07/20/2021, 09.08
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Ekaterinburg: anti-Covid bans do not stop procession for martyred tsar

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Thousands of people commemorate the assassination of Nicholas II and his family by the Bolsheviks. The connivance of the Orthodox Church. The 2020 parade had encouraged the spread of the coronavirus. Rules to limit public gatherings apply only to navalists.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Bans on the Covid-19 pandemic did not stop yesterday's procession in Ekaterinburg in memory of the martyrdom of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who were assassinated by the Bolsheviks in the city on the Urals on July 19, 1918. Due to the strong wave of coronavirus contagions in recent days throughout Russia, the authorities had cancelled the march.

As some of the participants told the Interfax news agency, the crowd gathered spontaneously in front of the church where the liturgy was being held, on a much smaller scale than in previous years, when there were up to 100,000 people. In the end, however, there were no less than 2-3 thousand people.

Shortly after the start of the celebration, some policemen arrived on the square, only to be faced with volunteers of the "Two-headed Eagle" movement with their leader, Konstantin Malofeev. Raising an icon of the Tsar, the charismatic businessman and politician led the crowds on paths away from the paved road, which was then invaded by the faithful. Many policemen and vigilantes also lined up to take part in the procession.

In a speech before the liturgy on the Soyuz TV channel, Metropolitan Evgeniy (Kulberg) of Ekaterinburg had not categorically asked the faithful to desert the procession. Broadcasting the blessing of Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev), Yevgeny said that "some will have to go home, others will stay with friends, and some will go to pray at the Galina Jama monastery [which stands on the site of the martyrdom]".  He pointed out that "there will be nothing organised, and it is important for everyone to be responsible to their neighbours. Do not be lazy, be patient and wear a mask".

The local authorities had banned gatherings and processions, but Metropolitan Evgenij justified himself by saying that the memory of the imperial martyrs goes beyond the usual gatherings: it is a popular tradition that cannot be stopped. He himself walked with the faithful on the path from the 'Church on Blood' to the monastery of Galina Jama, which runs through the forest where the mass graves with the remains of the imperial family are located. Evgenij said that "it was not a real procession, but a spontaneous walk to the monastery".

Last year, the violation of health restrictions had been much more significant, when more than 10,000 people had gathered. The skhiigumen of the Sredneuralsky monastery, Sergij (Romanov), was still active. He was later removed from the clerical state and imprisoned, where he is still awaiting trial as one of the main rebel deniers in the country. As the governor of Ekaterinburg, Evgenij Kujvašev, recalled, the 2020 procession had encouraged the spread of the coronavirus in the region.

Together with the 'no-Covid' procession in Ekaterinburg, a funeral service was also held in Moscow with a large number of participants. The funeral of the very popular actor and rock singer Petr Mamonov, who died a few days ago of a coronavirus infection, was held in the Donskoy Monastery. Mamonov had played symbolic characters of the "Orthodox rebirth" of Russia in several films, from Ivan the Terrible to the monk "mad for Christ", and was much loved by the faithful, including Patriarch Kirill himself.

His funeral was attended by thousands of people, without masks or spacing, rules that were not even respected by priests. In the country there is a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people, but the authorities only enforce this ban on navalist meetings.

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