decades to come. Hence, you must start your theological education from scratch – the true education and not the ostensible soviet-sergian education, which can only lead to such sad results as your biased and canonically illiterate letters.
In your first letter you talk about “inadmissibility of discharge and retirement without personal request” (Archbishop Barnaby) and improvidently warn that “this case” allegedly “can turn into an “irresolvable issue”. The problem has long been solved by the Church Authority, and you, as the saying runs, are “looking for yesterday”. You are telling lies when you claim that it is not allowable to discharge without personal request. No, it is stated quite plainly regarding “retirement of bishops“ in Article 29 of ROCOR Regulation and without your myth of “personal request”. And it is indeed a very wise statement because as the church practice shows, with which you apparently are not sufficiently familiar, there may be various reasons for discharging bishops to retirement (including, of course, personal requests). The most illustrative example is retirement of the organizers of Suzdal schism (and PSCA) bishop Valentine and archbishop Lazarus – without their personal requests in May 1993. Should we follow your narrow logic then the New Martyrs should have waited (for eternity) until the abjuror Sergiy Stragorodskiy would condescend to providing his personal request while enticing more and more people into his lethal nets. No, we do not need this insane Pharisaism and deadly legalism.
Further on, you accuse the Synod of Bishops by stating that the Decree of January 19, 2004, #22/04M, allegedly “instigated crisis of Church authority in Western-European eparchy”. Conversely, this wise Decree obliterated any crisis in Western-European eparchy and reinstated the canonical legitimacy as well as spiritual. One should not confabulate of what is happening in Europe while being present in Vladivostok. It is better to ask competent people about it than to put oneself into such unenviable position. Unjustly criticizing the letter of three bishops to Archbishop Barnaby dated January 12, 2004, you use such calumnious definitions as “ultimatum”, “intimidation method” and even “insult of order” in your analysis. And in the end you, who is known amongst people around you as a heartless and callous person, define this letter as a “letter without love”. What do you, a divorcee who could not save his marriage, know about love? If you could not rule over your own family, how will you rule over an eparchy, while you admonish your hierarchy with your immoral outbursts? Well, factitious father Anastassy (for we agreed to address you this way for the future until the end of investigation), allow me to assure you that this letter was in no way meant as an “ultimatum”, “intimidation method” and even in thoughts did not implicate any sickly cooked-up “insult of order”, but on the contrary implied brotherly love, respect, leniency and gracious long-suffered warning of repercussions which may come about, should Archprist Barnaby fail to sincerely turn away from his horrible iniquities, which in consideration of the seriousness of violations of confessional, canonical and ethical order gave the full right to immediately impose sanctions, while the letter provided him with more time to come to his senses while not loosing his Episcopal dignity and not to fuel the growing fire of great temptation amongst our flock. Therefore your defamatory terms regarding this letter can be identified in legal language as “false testimony”. Is it not so? And lastly, you incautiously and improvidently did not consider in your “critical analysis” that the authors of the letter no more than obediently followed the will of their Supreme Pontiff Metropolitan Vitaly, who himself proposed not to impose immediate sanctions onto archbishop Barnaby, but to write him a letter beforetime, thus graciously giving him another chance to revert. Accordingly, in the future, my dear “lawyer”, do not attack Bishops in style of Vyshinsky, but have Christian sensibility to hear the other side before your preconceived judgment. Otherwise, it turns out that you make your judgment, speaking juristically, “extrajudicially” – in spirit of Stalin times. And your statement in which you compare the Bishops and the Supreme Pontiff with antichristian Pharisees and killers: “Same as Pharisees condemned Jesus Christ to death even before his arrest and trial, our Bishops condemned bishop Barnaby without starting trial” – is not only insulting and blasphemous, but also defamatory, because de facto and as a matter of fact no trial took place and no document condemning bishop Barnaby existed BEFORE this letter, just as there was none BEFORE the legitimate decision of the Synod of Bishops and later the Sobor of Bishops. So how does your comparison of us with Pharisees who condemned to death before arrest and trial look like? Defamation and falsity are incompatible with archpriest’s order and that who allows such is not worthy of bearing this sublime spiritual rank.
