Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 2000/11-4

Nov. 16, 2000

As Putin, Clinton Toast and Praise Each Other in Brunei...

Russia Sets Off Explosives Around the Kursk

... And Russian Jets Buzz USS Kitty Hawk, Showing Off What Stealth Really Means; Putin’s Father-Confessor Fesses Up

FROM NEW YORKRUSSIAN AFFAIRS


HEADLINES

Barents Sea               1. Russia Sets Off Explosives Around the Kursk

Brunei                        2. Putin, Clinton Toast and Praise Each Other

Sea of Japan              3. Russian Jets Buzz USS Kitty Hawk Showing Off

                                       What Stealth Flying Really Means

Moscow                     4. Putin’s Father-Confessor Fesses Up

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1. Russia Sets Off Explosives Around the Kursk

BARENTS SEA, Nov. 16 - Russia has been setting off explosives in the area of the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk in an effort to shoo off the snooping western vessels, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing western military analysts as sources.

And why would the western (presumably NATO, mostly likely U.S.) vessels be still hovering around the accident site, especially after the Russians themselves have put off efforts to raise the sub until next summer, due to severe winter weather in the Barents Sea?  Could it be that they are trying to retrieve something they have left behind before the Russians get to it?  And if so, what might that be?

Well, how about the evidence of the Kursk’s collision with a foreign vessel, which the Russians have been saying all along was the most likely cause of the accident that killed 118 Russian sailors? 

As recently as Nov. 8, the Reuters newswire quoted the Russian Navy top commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov as saying that this theory was now backed up by "serious visual evidence" obtained during the divers’ recent efforts to enter the sunken sub and recover the bodies of the dead sailors.  Kuroyedov says he remains 80 percent convinced that explosions aboard the Kursk followed a collision with a foreign submarine during exercises in the area.

"We have discovered a very serious dent in the area of the first and second sections which could have occurred only from a blow and nothing else, big grooves of something scraping along and peeling off the outer rubber layer," Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said on Nov. 8, according to the Interfax news agency.

But Klebanov warned that the inspection of the wreck, made during an 18-day operation to recover the crew's bodies, had yielded insufficient evidence for a final conclusion on what caused the blasts. "I cannot identify a final explanation," the RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

Recovery work on the doomed submarine was halted Tuesday (Nov. 7) with the withdrawal from the site of a Norwegian salvage team on board the platform Regalia. Only 12 bodies have so far been retrieved.  Further attempts were called off due to risks to the divers from mangled metal inside the submarine.

But one of the TiM Russian sources reported that four days earlier (Nov. 4) that the Russian divers did retrieve “pieces of a skin of a foreign submarine from the Kursk nose compartment.”  This source also said that two American-made emergency radio buoys were also picked up.

Yet there has been no public statement to that effect by the Russian officials, nor any display of such alleged evidence.  Which has led our source to speculate that a likely deal had been made between the Russian and American presidents to keep the real cause of the Kursk tragedy quiet.  In sports terminology, this would be equivalent of the Russian’s trading sealed lips for “future considerations.”  Such as the Missile Defense Shield and/or the IMF financing?

If the report about a possible Russian cover-up is true, this would adding an insult to the injury already suffered by the Russian sailors and their families.  And would probably irreparably damage Putin’s reputation at home, already badly shaken by his handling of the Kursk disaster.

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2. Putin, Clinton Toast and Praise Each Other

BRUNEI, Nov. 16 - Like the good chums that they seem to have become, the lame duck U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, toasted and feasted in one of the world’s most splendiferous palaces in Brunei, an oil-rich sultanate in northern Borneo in the South China Sea.  The two presidents were joined by 18 other Pacific Rim leaders at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Clinton met with Putin at a complex called the Assara Guest House. He arrived with his hand outstretched, saying, "Hello, Vladimir."  The Russian president told reporters that Clinton had "caused a breakthrough in the US-Russian relations, and we expect this torch to be given to whoever will be the successor."

Clinton also spoke to business leaders at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, an opulent resort on Jerudong Beach on the South China Sea. It is one of the most extravagant buildings in Brunei, built with Italian marble and 24-carat gold inlays in wall panels. "After I saw this facility I did not believe this was a small economy," Clinton joked.

The U.S. president was accompanied by his daughter, Chelsea, and the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as he arrived at the opulent Empire Hotel to address business leaders. Besides his tête-à-tête with Putin, Clinton also met privately with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Following the APEC summit, America’s arguably most infamous draftdodger will finally get to Vietnam, albeit about three decades late.  Clinton is due in Hanoi today for a “kiss and make up” session with the Vietnamese communists.  Par for the course, we suppose.  Clinton will also visit Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. 

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3. Russian Jets Buzz USS Kitty Hawk Showing Off What Stealth Flying Really Means

SEA OF JAPAN, Nov. 14 - On the eve of the Russian and American presidents’ meeting in Brunei, the Russian media reported that, not very far from the site of the APEC summit, Russia’s military pilots snuck up undetected upon the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan, reviving war games played out during the Cold War.  Russian reconnaissance and fighter planes swooped low over the American ship and buzzed it three times over the recent weeks, after evading its battle group's radar systems.

