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"A TANK ROLLED DOWN our street. It stopped not far away... I saw three Germans climb out of the manhole; they were dressed all in black with skulls and cross-bones on their sleeves. Two of them began fixing the tank, while the third went into a nearby house. I followed him. As though he owned the place, the fascist went up to a cupboard, opened it, rummaged around, found some bread, sat down at the table, and began eating. A young boy of about four who lived in the house came up to him and said, "Can I have some bread too, mister?"

The German ignored him. So the little boy helped himself to a piece of bread from the table and stuck it in his mouth. The German saw this, grabbed a spanner and hit the boy on the head as hard as he could. The boy fell, his skull crushed, blood flowing darkly from it." This is related by 14-year-old Vitya Bessonov from the town of Klin.

The book "War Through the Eyes of Children: Eyewitness Accounts" put out by Veche Publishers is not fun reading. Incidentally, the book is not only about children, it is also children's reminiscences about other people who lived through the ordeal and humiliation of occupation with them - mothers tortured in front of their children, children mutilated in front of their mothers, interrogations, beatings, plundering, hundreds of people burned alive in sheds, violence, and cruelty. The book reduces to naught the attempts by some German authors to make a distinction between the Gestapo and the "honest soldiers of the Wehrmacht" who were only fulfilling their duty. All of them hung people, and tortured them, and robbed them, regardless of the type of troops.

It is the day of resurrection! Let us be illumined for the feast!” - even the air in the church seems to vibrate with joy when the Easter chant sounds during the celebration of the feast of feasts. A week before the resurrection, Jesus told Mary, the sister of Lazarus: “Your brother will rise again” and she replied with firm belief that “he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day”, that is, at the final moment of the earthly history. “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) said Jesus to make it clear that Lazarus would be restored to life right at the time, as would be restored to life the souls of Mary and whoever witnessed the miracle. What appeared to be distant thus became immediate reality, and the resurrection of all on the last day grew as obvious as an established fact despite the ages that lay ahead. In our days, Easter similarly shines the light of the promised joy on our  existence.

It may be the most convincing argument in favor of the godly origin of Christianity that no human would have thought of preaching about God being crucified. Saying that the notion would have looked illogical would be an understatement – human nature and mind with its “common sense” would have both rebelled against the idea that God could be humiliated and tortured by those whom he had created. Always understood to be almighty, God could be harsh or condescending, could punish or forgive, but could not have been imagined to suffer at the hands of humans and be executed in an act of self-sacrifice for the sake of human salvation. 

Family doctor Richard Scott, 50, was accused of harassing one of his patients – a reportedly suicidal young man - for bringing up the theme of Christianity at workplace. The regulator, Great Britain's  General Medical Council, issued an official warning to Scott who faces the risk of being dismissed from his position over the charges. The Cambridge-educated doctor intends to file a lawsuit in his defense and describes the regulator's approach as censorship. “He viewed his problem as purely medical issue and I said it might be more than that,” says Scott about the evidently consensual conversation with his former patient. Being open about his view that a spiritual component is indispensable to healing, Scott stresses that the discussion ended as soon as he realized that the patient did not favor it.

A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO, America entered its bloodiest war that was to last four years. The Civil War between the North and the South cost the lives of 620,000 people, which is almost equal to total American losses in all other wars. Two out of every three Americans have ancestors that went through the crucible of this war - a figure that debunks the myth that the USA has become great thanks to subsequent fertile strata of immigrants.

In our imagination, America has always hastened to live. However, this myth about U.S. history is not universal, either. At one point, the Russian conservative K. Leontiev, seeing that Russia was about to step from the patriarchal world to the world of technological, financial and industrial revolution, exclaimed, "Freeze, Russia!" The southern U.S. states tried to do something similar - not as a motto but as a program -and issued a challenge to the time.

IT'S ALWAYS RISKY to tell a story from hearsay. One inevitably errs in the details. Still, let me give it a try. During a Soviet celebration of Alexander Suvorov's jubilee year, a speaker mounted the podium and made a denunciatory speech about the great general. In it, he depicted Suvorov as a proponent of serfdom, the stifler of Polish freedom, and, most importantly, as the cruel suppressor of the Pugachev Rebellion. An awkward silence followed. Then a well-known biographer of Suvorov took the word and asked the "denouncer," "Do you think, comrade, that, had Pugachev won, he would have instituted Soviet rule in Russia?" The audience laughed.

Ideological surrogates rarely withstand the test of history. Something similar is taking place today.

