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  1. St Petersburg metro explosions kill ten At least 10 people have been killed in explosions at underground stations in St Petersburg, Russian media report. The Tass and Interfax agencies reported the blasts hit the Sennaya Ploshchad and nearby Institute of Technology stations in the centre of the city. Images posted on social media showed a carriage in Sennaya station with its doors blown out with casualties nearby. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is in the city, has been informed, Russian media say. The cause of the explosions is not yet known. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39481770# http://news.sky.com/story/ten-dead-after-st-petersburg-metro-blast-10823471
  2. The Pope and head of the Russian Orthodox Church release statement against gay marriage Feb. 13, 2016 The Pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church have released a joint statement condemning same-sex marriage. The statement, consisting of 30 points, holds wide-reaching significance for Catholics and followers of the Orthodox Church. The main message of the statement seems to be the reconciliation of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. However, as well as a coming together of the two denominations, the statement condemns war in the middle east and the persecution of Christians. Going on, the statement says Pope Francis and Kirill are “concerned” about Christians being “confronted by restrictions to religious freedom”. Secular societies are next on the list, saying that Christians face “outright discrimination”, and that they are faced by an “often very aggressive secularist society”. The pair urge Europe to “remain faithful to its Christian roots”, and calls on European Christians to be more outspoken about their faith. In a similar vein to many statements made by the churches, the “family” was high on the agenda. One point calls family the “natural center of human life and society”, but they say they are “concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries”. They then say that “the family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman.” The Pope and the Patriarch are apparently worried that the “biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.” Patriarch Kirill in 2013 condemned the advance of marriage equality in the West, calling it a symptom of the apocalypse. The Russian Orthodox Church has been a key supporter of Russia’s anti-gay law, and Patriarch Kirill maintained the Church’s view that homosexuality is a sin – although he has cautioned against punishing people for their sexuality. In 2009 he told an interviewer: “We respect the person’s free choice, including in sex relations.” Pope Francis last month attacked same-sex marriage and civil unions, ahead of a debate in the Italian Senate at introducing civil unions for same-sex couples. He said: “There can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union. “The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God’s dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity,” he added.
  3. On August 19, an unusual marriage was registered in Moscow: Two girls in similar wedding dresses turned up at one of the city's civil registry offices. The two girls had decided to officially register their relationship, despite the fact that same-sex marriages are prohibited by law in Russia. However, officials were unable to refuse them, as one of the brides, known in the Russian LGBT community as the blogger Alina Davis, is a transsexual. According to her passport, Davis is actually a man named Dmitry Kozhukov. A gay Russian-American examines Sochi protest A gay Russian-American examines Sochi protest According to Davis, to avoid a scandal, the civil registrars office staff threatened not to let the young couple inside if both came wearing dresses. Going to the civil registrars office was not scary, although we were threatened, she said. We submitted our application in May, and everything was fine. During the ceremony, the civil registry office manager became indignant with the eccentricities of this young couple, and sincerely wondered aloud why a man would want to become a woman. However, according to the newlyweds, there were no further verbal skirmishes. This wedding of two 'non-traditional' individuals sparked heated debates on the Russian internet. First published in Russia by Metro Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines - http://rbth.com/news/2014/08/22/moscow_officially_registers_marriage_between_two_brides_39217.html)
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