Of course, the Russians first had to fly over Japan to get to USS Kitty Hawk, which means that the Japanese land-based detections systems were none the wiser than those used by the U.S. Navy.

Not only did the Russian jets, operating in pairs, feign an attack on the aircraft carrier, but they were able to take detailed photographs of what was happening on its deck, according to Moscow press reports.

"If these had been planes on a war mission, the aircraft carrier would definitely have been sunk," the Moscow daily “Investiya” commented.  Only after a second pair of SU-24 and SU-27 planes buzzed the USS Kitty Hawk on Oct. 17 did the carrier scramble an F/A-18 fighter to intercept the intruders, the Interfax agency reported.

The maneuvers showed off the real meaning of the term “stealth” aircraft to the Japanese and U.S. military, adding insult to injury of the latter.  The Serbs provided the “injury” part when they shot down the Pentagon’s pride and joy F-117 “stealth” plane in the early days of NATO’s 79-day bombing of that Balkan country.  Later on, another F-117 was also reportedly damaged, but managed to land in Zagreb, Croatia (see the Kosovo war section of our web site - just click on the “NATO War and Peace” button in the left frame, or run a search using F-117 as keyword).

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4. Putin’s Father-Confessor Fesses Up

MOSCOW, Nov. 6 - Viewers of CNN’s  “Larry King Live” program which aired in early September may recall that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin refused to answer the question as to whether or not he believed in God.  His non-reply ran counter to our earlier reports about Putin becoming a Christian believer following a fire at his “dacha” (summer cottage) outside St. Petersburg, during which he saved his two teenage daughters (see “Putin: Lean, Tough, Scrupulous and Christian” - the TiM editor’s piece published by the Wall Street Journal, Feb. 9, 2000).  Which caused one or two TiM readers to speculate that Putin’s Christian faith was just posturing to help him get elected.

Well, Putin’s father-confessor and spiritual advisor, Archimandrite Tikhon of the Sretensky Monastery, gave the Profile magazine an interview recently.  Father Tikhon’s comments appear to vindicate our initial reports about Putin.  “He is an Orthodox man, who wouldn't conceal his convictions,” Fr. Tikhons says about Russia’s president, Putin’s evasive behavior on American TV notwithstanding.

Whatever Putin’s real beliefs are, we have to admit that we find it very strange indeed that a cleric would disclose publicly topics he had discussed with the Russian president, presumably in confidence, as all confessions are supposed to be.

So with that preamble, feel free to take the interview with or without a grain of salt, as you find fit.    Here are some excerpts from it as posted at the Sretensky Monastery's website (initials S.C. refer to Sergey Cherepov of the Profile magazine who conducted the interview):

S. C.: Very Reverend Father, lately a lot is said about your influence on President Vladimir Putin. Under what circumstances did you meet?

Father Tikhon: Lately I have with much interest learned from quite a number of articles about my special closeness to the President, about my supposed influence on him, about my participation in solution of Church and even state problems. Basing on these newspaper 'facts', analysts in their turn make conceptions, global prognoses, and so on and so forth...

What can be said about that? First of all, in social and political circles there is an unshakable conviction that somebody directs the President of Russia. Unfortunately it has been that way for the last fifteen years. Parties of influence changed, but it wasn't particularly difficult to determine them. But/however something different takes place today. Both those, who for many years have controlled the former President and those, who have served their interests (not forgetting their own) hectically look for and can't find the source of influence on Putin. Who controls him? The oligarchs? No. His family? No. The military, the FSB? No. The West, the international circles, the media? It's a pity, but no, too. And they have found at last! It turns out, it is Fr.Tikhon, your humble servant!

But the essence of the question is that Putin is simply independent, and this quality of his(him) strengthens more and more, being a cause of joy for some, and driving others into panic. Lord willing, this President will be directed only by God, own conscience, his love for Russia and good judgment. Our ancestors, who didn't destroy, but united Russia, called all this in sum 'statesmanship'.

As for your question, I can say that I had met Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin before he became President. He is an Orthodox man who wouldn't conceal his convictions.

Everyone could see in the news on TV that his wife and daughters were with him at the Nativity service in St. Petersburg. Many are glad about this. Some can't understand it, are annoyed and even resentful about it. It's one thing for a state man to stand importantly holding a candle in church, paying habitual tribute to the 'spiritual climate'. This is normal, they can understand it. And now suddenly here is sincerity.

So, in this case both Vladimir Vladimirovich and all those, who in innermost life of their own souls through doubts, denials, deep spiritual meditations ascend to the knowledge of God, are far from being lonely. Dostoyevsky wrote: 'The scoundrels ridiculed me for what seemed to them lack of education and retrograde faith in God. These dolts haven't ever even dreamed of the denial of such strength which I put in the Inquisitor and in the previous chapter, and the whole of the novel serves as an answer to that. After all, not as a fool, a fanatic, I believe in God. And these wanted to teach me, and laughed at my backwardness. Their silly nature hasn't ever seen the most powerful denial I had gone through. And they would teach me.'

