Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Russian trip part IV: "This is not enthusiasm, this is hope"

The conference would start today later in the afternoon. Therefore I had time to go with Henkjan van Schothorst (Roel Kuiper left home already) to visit the Red Square. It remains a powerful square with the red building of the historical museum and the St Basil cathedral. We visited the cathedral and saw the nice interior and a few of the Red Square. While Henkjan went back to the hotel to pick up some things, I visited the church service in the cathedral. After that I went to the conference.

The first greeting was from the vice president of the 'Center for Slavic Culture and Literature' where the three days' event was hosted. This was followed by a Christian entrepreneur who explained that though there were many pressures, he tried to remain integer. He called the business people up not to be involved in corruption but to form a kind of Christian business club (he called it a parallel economy) where businesses were committed together to remain clean. His speech was followed by a councillor of a community in Russia. He explained the pressure that many business people face. He was not only mentioning about the obligations to pay not only high "taxes" back to the government, but also that because of false corrupt judges many honest business people were falsely accused and end up in prison. His list and his fights against a corrupted regime shocked also the participants.

After this the conclusions were drawn of the conference. There was a general agreement that a movement should be started based on the values of the former Christian Democratic Union of Russia. Many proposals were shared about how this should look like. After the discussions, people could propose others to participate in an initiation committee. The initiation committee of the conference (five people) was extended to 14 persons. Alexander Ogorodnikov took part as well and had an important role in the discussions, together with many others. The initiative committee for the movement which will be established exists now of all kinds of different people: journalists, philosophers, professors & scientists, students, politicians, dissidents, business people, lawyers, priests, pastors and so on. An important beginning was set.

In the evening a closing cocktail took place. Henkjan and I gave some Dutch presents to the organising committee and the volunteers. The Swedish buffet was received well. A businessman took care for good wine, the catering was well and a bucket of red caviar was quite finished in the end of the evening. The reactions of the participants were very enthusiastic.

"This is not enthusiasm, but this is hope" explained Ekaterina me. Another participant told me that since the '90s he cannot remember this sphere of friendship and hope for the future. It was special to have such a group from all layers of the society and of different religions together: eating, praying and discussing together how the Russian society can be changed and build on Christian Social values and based on Human Dignity. "We are too long treated as objects" said some participant to me, "it would be time to go back to our base of human dignity as it is written in the Holy Scripture". Special was also the gratitude given to Ekaterina, "the mother of the movement", who built the bridges and created the unity in the team.

This was an impressive end of the conference. Henkjan would leave in the morning. I still will have the next day with the representatives of the parliament and the initiation committee to look how we could serve the initiatives further.

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