Is Russia on the Verge of a Christian Awakening: The Rise of Radical Orthodoxy and Dmitry Enteo’s “God’s Will”

dmitri-enteo-and-god's-will

– 25 August 2015 –

Patulcius:

Patulcius-sqIncreasingly energetic actions and protests by Orthodox Christian groups in Russia such as the Union for Orthodox Citizens, the Movement in Support of 200 Churches, the Movement of 40 by 40, and God’s Will suggest the beginnings of a new spiritual awakening in that country:

An article in the current issue of Sovershenno Sekretno asks whether there is a line between Russian Orthodox Church activists and those who engage in pogrom-like violence. It concludes sadly that there is not — and that church activists and those engaged in attacks on other groups are increasingly one and the same people.

The monthly’s Dmitry Rudnyev writes that he decided to focus on this issue after the fights between those who want to build more Orthodox churches in Moscow and those who oppose these being put in what are now public parks and Father Dmitry Smirnov’s shutting down of a concert that he said was disturbing prayer.

Such incidents, he continues, “are taking place ever more frequently, and the causes which generate among Orthodox [activists] such an incommensurately stormy reaction are becoming ever more varied.” That raises the question as to why Russian Orthodoxy has “suddenly acquired hysterical aspects” and seems to be trying to find occasions to be upset.

“Five to ten years ago, the phrase ‘Orthodox radicalism’ would have elicited a condescending smile,” Rudnyev says. “Today however, this has become one of the realities of Russian religious life.” So far, “thank God,” it hasn’t claimed human victims in the way that nationalist or Islamic radicalisms have,” he said.

“But the problem of radicalism in the church exists,” he continues, “and today people talk about it in a serious way.”

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Orthodox militias such as United Fatherland are active in the Ukrainian civil war.

Spiritual Awakenings

I am convinced of the overall accuracy of the generational theories of Strauss and Howe, in which world events affect different generations in different ways based on their respective ages at the time of those events.

In the case of Russia, the time is arriving when a new generation of youth are starting to come of age who have no memory of the collapse of the USSR and Russia’s subsequent miserable economic strife.

Spiritual awakenings are often messy affairs as compared to the previous “high”, a high being the time that society has restored order after a great war or crisis.  From Strauss and Howe’s The Fourth Turning:

An Awak­en­ing ar­rives with a dra­matic chal­lenge against the High’s as­sump­tions about benev­o­lent rea­son and con­ge­nial in­sti­tu­tions. The outer world now feels triv­ial com­pared to the inner world.

New spir­i­tual agen­das and so­cial ideals burst forth—along with Utopian ex­per­i­ments seek­ing to rec­on­cile total fel­low­ship with total au­ton­omy. The pros­per­ity and se­cu­rity of a High are overtly dis­dained though covertly taken for granted. A so­ci­ety searches for soul over sci­ence, mean­ings over things. Youth-fired at­tacks break out against the es­tab­lished in­sti­tu­tional order. As these at­tacks take their toll, so­ci­ety has dif­fi­culty co­a­lesc­ing around com­mon goals. Peo­ple stop be­liev­ing that so­cial progress re­quires so­cial dis­ci­pline. Any pub­lic ef­fort that re­quires col­lec­tive dis­ci­pline en­coun­ters with­er­ing con­tro­versy. Wars are awk­wardly fought and badly re­mem­bered af­ter­ward. A eu­phoric en­thu­si­asm over spir­i­tual needs eclipses con­cern over sec­u­lar prob­lems, con­tribut­ing to a high tol­er­ance for risk-prone lifestyles. Peo­ple begin feel­ing guilt about what they ear­lier did to avoid shame. Pub­lic order de­te­ri­o­rates, and crime and sub­stance abuse rise. Gen­der dis­tinc­tions nar­row, and child rear­ing reaches the point of min­i­mum pro­tec­tion and struc­ture.

Other awakenings from the past include the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe, the Progressive Era in the United States from about 1880 to 1910, and the 1960’s Consciousness Revolution.  Now perhaps Russia is beginning their own new spiritual awakening.

