Cairo, January 31, 2011
|Egypt. © Flickr.com/upyernoz/cc-by|
Russian Orthodox compatriots in Cairo have been living in a sort of hell over the past few days. The insurgents put up barricades near the offices of the Russian Orthodox mission in Cairo. As a result, the fence surrounding the building was pulled down and security was lifted. There was no one to lean on but themselves.
"At present, the situation has more or less stabilized," Archmandrite Leonid Gorbachev says, "but it’s too early to feel relieved."
"The past night was quiet but for a few shots. Police patrols were out in the streets for the first time in the past week. We maintain direct contact with every member of the Orthodox community. Though mobile coverage was out for more than 24 hours, we stayed in touch with the help of land lines and other means of communication. Everybody has been warned to be prepared for any scenario."
Africa’s Orthodox community embraces thousands of members, including Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Moldovans. The Russian Orthodox community has one church in Cairo – the Church of St.Demetrius of Thessaloniki, which was built in early 20th century for Greek Orthodox believers. At the end of the 1990s the church was transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate for a 30-year lease on a gratuitous basis to provide spiritual guidance for the Russian community. At the moment there are no services in the church for security reasons.
"The Church of St.Demetrius of Thessaloniki, which is the seat of the Russian Orthodox community, is temporarily closed," Archmandrite Leonid Gorbachev says. We have security guards inside who are protecting the church compound against looters and runaway criminals.
Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church have been working side by side with Russian Embassy officials in Egypt. They are exchanging information on-line and have made lists of Russian compatriots in Egypt. Should the situation deteriorate, Russians will receive special protection. Each believer has been notified of what to do in case of emergency. In the words of Archmandrite Leonid Gorbachev, Russian compatriots in Egypt are well-protected for now but nobody knows what we are in for tomorrow.