Patriarch Kirill on Predatory Loans

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is calling on the Russian Duma (parliament) to curb the growth of predatory micro-credit consumer loans. Speaking yesterday (26 January) to assembled participants at the 5th annual Christmas parliamentary meetings, His Holiness observed that the unchecked onerous loan practices of many consumer loan operators have crippled low-income families and individuals across Russia.

Many micro-credit loan operators have targeted the elderly and young adults who are either underemployed or unemployed. Loan applications of some lenders require the listing of extended family members and if the loan recipient fails to repay, current law is often ignored and lenders seek repayment from others who were not signatories to the loan.

Noting that many of these loans are rapacious usury in its manifestation, the Patriarch called on the state Duma to address the practice of high interest rates that are often impossible to repay for those on small and fixed incomes. As some debtors have lost their homes in the process, the Patriarch described the current situation as robbery, and said that such operations must be stopped by force of law.

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In 2010 the Duma passed Federal Law No. 151-FZ on Microfinance and Microfinance Institutions. While attempting to provide oversight, it also led to explosive growth of so-called “pay day” style loan operators along with legitimate small business micro loans.

Patriarch Kirill recounted his personal experience in India where micro-credit banks were helpful, offering small loans to individuals at low interest in order to start business, etc. He described such low interest micro-banks as supporting the poor.

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Saint Tatiana Day, Татьянин день

25 January is a special day for students. It is the end of the winter semester and signals a two-week break until the spring semester begins, similar to “spring break” in the West. The holiday is celebrated for Saint Tatiana, considered to be the patron saint of students in Eastern nations such as Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.  It is also known as “Students Day” (день студента) and is a public holiday.

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Saint Tatiana was a deaconess of the early Christian church who as martyred in the 3rd century after refusing to renounce her faith during the rule of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus. She was a young woman when arrested and authorities demanded that she make a pagan sacrifice to Apollo. Refusing, she prayed to God for strength and a sudden earthquake destroyed the statue of Apollo and much of the pagan temple.

Her prosecutor was the Roman regent Ulpian, a man responsible for killing many Christians. She was blinded and then two days later thrown to a hungry lion in the circus. However, the lion laid at her feet instead of attacking. Upon regent Ulpian’s orders, Roman soldiers then beheaded her.

It was January 25, 1755 (January 12 old calendar) that Lomonosov Moscow State University (Московский государственный университет имени М. В. Ломоносова or МГУ) was founded after two men, Ivan Shuvalov and Mikhail Lomonosov, approached Russian Empress Elizabeth with the idea of establishing a grand University in Moscow. Today, Moscow State University is the most prestigious school in Russia.

Many university students attend the Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana, opened in 1830 near the original site of Moscow State University. The chapel was a reconstructed theatre inside an old Moscow mansion. It features an elegant chapel in a semi-circular shape and overlooks the corner of Bolshaya Nikitskaya and Mokhovaya Streets.

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The Soviets banned the holiday because of the religious overtones, but in the waning days of the Soviet Union, University president/rector Viktor Sadovnichy gained approval to return Saint Tatiana’s Day to students.

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Students in Crimea visit a local chapel to learn more about Saint Tatiana.

Moscow students traditionally gather at the skating rink near the GUM Mall on Red Square to enjoy not only skating, but concerts by Russian pop-stars. This marks the end of the outdoor skating rink on Red Square until the next year’s holiday season.

Был белый снег, шёл первый день каникул,
Целый день вдвоём бродили мы с тобой.
И было всё вокруг торжественно и тихо,
И белый-белый снег над белою землёй.

Но вдруг зима дохнула вешним ветром,
Когда я на снегу у дома твоего
Два слова начертил обломанною веткой:
“Татьяна плюс Сергей”, и больше ничего.

Была земля белым-бела, мела метель,
Татьянин день, Татьянин день.
А для меня цвела весна, звенел апрель,
Татьянин день, Татьянин день, Татьянин день.

Вновь шли снега, и было их немало,
Но тот Татьянин день забыть я не могу.
Судьба нас не свела, но мне всегда казалось,
“Татьяна плюс Сергей” пишу я на снегу.

Пройдут снега, на мокром тротуаре
Для девочки другой начертит кто-то вновь
Те вечные слова, что мы не дописали,
“Татьяна плюс Сергей равняется любовь”.

Была земля белым-бела, мела метель,
Татьянин день, Татьянин день.
А для меня цвела весна, звенел апрель,
Татьянин день, Татьянин день, Татьянин день.

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