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The Trinity Monastery in Tyumen: A testament to faith in Siberia

Culture, conflict, and incredible craftsmanship have shaped this architectural gem that has survived the ravages of time

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We are very pleased to present an article from the great Professor William Brumfield, (Wikipedia), Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, New Orleans, USA.

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Professor William Brumfield is among the world’s foremost experts on Russian architecture, and he has a genuine heartfelt love for the Russian culture and people. His work in photographing some of Russia’s most famous, and obscure sites has gone a long way in preserving these parts of Russia’s national heritage, by drawing attention to their beauty and need for preservation. One of the most beautiful aspects of looking at the Professor’s work is that by Providence, you can actually see the amazing reconstruction of Holy Russia, which has occurred since the 1990’s. Just look at this image and compare the Monastery then and now.

In the center, is the Professor’s photograph taken in 1999, surrounded by more recent photos. One can clearly see the monastery has been restored to its former glory. The way his work helped to draw attention to the need for this restoration will not be forgotten.
This earned him the respect of Russians, and an honorary fellowship in the illustrious Russian Academy of the Arts founded in 1757.

His most recent masterpiece takes the readers to the farthest reaches of the world: “Architecture At The End Of The Earth, Photographing The Russian North (2015). (Amazon). The Amazon copy is quite affordable. and a must for any lover of Russian architecture, as his classic “A History of Russian Architecture” provides a great overview of Russia’s glorious culture as portrayed in her monumental works.

Russia Beyond the Headlines has happily joined in at making Professor Brumfield’s available.

Hats off to William Brumfield; we wish him a heartfelt Многая Лета – Monogaya Leta (Many Years) for all his work in preserving Russia’s ancient culture!

Professor Brumfield’s work has opened a portal into Holy Russia. May all those who wish to see enter therein, and be amazed at what beauty she has to offer the world.

And so it was that “Beauty will save the world.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As you look through his article on the Holy Trinity Monastery, just remember this is what it looks like now, after its glorious restoration:

The following material originally appeared at Russia Beyond the Headlines

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The Trinity Monastery in Tyumen: A testament to faith in Siberia

Culture, conflict, and incredible craftsmanship have shaped this architectural gem that has survived the ravages of time.

Tyumen. Trinity Monastery. Church of Sts. Peter and Paul (left), Trinity Cathedral. East view from Tura River. Sept. 4, 1999.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian chemist and photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky developed a complex process for vivid color photography (see box text below). His vision of photography as a form of education and enlightenment was demonstrated with special clarity through his images of architectural monuments in the historic sites throughout the Russian heartland.

In June 1912, Prokudin-Gorsky ventured into western Siberia as part of a commission to document the Kama-Tobolsk Waterway, a link between the European and Asian sides of the Ural Mountains. The town of Tyumen served as a launching point for his journey north to Tobolsk, located on the Irtysh River. While there, he photographed the Trinity Monastery, one of the oldest in Siberia. My photographs of Tyumen and Tobolsk were taken in the late summer of 1999.

Trinity Monastery. Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, southwest view. June 1912.

Gateway to the east

The opening of Siberia for Russian colonization during the late 16th and 17th centuries is the story of the conquest of vast distances in a severe land by enterprising Russian merchants, whose commercial interests coincided with the tsars’ appetite for eastern expansion. Tyumen, founded in 1586 on the site of a Tatar encampment at the confluence of the Tura and Tyumenka Rivers, is considered the earliest permanent Russian settlement in Siberia.

Trinity Monastery. Trinity Cathedral, southeast view across Tura River. Sept. 4, 1999.

Tyumen was established on the initiative of Boris Godunov, the power behind the throne of Tsar Feodor I, who became tsar himself in 1598. Godunov was aware of the importance of Siberia in part from his association with the Stroganov family. The Stroganovs had sent a detachment of Cossacks from their commercial center at Solvychegodsk into Siberia to challenge the power of the Tatar ruler, Khan Kuchum.

The band of Cossacks was commanded by Yermak Timofeevich. Yermak’s origins and identity remain a matter of dispute, but it is likely that he and his men had engaged in brigandage and river piracy before enlisting as mercenaries for the Stroganovs. Although the dates are open to question, it appears that in the fall of 1581, Yermak captured Chingi-Tura (later Tyumen) but abandoned it in order to proceed to Kashlyk, Khan Kuchum capital. Yermak defeated the khan in 1582 during a battle near the Irtysh River. Yermak himself died in a surprise raid in 1585. 

Trinity Monastery. Bell tower&Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, northeast view. Photo: William Brumfield. Aug. 29, 1999.

Like most early Russian towns in Siberia, Tyumen served as a garrison fortress for Cossacks and other troops who protected trade routes, particularly with China, during the 17th century. Tyumen’s location on the Tura River provided a direct link westward to the gateway town of Verkhoturye, which was founded by Boris Godunov on the Asian side of the Ural Mountains in 1598. To the northeast of Tyumen, the Tura flows into the Tobol River, which in turn joins the mighty Irtysh near Tobolsk. Given its favorable location, Tyumen was destined to play a significant role in the development of Siberia.