Flower_Power_demonstrator

1960’s radicals wanted to overturn the spiritually sterile white, Christian establishment of the 1950’s. Why wouldn’t the radicals of today’s Russia want to overthrow the sterile social Marxism of today just as their fathers overthrew political Marxism?

A Rising Generation in Russia

Most people in Russia support Vladimir Putin because he restored order and relative prosperity to Russia after the chaos and exploitation of that country in the 1990’s. Now we have a generation who is reaching college age who have little or no memory of the difficult times that their parents endured. Many of these young people see their society being constantly attacked by foreign forces that would undermine their spirits with “madness and abomination”. They might see the secular order of Putin’s Russia as lacking enough spiritual enlightenment to stop these evil forces for the sake of peace, order, and prosperity. If a large portion of this generation embraces the fundamental teachings of Orthodox Christianity and desires to restore the religious foundations of Russia, then they might well try to put an end to the cultural and spiritual filth gushing into Russia from the West, and they might also threaten the balance of order carefully established during the 2000’s and 2010’s.

Russia has little history of individual liberty and democratic government, but they do have a history of spiritual mysticism and of following strong leaders, be they religious or civil.

From Culture Smart! Russia:

“Bez tsarya v golove”—“with­out a tsar in his head”—is a Russ­ian say­ing about some­body who does not know what he is doing. Or, rather, who does not lis­ten to the tsar telling him what to do.

In the nine­teenth cen­tury even Russ­ian lib­er­als cited au­toc­racy as one of three foun­da­tion stones of the Russ­ian state, to­gether with spir­i­tu­al­ity and a com­mu­nal spirit. The tra­di­tion of a pow­er­ful leader, be it a tsar or a pres­i­dent, is still strong in Rus­sia today.

Al­though the Russ­ian pres­i­dent often re­peats that he would like the pub­lic to see him as a per­son they have hired for the job, opin­ion polls show that he is pri­mar­ily re­garded as a fa­ther fig­ure, as some­body who pro­vides ma­te­r­ial ben­e­fits and who dis­ci­plines or pun­ishes cor­rupt civil ser­vants and thiev­ing oli­garchs.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Russ­ian au­to­cratic tra­di­tion was often based on the rule of fear, as in the reigns of Ivan the Ter­ri­ble or Peter the Great. The per­va­sive­ness and in­ten­sity of fear reached its nadir dur­ing the bloody regime of Joseph Stalin, and this fear and the ne­ces­sity to obey or­ders cre­ated a fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tion in the Russ­ian at­ti­tude to au­thor­ity.

“A peas­ant will lis­ten to what the mas­ter has to say, but will do it his own way,” says a Russ­ian proverb.

“The po­lit­i­cal regimes change, lead­ers with dif­fer­ent tem­pera­ments and in­ten­tions come to power, po­lit­i­cal sys­tems get re­placed, and yet there is one thing, that re­mains con­stant in Rus­sia: the power is al­ways “them,” and the peo­ple are al­ways “us,” writes the Russ­ian philoso­pher Shapo­valov.

These con­trast­ing at­ti­tudes, re­spect for and sup­port of the top “fa­ther fig­ure” and total dis­re­spect for law and au­thor­ity, are yet an­other Russ­ian con­tra­dic­tion.

Vladimir-Putin

The Russian President is “pri­mar­ily re­garded as a fa­ther fig­ure, as some­body who pro­vides ma­te­r­ial ben­e­fits and who dis­ci­plines or pun­ishes cor­rupt civil ser­vants and thiev­ing oli­garchs.”

Dmitry Enteo and “God’s Will”

One strange leader called Dmitry Enteo has been making headlines in Russia since 2012 through his public stunts against anti-Christian art, anti-Christian laws, and pro-abortion, pro-homosexual activists. He is the leader of the Orthodox activist group “God’s Will“. (Here is Google’s English translation.)

Enteo’s followers, about 500 in all in twelve Russian cities, are mostly young men and women in their twenties, like Enteo himself.  This is contrary to most current religious movements in the United States, which seem to have a high representation of older people, particularly Baby Boomers.  A Christian movement full of young people is one that points the way towards a spiritual awakening.