Continuing your incompetent narrative, you put forward the most absurd proposal: “To commission Archbishop Barnaby to make an inquiry regarding the case of father Seraphim and to submit a report for Synod’s consideration”. Why absurd? – because during Synod’s session Archbishop Barnaby WITH HIS OWN HAND signed a document regarding defrocking of Seraphim Baranchikov after seeing photographs and Baranchikov’s self-written letter to the Synod of Bishops, in which he openly admits his sodomy affair. You, on the other hand, propose that while some “investigation” takes place, a sodomite continues with “liturgy”, which Metropolitan Vitaly labeled blasphemous. What investigation, when everything is already investigated and decided? I repeat: Archbishop Barnaby ALREADY carried out the TRIBUNAL regarding Baranchikov and WITH HIS OWN HAND signed the document regarding his defrocking in presence of archbishops and the Supreme Pontiff of ROCOR Vitaly. Why then do you still absurdly propose to provide Archbishop Barnaby with the right to try his own clergyman, when he already tried him and endorsed it by his signature long time ago?
Further on you quote a fragment of a confidential letter by father Benjamin, which was sent not to you at all, and communicate it to the Supreme Pontiff. Is it possible that your upbringing does not allow you to understand that personal and particularly confidential letters are not to be distributed without author’s permission and incidentally express only personal views of the author which he may later recognize as false (which is exactly why he writes “confidentially” and not officially)? Your denunciation (or snitching) and spreading of confidential mail I consider to be immoral conduct, which is not compatible with Bishop’s title.
In the next letter of Oct. 26/Nov. 6 2004, you advise “not to elect new members to Synod”, i.e. you interfere with more productive development and fulfillment of our church life. Church’s enemy can only propose such. I do not know whether it is somebody else’s evil intent or if you are doing this out of your own unreason, but, thank God, the Sobor of Bishops did not accept this anti-church suggestion and one more member was elected into the Synod.
In this same letter you make a prophecy that “in the current situation Archbishop Barnaby will not attend the Sobor”. It is interesting, how you could possibly know about it? Nevertheless, refusing to attend and ignoring the summons to attend the Sobor of Bishops is a real revolt against the Church authority, which according to Holy Canonicals is subject to respective sanctions. But this you chose to omit for some reason.
Your next statement demonstrates your incomprehension of Church collegiality and the meaning of the Sobor of Bishops. “It is unclear why reporting on sergianism is on the agenda. This topic is beyond the scope of the whole Sobor”. I dare to let you know, that Church Sobor is not a Party-nomenclature conference with rigidly restricted topics, but a Living Entity, the Voice of Church guided by the Holy Spirit and destined for resolving A RANGE OF issues, particularly dogmatic, and for giving testimony regarding the true orthodox-Christian teaching, along with making decisions on VARIOUS canonical and other matters. Therefore, I am eager to tell you something you’ve never heard before: Sobor not only can resolve various vital for the Church, churchmen and flock issues, but it MUST do so.
In the end of this negative-spirited letter, you make another pessimistic prophesy: “Sobor will have nothing irenic to say to its flock. Therefore, it’s better to simply create the report on results of the Sobor’s work and not to make the pastoral”. I will repeat that Sobor is not a reporting-electoral secular meeting, but a loving gathering of bishops, who cannot leave their beloved flock without words of comfort and support. Your mercenary proposal is more appropriate for uninterested mercenaries than for shepherds who are full of thought of their congregation. In contrast to you, this is how the congregation reacted to our latest Sobor, which brought comfort and joy to hearts of our faithful:
“The GREATEST event for our much-suffered Church.”; “There is such joy in my soul that it cannot be expressed in words!!!”
“I read the Sobor’s proceedings. May God save you all. Finally! Praise God for everything!”
“I read today’s publication of Sobor’s proceedings and rejoiced. To be more accurate, I was overcome with this quiet and calm joy – finally, everything fell into place. May God save you for your Herculean labor”.
