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Russia embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Alexander Mercouris

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The year 2017 has been in economic terms a year of stabilisation in Russia.

The economy has finally put behind it the recession and high inflation it experienced following the 2014 oil shock.

That 2014 oil shock, and the sanctions the West also imposed on Russia that year, came for Russia at a difficult time, when Russia was already remodelling its economy in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.

That crisis hit Russia especially badly, as Russia’s very high growth rate before 2008 had become increasingly dependent on a consumption led investment boom funded by heavy borrowing in the West’s financial markets.

The sudden interruption of Western credit in 2008, and the massive repatriation of funds from Russia orchestrated in the last quarter of that year by the West’s central banks, threw the economy into a tailspin from which it was only rescued by vigorous government action.

This however brought home to the Russian authorities that an economic model that depended on investment based on external borrowing backed by high oil prices was unsustainable.

Accordingly, following the recovery from the 2008 crisis, steps began to be taken – with the impetus markedly accelerating after the 2012 election – to strengthen the country’s domestic financial system so as to make Russia less reliant on foreign borrowing for its future growth.  This is what led to the priority for policy makers switching from GDP growth towards inflation targeting after 2012, with the tough monetary policy Russia has known since being initiated during this period.

The 2014 oil shock and the sanctions delayed this adjustment.  However they failed to throw it off course the measures Russia had already taken after the 2008 crisis meant that the economy had already been consciously moved away from an economic model which made it dependent on foreign borrowing and high oil prices.

With inflation now at an annual rate of 2.4%, and with prices in Russia probably having risen by less than 1% since late July, the end of the transition period which began in 2012 is now close.

President Putin made precisely this point at an investment conference on 24th October 2017, when he explained the purpose of the policy and defended the tough monetary conditions imposed by the Central Bank

……….we reached a record low inflation rate in the history of Russia. As of October 16, it was 2.7 percent in annual terms. This allows us to expect that by the end of the year inflation will be below the benchmark of 4 percent.

I know, of course, that some experts are concerned about such a low level of inflation, low for our economy, for the economy with such a structure. And some experts see in these dynamics a deflationary threat to the economy.

Here is what I would like to draw attention to. Almost all central banks, all regulators in all countries that do inflation targeting, show such excessive, at first glance, caution. I think it is to some extent justified, because there are still a lot of risks. There are still a lot of threats for an economy with a structure like ours that depends on the world’s raw materials market.

Therefore, I fully understand and generally approve of the Central Bank’s policies, which are based on caution. But at the same time I want to emphasise that price stability, no one ever denies this, plays an important role both in terms of interest rates and in general for macroeconomic stability.

Here I think we are achieving good results, including thanks to a responsible budget policy and strict line of the Central Bank, as I said.

Though these words show President Putin’s support for the actions of the Central Bank – and his awareness of the criticisms which are made of its actions – they also show that he is optimistic that Russia’s long period of high inflation is over, and that monetary policy will start to ease soon.

In the natural course falling interests should lead to higher investment, and President Putin’s words at this same investment conference shows that for the Russian authorities this is now the priority

According to preliminary estimates, investment in fixed assets of enterprises and organisations have grown by 4.2 percent over three quarters. This is twice as high as the GDP growth rate for the same period.

Such soaring rates lay the foundation for further growth.

The Russian authorities however are not solely focused on raising the rate of investment in the economy.

In meeting after meeting this autumn President Putin has made it very clear where he wants to see this investment go.  The focus is in the range of industries and products that taken together are the hallmark of what is sometimes called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution“.

This is essentially a concept of applying the enormous technological advances which have already taken place in communications, artificial intelligence, electronics, robotics, 3D printing, biology etc to create a wholly new type of economy, different from that which exists now.

In a sign of the importance the Russian leadership attaches to this concept, President Putin has been hammering away at the importance of developing exactly this sort of economy for Russia.

President Putin’s comments on this subject which have attracted the greatest amount of international attention were the ones he gave to a meeting of young students on 1st September 2017.

Inevitably the international media focused on that part of these comments which discussed the military and Great Power implications of these new technologies.

Thus we have seen articles with colourful titles such as this one: ‘Putin says the nation that leads in AI ‘will be the ruler of the world’’ 

However Russia’s Presidential website shows that President Putin’s actual comments were far more interesting and much more nuanced, and that his primary focus was not on the military and Great Power implications of these new technologies (though he obviously touched on them) but on the sort of economy and society Russia should want to become

Look at how the world is developing. There are countries which are incomparably larger than our country in terms of population. There are countries where technology and modern administrative tools are much more effective than ours…..