Most recently, Enteo has made Russian headlines for his attack on a museum that displayed anti-Christian art.  On August 14, Enteo and eight or nine followers visited a museum exhibit of underground art from Soviet times, including several that mocked or blasphemed Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist. Enteo and his followers smashed up some of the particularly blasphemous pieces, refusing to leave until the end of the exhibit. Police, however, arrested them and ultimately charged Enteo a token fine of 500 rubles (about $7 US), a fine that Enteo vows he will not pay.

This is one of the interesting aspects of these God’s Will protests, the fact that the ruling authorities are either letting them go or giving them token punishments. Good for Russia!

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Dmitry Enteo and his supporters praying at the walls of the Moscow City Court while it heard appeals against the sentence of Pussy Riot.

I had a difficult time learning about Enteo, as almost all of the articles about him and his movement are in Russian. Google Translate interpreted these articles rather poorly.

The following is a cleaned-up translation of Enteo’s article from the Russian site Traditio.wiki.  It’s likely that I made several small mistakes in interpreting Google’s mess, but the overall facts should be correct:

Dmitry Tsorionov (b. February 13, 1989), also known under the alias Dimitri Enteo or just Enteo, is a Russian Orthodox activist, the founder of the movement “God’s Will”, and a member of the Prophet Daniel Orthodox Missionary Movement. He is known for his outrageous and provocative actions, which involve many militant actions estimated by human rights activists to be illegal. As a young-earth creationist he considers unscientific the theory of evolution.

Biography
Dmitry Tsorionov was born on February 13, 1989 in Moscow (according to other sources – in North Ossetia). His Mother was Russian and his father was an Ossetian. By his own request, in 2012 he graduated from the Moscow State Institute with a degree in economics and served in the Airborne Forces of the Russian Federation. He also studied at the correspondence theologian school at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, where he was expelled for academic failure in August 2013. In 2010 he converted to Orthodoxy [from “neo-Buddhism and Hinduism“], at about the same time joining the “Prophet Daniel Orthodox Missionary Movement.” As of 2014, he was unemployed.

Views
Dmitry Tsorionov advocates a theocracy, believing that the Bible has in itself the answers to all current challenges of our time.  He opposes scientism, is a young-earth creationist and a geocentrist, believing that all heavenly bodies revolve around the earth, whose age is 7522 years (2013).  He calls the theory of evolution an unscientific and unproven theory, advocating the abolition of its teaching in schools. He is a staunch opponent of abortion, convinced that human life originates at the time of fertilization. He opposes the propaganda of homosexuality, considering the latter a disease and calling it “sodomy”. Enteo’s followers call themselves Orthodox missionaries, considering Orthodoxy the only true Christianity from which all other Christan religions flow. Infidels and their supporters are wrong. Enteo supports the deputy Vitaly Milonova. In an interview he said that he positions himself as a civic activist, and that the actions of his organization are not beyond the law.

Promotions and actions
Dmitry “Enteo” is known for his outrageous and provocative actions and deeds. Some of them, according to the people affected by them, as well as human rights defenders, are against the law.

On August 27, 2012 in the Paveletsky railway station in Moscow, Enteo and a group of supporters approached a young man inside the train and tore off his T-shirt with the image of punk band “Pussy Riot” [the image showed a derogatory depiction of the Virgin Mary]. Activists attacked a supporter of the group, shouting, “Holy Rus, keep the Orthodox faith! So it will be with any scoffer!” Video of the action was published on YouTube. The owner of the T-shirt, Alex Myslivets, went to the police, where they refused to initiate a criminal case, citing lack of evidence under article “Deliberate destruction or damage of property” due to the fact that the material damage amounted to 800 rubles, too small for the initiation of proceedings under this article. Also, the police had not seen in the actions of the activists a gross violation of public order, socially dangerous action, degrading treatment of citizens, or religious hatred, and they referred to the lack of witnesses of the incident. In turn, Paul Pins, Chairman of the Human Rights Society “Agora”, commented on the situation, pointing out that in the jurisprudence of these attacks, they qualify as robbery. The South West transport prosecutor’s office in Moscow later deemed the decision not to institute criminal proceedings illegal and cancelled it, the case for an additional test.  Subsequently Enteo said in an interview that ripping the T-shirt was not an action, but it was his “personal act as a citizen and as an Orthodox believer” with the act described in the following words: “I believe that this is a normal reaction of any normal citizen, for whom God and His Mother is a real person.”

blasphemous-pussy-riot-shirts

The shirt in question.

