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Blic (BG) Easter celebration in captivity in the monastery of Devic

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  • Nikolaj
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2001
      > Blic, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
      > Tuesday 17 April 2001
      > "Blic" with Serbs and Russian soldiers in the monastery of Devic in Kosovo
      > on Easter, completely surrounded by Albanians
      > Easter celebration in captivity
      > With a small group of Serbs from Kosovska Mitrovica whom members of French
      > KFOR provided with armored transporters, we arrived in the only monastery in
      > Drenica in central Kosovo to spend the Easter holiday. After traveling 30
      > kilometers south of the divided city on the Ibar River by a badly asphalted
      > road full of potholes, we arrived at the monastery of Devic. On this
      > occasion members of the Russian KFOR contingent increased security in a
      > larger area around the monastery. At the entrance to the monastery itself, a
      > Russian soldier in full battle gear and winter uniform kept an alert watch
      > over the surroundings. He greeted us with a smile and in good Serbian:
      > "Welcome!"
      > The eight nuns were happy because of the arrival of the Serb group. Since
      > 1997, Serbs have only been able to come to Devic accompanied by a police
      > escort; today they are only able to come with an armed KFOR escort. We
      > settled in the large residence halls of the sole remaining monastery in
      > Drenica. The Russian troops were nearby. Jasmina Nedeljkovic, a young mother
      > who brought her two month-old daughter Danijela by armored transporter to be
      > christened here, received a separate room intended for mothers with
      > children. She also had the special attention of the French troops and all
      > the other Serbs who came from Mitrovica.
      > After a short rest, dinner and a nap, we attended the Easter evening
      > liturgy. In the church there were also more than 20 Russian soldiers. We
      > were impressed by their singing and recital by heart of the liturgy of Jovan
      > Zlatousti. After liturgy everyone received an Easter egg.
      > As we were leaving the church, the oldest nun, Sister Andjelija, said "The
      > great snows do not bode well." She did not say why.
      > "For five years already we have been living in captivity. The faithful come
      > to see us by armored transporter and under armed KFOR escort. Today we have
      > christened a child here to whom I am the godmother. Here we have christened
      > more than 20 of the Russian soldiers who protect us. But we celebrate all
      > holidays in captivity because when people are not at liberty to come here
      > when they wish, there is no freedom. I believe that God will grant that we
      > may soon be free," says the prioress of Devic, Mother Anastazija.
      > A year ago Father Serafim of the monastery of Zociste near Orahovac came
      > here to help the nuns.
      > "We do not have freedom of movement but many Serbs from all parts of the
      > country and the world are trying to help us. You see, one group of Serbs
      > from the U.S. gave us an electrical generator so we no longer have power
      > interruptions and fears that the Albanians from the area will cut our
      > electrical cables. Presently there are no attacks but the Albanians are
      > coming nearer to the shrine. A few days ago two Albanians came to the
      > monastery spring; when the Russian troops asked them what they were doing
      > there, they responded that they were 'walking in the woods' and just came
      > upon the spring," says Father Serafim.
      > Mladen Stosic (75) from Kijevo near Klina also came with the group of Serbs
      > from Mitrovica.
      > "I lived for a year in Serbia but I couldn't stay there any longer so I
      > checked into the collective refugee center in Mitrovica. I came to Devic to
      > remember how I met my future wife on this very spot 50 years ago. We would
      > walk to Devic from Kijevo in four or five hours. I cannot imagine Serbs
      > coming to the monastery in these steel monstrosities," says Stosic. The
      > youngest visitor to Devic, two month-old Danijela, was the center of
      > attention. Her christening was even attended by a couple of the Russian
      > soldiers.
      > "I wanted to christen the child here because this is where my husband
      > Boban's entire family was christened. We didn't want to break that
      > tradition," says Jasmina Nedeljkovic, the baby's mother.
      > Easter dinner on Sunday afternoon was attended by the Serb guests and the
      > Russian troops alike but also by the Frenchmen who came back the next day
      > with transporters to return the Serbs to the north of Kosovo. The roast
      > suckling pig, strong plum brandy and stuffed cabbages were favorites among
      > the guests.
      > Z. V. Vlaskalic
      > Translated by S. Lazovic (April 17, 2001)
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