You, who are now entering active life, need to bear this in mind, be aware of it and not just do better than previous generations, but do better on a new level, and not only in comparison with what was done in our country, but in comparison with our competitors all over the world. I am not talking about enemies of every stripe. Now is not the time to talk about sad things. I am referring to competitors, and the competition is always strong.

We have another overused phrase about how we did no worse than someone else. We should always do better precisely because of the circumstances that I just mentioned. There are countries with larger populations and with more advanced technology and administrative tools. For us to be able to maintain our sovereignty, and to make the lives of our people and future generations, your children and grandchildren, better than today, it is imperative to make qualitatively new advances…..

They include space exploration, innovative energy sources, transport, biology, and cognitive science. They are about the synergy of various areas of knowledge and technology that produce the maximum effect, nature-like technologies, and so on. Medicine and education, too, by the way.

(bold italics added)

Just three weeks after making these comments President Putin visited the company office of the Yandex IT company, which operates Russia’s primary search engine and which is Russia rough equivalent to Google.  There we learn from Russia’s Presidential website that he was briefed on

…..the main areas of the company’s operation, such as Yandex.Search, the most popular search engine in Russia, artificial intelligence projects and the company’s online services in telemedicine, education, business and transportation.

One of the company’s latest projects is voice assistant called Alice, which provides weather updates and answers questions about city routes. You can use voice commands or type in your questions. Alice is a unique device: unlike other voice assistants, it can simply chat. Alice is not based on the keyword recognition principle but analyses large volumes of information before providing an answer. Alice will be available on October 10.

Vladimir Putin was also shown a working prototype of a driverless car that uses Yandex software. The President watched the car drive in the company’s yard.

The day after – having seen Yandex’s prototype of Russia’s first driverless car – President Putin chaired a State Council Presidium meeting in Ulyanovsk to discuss passenger transportation during which he said the following

……we need common, systemic approaches to the comprehensive development of regional passenger transport, so that each village and every residential area in a region can be linked by permanent routes. We know that there are a lot of problems so far, and you can see this, as you tour your regions and understand what I am talking about……

We need to create modern, convenient infrastructure and remove bottlenecks that have existed for decades We certainly need a strategic vision of how passenger transport in our country should develop – for the medium and longer term. We need to know the trends – including global trends – emerging in this industry, which will determine the development of public transport for the next 10–15 years. First of all, I mean the development of more environmentally friendly and economically viable technologies, the use of new energy sources and the spread of driverless vehicles.

Today we have seen very good models; we certainly need more, so that they could be commercialised and people could use them.

I also suggest discussing the prospects for the development of so-called multimodal transport, where a passenger could buy one ticket using non-cash payment and reach the destination using two or more types of transport. I must say, this practice was widespread even in Soviet times ‒ I remember, I actually travelled this way. But with modern facilities and technologies, this could be done more efficiently, more conveniently for people.

It is extremely important here that connections are as convenient as possible, or, as experts say, “seamless,” within special interchange hubs. These innovative hubs should also be among the priorities for passenger transportation development. Relevant regulations need to be adopted, at the legislative level, as well as technical arrangements with the use of modern automated systems.

On the whole, digital technology should be more widely used in passenger transportation record keeping, planning, and operations oversight, in settling accounts with carriers and cracking down on illegal businesses that seriously damage this sector of the economy.

I would also like to note that modern technology makes it possible to conduct medical monitoring of drivers and technical monitoring of vehicles remotely.

Yesterday I visited Yandex (once again, congratulations on their anniversary). Their developers are working on very efficient modern software to operate unmanned vehicles and to monitor drivers’ physical condition.

Three weeks later, at a meeting in Sochi, President Putin was discussing the use of digital technologies in Russia’s banking industry again.  Once more it was his comments about cryptocurrencies which attracted international and media attention, but it is clear from the report on Russia’s Presidential website that the discussion went much further.

Shortly after President Putin attended a major education conference also in Sochi under the theme Youth 2030 in which he again returned to these same themes whilst however emphasising in a way that is typical of him the importance of avoiding bad investments by keeping tight control of costs, and the ethical dimensions involved in the new genetic research.

Possibly the most interesting meeting of all was however one which President Putin had on 23rd September 2017 with Economics Minister Oreshkin and Industry Minister Manturov, the two ministers most concerned with developing Russia’s civilian manufacturing base.

During this meeting President Putin spoke of using the lessons learnt in  Russia’s Military Industrial Complex to raise productivity and the technological level in Russia’s civilian industries

Recently at a meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission we said that military industrial complex enterprises show remarkable labour productivity growth, which is certainly a positive development. But we also have another task – to diversify that part of our economy. We have to ensure that labour productivity does not grow through military goods output alone, but also during transition to civilian produce. I would like to hear about what is being done in this area.