As for spiritual questions, which may arise before any Christian, believe me, the President has someone to solve them with. He is closely and warmly acquainted with the Patriarch. Not long ago, on his trip around the western region, Putin has visited Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery and Archimandrite John (Kriestyankin), the elder of deepest spiritual life, who had endured concentration camps, has gone an enormous path as a monk, who is a man of great spiritual ability.

S. C.: Don't you think that under the current circumstances the state may try to use the Church in its own interests? Take the war in Chechnya for instance. Orthodoxy implies non-resistance to evil by violence. And even Sergius of Radonezh didn't bless Dmitry of Don to battle with the Tatars at first in 1380, rather he suggested offering them money, jewelry, and then said Sergius, God would reward Dmitry for his humility. And only when Dmitry said that he had done all this, but the Tatars demanded more, Sergius blessed him. Don't you think that warlike-patriotic slogans are alien to Orthodoxy and Christianity? There is no commandment regarding patriotism, there is a commandment saying: 'Thou shalt not kill.'

Father Tikhon: The idea, that the Church appeals for docility to evil, unfortunately, took root long ago and it is absolutely false. In reality there is nothing more alien to Orthodox Christianity than the assertion that one shouldn't oppose evil. It's another thing to be patient and tolerant, opposite to demonic aggressiveness, as Christ wants us to be, and for fulfilling this patience, for peace-loving, for heroic self-sacrifice for peace, He promises us His help.

If we turn to your example from the Russian history, then really, only it were not Venerable Sergius, but Metropolitan of Moscow Kiprian, who asked Dmitry of Don to do everything in his power so that to avoid the war and bloodshed. And Russians actually not once or twice 'turned the other cheek' trying to keep peace. And when all means had been exhausted, St.Sergius of Radonezh blessed the Duke to fight, and even, as it's known, gave him two of his monk-warriors.

It is an incredibly delicate question. The commandment of love for your enemy is the personal feat of a Christian-zealot, who sees even in a man darkened by anger the image and likeness of God. It is a great and difficult feat- to love a man even in his most distorted state, forgive even the greatest evil, brought personally to you. And to not resist evil, directed personally toward you, is the highest level of self-denial, which is within few people's intelligibility and capacity. It is absolutely different, when a Christian confronts with the evil, directed towards his neighbor or the whole of society. Here he not only may, but must do everything to curb this evil.

The spiritual follower of St.Sergius-Seraphim of Sarov, when thugs came to him, and, having beaten him within an inch of his life, robbed him, didn't even raise his hand against them, though he was a man of great physical strength. But at the same time he blessed warriors to defend their Fatherland, not only persuaded, but urged to stop rebels, who encroached on the foundations and spiritual principles of the state. Connivance at evil (which was, by the way, one of the causes of divergence between Lev Tolstoy and the Orthodox Church) is a sheer spiritual and moral crime.

As for Chechnya, Russia has foregone a lot, when it consented to sign the Agreement of Hasaviurt. It was the same attempt to 'pay off' as in the time of Dmitry of Don. And it proved unsuccessful as well. The invasion of Chechnen rebels of Dagestan in November of 1999 literally forced Russia to unsheathe its sword again. Russian patriotism has always had defensive character. 1,5 centuries ago the famous Moscow Primate Metropolitan Filaret deduced a measured formula, which defined the view of the Church on patriotism as a religious duty: 'Love your enemies, beat the enemies of your Fatherland, treat God's enemies with disdain.

S. C.: But as history has showed, the rapprochement of the State and Church may have negative consequences. The problems of this or that power automatically falls on the shoulders of the Church. If we remember 1917 - along with the Empire the society had been deprived of its religious foundation. What do you think about this?

Father Tikhon: To begin with, the Russian state and Russian Orthodox Church were born almost simultaneously, and the Church became in essence the builder of the state. In periods of the most terrible upheavals and sedition it was the Church that saved our country and statehood, fought for the independence of Russia. It was to a certain extent revealed even when the unprecedented persecution was in full swing, in the years of the Great Patriotic War. That's why the process of mutual attraction is natural in its essence. Those, who shout that the Church shouldn't dare interfere in social life and influence on the development of the state, have vague idea of what Russia is. This rapprochement is not the result of somebody's will, but has ontological roots.

Of course, there were periods, when the state attempted to subjugate the Church, use it for its own, sometimes purely pragmatic or even iniquitous interests. Certainly, some members of the Church may fall and oppose God and their own conscience, but on the whole one can't make the Church betray itself and Christ. That's why we call it 'the Holy Church'. This year we celebrate 2000 anniversary of the Nativity of Christ. During this time all countries have gone through their rises and falls, radical transformations, revolutions and counter-revolutions for dozens, if not for hundreds times. Rather often the formation of new states and directions of their development turned out unpredictable. The Orthodox Church has always remained itself. […]

For the full English language version of the Fr. Tikhon interview, check out the Sretensky Monastery web site - http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/intarchimtikhon.htm.

The TiM editor was alerted about the interview by the webmaster of the Russian Anti-Imperialist web site.

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