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In Sofia 24-year-old Todor Tunev managed to get the cross for a second consecutive year from the lake in Druzhba district. Because of cold weather, the ritual was not carried out in Bourgas and Rousse. Lyulin Stamenov/Sofia Echo


8-year-old Oleg Kolosov crosses himself during an Orthodox Christmas Eve service at a church in Kosino, just 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Moscow, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the old Gregorian calendar, which places Christmas on Jan. 7.(AP Photo)


A boy lights a candle in St. Volodymyr Cathedral in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002, on the eve of Orthodox Christmas. On Jan. 7, Christmas is celebrated in Ukraine according to the Orthodox religious calendar, which runs two weeks behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West. (AP Photo/Viktor Pobedinsky)


Serbian Orthodox Bishop Amfilohije preaches in Montenegro, Yugoslavia's junior republic, as 1,000 followers gather to watch the burning of the traditional Yule log of dried oak tree branches in the medieval seat of Cetinje, 50 kilometers southwest of capital Podgorica, on Orthodox Christmas Eve, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002. Amfilohije's followers support Montenegro's union with Serbia, the larger Yugoslav republic. Meters away in Cetinje, a second rally of pro-independence Montenegrins burned their own Yule log, cordoned off by riot police from the first group. (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic)


The Armenian church leader, Catholicos Garegin II, center, holds a Christmas service at the cathedral in Echmiadzin, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002. Others are unidentified. The Armenian and other eastern Orthodox churches follow the old Gregorian calendar, which places Christmas on Jan. 7.(AP Photo)


Christians gather in the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)


George Kasapoglu, a 17-year old Greek Orthodox worshipper, holds a wooden cross as he swims in the water of Bosporus during an Orthodox Epiphany ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002. George Kasapoglu, a theology student from Kilkis, near the Greek city of Thessaloniki, braved freezing winter weather to dive into Istanbul's Bosporus and retrieve a wooden cross in a ceremony commemorating the baptism of Jesus Crist. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)


Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle during a Christmas Eve service at a church in the ancient Russian town of Pereslavl-Zalessky, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Moscow, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2002. Others are unidentified. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the old Gregorian calendar, which places Christmas on Jan. 7. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS/Presidential Press Service)


The Greek Orthodox Patriarch H.B. Irinos I , left, arrives at the Church of Nativity joined by Hana Nasser, right, the mayor of Bethlehem celebrating the Orthodox Christmas, Sunday Jan. 6, 2002 in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Lawlesness, Terror and Arson Still Reign In Parts of Tetovo.


Tetovo, January 6 (MIA) - The mixed police forces continued the patrols in Lesok, Neprosteno, Tearce, Otusista, Glogji, Dobroste, Odri, Merovo and Cerovo villages, MIA's correspondent reports.

According to the spokesman of the Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski the police forces did not enter in Neraste village, as the local residents did not allow the entrance.

The police patrols are not present in Tetovo settlement Teke, as OSCE and NATO teams do not accompany them. The patrols should have begun on January 3.

Around 17.00h on Saturday afternoon a fire was registered on the premises of the State Juvenile Reformatory School in Tetovo, which according to the initial information was set by the Albanian terrorists.

After the fire department localized the fire around 22.00h, the Albanian terrorists opened fire from infantry weapons.

Announcement by the Government's Coordinate Crisis Management Body.


Skopje, January 6 (MIA) - The governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body discussed on Saturday's session the process of realization of the Plan on redeployment of the security forces in the crisis regions.

According to the announcement from the Coordinate Body, it was concluded at the session that the redeployment of the security forces in the villages was a priority and it was necessary to intensify the realization of the Plan.

Therefore, the police officers should estimate the security situation in the regions, where the Plan is implemented and to determine whether the methodology of the police work should be changed. The aim is to realize the next sub-phase in the 15 villages, where the patrols began on December 13, but also to speed up the preparations for entering in other villages.

The Coordinate Body concluded that contact desks and temporary police stations should be established in the villages, where the police is patrolling. That would contribute towards increasing the security of the residents, but would also increase the confidence of the displaced persons that will be able to return to their houses.

The Coordinate Body thinks that the citizens should have greater freedom of movement, so the representatives of the international community should involve in unblocking Tetovo - Jegunovce and Tetovo - Jazince roads.

Therefore, it is necessary the representatives of the international organizations to influence the local residents to remove the blockades near Prsovce and Jegunovce villages. It was assessed that the police patrols in that area, should be accompanied by the international representatives.