Overall, as we all know, no qualitative breakthrough in labour productivity growth has occurred, unfortunately. I know that the Government has drafted a programme on labour productivity growth. I would like to hear from Mr Oreshkin how this work will be organised, since it is basically your job, to a considerable degree, at any rate.

Next, to boost high technology development, a decision was made to establish investment-technology partnerships. To do that, it was agreed to radically upgrade the special capital investment contract (SPIC). I would like you to report as what specific agreements have been reached.

I hope that both ministries, as you work in close contact, will also keep giving the necessary attention to the support of high-tech exports. We have set up relevant mechanisms but I know that there is occasionally a lack of financial backup, so let us discuss this topic as well today.

Drawing on the experience of the Military Industrial Complex in order to upgrade the country’s civilian manufacturing base makes a great deal of sense given the extent to which many of the new technologies which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution originate in military industries in which Russia is an acknowledged leader.

Here it should be said that what President Putin is talking about is something completely different from the misconceived programme to convert military industries to civilian production which was a hallmark of the Gorbachev era.

Rather what President Putin wants is the technological and management practices of the Military Industrial Complex to be disseminated to the country’s civilian industries so as to bring them up to the same level of productivity.

In summary, though President Putin did not to my knowledge use the expression “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in any of his comments this autumn, it is abundantly clear from his comments and from the sort of people he has been choosing to meet (who include the newly elected President of Russia’s Academy of Sciences) that this is the direction he wants Russia to take.

The heavy emphasis on President Putin in this article is somewhat misleading since it may give the impression that embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution is his personal priority rather than that of the whole Russian government.

That view would however be wrong.  On the contrary, with the long period of economic stabilisation and restructuring of the Russian financial system which began in the years after the 2008 crisis drawing to a close, and as the hard work carried out during this period starts to bear fruit, it is clear that embracing the set of technologies which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution and building up Russia’s future economy around them is now the priority of the whole government.

By way of example, the economic plan which former Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin recently presented to President Putin is known to put heavy emphasis on education and health spending and developing Russia’s infrastructure, precisely the areas which need to be upgraded in order to make Russia’s society and economy better adapted for the wider introduction of the new technologies which are to come.

Behind this heavy focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution one senses two factors.

Firstly, there is a strong awareness that Russia needs to embrace this Revolution if it is to maximise both the well-being of its people and retain relevance in the twenty first century as a world power.

However there also appears to be a sense that the various elements which taken together make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution play strongly to Russia’s traditional strengths.

After all the country has experience in precisely the sort of industries which generate the technologies which are being spoken about, whilst the country’s acknowledged mathematical skills  and the depth of its education and science base along with its relatively administrative system and its unrivalled experience in long range inter-sectoral planning ought to make it perfectly suited to developing a new economy in this way.

Indeed one gets the sense that Russia’s leaders believe that Russia ought not only to succeed in creating this sort of society and economy, but that it is well within its capabilities to be a world leader in it.

That doubtless explains both the optimism and the urgency which can be clearly heard in President Putin’s words when he discusses these questions.

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How other jurisdictions view Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine

Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro puts the present Orthodox dispute in simple and understandable terms while not demonizing anyone.

Seraphim Hanisch

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This piece is reprinted almost entirely from its original posting on orthochristian.com. We hope it offers a clear perspective that shared across the Orthodox Christian world regarding the recent moves by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, in regards to the legitimization of two canonically schismatic church communities in Ukraine.   
A note for US or Western European readers:While Western culture regards church affairs as something middling at best, and “not in touch with the ‘real world'”, the Orthodox Christian world takes the opposite view. These matters of how the Church’s faith and practice are handled are extremely important to millions of believers. The aforementioned actions are profoundly difficult events for Orthodox Christians and have great repercussions that extend into the geopolitical realm of secular politics.

It is for this reason that this story is being followed closely on The Duran.Recently, Metropolitan Archbishop Amfilohije of Montenegro gave an interview with Russian Channel One about the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, to grant canonical status to two schismatic communities in Ukraine, pursuant to the creation of a national Ukrainian independent Orthodox Church in that region.This particular set of events also has a geopolitical basis, as the reader will discover as they peruse the interview. Any emphasis in bold is added strictly for the ease of comprehension.


The decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and his Synod concerning the Ukrainian issue, are, in my opinion catastrophic, both for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and for resolving the Church question in Ukraine, as well as for the unity of the Orthodox Church. We in our Church are simply shocked at how the Ecumenical Patriarch—an expert on the canons—made such a decision, which is without a doubt uncanonical,” said His Eminence Amfilohije, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, and Brda, Archbishop of Cetinje, and Exarch of the Throne of Peć in an interview with the Russian Channel One.

