- - Sunday, July 10, 2011

RUSSIA

Russians to celebrate anniversary of St. Basil’s

MOSCOWRussia will celebrate the 450th anniversary of St. Basil’s Cathedral by opening an exhibition dedicated to the so-called “holy fool” who gave his name to the soaring structure of bright-hued onion domes that is a quintessential image of Russia.

The eccentrically devout St. Basil wore no clothes even during the harsh Russian winters and was one of the very few Muscovites who dared to lambaste tyrannical Czar Ivan the Terrible.

Ivan, whose gory purges claimed tens of thousands of lives, feared St. Basil as “a seer of people’s hearts and minds,” according to one chronicle. He personally carried St. Basil’s coffin to a grave right outside the Kremlin. The cathedral, constructed to commemorate Ivan’s victory over Mongol rulers, was built on the burial site.

Deputy Culture Minister Andrey Busygin said Friday that the exhibition is opening Tuesday as part of anniversary celebrations in the cathedral after a decade-long restoration that cost $14 million. The exhibition will display relics and icons of St. Basil and other religious eccentrics, who were known as “holy fools.”

The exhibition will be part of massive celebrations of St. Basil’s anniversary that will include a service to be held by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and a late-night church bell concert.

“This cathedral is a shrine and a symbol of Russia,” Mr. Busygin added. “It’s a miracle it survived at all.”

GERMANY

Merkel signals ambitions to seek third term in 2013

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled for the first time her intention to seek a third term in 2013, although a poll on Sunday showed Peer Steinbrueck of the main opposition party gaining more support from voters.

Mrs. Merkel made the announcement indirectly in an interview with Sat-1 TV. Although her intention to lead her conservative Christian Democrats into the campaign for a third term was no surprise, the timing just before the summer break was unusual.

“Well, I do hope that the SPD come up with an opposing candidate for the next parliamentary elections,” Mrs. Merkel told Sat-1, Germany’s fifth-most watched network, in an interview that aired on Friday and initially attracted little public notice.

Even though Mr. Steinbrueck, a conservative voice in the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) is popular among voters on the right, Mrs. Merkel said she had no worries about him or other SPD leaders who might carry their banner in the vote due in 2013.

“I know all those [candidates] whose names are being bandied about in public,” said Mrs. Merkel, elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. “So why don’t we just wait and see what happens?”

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