“First of all I would like to share the joy of the fact that I accept the wise and well-worded decisions made by the Sobor with all my soul. Thank God, who gave all of you wisdom. The spirit of the Church Abroad breathes in all of the Sobor’s decisions. The words are simple, not academic and they are addressed to people directly. In other words there is the traditional for the Church Abroad spirit of ministry. And that is demonstrating succession.
“The decrees of the last Sobor were received with great enthusiasm in Russia – finally, the record is set straight.”…
In other words, in this case you presented yourself to be a fake prophet, an inept advisor, who proposed this short-sited and harmful for church life idea to bishops. Those who propose harm should not be among archpriests of our Church Abroad. “And take heed that no human being should find you lacking in God’s grace, lest the root of bitterness should arise and consume you, by which many are made decrepit” – teaches St. Paul (Hebrews, 12:15).
In the letter of 1/14 November 2004, you demonstrate your lack of any notion of what Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is, by stating ostensibly that “the fact of the matter is that our Church is effectively a metropolitan district”. By stating so you make it obvious that you do not know the canonical regulation of ROCOR and, respectively, do not clearly understand the Church Canons in general. A bishop should not make such serious canonical errors regarding the statute of the Christ’s Church. You are being contradicted by “The Church Statute regarding the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia” (published in 1947 in Jordanville), in which in the Regulation of ROCOR, which was ratified by the General Sobor of Bishops of 9/22 and 11/24 September 1936 and states that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia consists of FOUR metropolitan districts:
3) North-American and
4) Western-European (subsequently the metropolitan districts were specified as such due to new convention:
3) North-American and Canadian and
In section 6 of “METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS” Clause 3 indicates that “Division of eparchies in Districts is performed based on territorial attribution”. In the 7th section of “REGARDING METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS” there is a clear directive that “the Metropolitan of a District praises the name of the Supreme Pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia” (see pages 7 and 9). In “The Church Statutes regarding ROCOR” it is stated explicitly that there exists a possibility of “absence of DISTRICTS”, page 25 (by the way, it is also stated there that an archpriest may leave the eparchy based on court’s decision OR by a decree by the highest church authority, which may happen in certain cases which are also provided there in addendum, page 26). Thus, your serious church-canonical false-confession regarding Church (in particular, regarding ROCOR) is refuted by “The Church Statutes regarding ROCOR”, which clearly show that a metropolitan district is not the entire Church Abroad, but a PART of the Church Abroad.
Following this serious aberration of yours, you permit yourself to SLANDER the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, father Benjamine, who was ordered by the Church Authority to create “The Regulation of ROCOR” based on the Regulation which was accepted by the All-Russian Local Sobor of 1917-1918, by stating that he seemingly “proposes to us to carry out a Prisbytirian reform in our Church”… Forgive me, but even in one word you managed to make TWO errors: the word “PrEsbytErian” has the letter “e” in the first and the last syllables, and not the “i”, which you used when you wrote “Prisbiterian”. Of what “scientific research” can one possibly vaticinate when lacking elementary illiteracy? You permit the second defamation regarding presentation of father Benjamin’s project for the Sobor of Bishops’ by calling the occurrence a “lawlessness”. Any clergyman or even any layman has the right to address his Church Authority with any proposal and even more so when he is entrusted with such through obedience, which was the case with father Benjamine. It is the Sobor’s business to determine whether the presented case is true or false. What can possibly be unlawful about it! This Regulation is not “unlawful” and, moreover, cannot be defined as you deigned to state heedlessly a “modernism”, due to the fact that there is nothing either anti-canonical or anti-orthodox about it, as it is taken, I repeat, from the original Regulation regarding the highest and eparchial government of Orthodox Church, which was adopted by the Holy Sobor of the Orthodox Russian Church in 1917-1918. When the reputable canonist of the Church Abroad, Bishop Grigory (Grabbe) (who then was an archpriest) spoke of foreign use of institutions provided by the All-Russian Sobor, he, unlike yourself, did not label them “lawlessness and modernism”, but simply characterized these institutions as “those which did not happen to be practical”, “difficult and cumbersome” (see Archpriest Georgy Grabbe “On Church Abroad Legislation”, 1964, page 12). Therefore, in this instance, you are acting as a crazy and raging person toward the Secretary of the Synod of our Church by allowing these baseless defamations. I believe, that you must immediately and humbly ask the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for forgiveness of such unconsidered accusation; otherwise your failure