Commenting on the canonical aspects of the latest decision of the Patriarch of Constantinople and his Synod, Archbishop Amfilohije explained that the Patriarch of Constantinople “in this decision refers, as other bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have recently referred to, the right to appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople from other Local Churches. This is the so called “Ekkliton.[1]

The body of the interview follows, with all the text except the Interviewer being the speech of Met. Amfilohije:

Whenever a problem arises in any of the Local Churches between individual bishops, it is alleged that they have the possibility of appealing to Constantinople, and then Constantinople could make its decision on the matter.

“However, do they actually have this right of appeal? Especially in the spirit in which Denisenko applied to it now? The Ecumenical Patriarch validates this with some historical facts, and certain Church canons. For example, the 9th, 17th, and 28th Canons of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which were written in antiquity, and therefore, which relate to the status of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its role at that time.

“On what basis then, was this right given? First of all, this right concerns the Metropolises under the canonical administration of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It did not apply to the whole Church. Secondly, this right is based on the canons of the Ecumenical Council, according to which the Ecmenical Patriarch received this status as the Bishop of the City of Byzantium—Constantinople—on the grounds that this city, in which this bishop is located, is the Imperial City—the residence of the emperor and the Imperial Council.

“Now, however, the imperial capital no longer exists. Constantinople ceased to be the imperial capital in 1453. And therefore, this right to which the Patriarch of Constantinople is referring is questionable. The Orthodox Church does not question its status as the first in honor in the Orthodox church, but this does not give him the right to interfere in this way in the life of any other Local Church, including the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Patriarch is referring here to a certain decision in 1686, in which by economia[2] the right to ordain (appoint) the Metropolitan of Kiev was given to the Patriarch of Moscow, provided that the Metropolitan of Kiev commemorates the Constantinople Patriarch first at the Liturgy.

“However, Kievan Rus’[3], and Vladimir Rus’[4], and Muscovite Rus’[5] were one and the same Rus’ at that time; so it is impossible to separate Kievan Rus from Muscovite or Vladimir Rus’.

“300 years have passed since then, and Constantinople had never raised the question that it had ecclesiastical authority in Ukraine. He first raised this question just now, and it is absolutely impossible to accept.

“I am amazed at how the negative reaction of all the Local Churches did not stop him; the ancient Patriarchates of the East—Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. The Patriarch of Antioch was just recently with us. I am sure that he will give his assessment.

“[The Patriarch of Alexandria] recently visited Odessa, and spoke there, together with the Metropolitan of the Polish Orthodox Church, who also quite clearly expressed his opinion.

“In general, all the Local Churches—and our Local Church—expressed at a council, a very documented letter in connection with this issue. Constantinople did not respond to our letter concerning this.

“Our Patriarch just met with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Thessaloniki. Our Patriarch gave him the position of our Church, and unfortunately, Constantinople answered as they answered.

“As it is, however, this decision, as I have already said, is catastrophic, including for the resolution of this important issue of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It does not solve this question, but only complicates it. It creates a radical problem of interference in the life of another Local Church, and not only for the Russian Church, but for absolutely everyone.

“This at the same time calls into question the very unity of Orthodoxy. This has already affected Orthodoxy, especially the Orthodox diaspora, after that the conferences of Orthodox Bishops. According to my information, the bishops in Latin America already refuse to participate in pan-Orthodox conferences, and its going the same way in Europe[6]. I am sure that this will happen in the USA. It has partially already begun.

“But the role of the first among the patriarchs is not to separate the others, but to unite.

“By such actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople in fact separates. He does not solve this problem, but only pushes the problem deeper into the Orthodox Church.

“Recently, a lot has been said about the interference in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church by the great world powers. Can you elaborate on which powers people are talking about, and what these power are trying to accomplish?

“Now it is seen in Ukraine itself. It is in fact the Ukrainian government that is the main player in the question of granting autocephaly to a Ukrainian church[7]. It should not be overlooked that the state would previously intervene—in other words, there was cooperation, the so called symphonia” of the state and the Church in Orthodoxy.

“But in those days, this was with regards to Christian states, and Christian rulers. In those days, the state itself defended the Orthodox Christian faith. Rulers, from the Byzantine Emperor to the Tsar of Moscow, to our kings were Orthodox Christians. The statutes of Montenegro even prescribed that the successor of King Nikola I would be an Orthodox Christian.