The Coordinate Crisis Management Body assessed that the process of unblocking the roads is slower due to the obvious absence of the staff of the international community during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It is expected the roads to be unblocked next week.




"Let this Christmas be a holiday, but also a day when all of us will pray for peace," the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia H.H. Stefan said in his Christmas note.

"Let the birth of Christ and the New Year be a source of new spiritual strengths and of permanent joy as well as constant tendency for wellness and peace," reads the note.

H.H. Stefan underlines that "this Christmas will also bring joy despite all sorrows and sadness we have suffered in 2001."

He says that "our Christian religion" gives us hope that "we will overcome all these sufferings, just as we did in the past."

"All this gives us hope that despite all bad things the reason will be our ruling guide, and we shall preserve and defend the peace but also take care of building the human, interethnic and inter-religious relations in our country."

The Pontiff of MOC adds that "that wars do not only bring material damages and human miseries but also devastate the human soul."

In the course of the Christmas holidays we greet each other with "Christ is born", followed by "It is truly born," what means that Christ is on Earth, he is within the man and walks along him.

"As all sufferings and evils in the past were not enough, so someone tries to grasp parts of our country, to diminish the honor and dignity of the Macedonian name, to degrade the Macedonian existence, to humiliate the holy Church and to take over the soul and the spirit of our nation by offering mercy and alleged democracy," reads the note.

He also suggests us to think carefully whether we have watchfully kept the hearths of our ancestors and whether our disunity is our greatest enemy. He also asks us how prepared we are to face the temptations and sufferings and to accept that as God's will.

"Do we build and keep our spiritual and national unity in these crucial moments of the Macedonian present and future," is the question we should pose to ourselves. But we should not lose hope as according to H.H. Stefan "our nation, our country and our church suffered throughout the history, but God has always had mercy and brought justice by sending the necessary help and strength.

In this respect is the interview of Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia Stefan for "Nova Makedonija" - "Sovereignty fruits of MOC for acceptation of other churches have ripen." He says in the interview that "the program course of MOC on the path to its life in unity, is clear and is seen in the uniqueness of the Synod that should be realized."


In regard to the great Christian holiday Birth of Christ - Christmas, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski sent a note of congratulations to His Holiness Stefan, Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

In his note, President Trajkovski also congratulates Christmas to the Archbishop Synod and to all Orthodox Christians in Macedonia, wishing them good health, happiness and success.

"I would like to use this opportunity to once again express my gratitude to the Macedonian Orthodox Church for the support it gave us during the past year - hardest and darkest for my people and your believers. The dark forces that hanged over Macedonia unfortunately also hit on the MOC holy temples. Macedonia is a biblical country where the apostles used to spread love and Christianity among the people, teaching them to love each other like brothers and to live together."

"Therefore, I sincerely hope that the next year will bring us peace and welfare," reads the note from president Trajkovski.


In honor of the great Christian holiday Christmas, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski sent a note of congratulations to Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, His Holiness Stefan and to all Christians.

In the note, Prime Minister Georgievski congratulates the birth of Christ to H.H. Stefan and wishes him health, luck and success in his work. The Prime Minister also expressed hope that H.H. Stefan would continue with his noble mission for peace and calmness among the people regardless to their religion.

"Your messages to have a peaceful life, filled with respect, mutual tolerance and understanding may be present among all of us living in Macedonia. Let the God's peace, goodness and love rule in our hearts. Merry Christmas," the Prime Minister said in his Christmas note.

Merry Kolede, Badnik and Orthordox Christmas.

Reality Macedonia


Kolede and Vasilica carnivals ward off evil spirits and promote fertility. Photo: Vest.

By Irina Gelevska, A1 TV

Macedonians are celebrating Christmas on 7-th of January every year according the Julian Calendar.

The Orthodox Christmas celebrations start on evening on 5th of January with the so-called Kolede Fires. Large fires are set in every neighborhood, around which people dance, sing and drink warm rakija (Macedonian homemade brandy). These fires should chase the evil spirits from the Earth. In the morning next day, small children are going from a home to a home in their neighborhood, knocking at the doors and singing Kolede songs. The home-owners give the children candies, sweets, fruit and coins. Sometimes Roma children who are not Orthodox Christians came to the doors too, but Macedonians make no difference because all people are created equal.

With this ritual begins the celebration of Badnik--the day that announces the Birth of Jesus Christ--Christmas.


Vlatko Stefanovski and the family.

The same morning (on 6th of January) in every place in Macedonia people gather in front of the temples of the Macedonian Orthodox Church to sing traditional songs and dance folk dances.

These people carry Oak tree branches. The oak tree represents good health, wealth, happiness and love.