to understand and your stubbornness in deceit and your vicious way with a designated official of our Church, whom after all you must treat with a bit more respect, may in fact lead you, as you stated, not to “constructive workmanship” but to “self-destruction”. Your “anticipatory” prejudgment is quite obvious also because the project that father Benjamine proposed was not accepted by the Synod of Bishops at the end, but even before the decision was made you already brought the accusations against the Secretary of Synod, thus violating the accused person’s right for defense; in other words (speaking juristically which you obviously understand better) you refused his “benefit of the doubt”, thus bringing the justified charge of “giving false testimony” upon yourself. Even if the Regulation proposed by father Benjamine had been accepted by the Synod of Bishops, you still would have had no right to spatter the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, but should have had accepted with obedience and humility (regardless of your personal opinion) the synodical legislative action of the Church, Whose Synod of Bishops has the full canonical right to change the Church Statute, as the given Sobor is the Church’s Legislative Body.
In your following letter of 2/15 December 2004, in which you critique the changed Paragraph #1 of “ROCOR Regulation”, you also demonstrate your incompetence in this matter and, I repeat, allow unacceptable blasphemous liberty by comparing the Church to a “matryoshka”. How then would you characterize the fact that the Ecumenical Church is called Church, the Local Church is called Church and the Parochial Church is also called Church? No, your interpretation is churchless and your explanation is fishy. You insist that the “comment” (which sadly remained unapprehended by you) added in Paragraph #1 “cannot turn the meaning and content of Decree #362 one hundred and eighty degrees”.
Who infixed this absurd idea in your mind? “ROCOR Regulation” was changed numerous times – I do not know, are you aware of that? For instance, the Sobor of Bishops of ROCOR ratified “Provisional Regulation of ROCOR” in 1936. Another edition of “Regulation of ROCOR”, by then without the word “provisional”, was adopted as early as 1956 (and by Sobor’s Appointment in 1964). This Regulation was accepted well without the Gracious Metropolitan Antony, to whom you referred so awkwardly. The “Provisional Regulation” of 9/22 and 11/24 September 1936 talks about existence of ROCOR based “on autonomous principality”, while the “Regulation of ROCOR” of 1956 and of 5/18 June 1964 the expression “on autonomous principality” is already replaced with the clause “cathedral principality” (which, sure enough, is both logical and orthodox). Nevertheless, the expression “provisionally self-governing and based on cathedral principality UNTIL the extermination of the atheist government in Russia”, from the dogmatic viewpoint demands a more exact definition, due to the fact that the collegiality of Church does not depend on presence or extermination of some atheist government. The church is governed by collegial principality BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER such extermination. Patriarch Tikhon’s Decree #362 of 7/20 November 1920 also wisely foresees not only “provisional” status: “in case when the state of affairs indicated in Articles 2 and 4 would assume a lengthy period of time or further on become long-term…” (See p. 5). Moreover, the Church cannot exist “provisionally” – this is very simple to understand. The only true statement of yours is regarding omitting the expression “based on collegial principality”, but this is not the result of some intentional change but only of heedlessness. This sentence should be added to the current “Resolutions of ROCOR” as soon as possible. Oddly, you did not focus your attention on this important matter… Our Church, the ROCOR, is effectively the Local Russian Church, the government of which is located abroad and is controlled from abroad, as this Government is not located “in place”, in other words, not in Russia, which does not exist anymore, but there exists the RF – the Russian Federation, and, therefore, the Church is not labeled “local”, but is called “The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia”. That is what should have been reflected in the Church Statute, and more specific and serious proposals should have been made as opposed to childish “matryoshka” analogies. In summary, we can see that the “Regulation of ROCOR” underwent various changes in various periods of time, and, consequently, may well undergo changes for Church’s benefit and based on modern reality also in the future, as it is the RIGHT of the Highest Legislative Church Body – the Sobor of Bishops. Therefore, should the Sobor of Bishops accept some decision, then it is within the Sobor’s authority. The Sobor of Bishops always has the right to make any decision regarding organizational affairs in its jurisdiction, if such decision does not contradict the Canonical Rules of the Ecumenical Church – the Apostolic Rules and the Resolutions of Ecumenical Sobors. Such violations are not present in work and in decrees accepted by the Sobor of Bishops of 2004. For example, as it was mentioned earlier, resolutions of the last Sobor were received in Russia “with great enthusiasm – finally, the record is set straight”. Should some bishops disagree with Sobor’s resolutions – then it should be regarded as particular personal opinions and nothing more.
