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RUSSIA, the Orthodox Church and the Balkans.

     The Russian Orthodox Church dances to the Kremlin´s tune, and the Kremlin tune on Serbia now is a discant. As the NATO leaders were about to meet in Washington, Yeltsin and the Russian Orthodox Church suddenly changed their tune while Chernomyrdin and the Russian Patriarch were in Belgrade. At first they were very sympathetic to Milosovich, but then they suddenly told him that Serbian troops must be removed from Kosovo. In particular, the Patriarch, surrounded by top church officials, told him in a much TV-publicized ceremony that he must show compassion for the people of Kosovo. There were 500 (!) Western reporters in Belgrade, lapping up Serb (and now Russian) propaganda. It was probably a coincidence that this was the same as the position of the Pope, but it was a good sign for reconciliation between the Eastern and Western Churches. To the Russians Yeltsin was still singing the old song.

Ronald Hilton - 04/23/99