“Now, everything is different. These are all secular states, especially those created after the collapse of the Soviet Union. So the Soviet Union gave birth to these contradictions within the Russian nation, within the Slavic peoples of the former Russian Empire. The theme of a so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church[8] didn’t appear only now. It arose with the creation of Ukraine by the Soviet authorities in the 1920s. It was then that this topic appeared.

“Then the so-called “Self-Sanctifiers[9]” arose, who declared themselves Metropolitans of Kiev.

“And the [legitimate] Metropolitan of Kiev—Antony (Khrapovitsky), who was buried in Belgrade, was then a candidate for the position of Patriarch of Moscow. Having fallen asleep in the Lord in 1936, he along with more than thirty bishops were forced to leave Russia, and our Local Church helped them to create what was called the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which still exists today. This Church recently reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate.

“So it’s one thing—contemporary states, modern authority—and a totally different thing—the time when Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, or when Moscow was the capital of the Russian Empire, as the successor of the Byzantine Empire.

“But this epoch, the epoch of the symbiosis of the Church and State, the so-called “Constantinian Age,” began with Emperor St. Constantine the Great, and it ended—in my, and not only in my opinion—with the murder of the Imperial Family in 1918.

“In other words, this imperial period of Christianity is dogmatically fixed in the West in the person of the Bishop of Rome—the Supreme Pontiff. In the East, it was and remains a temptation.

“However, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there was no longer a Byzantine Emperor, who previously provided the Bishop of Constantinople with the status that he had possessed since the time of Emperor Constantine.

“And then this role of the Byzantine Empire passed through Kiev, and Vladimir, to Moscow—that is to say—to the Russian Tsars. But the Russian Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918. And this completed the epoch of Constantine in the history of the Church. It has ended.

“And now the Church must return to the pre-imperial structure, without imitating what was in past centuries, when there was a symbiosis of the state, Church, nation. It must return to the structure that existed before Emperor Constantine, respecting everything that has happened since then, but not being limited to historical experience.

“Thus, the first Rome fell away from the faith, the Second Rome fell, disappearing in 1453, and after the murder of the Imperial Family, the Third Rome had already lost that place in the life of the Church it had occupied in past centuries. Therefore, the way the Church lived and functioned in the imperial period should be left to the past.

“From this point of view, Constantinople committed what it had no right to do.

“First of all, this state—Ukraine—is the fruit of Leninist-Stalinist communist secularism. And this situation for the people of Ukraine, the Christian people is also the result of the unleashing of the Unia[10] on Ukrainians of the 16th century, and what happened with these people in the 1920s.

“It is necessary to keep in mind the meaning of the name itself—Ukraine (Ukraina). It is similar to our word Kraina: a krai / borderland[11]. The question is—the edge or border of what? On the one hand, Kiev was the former Mother Church of the Russian Church, then its center moved to Vladimir (during the period of Vladimir Rus’) and then to Moscow.

“It is this continuum of the Orthodox Church in Russia, which begins in Kiev, passes through Vladimir, and then ends in Moscow. This is an uninterrupted succession. So what point is there to now appeal to a status that existed in the 15th or 16th century? The Ukrainian question today cannot be resolved on that basis.

“In reality, it must be resolved on the basis of the modern structure of this state—a secular state, not dissimilar to all the modern secular states in the West. It’s a fundamentally different relationship between a state and a nation, moreover no longer a ‘Christian nation;’ a similar problem has now manifested itself in Macedonia.

“There, the secular authorities, the communists, also created a so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church. The communists, the heirs of the Tito regime, tried here too, in Montenegro, to create a so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church. The authorities of Montenegro killed 129 priests here during the communist time; the communist authorities killed the Metropolitan of Montenegro Joanikije.

“It was these authorities who were first to raise the question of the so-called autocephalous Montenegrin Orthodox Church. The godless authorities, the atheistic powers, the secular authorities in a secular state, where the Church is separate from the state, are interfering in the internal affairs of the Church. The same thing is happening in Ukraine, and in other countries that emerged after the Bolshevik revolution.

“The Church should try to unite society, and thereby solve this painful issue for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

“There, under the guise of the “Ukrainian Church,” there exist the so-called Uniates—the Greek Catholics—and then the so-called Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church, and the self-proclaimed “church” of the “Kiev Patriarchate.”

“For the first time, Constantinople, on the basis of the alleged “right to appeal” (ekkliton)[12], the right to receive appeals in this way is interfering with the life of another Local Church, even over 300 years after Constantinople’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Ukraine ended.

“Thus, there is talk about these events as being an absolutely incomprehensible phenomenon. Until this very moment I still hope there is an opportunity to refrain from granting this Tomos, which cannot be issued without the consent of the canonical Church.