Your negative reasoning regarding pronouncing our Church the lawful heiress of millenarian Russian Orthodox Church is surprising. You outrage over the word “heiress” and propose using the word “guardian”. But should we follow your logic, then we can also come to the conclusion that the word that you proposed also does not possess the universal precision: did you preserve, for example, the gracious institution of elders or 1200 monasteries – the cultural centers of Tsarist Russia? Did you preserve the Liturgical prayer for the Lord’s Anointed Authority’s good health and the prayer for It’s well-being? Did you (personally) maintain the understanding of Church’s Collegiality and the genuinely churchlike attitude toward Bishops and the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops himself? No, ROCOR is precisely the heiress of the Russian Church, and above all this word implicates (which you did not even guess due to lack of churchly consciousness) the APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION of blessed ordinations, the blessedness of Sacraments and the very spirit of Ecclesiasticism.
“Claiming your hereditary entitlements – you continue to write, - and beginning to divide the “inheritance” while the owner is still alive – that, to say the least, is immoral”.
Listen carefully what one of the most authoritative bishops of the Church Abroad Bishop Vitaly (Maksimenko) talks of in his speech at an Eparchial Conference: “God gave us here on Earth the great bliss and joy to be children of Russian Orthodox Church. We are, undeservingly, HEIRS of great spiritual treasures of Her millenarian feat” (Bishop Vitaly, “Motives of My Life”, Jordanville, 1955, page 44). Do you mean to accuse Bishop Vitaly of “immorality” as well! Don’t blaspheme. However, let me ask you: who in your opinion is the “living owner”? Is it ROCOR + MP or, based on sheer numbers, in fact MP? In this case, what is the difference between your ecclesiology and that of Bishop Mark and others of that ilk?
“Furthermore, it must be mentioned, - you continue to romanticize, - that an heir can only claim his inheritance after the devisor dies”. Do not apply your juridical mentality of soviet critical spirit and of imaginary value to grace-filled church life. The Church of Christ is not of this World, and, therefore, lay categories of comparison and equalization of lay notions with Hers are entirely unacceptable. You probably know that the son of Tsar Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duke Alexey Nikolaevich was referred to as “Heir Tsarevich” while his Crown-Bearing Parent was STILL ALIVE (which can be confirmed by many documents and photographs signed in this manner); and till now it never crossed any fool’s mind to label it “immorality”, because this title is lawful, wise, clear-sighted and continuous. An important question to you also arises here: whom exactly do you imply when you say “devisor”?
In order for you to better understand the position of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and to have a more accurate perception of Her canonical status, I would like to quote words of confessor Mikhail Polsky from his unique work “The Canonical Position of the Highest Church Authority in the USSR and Abroad”, 1948, Jordanville: “The way of veracity belongs to the Sobor of Bishops Abroad, which embarked on the canonically correct journey of self-governing… This Sobor is the only legal one and the only genuine one by its form of management, by its composition (bishops), by its content... At this given time, the only canonical church authority for the entire Russian Orthodox Church, both Her foreign part as well as the Russian part since 1927, is the Sobor of Bishops Abroad, which could carry into effect its rightful deeds and bring out the Russian Church truth without hindering”.