"Democracy's Hard Spring" was the title of an article in a respectable international magazine that presented an easily predictable interpretation of the tumultuous events in the Middle East. Although "predictable" is not always the same thing as "trite," the two terms coincided in this case. This only goes to show once again that modern positivists are not daunt­ed by anything, including crises, revolutions, and natural disasters. Everything is going according to plan. Libyan rebels are already saying that they will establish a pluralistic parliamentary democracy with limits on executive government. For the time being, they're shooting into the air and destroying cities just like Qaddafi, yet, no matter, they'll calm down and create pluralism, parliament, and democracy. Moreover, it turns out that Islamists, including former members of groups linked to the Al Qaeda, are upholding the values of secular society.

THERE IS SOMETHING DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND about the recent events in Japan at first sight. The only country to have suffered from a nuclear attack and experienced the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki decided to develop the nuclear power industry, risking repeating the nightmares of the past. Indeed, building a whole network of NPPs in a seismically active zone seems totally insane to a normal person.

Today, thousands of people that are running away from Fukushima-1 say, "We knew that it was dangerous, yet we were told time and again that we are completely safe. They have lied to us all this time." Even the Japanese prime-minister flew into a rage when he could not get a rapid and precise report about the damaged reactor. "What's going on, finally?" he asked the operators of Tokyo Electric. Officials of big companies and ordinary Japanese people are expressing their extreme displeasure at how the government and the spokesmen of the nuclear power industry are informing the population. As a result, the authority of energy companies within the country has fallen lower than the rating of Japan and its stocks on the world's financial markets.

I am sure that Japan will overcome the effects of the disaster, all the more as unprecedented international assistance should be accorded to it. Japan will undoubtedly continue to rank third among the world's most developed countries. Yet at what cost?

In Japan, the nuclear industry is not just an influential business or a simple lobby that exerts pressure on the country's political elite. It is something more - a force that has been largely responsible for the Japanese economic miracle.

ACCORDING TO Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish, Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), there will be no more cheap oil. We met at the OFID headquarters in Vienna, a magnificent palace built in the days of the Austrian Empire and richly decorated with columns, stucco, massive oak doors and red carpet runners.

Since 1976, OFID has been a major international development agency, as well as an authoritative research and analysis center. The Fund's main task is to strengthen cooperation and OPEC's influence in developing countries. Financial assistance provided by the Fund has exceeded $10.6 billion, including more than $1.4 billion in the form of grants. Mr. Al-Herbish's assessment of the current state of the global market and the strategy for the development of the oil sector is all the more interesting because he previously served as chairman or member of the board of some of the largest Saudi Arabian oil companies.

Against the background of a jump in world oil prices to $100 provoked by the events in Egypt, Mr. Al-Herbish's statement that there will be no more cheap oil may seem a bold claim. In recent years, the oil market has "turned somersaults" that have made many experts feel dizzy. However, the person I was talking to meant something quite different: the cost of oil production in the world is rising rapidly. Russian analysts naturally agree with this. But it is not only that the cost of production of a ton of oil has increased. OPEC's mission, Mr. Al-Herbish believes, is to ensure security of oil supply today and in the future. For this purpose, he said, we must spend billions of dollars on ensuring sustainable development of the world economy, taking into account not only its immediate needs, but also possible emergencies. As he put it, we must invest in "future oil."

OH WELL, this feels great. You come to the Crimea and hear at the passport checkpoint in the Simferopol airport: "With your passport you do not need an immigration card." A TV picture of Medvedev and Yanukovich criticizing the borderline idiocy comes to mind followed by a puzzled question: "Why did they distribute the cards on board in the first place rather than telling us the great news?"

Well, let it be. The ice is breaking after all, to borrow a quote from a classic while the "jurors" of the Russian-Ukrainian relations having safely landed in the Crimea began their preparations for a conference organized by the International Affairs journal with the support of the Foreign Ministry of Russia.

The conference level was high and the range of problems to be discussed wide and varied. The first session was invited to discuss the priority and resources of the new Russia-Ukraine relationships; the second was expected to put the new policy into the context of the Russia-Ukraine-EU triangle; the third was confronted with the eternal question: Russia-Ukraine: a dialogue of cultures or a common cultural expanse?

Russia and Ukraine: Views and Opinions

The sober remark that the atomic bomb cannot be “unborn” is attributed to M. Thatcher. At the moment, the same holds true of WikiLeaks, the internet outlet which came into being a relatively short time ago and promptly established itself as media warfare of unprecedented power. Apart from provoking fierce criticism from defenders of free speech, any attempts to put WikiLeaks under pressure now outrage much broader category of people not belonging to the realms of institutionalized politics, mass media, or human rights advocacy. Recently I overheard a conversation at a hotel counter in Paris which seemed to epitomize the public reaction no longer limited to common discontent at administrations' invasiveness. Complaining over the suspension of all payments to WikiLeaks by Visa and Mastercard, someone said literally: “They will end up seeing their networks paralyzed by hackers and create problems for just about everybody. Making lots of money on us, must they also play political games?”.