Plus, South Ossetia will demolish villages formerly inhabited by Georgians and Russian Cossacks head for a fall rendezvous in Paris.by Ky Krauthamer, Joshua Boissevain, Ioana Caloianu, and Ernad Halilovic 16 August 2012
The patriarch’s trip will focus primarily on improving relations between the two countries. Kirill is expected to sign a joint document calling for mutual forgiveness between Poles and Russians with Archbishop Jozef Michalik, the president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, RFE reports. The trip comes a month after Kirill traveled to Smolensk to consecrate a memorial to the 20,000 Polish officers massacred by Soviet troops in 1940.
"It is our deep conviction that relations between the Polish and Russian people, marred many times by hatred, wars, and enmity over history, can and must be improved," Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, told Interfax.
While both churches stressed that the document is not meant to be political, many see Kirill’s visit as just that. "Behind all this stands a policy authorized by the Russian Foreign Ministry. This way, Moscow is signaling that it would like to find compromises,” Russian religion analyst Mark Smirnov told RFE.
The trip coincides with the expected 17 August verdict in the Pussy Riot trial. Since the three women were arrested in March after an anti-Putin stunt in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, many in the Russian Orthodox Church have sought a harsh sentence for the group.
Ukraine’s Supreme Administrative Court on 15 August upheld the electoral commission’s refusal to register jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko as candidates in the 28 October parliamentary elections.
The decision came on an appeal of a lower court decision by Tymoshenko’s Batkivschyna Party and is not subject to further appeal, the Ukrainian News Agency reports.
The court cited the international practice of barring individuals with outstanding criminal convictions from serving as elected representatives.
Last week the electoral commission refused to register another jailed former premier, Pavlo Lazarenko, after his name appeared on the party ticket of the Hromada Party which he formally heads. Lazarenko is serving a sentence in California for money laundering, extortion, and wire fraud. Some reports indicate he will be released in November.
In other election news, Ukraine will emulate Russia by installing web cameras in every polling place. President Viktor Yanukovych signed a law earlier this month to allocate about $125 million from the state budget to install the cameras in time for the late October vote.
The villages were part of a Georgian-populated enclave before the 2008 war with Russia. They were looted and burned during and after the fighting, Civil.ge writes. In Izvestia’s account, the original Ossetian residents were expelled by Georgians during the first Ossetian war in the early 1990s.
According to Interfax, the chairman of the Georgian parliamentary committee on European integration described the South Ossetian announcement as a "practical continuation of [the] annexation and occupation being perpetrated by Russia."
Human Rights Watch researchers reported seeing South Ossetian forces looting and setting fire to the villages in August 2008. The villages had been nearly destroyed by the time the researchers returned in September, well after Georgian forces had been expelled from the territory.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and critics of the government from both left and right have sharply criticized a price freeze agreed upon with major grocery retailers in an effort to stem fast-rising food prices.
"Prices cannot be reduced by agreements with several store chains. They can go down by creating a competitive environment with fair competition between suppliers and manufacturers. This is the only way for the market to reach a reasonable and bearable price,” Plevneliev said, according to Novinite.
The Socialist Party predicted a huge price rise after the three-month moratorium, and two right-wing parties demanded changes among the ministers responsible for economic policy, Novinite reports.
The Metro Cash & Carry, Kaufland, and Billa retail chains agreed to Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov’s proposal to freeze prices of 10 locally produced staple foods for three months after Naydenov announced an investigation of price irregularities in the food industry, according to Novinite.
Industrial groups and unions warned the price freeze could lead to bankruptcies in the industry, and the right-wing Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria said it violated competition laws, SETimes reports.
Inflation rose from 1.6 percent in June to 3.1 percent in July, primarily due to soaring food prices, AFP reports.
In War and Peace, Tolstoy wrote that the Battle of Borodino was senseless for France and Russia alike because it hastened both the destruction of Moscow and the loss of Napoleon’s enormous army during his ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812.
The head of the committee organizing a Cossack ride from Moscow to Paris as part of celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the battle said, “It is not an attempt to organize a march of winners. The expedition is devoted to the memory of all courageous warriors who died on battlefields of Russia and Europe during the period of the Napoleonic wars.”
Two dozen Cossacks left Moscow 12 August for a three-month journey across Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and France. Not all the trip will be on horseback because of environmental rules and the difficulty of avoiding paved roads, organizational committee head Andrei Belyaniniv said.
The Russian army’s famous Alexandrov song-and-dance ensemble will perform at some stops along the route.
The ride may help portray Cossacks in a kinder light than was the case recently when the governor of the Krasnodar region in southern Russia said he had hired 1,000 Cossacks to help enforce immigration laws, citing the issue of “migration of darker-skinned Muslims from the North Caucasus region” into Slav-inhabited areas.