As for the rest of your philosophical arguments, I must answer briefly, as their fallacy is so clear that it requires no much-detailed explanations.
“In Article 8 of the Resolution it is stated: “All ROCOR bishops are members of Sobor”. In other words, nobody except for bishops can be a member of the Sobor of Bishops and attend its sessions”.
This is a false statement, as it is not mentioned anywhere that nobody else can attend Sobor’s sessions except for bishops. Many historical photographs of Sobors of Bishops of ROCOR depict that Archpriest Georgy (Grabbe) is invariably present among bishops while still being a priest and not a bishop. For example, on one of photographs of the Sobor of Bishops of 1959 we can see the following picture contradicting your statement: Metropolitan Anastassy is seated at the head of a long table, bishops are seated to either side of him (amongst them such pillars as: St. Ioann of Shanghai, Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko), Archbishop Nikon (Rklitsky), Archbishop Averky (Taushev) as well as Archbishop Vitaly (the current Supreme Pontiff of ROCOR) and others – and they indeed knew the canons better than you). Father Georgy (Grabbe) is seated to the right of Metropolitan Anastassy, right next to the Chairmen of the Sobor! The same picture is depicted on a photograph of the Sobor of Bishops of 1956 – father Georgy (Grabbe) is seated amongst bishops. On a photograph from the Sobor of Bishops of 1932 we can see Archimandrite Viktor (subsequently the Head of Russian Spiritual Mission in China) amongst members of the Sobor. Accordingly, this false statement of yours demonstrates that you, sadly, are unfamiliar either with church rules or with traditions or with history of the Church Abroad. The Sobor of Bishops invites to its sessions those whom it sees fit and such is its will and right – regardless of various unwholesome personal opinions. It is preferable to remember this.
“Somebody may certainly argue with me that “Archpriest Nicholas Semenoff is Metropolitan Vitaly’s deputy”.
Hardly anybody will argue with you over this absurd statement: it will be as Sobor decides; majority’s vote will decide this – that’s the law as opposed to your romanticizing. This demonstrates that you completely lack the feeling of COLLEGIALITY and you obviously do not understand what IT means for the Church of Christ. You are replacing the brother-loving feeling of Collegiality with a deathly spirit of bureaucratic nomenclative thinking. That is not church spirit.
“But, however, nobody can bestow the authority of archpriest upon a Metropolitan’s deputy if he does not possess such title.”
That is defamation, as nobody bestowed archpriest authority upon the Metropolitan’s deputy. There is no signature of the deputy on Sobor’s documents.
“Whereas the authority of Bishop Vladimir and Bishop Bartholomew are not confirmed by the Sobor, they have no right to sign Synodal documents, as they are not members of the Synod of Bishops at this moment”.
No, that is not true, the Sobor did not exclude the said bishops from Synod’s body. Moreover, your imprudent statement is contradicted by a Document signed by members of the Synod of Bishops together with the Supreme Pontiff, which happened after the Sobor took place.
“As such, bishops Vladimir and Bartholomew should be accepted as members of Synod by Metropolitan Vitaly’s decree”.
You propose an un-canonical way – for members of the Synod are elected by the whole Sobor and not by a single archpriest, even if his has the authority of the Supreme Pontiff.
“However their participation in Synod’s work would be illegal and their signatures would be invalid without the Decree”.
No, the participations would be legal and the signatures would be valid – the Sobor did not cancel their authority. You are trying to paralyze the Church life with this statement. It won’t happen.
“Metropolitan Vytaly could chose from those who are present and appoint the Secretary of Synod by his decree”.
No, he cannot, the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops is appointed by the Sobor. It is also the Sobor that can discontinue his authority.
In summary, these less-than-churchly proposals depict your complete canonical illiteracy.
“For my part, I am ready to actively participate in reparation of our church’s affairs…”
First of all, what needs to be repaired is your un-churchly ideology and canonical illiteracy. So apply your help in this repair by fulfilling your words with actions. And in order to do so one must spend more time studying more as opposed to teaching, as well as reading, as opposed to writing, and also nurturing the churchlike feelings of brotherly oneness and unanimity, as opposed to maintaining the skill of soviet-style critical analysis.
