Interfax has an interview with the ubiquitous Vsevolod Chaplin, spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church:
The Russian Orthodox Church is grateful to the Moscow city authorities and law enforcers for preventing a gay parade attempted in the city last Saturday.
…He found the beatings on Saturday regrettable.
Moreover, he admitted that he had never heard of the Orthodox Brotherhood blamed for the beatings. “It is the first time that I have heard about such an organization. I wonder whether it was set up for provocative purposes,” Father Vsevolod assumed.
Chaplin’s ignorance of the Orthodox Brotherhood is hard to swallow, given the Brotherhood’s high media profile and links with the church. As was reported prior to the rally in the Moscow News:
“We will drive them off,” Yury Ageshchev, coordinator of the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Russian Orthodox Church told Kommersant. “True, last year we had some issues with the police and there were arrests, but this time we will not give up. It’s going to get hot,” he threatened.
Would that be the same Ageshchev who in 2004 was introduced to the American Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Laurus, when Laurus came to Moscow? According to a press release by the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods and the Union of Orthodox Gonfalon-bearers:
The visit concluded with a discussion…[with] Protopriest Sergei Konobas of the Moscow Diocese, A.A. Senin, editor of Russkiy Vestnik, the writer D.N. Merkulov, the head of the Russian National Culture Center of Moscow, the famous Orthodox publicist Yu. N. Ageshchev, members of the SPB, the Union of Gonfalon-Bearers and other patriotic Orthodox groups.
Ageshchev is a veteran fanatic: back in 1992 he denounced an Orthodox priest for taking part in a Billy Graham rally; in 2007 he led a cleansing of the Moscow River to counter “the filth that filled the river after the trip of a big company of homosexuals”. He has also been involved in skirmishes between Slavs and Caucasian nationals.
The Orthodox Brotherhoods and the Gonfalon-bearers have also staged a number of stunts, including impaling a toy monkey as a protest against the theory of evolution and doing the same to a photo of Madonna. According to a scholar named Stella Rock, writing in 2002, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods was actually “instigated by the Patriarchate to coordinate the activities of flourishing lay organisations”. She adds:
Despite a promising beginning, the movement has been plagued by the xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and political conservatism visible in many areas of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods has arguably become a symbol of the worst aspects of post-Communist Orthodoxy.
How could Chaplin have missed all this?
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