Our concern for fellow journalist Simon Ostrovsky is high. His captors say that he has switched sides and now supports their pro-Russian forces. That is a falsehood as he is being held in the SBU (former KGB) prison locally. He was detained along with several other journalists covering a news event in Kramatorsk, near the borders of Ukraine and Russia.
The news media is describing him as an “American” and he is now, but Simon was born in the Soviet Union and speaks Russian and Ukrainian fluently. He holds press credentials from the foreign ministry in Moscow and from the Ukrainian foreign ministry–these thugs have no right to hold him.
We saw a tweet from his cameraman Freddie Paxton and are hoping that Freddie has been released. Paxton was beaten up by pro-Russian thugs in Horlivka. Moscow journalist Roland Oliphant of the Daily Telegraph was also detained but has been released.
Ukrainian journalist Irma Krat has been taken hostage in Slavyansk by pro-Russian militants.
This Saturday evening the largest Orthodox Church in the world was filled to capacity with over 7,000 parishioners there to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.
As is their practice each year, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana Medvedeva, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attended the Easter liturgy.
Above: a deacon assists President Putin and Mayor Sobyanin in lighting their Easter Candles. Unseen in this photo but standing next to Mr. Putin were Svetlana Medvedeva and Prime Minister Medvedev. Candles are lit with a flame transported via chartered airplane from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
Orthodox Easter liturgies around the world are celebrated in what is called an “all night vigil” with services that begin in the late evening and last until very early morning, usually around three hours. The Orthodox term for Easter is Пасха (Pash-ka) which is Greek for “great night.”
Patriarch Kirill addressed the crisis in Ukraine by saying, We pray for enemies to reconcile, for violence to stop. We pray that people be merciful to one another no matter what divides them and separates them from each other. All the children of our common Church have Ukraine in their hearts, and our hearts are aching for the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
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Whether Христос воскресe (Kristos Vos-krese means Christ is risen) is said as a greeting from one person to another or when in a service is shouted by the priest, the congregation or other person responds with Воистину воскрес (va-IST-in-oo vas-KRES) which means truly risen!
It is common practice for the presiding priest to hand out tiny round Easter loaves about the size of a cupcake and also a red Easter egg. According to some Christian traditions when Mary Magdalene met Emperor Tiberius in Rome she greeted him with: Christ has risen ; whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and quipped, Christ has no more risen than that egg is red. Legend has it that the egg turned red.
For a better understanding on how Easter is celebrated in Russia and the areas of the former Soviet Union visit our Easter page: https://russianreport.wordpress.com/religion-in-russia/easter-in-russia/
День ваий! They call it Palm Sunday in the West and we call it Pussywillow Sunday in the East. This year the date for Easter is the same in the Eastern and Western world and as this is not always the case, this Easter we have an opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Christ together.
Across Asia and Easter Europe there were street vendors and kiosks selling bunches of pussywillow branches to folk on their way to Sunday liturgies.
As we approach the final week of Easter or the Greek term which is пасха (Pas-hka), may God give you the ability to continue the Holy Fasting season and a time of reflection on our fallen humanity and His glorious resurrection.
Our fear of the further dismembering of Ukraine is unfortunately underway. The first video shows the celebrations of Independence Day in Donetsk two years ago with citizens singing the Ukrainian national anthem.
The news today however shows Donetsk in quite a different mood as groups of protesters have stormed government buildings and declared that Donetsk is now independent and called their state the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
The Czech President has just gone on record as saying that if Russia gobbles up more of Ukraine then NATO should consider getting involved. All along we’ve not supported NATO action in that part of the world but it gets sticky with the West’s commitment to protect Ukraine’s borders in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons in the “Budapest Memorandum” authorized by the US Senate and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
If the countries involved can’t sit and come to agreements quickly then at the very least, the West should immediately begin steps to rearm Ukraine with nuclear weapons. That may be distasteful to many but frankly it is the only real equalizer in situations where a larger nation bullies her neighbors.