- - Sunday, July 10, 2011


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.”


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?”


Ceremony honors Jews killed by Polish neighbors

JEDWABNE — Poland’s president made a repeated apology during ceremonies on Sunday marking 70 years since Polish villagers murdered hundreds of their Jewish neighbors in a World War II massacre that caused painful soul-searching in Poland when it was revealed in 2000.

An agonizing debate at the time forced Poles to modify their belief, shaped by decades of communist-era propaganda, that they were always heroic victims — never collaborators — in Nazi-era atrocities.

The date of the massacre in the village of Jedwabne, some 120 miles northeast of Warsaw, has entered Poland’s remembrance calendar and the state and church leaders have apologized. But it still remains to be seen to what extent the entire nation has acknowledged cases of Polish wrongdoing against the Jews.

“The nation must understand that it also had an active role,” President Bronislaw Komorowski said in a letter that was read out during the ceremony.

“Today, Poland can still hear the never-fading cry of its citizens,” Mr. Komorowski said. “Once again, I beg forgiveness.”

In 2001, then-President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized for the crime during the first state memorial ceremony in Jedwabne. Mr. Kwasniewski attended Sunday observances as a private person.

On Sunday, Bishop Mieczyslaw Cislo was the first high-ranking member of Poland’s influential Roman Catholic Church to attend ceremonies in Jedwabne..

“Let us not be divided by the graves in Jedwabne, but let us be united in prayers for brotherhood and close ties between Poles and Jews,” said Bishop Cislo, who chairs the Church’s council for relations with the Jews.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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