Kiev in Siberia

There are no architectural remains from Tyumen’s first century. The early buildings were of wood (including the stockade walls) and were susceptible to fires, such as the one that destroyed most of the town in 1695. Subsequently, the Siberian Office in Moscow encouraged the use of brick and stone for major buildings. Masonry construction also reflected the views of the young Tsar Peter I (the Great), who undertook the expansion of the Russian presence in Siberia despite the burdens of a major war with Sweden. However, large fires continued to devastate the town (in 1705 and 1766), and the lack of qualified masons impeded construction.

Trinity Monastery. Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, bell tower, south gate. Southwest view. June 1912.

The most imposing early brick structures are at the Trinity Monastery, founded in 1616 (date uncertain) on the high right bank of the Tura River on the northern edge of Tyumen. Originally dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior, the monastery was transformed in the early part of the 18th century by an energetic Ukrainian prelate, Filofei (Rafail Leshchinsky), who in 1702 was designated Metropolitan of Tobolsk and Siberia.

Leshchinsky studied at the Kiev Spiritual Academy and subsequently rose in the hierarchy of the renowned Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. It is therefore not surprising that the architecture of the Trinity Monastery displays Ukrainian Baroque elements. The center of the monastery is dominated by the Cathedral of the Trinity, built in 1709-1715. From the exterior detailing to the form of the cupolas, the structure shows Ukrainian ornamental motifs to such an extent as to suggest completion by a Ukrainian builder.

Trinity Monastery. South gate, bell tower, Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. Northeast view. Photo: William Brumfield. Aug. 29, 1999.

The Trinity Cathedral was closed in 1923 and its interior was vandalized during the Soviet period. Additionally, its structural integrity was threatened by the construction of a water plant between the Tura River and the north wall of the church. This site actually had been the location of the monastery’s second church, dedicated to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (also known as Saints Zosima and Savvatii), completed in 1717 and razed in the 1940s. Unfortunately, there is no record that Prokudin-Gorsky photographed it or the Trinity Cathedral.

In 1711, Filofei resigned his position as Metropolitan of Siberia to become abbot of the Trinity Monastery. At the end of 1715, he resumed leadership of the vast Siberian Metropolitanate, but after five years, he again retired to lead the monastery until his death in 1727.

Trinity Monastery. Church of Sts. Peter and Paul&bell tower. Southeast view. Sept. 4, 1999.

Filofei’s connections with the imperial court were necessary to continue construction at the Tyumen monastery. Peter the Great needed experienced masons for the building of St. Petersburg and had issued a ban on masonry construction elsewhere in Russia between 1714-22. Soon after the revocation of Peter’s construction decree, Filofei began planning for a third church at the Trinity Monastery — the Church of Saints Peter and Paul — together with brick walls, an entrance gate and a monastery residence. The lack of material and labor delayed foundation work until 1726, and the monastery’s resources rapidly diminished after prelate’s death the following year. Construction resumed some ten years later with the completion of the brick walls in 1739, the bell tower in 1741, and Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1755.

Prokudin-Gorsky’s superb view of the Peter-Paul Church from open space outside the south wall shows a cruciform structure related to the Ukrainian Baroque, thus suggesting the completion of plans before Leshchinsky’s death. It is possible that the original domes resembled the two-tiered cupolas typical of Ukrainian architecture and still seen in the nearby Trinity Cathedral. A fire in 1842 damaged the roof and led to a rebuilding with traditional onion domes that are visible in Prokudin-Gorsky’s and my own almost nine decades later.

Trinity Monastery. Bell tower with Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. Southeast view. Aug. 29, 1999.

Although documentary evidence is lacking, the church design has been attributed to Semyon Remezov, the main architect of Tobolsk at the beginning of the 18th century. It bears resemblance to both the Church of St. George at Kiev’s Vydubetskii Monastery and the Church of All Saints (1698-1701) over the Ekonom Gate at the Monastery of the Caves — monuments that would have been familiar to Leshchinsky.

The large attached bell tower with a conical crown follows a pattern widespread in the 16th and 17th centuries. Recently restored and returned to active use, the Trinity Monastery once again graces the high bank of the Tura River.

Trinity Monastery. From left: Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, bell tower, south gate&wall, Trinity Cathedral. Southeast view. Aug. 29, 1999.

