|VIP anytime pass for 2 persons|
Moscow traffic has positively collapsed this week, and for a godly reason: the sash of Our Lady was brought to Russia from the Mount of Athos in Greece. This is an unprecedented event, since the sash could never have been taken anywhere. The cynics argue this is how Greece attempted to coil Russia into offering financial help at the time of the global crisis.
Although Russians are renowned for their piety and adherence to rites, I believe many of my countrypeople surprised themselves with this massive craze. Add to this that the sash arrived a week before the State Duma elections, amidst the Iran and anti-missile system talks, and you may see why this furore became possible in the first place.
|Field kitchen near the Cathedral (Chaskor.ru)|
The news agencies have reported that people were spending 15 hours in a queue; they were provided with hot food from field kitchens. By Wednesday over 700 people have been given medical help. It emerged later that 58 people get past the shrine in 1 hour, and that VIP passes for 2 persons were distributed between the high-ranking officials and members of their families. (As if anyone actually expected Mr President or Mr Prime Minister to queue up along with all the disabled and young). And the amount of policemen in the streets is spellbinding.
Some bloggers have already called this “the orthodoxy of the brain“, implying a similarity to a kind of disease that makes people abandon every reason in favour of religion.
I made a few videos today in the city centre, displayed in the post below. In one, you will see small queues of people on Frunzenskaya Embankment, the queues being separated by barriers to avoid any accidents. In another, there is a queue in Ostozhenka St, full of parents with children and disabled people. You will hear kids crying because none of them has yet got the point of standing in the cold weather to touch a piece of cloth. The exclusive Vanille restaurant that stands across the road from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour looks besieged by the traffic and people. And the Cathedral itself (the last video) makes a strange impression: as if a bargain fair is being held inside.