On the same day, 27 August 2012, Enteo entered the Moscow theater documentary play “Theatre.doc” with a group of supporters where they tried to disrupt those who were there at this point in the show, which was dedicated to the cause of Pussy Riot.

The next day, shortly before midnight Enteo and his followers entered the museum of erotic art “Point G”. One of the protesters carried a book with an Orthodox cross on the cover, the other a package with a brick. A participant of the action recorded the event on an iPad. Activists demanded to see the museum director Alexander Donskoi, who was at the time in Arkhangelsk. Without waiting for the Director, Enteo handed the brick to the museum administrator who perceived this as a threat to his own life. Enteo explained his action by the fact that he was outraged by the abundance of advertising from the museum, including distributing leaflets to young children, and the “donated” brick is interpreted as a symbol of the crucifixion and repentance. Don in an interview denied these claims, stating that the museum is located in an inconspicuous place, and the flyers, in which there is a sign of the age limit “18+”, were handed out only to adults.

August 17, 2013, activists of the movement “God’s will”, headed by Dmitry Enteo participated in the dispersal of an unauthorized procession of the Pastafarians in Moscow, called “Pasta course.” Enteo’s marchers squirted ketchup on the marchers, accompanied with curses. The procession was also met with riot police who arrested eight marchers. The Pastafarians that were squirted with ketchup went to the police.

On Thursday, November 28, 2013, Tsorionov and companion Mila Yesipenko tried to disrupt the play “An Ideal Husband” directed by Konstantin Bogomolov, who was walking in the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. Coming on the scene at the time of the prayer of the homosexual priests, the activists began chanting “Do you not understand?” “This is sacrilege” and “Stop”.  As a result, they were expelled from the theater by security guards. Some spectators applauded the instigators. The General Directorate of the Ministry of Interior of Russia in Moscow announced the arrest of two young men for disorderly conduct at the theater. In an interview with Argumenty i Fakty Enteo said in a statement that he considered it an insult to the feelings of believers, and that this led him to his attempt to ruin the play. The activist also initiated a petition for its ban.

In the evening of February 20, 2014 Enteo, in the company of another young man, presumably another member of the movement “God’s Will”, Alexander Fomichev, entered the Moscow Museum of History of the Gulag where they attacked bookshop officer and Orthodox believer Dmitry Davydov. A surveillance camera captured Tsorionov spitting at the employee of the museum, while a second young man walked around the counter, behind which the employee stood, and began to beat Davydov. According to the testimony of the victim, the attackers forced him to publicly apologize for a statement he’d made in an interview about one of the participants of the disturbance of the performance at the Moscow Art Theatre, and in the case of Davydov’s further disobedience they threatened to beat him even more. Earlier, Davydov had said in an interview with “Polit.ru” that the girl Mila Yesipenko had not taken communion in the Church for two years. Alex Fomichev, after the incident, announced on his social network page his withdrawal from the “God’s Will” movement. ATS Tver district of Moscow adopted a statement on the attack on Davydova.

Criticism
The activities and views of Dmitry Enteo undergo tough criticism from both the Liberals and by Orthodox religious leaders.

Leonid Y. Gozman has condemned the actions of Enteo and, after an interview with him, said: “I am extremely upset that the  absolutely wild, medieval attitude expressed by our guest today received the support of 56 percent of our listeners. It makes a very worrying outlook for the future of our country.”

Deacon Andrei Kuraev accused the activists of not understanding the scriptures in a rude manner by offering to reduce the temperature and the last stop “wank on schedule.” He also pointed out that the activist might have had the wrong mentors, and he called for Enteo’s speedy understanding and to correct his errors.

Philosopher Alexander Zelichenko called Enteo an “anti-clerical propaganda genius“, and suggested that his movement can be used by secret detractors to discredit the Russian Orthodox Church.