Then the old Badnik Godfather comes in front of the Church in a pajton (a horse-drawn carriage). He gives the Badnik Cup to the new Badnik Godfather for the next year. The Badnik Godfather for 2002 is the famous Macedonian guitarists Vlatko Stefanovski. Afterwards, priests and famous show business persons continue the Badnik celebrations.

Badnik is the only holiday when you can find rich and poor gathered on one place. In the evening on Badnik, the closest family is gathering around the Badnik dinner. Under every table there is a branch of oak tree for luck.

Fish, products of Macedonian zimnica (homemade conserved vegetables stored for the Winter, check out the recepies for turshija and ajvar), fruit and wine are served for Badnik dinner. The main event at this dinner is the cutting of the Christmas bread on pieces for each member of the family, one for the home and one for Jesus Christ. Inside the Christmas Bread there is a coin. There is a belief that who ever finds the coin in his/her piece of the bread will have luck the whole year. The coin is put in a glass of wine and the lucky person should drink from the wine.

The next morning is Christmas, family holiday when family is paying visits to their closest relatives or friends.

Merry Christmas and peace to everyone!

Simeon Honored in Armenian Church.


Nadelina Aneva

The church choir of the Armenian Apostolic Church of "Our Lady" sang special benediction in honor of Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He came to attend the High Mass at 12.00 o'clock. On January 6 the Armenians celebrate Christmas. The mass is recited in Armenian, but when the Premier arrived Father Kousan Hadavian welcomed him in Bulgarian. Simeon Saxe-Coburg sipped holy water for health and took a bite of consecrated bread. The Premier was accompanied by Roupen Krikorian, deputy of NMS and chairman of the eparchial council.




NMB denies "Karine A" Vessel Originated in Bulgaria.

Sofia, January 6 (BTA) - Navigation Maritime Bulgare (NMB) sold off its small-tonnage vessels in the 1995-1996 period, the company told BTA on Sunday in connection with foreign press reports alleging that the "Karine A" vessel detained with a cargo of arms in Israel was purchased for 400,000 dollars from Bulgaria.

The mentioned price figure and the number of crew members (13) suggest that this is a 1,500-2,000 t vessel, NMB said. The company sold off its vessels of this size in 1995-1996, mainly to Bulgarian buyers. The first small-tonnage vessel sold by NMB was "Elena" (1993); the "Kalofer", "Perushtitsa", "Batak", "Klisura" and "Zheravna" vessels were sold in the 1995-1996 period. Among the new owners was a Greek company. The price tags of the vessels were way under the afore mentioned figure: the highest price that was reached was 280,000 dollars.

It is possible that some of the vessels could have been resold but such transactions are not registered by the Bulgarian authorities, NMB said.

It was also reported that "Karine A" was supposed to head for Bulgaria for repairs after a recent journey. A check with the shipyards in Varna and Bourgas revealed they were not expecting that particular vessel for repairs.

"Karine A" was detained by the Israeli authorities on Thursday in the Red Sea with a 50 t cargo of munition. "The Washington Post" cited Israeli sources as saying that during the interrogation, the crew had revealed that the vessel was purchased for some 400,000 dollars in Bulgaria or Greece in October 2000 by Adil Mughrabi.


Serbs outraged by Christmas Eve killing in Kosovo.


PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Jan 6 (Reuters) - A 36-year-old Serb man was blown up on Sunday by a booby-trapped grenade in his shop in eastern Kosovo, the Yugoslav province's United Nations police force said.

Serb leaders expressed outrage at the killing, which took place on Christmas Eve in the calendar of the Orthodox Christian faith to which most Serbs belong.

Police initially believed a hand grenade had been thrown into the store in the town of Kamenica but later discovered evidence that the grenade had been linked to a trip wire.

"The victim entered the shop from the rear door and when he proceeded to the front door to unlock it, he stepped or tripped on the wire and triggered the grenade," U.N. police spokesman Meeraj Singh told Reuters.

Serbs have been the targets of many attacks by members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority since NATO bombing in 1999 ended repressive Serb rule in the province and made the territory an international protectorate.

The Serbian government's Kosovo coordination centre said the victim of Sunday's blast was shop owner Dragoslav Markovic.

It called on the United Nations and NATO peacekeepers to do everything possible to find the perpetrators and to take more measures to ensure freedom of movement for non-Albanians in Kosovo.

"This loathsome terrorist act on Christmas Eve, before the great Christian holiday, once more warns us that after two years, the international community is not managing to find an answer to terrorism," a statement by local Serb politicians said.

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