“Constantinople [previously] recognized only the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as the canonical Church in Ukraine. But now, Constantinople has recognized bishops who were deposed from their positions and excommunicated from one of the Local Orthodox Churches. It’s simply inconceivable that the Ecumenical Patriarch could have gone through with this.

“As for these interventions, and I’d like to say that these are not only those from the Ukrainian authorities themselves, but it is clear that these interventions are directed against Russia, and in fact—against Orthodoxy.

“They were able to separate everyone in these krais[13] (borderlands/marches).[14] Only the Orthodox Church remained united. Now these forces, the demonic forces of this entire world are striving in the end to divide the Orthodox Church. For this they managed to use the ancient Church of Constantinople to apply a canon that belonged to it back in imperial times.

“In the battle for Ukraine—that is to say for undermining the foundation of Russia—the hand of America is visible.

“They speak about the supposed “Russian intervention,” but how can Russia intervene if Russia itself was born there? Kievan Rus’ was born there, and continuously developed for 1030 years. The fact that the Western powers, the EU, and above all, America are fueling and supporting fratricidal wars, as they did against us Serbs in Kosovo, reveals that what is happening in Ukraine is the second act of the tragedy of Kosovo: A group of evil-doers and criminals, who dishonor the worthy Albanian folk, have been made the rulers of Kosovo, and they recognized the so-called independent Kosovo—and the Orthodox Church of God, our age-old culture, and the Serbian people were expelled from there.

“What the communists began[15], the NATO bloc continued with their bombings of Serbia and Montenegro.

“What began in Russia with the arrival of the Bolsheviks and the assassination of the Imperial Family now brings such bitter fruit. I regret that the Patriarch of Constantinople did not understand how deep and serious these problems are.

“He went forth with good intentions—to unite—only this isn’t the road of unification, but only the deepening of the difficulties that seized Ukraine, as well as the creation of a deep schism in the Orthodox Church—which undoubtedly will not bring forth any good fruits if these efforts are continued.

“And this applies not only to Russians and Ukrainians, but also to us [Serbs]. After all, Denisenko[16]was the only one to recognize our Miraš Dedeić,[17] whom the Patriarch of Constantinople deposed and anathematized.

“We relayed this to the Patriarch of Constantinople, but he has of yet not answered this question. Of course, he does not recognize Dedeić, but by this act—by accepting as a canonical organization those who support all kinds of schisms in other locations—it involuntarily strengthens schisms that undermine the unity of the Orthodox Church.[18]

“And furthermore, this is all based on ethnophyletism,[19] which was previously condemned by the Church. Even the Cretan Council (it’s a pity that the Moscow Patriarchate wasn’t present, but despite this, it’s decisions remain valid) confirmed the decisions of this great council in 1872, condemning ethnophyletism as heresy and serpentine venom, destroying the unity of the Church.

“Constantinople confirmed and signed this decision of a large synod, and now a church is created on the basis of the demands of those formed under the influence of Bolshevism (like Macarius[20]), and now worshipers of Bandera[21]—Ukrainian fascists and former Nazis.

“Is this normal? Of course not! Not to mention the fact that Denisenko strove, when he was Ukrainian Metropolitan, for the position of Patriarch of Moscow, and when he was not elected, he declared himself Patriarch [of Kiev].

“Such is his madness. How can this be declared normal, without the consent of the Mother Church? And the Mother Church of Ukraine is not the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but for more than 300 years the Moscow Patriarchate.[22]”

[INTERVIEWER]: Not long ago, Milo Đukanović (The President of Montenegro) said that the Russian Orthodox Church is the striking fist of Russian Imperial interests. What did he mean by this?

“You’ll have to ask him. He probably assumed that the Metropolis of Montenegro, which has existed here for over 800 years, still has connections to the Russian Church and to Russia, as it had for centuries, and especially during the time of Metropolitan Danil.

“Were it not for this “Imperial Russia,” as he puts it, there would be no Montenegro, neither in 1878, nor later. Russian Emperor Nicholas II saved Serbia and Montenegro in 1915 and 1916, when Montenegro was forced to capitulate, and King Petro with the entire Serbian army retreated through Kosovo to the Albanian coast. Then the Russian Tsar gave an ultimatum to the allies, threatening that if they did not help save the Serbian army (the Austro-Hungarian army was in pursuit of the Serbs), then Russia would conclude a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austro-Hungary. So the allies had to send ships for the Serbs.

“If Nicholas II had signed a separate peace treaty, he would not have been assassinated nor would his family have been murdered. The German Kaiser sent Lenin, who conducted a revolution in Petrograd in 1916-17. The Emperor and his family were murdered by the hands of the Bolsheviks, but in fact they were murdered by the Germans. The Imperial Family and tsarist Russia paid with their lives to save their brothers—Serbia and Montenegro.”