God’s Will has also worked to pass Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, disrupted Russian concerts for Marilyn Manson and Cannibal Corpse, and thrown a pig head this year at another theater showing Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”.

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The pig’s head thrown at Moscow’s prestigious Chekhov Moscow Art Theater in protest of a staging of Oscar Wilde’s comedy “An Ideal Husband,” which deals with issues of promiscuity and adultery in contemporary Moscow and features a naked woman hung on the ceiling, representing the crucified Jesus, while an actor representing a homosexual priest worships her.

Enteo also gave an interview for Pravda back in 2012, when he first began to make headlines, where he describes how he began his crusade and what his beliefs are.  A few excerpts:

In 2009 I went to the mission school of Father Daniel Sysoev – thirty days after the murder of Daniel. The air was permeated with all the beauty of martyrdom, a feat, because for a Christian death for Christ is the highest that can be. . .

. . . The priest Daniel Sysoev made a spiritual explosion, he inspired thousands of people around the world to missionary work, and he clearly outlined the theological problems and their solutions. I learned in the missionary school of Daniel Sysoev, and for three years have been actively engaged in missionary work in many different directions, one of my directions – neo-Hinduism. . .

. . . I work in the service of helping people affected by the oriental cults, and we have met dozens of people suffering from eastern practices—yoga, meditation, reiki, occultism, Hare Krishna, and so on. We are engaged in a variety of missionary directions, working with prisoners, homeless people, migrant workers, giving them leaflets, telling them about the Orthodox faith, conducting interviews, and the Moscow mission trip tours across Russia. At the moment, this is my missionary work. . .

. . . My public activity began in the spring of this year, after we continuously followed every attack on the Russian Orthodox Church. In general, many Christians, after seeing the attacks on our shrines have ceased to be lukewarm, and they have realized that such attacks fundamentally undermine our moral values, and we also started to be more active and united. . .

. . . Many people turn to me through my page on the site “Vkontakte”, and we interact: one written on the site, other components of press releases, others pray for us, the fourth provides legal assistance and vseostalnye go with us for stocks. So it turns out that we combine active believers as well as Russian citizens who are not indifferent to what our society will be tomorrow. Our organization does not have a name, we are ordinary citizens who want to build a civil society that takes into account the interests of most citizens. A majority is Orthodox, who are now driven back over the fence, and were converted to marginalized sectors of society, but for them it will not be so. We are working on the social level because when society says the government is taking care of a problem, as long as society is silent, the government does nothing. Therefore, we learn not to simply pass by, but to transform the world around us, not just to pray, but also to act. . .

More information about them, in their own words, can be found here.

Does Enteo Go Too Far?

I am impressed by this Dmitry Enteo fellow.  His actions may seem over-the-top to us, but whom has he really hurt?  Without seriously injuring anyone, Enteo has fought against those forces who are deliberately trying to undermine Christian society through their endless promotion of corruption and filth under the guise of peace and liberty.

enteo-pelts-gays-with-eggs

Enteo pelts eggs at homosexual rights protesters at the walls of the Russian Duma. The protesters were picketing against Russia’s adoption of the anti-gay propaganda law.

Notice that Enteo is not simply attacking non-Christians or homosexuals because they exist, but those who are advancing agendas to degrade Christian morality and society, either deliberately or through direct, visible support.

In fact, Enteo’s attacks are less than half of his work: he serves as a missionary to non-Believers in Russia and helps the homeless.  I doubt that he is cursing his would-be proselytes and squirting them with ketchup to convert them to Christ.

Do we who are Christian believe that our faith is an absolute, universal truth for all of humanity? Or is Christianity just one path out of many and it doesn’t really matter what people believe so long as we are all nice to one another?  It’s long past the time for us to live our faith and stand up for it!

I know that I myself can shed more worldly attitudes and possessions and work for the benefit of Christ’s church.  If we who are Christian all take our faith more seriously, not only by improving our lives and helping the lost, but by standing up to our enemies, then we could drive away the forces of evil, with God’s help and mercy, and restore sanity to our lands.

