04 May 2007, 10:01
Moscow Patriarchate demands Gusev, Venediktov resignation
Moscow, May 4, Interfax - The Father Vladimir Vigilyansky, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's press service, said that Ekho Moskvy radio editor-in-chief Alexey Venediktov and Moskovsky Komsomolets daily editor-in-chief Pavel Gusev, who, he said, aired rumors alleging that Patriarch of All Russia Alexy II was dead or seriously ill, should resign, but the journalists have dismissed the calls.
The website of the Orthodox Foma magazine cites Fr. Vigilyansky as saying in particular: "The news around the supposed death of the Patriarch was not accidental. This is not an absurd mistake in interpretation, as we thought in the beginning; now we see malevolent intentions. One of the purposes of the slander could be the desire to sow discord in the signing of the Act of Re-Unification of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad with its Mother Church, the Russian Orthodox Church. On the other hand, the purpose of this PR-campaign could be the desire to gauge how high-ranking Church officials will behave if they lose the patriarch."
Vigilyansky said: "I do not blame the publishers on the whole, I blame specific people behind Moskovsky Komsomolets and Ekho Moskvy radio. This is their invention, and this is 'evil intent', as the Apostolic Patriarch said. Therefore, I hold that Alexey Venediktov and Pavel Gusev should resign."
Venediktov told Interfax in response that Ekho Moskvy radio had said nothing regarding the Patriarch's death or critical condition, it only said that Alexy II was receiving treatment in Switzerland, which was confirmed later.
He said that "the Patriarchate's press service, which should have explained this (the Patriarch's absence) to believers, citizens, did nothing, and now it was trying to blame journalists who sought to inform." Venediktov said he did not plan to resign.
Gusev said the call for his resignation from the representative of Moscow Patriarchate was "absolutely unfounded."
"First of all, I want to stress that we have a secular state. And although we have freedom of speech, and everybody can say what he likes, an official Church representative ought not engage in such issues," Gusev told Interfax on Thursday. He urged Vigilyansky to resign himself.
Meanwhile, Tatyana Medyukh, the editor of MK.ru has published a letter of apology to Alexy II.