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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kremlin Putin goes hermit on mount Athos

Vladimir Putin for the first time in half a year travels abroad: on Friday begins a visit to Greece. The program talks with President Prokopis pavlopoulos and the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Museum visits and a pilgrimage to mount Athos. It is noteworthy that at the beginning of the two thousandth the President twice failed to get to the Holy mountain, and many have decided that it’s a bad sign: “the virgin will not let me”. I wonder what will be the relationship of Putin with virgin this time — after the Crimea, Donbass and Syria?

photo: Natalia Gubernatorova

Compared to the former foreign political activity of Vladimir Putin now looks almost a hermit. The upcoming visit to Greece — his first trip outside of the Union state (in February, the President visited Minsk from November 2015, when he travelled to the climate summit in Paris. And if we talk about official visits to Europe, the head of state didn’t commit them for more than a year since the trip to Hungary in February 2015. For comparison: in 2004, Putin went abroad 26 times, having made 13 official and working visits.

Fairness: the President has reason to be offended by Europe. The last time Russia honestly tries to find a compromise to cut Donbass node. But the EU is hard not to notice her efforts. Even U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry acknowledged that the latest talks “channel four” were productive. But according to the head of the European Council Donald Tusk, now “there is much less progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements than a year ago”, so the pressure is economic and political — must continue.

Even those countries that publicly seem to support the lifting of sanctions against Russia (including Greece), at the EU summit consistently voted against, because, as they say, the principles of European solidarity. And Putin, it seems, has already begun to lose patience. “Russia proceeds from the necessity of establishing an equal partnership dialogue with the European Union. However, the counter ready to go in this mutually beneficial and promising way from European colleagues we don’t see,” offended the President wrote in his article published ahead of his visit to the Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”. GDP believes that relations between Russia and Europe are at a dangerous crossroads. And we should not delay to ponder the question: how do we see the future of our relations, in what direction are we going to go?

In the case of Greece the answer is more or less clear. The Kremlin is prepared to turn a blind eye even to the inconsistency of Athens on the issue of sanctions, knowing that the Greek authorities are in a difficult financial situation and solutions for debt problems have to reckon with the policy of the European Union. “The Greeks in favour of the resumption of political dialogue between Russia and the EU against the sanctions, but are forced to follow the EU official line — standing up for the government of Tsipras, Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov. According to him, at negotiations the Greeks constantly put the question of deliveries to Russia of agricultural products, but the solution of this issue related to a package of sanctions and our retaliatory countermeasures. Recall that Tsipras last year already twice visited Russia with official visit to the St Petersburg economic forum. In January 2016 in Moscow was the President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Ushakov said that the question of lifting the embargo on Greek strawberries and other vegetables and fruits will not rise in Athens — Russia does not stipulate preferences and special conditions for the individual, even the most friendly countries. The main topics of negotiations will be the issues of energy and military-technical cooperation — Russia and Greece are together now “friendly” against Turkey. The Kremlin hopes that the alternative to frozen after the incident with the Russian pilots “Turkish stream” may be the Italian-Greek-Russian project “Poseidon” — you only have to find a third country through which a pipeline passing under the Black sea, will reach the Greek border. The interest of Athens to the Russian weapons Ushakov commented: “Greece has a constant challenge, containing the Turkey.” In addition, Russian companies have shown genuine interest in the privatization of Greek assets. Among the possible acquisitions — rail operator and the port of Thessaloniki, which will give Russia access to the Mediterranean sea.

Already officially announced that on the second day of the visit, 28 may, Putin will make a pilgrimage to mount Athos — it will be already the second visit of the Russian President of the Orthodox Shrine. The first time the GDP was going to mount Athos in 2001, but was prevented by a snow storm, during the second attempt in 2004 was a capture of school in Beslan. And only a year later, Putin finally managed to get to the great elders. This time the pilgrimage is connected with the Millennium of the Russian monasticism on mount Athos, to accompany the President will be the Patriarch. GDP will meet with members of the governing body of mount Athos — the Holy Kinot, and then will visit the Russian Svyato-Panteleymonov monastery, where he will meet already familiar to him elders headed by Archimandrite Jeremiah. The last time Putin Jeremiah was 90 years old, and now 100! It is unlikely the President will miss the opportunity during a private conversation to ask the secret of such surprising longevity.

But for Elton John seats on the near chart was not found. Though the singer and the President will be in Moscow on 30 may, the Kremlin apparently decided that to discuss the problems of sexual minorities with the most striking of their representative after a visit to mount Athos is somehow too… Have Elton John to wait for the right moment…

From the stories about the elder Jeremiah (Alekhin)

One day the old man visited his longtime friend — a famous Russian emigre activist (whose name I deliberately do not call), like father also experienced the bitter Cup of suffering in Soviet and German concentration camps. Struck up a friendly conversation, sharing memories…

One of the monks present began to question the guest about the experience they in Soviet concentration camps… And he shared his troubles and pain, stressing that the people in the camp were worse than dogs, were incredibly cruel, abused… And then added that the father of Jeremiah can tell no less horror, because there were all the same. And turned to the priest…

In response, the father of Jeremiah, after a pause, somehow quietly and reverently said, “Yes, I remember… I remember when my parents died, the camp commander called me in, gave three rubles out of pocket expenses and was advised to run at night… And I ran away. Three years of wandering, walked from village to village, and anywhere else people wouldn’t let me starve to death, left without food, though, and risked for me. God sent good people. I remember. Thank you for all of the Lord.”

The sides felt a certain awkwardness, and, in order to switch present monk asked his guest about the German concentration camps. He began to tell me that in Nazi camps was even worse, and that at the sight of the Germans, he still barely restrained… can’t forget the humiliation that had to go through. He adds that the father of Jeremiah, too, can tell you what there were inhuman conditions…

In response, the priest, again slightly hesitated, then smiled, as if he remembered something pleasant, and said, “Yes, I remember… I Remember the German women, who every day came and threw us through the barbed wire bread so we wouldn’t starve to death. Their bread was so delicious that I still remember its taste. Thank you for all of the Lord.”

Having thought about what I said, I was surprised how the elder Jeremiah, having gone through so much grief, suffering and hardship, not only hardened, not lost faith, but even from these difficult experiences remember only the good, good story about those awful of his life events with a smile, as something pleasant. And most importantly, at all thanks God.

In this case, apparently, lies the spiritual secret of the elder Jeremiah. The mystery of his inner struggle and longevity.

The stories of the head of the library of the Athonite monastery of St. Panteleimon monk Ermolai.

The website “Russian Athos” (www.afonit.info)

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