Russia flexes Arctic muscles; Bishop christens North Pole

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 A Russian NTV channel grab taken 03 August 2007 shows a manipulator of the Mir-1 mini-submarine as it places a Russian state flag at the seabed of Arctic ocean at a depth of 4,261 meters (13,980 feet), 02 August 2007. Russian newspapers lauded members of an Arctic expedition who planted a Russian flag in the seabed four kilometres (2.5 miles) beneath the North Pole. AFP PHOTO / NTV In a spectacle similar to 2007’s underwater North Pole flag planting incident, Russia’s latest assertion of influence in the Arctic comes in the form of an Orthodox blessing.

According to the Barents Observer, Russia wants the “North Pole to be Russian Orthodox” and therefore christened it so during a ceremony on Tuesday.

Crew members of Russia’s ongoing Arctic-2012 expedition assisted Orthodox Bishop lakov of Naryan-Mar in the send off a blessed capsule designed to sanctify the region.

The capsule bore a plaque reading, “With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of the Rus, the consecration of the North Pole marks the 1150 years of Russian Statehood.”

The ceremony and dedication is considered by some to be part of Russia’s ambitious drive to lead the Arctic in occupation and development.

In a press release addressing the event Bishop lakov seemed to confirm this idea. The Bishop said that the North Pole consecration was important both to the Church and the Russian people because it symbolizes the country’s effort to return to its “former position in the region” and “symbolizes the efforts of the state to recover the positions of Russia and confirmation of its achievements in the Arctic.”

Blessing the North Pole, the Archbishop said, “fully supports the Russian Orthodox Church, which has always been with the people, and always inspired compatriots in selfless work, performed for the benefit of Russia.”

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