Second of all, let’s follow the example of your proposal: to open the case of Bishop Barnaby, it is necessary to also open your case from the beginning, and your “bishoplike” games with exhortations and rudeness toward members of the Sobor of Bishops, the Synod and the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops must stop immediately.
In my opinion, the Synod should open an investigation of your case starting with the time when you entered into sergianism, which had been anathematized by our Sobor, as it was earlier anathematized by Catacomb Church. By the way, for some reason you did not say a single word of it and did not congratulate bishops of ROCOR with this very important decision. Therefore, while being a follower of sergianistic heresy and a member of ecumenical organization (heresy of ecumenism was anathematized by the Sobor of Bishops of ROCOR in 1983) you dared to garnish yourself with a priest’s order, wear canonicals, and call yourself “a priest”, while in fact only being a fake priest of the Moscow Patriarchy – the Religion Section of KGB of USSR (it is difficult to think of a scarier or more blasphemous organization than this MP-KGB team).
Supporting sergianism is the true betrayal of Christ, it is the surrender of Orthodox faith, and it is a sacrilegious and blasphemous life directed against the Truth of Christ, which can be made equivalent to descending during persecution. For example, Gracious Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) equates sergianists to abjurors-libellatici who got corrupted during persecution and who were accepted back into Church’s bosom after their 15 year-long repentance. This happened even disregarding the fact that they did not formally digress and did not make sacrifice to idols, but owing to their connections simply possessed tickets (“libellus”), which showed that they ostensibly made sacrifice and due to which they were not subject to oppression and arrest. Thank God that the Light of Truth enlightened your mind and heart and that you found the True Church, but did you repent your sin of heresy and apostasy for 15 years as a corrupted apostate should according to Church Laws? And the Moscow Patriarchy – that is an obedient maid of the atheist authority, whose immensity of bloody killings is unprecedented throughout the whole history of humanity. MP served it well with heart and soul by sending prayers of long living for the atheist soviet authorities during blasphemous “liturgies”. This descent is more horrible (or as Metropolitan Antony says: equal to) than any idol sacrifice. By the Church Canons, those who corrupted, one of whom you obviously became by serving the satanic MP-KGB organization, “cannot take part in service, but can only be in contact” with laymen or can also be monks (see Petr. Al. 10) even if they repented, returned to the way of truth, and even renewed their feat of confession and being true to Veracity. The 10th Rule of the 1st Universal Sobor states: “If any of the corrupted are promoted to clergy by lack of knowledge or by statement of those who promoted, this does not weaken the Rules of Church. Those must be discharged from clergy after investigation”.
Therefore, by Canons you, as a former corrupted sergianist, do not even have the right to be clergy, but can only take communion as a simple monk.
It is very important for the committee, which will be investigating your case to find out: were you an octobrist, a young pioneer, a young communist, and a communist – as that is renouncement of Christ and an expression of allegiance to a Christ-fighting organization of men-killers, to fight against religion and destruction of cathedrals – in other words, a direct and voluntary CORRUPTION, much scarier than any abjurors-libellatici. I hope, that you will cooperate with the future committee that will investigate your case in every way. Therefore I am asking you: let the both of us request the Synod of Bishops to organize such a committee as soon as possible – for your own salvation.
Aside from that, I repeat, even before the current division of the Church into ROCOR(V) and ROCOR(L), your candidacy for bishop ordination was declared unworthy by Bishops of ROCOR including Metropolitan Vitaly. We must acknowledge our mistake, repent (in particular, those bishops, who rashly approved your unworthy candidacy and who personally ordained you) and annul your ordination, thus returning to the original position of ROCOR’s bishops regarding you, which, at the end, should be accepted as correct, after which the investigation of your case should begin in order to determine your true canonical status.
I wish that your awkward situation is corrected, cured, and amended.
Wishing you good for your salvation,
+ Bishop Vladimir
21 January/3 February 2005.
St. Maksim Confessor.