In the early 20th century the Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky devised a complex process for color photography. Between 1903 and 1916 he traveled through the Russian Empire and took over 2,000 photographs with the process, which involved three exposures on a glass plate. In August 1918, he left Russia and ultimately resettled in France with a large part of his collection of glass negatives. After his death in Paris in 1944, his heirs sold the collection to the Library of Congress. In the early 21st century the Library digitized the Prokudin-Gorsky Collection and made it freely available to the global public. Many Russian websites now have versions of the collection. In 1986 the architectural historian and photographer William Brumfield organized the first exhibit of Prokudin-Gorsky photographs at the Library of Congress. Over a period of work in Russia beginning in 1970, Brumfield has photographed most of the sites visited by Prokudin-Gorsky. This series of articles will juxtapose Prokudin-Gorsky’s views of architectural monuments with photographs taken by Brumfield decades later.

See more at: Russia Beyond the Headlines

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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EU’s ‘toothless’ response to creation of Kosovo army risks worsening the crisis – Moscow

Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army.

RT

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The creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army is a threat to peace and security in a turbulent region and may lead to a new escalation, Russia’s UN envoy has warned, calling the EU’s lackluster response irresponsible.

Speaking at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Kosovo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force.

“The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting on Monday.

The diplomat said the lack of decisive action on the part of the 28-member bloc was a “great disappointment,” adding that the EU seems to “have turned a blind eye on the illegal creation of Kosovo’s ‘army.’”

The law, approved by Kosovo lawmakers on Friday, paves the way for doubling the size of the current Kosovo Security Force and for turning it into a de facto army, with 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

The move did not go down well even with Kosovo’s usual backers, with both NATO and the EU voicing their indignation. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.

The only nation to openly applaud the controversial move was the US, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.

The Kosovo MPs’ decision has drawn anger in the Serbian capital Belgrade and provoked a strong response from Moscow, which calledon the UN mission in Kosovo to demilitarize the area in accordance with UNSC resolution 1244, and to disband any armed units.

Nebenzya pointed out that the UN resolution does not allow any Kosovo Albanian military units to be present in the region’s territory. He accused Western countries, including members of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force (KFOR), of “condoning and supporting” the violation by Pristina of the resolution.

It is feared that the army, though a relatively small force, might inflame tensions in the region and impede attempts at reconciliation between Pristina and Belgrade. Serbia has warned that it might consider an armed intervention if the army becomes a threat to the 120,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo.

“The advance of Kosovo’s army presents a threat to the peace and security in the region, which may lead to the recurrence of the armed conflict,” Nebenzya stated.

In addition to creating its own army, Kosovo in November hit Serbia with a 100 percent import tariff on goods, defying calls by the US and the EU to roll the measure back.

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Ukraine’s President Says “High” Threat Of Russian Invasion, Urges NATO Entry In Next 5 Years

Poroshenko is trying desperately to hold on to power, even if it means provoking Russia.

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Via Zerohedge


Perhaps still seeking to justify imposing martial law over broad swathes of his country, and attempting to keep international pressure and media focus on a narrative of “Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced what he called the high “threat of Russian invasion” during a press conference on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Though what some analysts expected would be a rapid flair up of tit-for-tat incidents following the late November Kerch Strait seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and their crew by the Russian Navy has gone somewhat quiet, with no further major incident to follow, Poroshenko has continued to signal to the West that Russia could invade at any moment.

“The lion’s share of Russian troops remain” along the Russian border with Ukraine, Poroshenko told journalists at a press conference in the capital, Kiev. “Unfortunately, less than 10 percent were withdrawn,” he said, and added: “As of now, the threat of Russian troops invading remains. We have to be ready for this, we won’t allow a repeat of 2014.”

Poroshenko, who declared martial law on Nov. 26, citing at the time possible imminent “full-scale war with Russia” and Russian tank and troop build-up, on Sunday noted that he will end martial law on Dec. 26 and the temporarily suspended presidential campaign will kick off should there be no Russian invasion. He also previously banned all Russian males ages 16-60 from entering Ukraine as part of implementation of 30 days of martial law over ten provinces, though it’s unclear if this policy will be rescinded.

During his remarks, the Ukrainian president said his country should push to join NATO and the EU within the next five years, per Bloomberg:

While declining to announce whether he will seek a second term in the office, Poroshenko said that Ukraine should achieve peace, overcome the consequences of its economic crisis and to meet criteria to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during next five years.

But concerning both his retaining power and his ongoing “threat exaggeration” — there’s even widespread domestic acknowledgement that the two are clearly linked.

According to The Globe and Mail:

While Mr. Poroshenko’s domestic rivals accuse him of exaggerating the threat in order to boost his own flagging political fortunes — polls suggest Mr. Poroshenko is on track to lose his job in a March election — military experts say there are reasons to take the Ukrainian president’s warning seriously.

As we observed previously, while European officials have urged both sides to exercise restraint, the incident shows just how easily Russia and the West could be drawn into a military conflict over Ukraine.

Certainly Poroshenko’s words appear designed to telegraph just such an outcome, which would keep him in power as a war-time president, hasten more and massive western military support and aid, and quicken his country’s entry into NATO — the latter which is already treating Ukraine as a de facto strategic outpost.

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