Letter: vandalism in a Russian cemetery

Through Galina Tomisser, Eva Khadjinova, Yevgenii Komarov and Natalia Sears

Update: 8 hours ago Published: 8 hours ago

The Russian community in Anchorage is alarmed and discouraged by the vandalism that occurred earlier in January at a cemetery in Sitka, where Russian Orthodox crosses and headstones were destroyed. This disturbing event took place just at the end of the Christmas holiday, the eve of Epiphany – one of the most sacred celebrations of all Christian churches. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas and Epiphany according to the old Julian calendar, which is 13 days later than in many other churches. This sacrilege was so horrific, amplified exponentially by its timing, that our community would rather believe the timing was coincidental. Currently, little is known about who or why desecrated the graves and whether it was with the intention of abusing religious, cultural or ethnic heritage.

Regardless of the context, it is a clear sign of intolerance, prejudice and aggression. Russian Americans in Anchorage have always felt safe and welcome. This incident is unusual for Alaskans as a whole, but emblematic of a divisive discourse in the public square. Intolerance in our world, amplified by anonymity in the digital sphere, fosters and invites physical assaults like these and worse. Just a few months ago, a Jewish place of worship was also desecrated.

The economic, social and cultural fabric of Alaska has been woven with the help of people from around the world. It is through our diversity, our ingenuity, our cooperation, our respect for the past and our optimism for the future that we are a state as progressive and developed as we are. Welcoming states are those that prosper economically, culturally and socially. Let’s keep our welcoming state.

—Galina Tomisser, Eva Khadjinova, Yevgenii Komarov and Natalia Sears

Board Members, Russian-American Friendship and Trade Center


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