[INTERVIEWER]: So what is this all about; what is this “Imperialist Russia?”

“Montenegro, since 1700 and to this moment, was created through the efforts of Russia—it’s education, and the entire structure before King Nikola in 1918. The metropolia only continues the tradition. And no form of “Imperialist Russia” is interfering here. Russian Bishops visit us, with whom we recently erected a monument to the Royal Passion-Bearers at Duklevo monastery, on which their faces are carved. This may be the most beautiful monument to the Imperial Family. Is this what he calls imperialism?

“I sometimes say these are sanctions of the metropolia against Russia. Mr. Đukanović, in his fight against “Russian imperialism” has become a pawn in the hands of the Western European and American Empires, and the NATO bloc—those who bombed Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo, which was part of Montenegro when it was an independent Kingdom.

“Now Đukanović recognizes Kosovo, while the Russians tried to save the unity of our nation and state. Unfortunately, Russia was then ruled not by the one who rules today, but by his predecessor, who did not understand this.

“Therefore, I do not know what Đukanović implies when speaking of “imperialism.” If it’s about what I said, then yes.

“I would also add further about the decision of Constantinople: This decision is a catastrophe for the Constantinople Patriarchate and for the unity of the Orthodox Church. Therefore, we hope that in the near future, as called for by the Moscow Patriarchate and other Local Churches, which have the full right to do so, we will resolve this issue in a pan-Orthodox format.

“The Ukrainian Question cannot be resolved by any single Local Church, because this issue is so extensive that it requires the participation of all Local Churches. This question is more important than all that was discussed at Crete. Therefore, the position of Constantinople is shocking, as he had always turned to other Local Churches (for example, during the schism in the Bulgarian Church in 1994, Constantinople appealed to the representatives of other Local Churches to solve the issue of schism in a canonical way).

“And now there has been discussion that based on the Ukrainian precedent—invading the canonical territory of another Local Church—the issue with the Macedonian Orthodox Church could be resolved.

“The Ecumenical Patriarchate is prevented from doing so only because of his demand that they abandon the name “Macedonian Orthodox Church” (In Ukraine, the name “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” does not trouble him.[23] He is still a Greek, and I fear that this is how Hellenic ethnophyletism has manifested itself in light of the Macedonian issue.

“There is talk that this Macedonia goes back to the time of Alexander the Great and King Philip; that is to say, we are going back to the issue of communist myths. Just like in Montenegro, the neo-communists continue to develop them. They demanded that the Montenegrin Metropolis, that is to say, the Serbian Orthodox Church be re-registered, as if we existed only since yesterday.

“A 1987 law requires the registration of only new religious organizations, and not the registration of traditional Churches and religious organizations. But now our neo-communists have began to demand this, and almost begun persecutions. Russian monks and nuns live among us, and priests from the Republika Srpska[24], and from Serbia, and as they are not citizens of Montenegro they do not grant them residence permits. The same approach has been implemented in Macedonia.

“The so-called Metropolitan of Montenegro, who was created by the neo-communists—Dedeić—who was deposed by Constantinople, was recognized only by Philaret. For many years he served with him. And what will Constantinople do now if he recognizes Philaret who was deposed for violating the resolutions of the Moscow Patriarchate? Would it not follow that he would have to recognize someone who serves with Philaret, whom Constantinople himself had previously deposed from his position?

“This is how poorly our brothers in Constantinople have reasoned.

“I pray to the Lord, that He will help them.

“And we also pray that the Moscow Patriarchate and our brothers in Ukraine can overcome an unhealthy schism with patience and humility—a schism that is nothing but the fruit of all those political circumstances of the past, especially in the 1920s.

“The Church is the only force that united the nations created there, and now the demonic powers of this whole world, and destructive forces inside the Church, and the rulers of the world are carrying out the real imperialistic plans.

The war in Ukraine is already underway, and now Constantinople must confirm that this is in fact a war continuing against the Church, and the unity of the People of God—and against Russia as the largest-ever Orthodox country.

“This is not good, and there is nothing good here for Constantinople as well. He had no right to take such a step. There is still hope that people will still turn to reason and to the true canonical order.

“As I have already said, by such actions, Constantinople calls into question its primacy.

“I reiterate that he justifies his actions by saying that he is in the imperial capital, but that capital ceased to exist after the fifteenth century. It is no longer in Russia nor in Constantinople, and therefore there is no longer a Russian or Eastern Roman Empire, but the Church has remained, and it must function on a healthy evangelical foundation—just as it functioned prior to Emperor St. Constantine.”