Clusivius:

Clusivius-sqThe faith of Dmitry Enteo is something to admire, but his physical attacks against people do go at least a little too far.

Tearing an anti-Christian shirt off of an unsuspecting man, or roughing up an Orthodox museum director for unjust statements against another follower, such actions violate Christ’s teachings.  Should we physically assault our enemies or destroy their property in defense of our Lord?  Did He not say that we must love our enemies and pray for our persecutors?

Michael Brown at WND has a good article relating to this subject:

3) Jesus explicitly taught against fighting back. In the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before His crucifixion, He told Peter to put down his sword, explaining that all who lived by the sword would die by the sword (Matthew 26:51-54).

4) The entire testimony of the New Testament is against us violently fighting against our persecutors. Instead, we are called to pray for them (Matthew 5:43-48), we are described as lambs going to the slaughter (Romans 8:35-39; 1 Peter 2:21-23), we are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18-20), and only those who suffer with Jesus will reign with Him (Romans 8:16-18). Great is their reward in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).

5) Jesus told His disciples that if they were persecuted in one city, they should flee to another (Matthew 10:22-25). He could have given military alternatives as well, but He did not.

Granted, Brown is talking about fighting against Christian enemies with the sword (and in fairness to Brown, he lists some examples where it is acceptable for Christians to use the sword).  Enteo isn’t fighting people with deadly weapons, but his use of physical force against the enemies of Christ follows the spirit of the sword too closely.

Enteo’s other non-violent actions, such as disrupting plays and harassing politicians, fit (just) within the acceptable bounds of Christian activism, and are commendable.

But Christians should be wary of following Enteo’s violent example.

Concorditas:

ConcorditasIt is difficult to decide the best ways to resist the all-pervasive wickedness that Western culture produces, yet Christians must resist it if we want ourselves and our children to keep the faith in the West.

Most of us choose a defensive posture.  We live our lives, trying to improve ourselves with God’s help, to resist evil, but very few of us take the offensive against our enemies.  It often seems like a struggle just to walk our faiths.

But our desire to get along and play nice has led our Christian nations to fall into darker and darker places for at least the past one hundred years, and definitely the last fifty.

When someone rises up who takes the fight for Christianity to the dens of the enemy, who causes them no real physical harm, just shock and humiliation, are we going to nitpick his tactics while we ourselves remain passively in our seats?

Jesus Himself overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple in Jerusalem, and He forcibly drove them out.  Surely the Jews of His day considered His actions to be shockingly violent.

Enteo’s actions are extreme, but the actions of the enemy are even more extreme.  Enteo might sometimes err a little too far towards violence in his exploits, but he has never destroyed anyone’s life the way the Left has done.  He has consistently fought for the faith against the forces of evil.

Enteo deserves our support.

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5 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.

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  2. I’m offline for a couple of days and you go and write a bunch of articles!

    I think this kind of action is not necessarily bad, but it carries a large risk. Its easy to go to far and become just an angry activist, no better than #BLM.

    I checked Pravmir to see if there was anything about this group. I didn’t find anything, but some Greek businessman has offered to build a mosque in exchange for the Hagia Sophia to be returned to the Church.

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    • Had some spare time this week and was productive.

      I won’t say that the Turks giving up the Hagia Sophia to Christianity is impossible, but it would take an act of God to pull it off.

      As far as Enteo, I agree with you that he is riding the line, but for every public stunt we see from God’s Will, there are several acts of charity or teaching that go unnoticed by the media. Whom does Black Lives Matter help behind the scenes?

      Enteo does have the vocal support of some in the ROC, and I suspect the tacit support of many more. There are some in the ROC who criticize him, however.

      Regardless, I intend to keep an eye on Enteo and his movement. So far I am quite impressed.

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  3. Do you have any idea if God’s Will has moved their site? I like Enteo’s work, as an Orthodox ‘radical’ myself, and want to promote him at my blog.

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    • The God’s Will site appears to have closed down a few months ago, but Enteo himself is active at VK.com ( http://vk.com/enteo ). I can’t read Russian, but Google Translate usually works well enough. It’s a pity that the God’s Will site is down.

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