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Foreign Banks Are Embracing Russia’s Alternative To SWIFT, Moscow Says

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative.

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Via Zerohedge


On Friday, one day after Russia and China pledged to reduce their reliance on the dollar by increasing the amount of bilateral trade conducted in rubles and yuan (a goal toward which much progress has already been made over the past three years), Russia’s Central Bank provided the latest update on Moscow’s alternative to US-dominated international payments network SWIFT.

Moscow started working on the project back in 2014, when international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea inspired fears that the country’s largest banks would soon be cut off from SWIFT which, though it’s based in Belgium and claims to be politically neutral, is effectively controlled by the US Treasury.

Today, the Russian alternative, known as the System for Transfer of Financial Messages, has attracted a modest amount of support within the Russian business community, with 416 Russian companies having joined as of September, including the Russian Federal Treasury and large state corporations likeGazprom Neft and Rosneft.

And now, eight months after a senior Russian official advised that “our banks are ready to turn off SWIFT,” it appears the system has reached another milestone in its development: It’s ready to take on international partners in the quest to de-dollarize and end the US’s leverage over the international financial system. A Russian official advised that non-residents will begin joining the system “this year,” according to RT.

“Non-residents will start connecting to us this year. People are already turning to us,”said First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. Earlier, the official said that by using the alternative payment system foreign firms would be able to do business with sanctioned Russian companies.

Turkey, China, India and others are among the countries that might be interested in a SWIFT alternative, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out in a speech earlier this month, the US’s willingness to blithely sanction countries from Iran to Venezuela and beyond will eventually rebound on the US economy by undermining the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

To be sure, the Russians aren’t the only ones building a SWIFT alternative to help avoid US sanctions. Russia and China, along with the European Union are launching an interbank payments network known as the Special Purpose Vehicle to help companies pursue “legitimate business with Iran” in defiance of US sanctions.

Given its status as a major energy exporter, Russia has leverage that could help attract partners to its new SWIFT alternative. For one, much of Europe is dependent on Russian natural gas and oil.

And as Russian trade with other US rivals increases, Moscow’s payments network will look increasingly attractive,particularly if buyers of Russian crude have no other alternatives to pay for their goods.

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US leaving INF will put nuclear non-proliferation at risk & may lead to ‘complete chaos’

The US is pulling out of a nuclear missile pact with Russia. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty requires both countries to eliminate their short and medium-range atomic missiles.

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Via RT


If the US ditches the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), it could collapse the entire nuclear non-proliferation system, and bring nuclear war even closer, Russian officials warn.

By ending the INF, Washington risks creating a domino effect which could endanger other landmark deals like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and collapse the existing non-proliferation mechanism as we know it, senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday.

The current iteration of the START treaty, which limits the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons, is due to expire in 2021. Kosachev, who chairs the Parliament’s Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that such an outcome pits mankind against “complete chaos in terms of nuclear weapons.”

“Now the US Western allies face a choice: either embarking on the same path, possibly leading to new war, or siding with common sense, at least for the sake of their self-preservation instinct.”

His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced his intentions to “terminate” the INF, citing alleged violations of the deal by Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied undermining the treaty, pointing out that Trump has failed to produce any evidence of violations. Moreover, Russian officials insist that the deployment of US-made Mk 41 ground-based universal launching systems in Europe actually violates the agreement since the launchers are capable of firing mid-range cruise missiles.

Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament’s lower chamber, argued that Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The deal effectively bans the parties from having and developing short- and mid-range missiles of all types. According to the provisions, the US was obliged to destroy Pershing I and II launcher systems and BGM-109G Gryphon ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow, meanwhile, pledged to remove the SS-20 and several other types of missiles from its nuclear arsenal.

Pershing missiles stationed in the US Army arsenal. © Hulton Archive / Getty Images ©

By scrapping the historic accord, Washington is trying to fulfill its “dream of a unipolar world,” a source within the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“This decision fits into the US policy of ditching the international agreements which impose equal obligations on it and its partners, and render the ‘exceptionalism’ concept vulnerable.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov denounced Trump’s threats as “blackmail” and said that Washington wants to dismantle the INF because it views the deal as a “problem” on its course for “total domination” in the military sphere.

The issue of nuclear arms treaties is too vital for national and global security to rush into hastily-made “emotional” decisions, the official explained. Russia is expecting to hear more on the US’ plans from Trump’s top security adviser, John Bolton, who is set to hold talks in Moscow tomorrow.

President Trump has been open about unilaterally pulling the US out of various international agreements if he deems them to be damaging to national interests. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. All other signatories to the landmark agreement, including Russia, China, and the EU, decided to stick to the deal, while blasting Trump for leaving.

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