Ekaterinburg’s annual Tsar’s Cross Procession cancelled

PHOTO: tens of thousands participate in the annual Cross Procession in Ekaterburg

The Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev announced today, that the traditional Tsar’s Cross Procession, which is held annually in Ekaterinburg on the anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, has been cancelled due to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

In the past four days, more than 300 new cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the region every day. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, more than 96 thousand people contracted the virus in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk region, 3.9 thousand of whom died. Russia is now experiencing a third wave and ranks fifth in the highest number of cases. More than 5.6 million cases have been recorded in Russia with more than 138 thousand deaths.

“This year the Cross Procession during Tsar’s days will not be held … The new strain t hat is spreading throughout the region is even more dangerous. Many more people are now in need of oxygen, the hospitals are filled to capacity. Therefore, we are cancelling the procession this year,” the governor stated.

Kuyvashev also published a photo from last year’s procession, in which, according to the Ekaterinburg Diocese, only 10 thousand people participated. The governor noted that despite the pandemic, many of the pilgrims did not use masks and did not practice social distancing. As a result, many of those who participated in last years’ Cross Procession, fell ill with the coronavirus shortly thereafter. He stressed that next year, providing the pandemic has been eliminated, it will be possible to hold a procession “on an even larger scale than before.”

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession in the Ural city – 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018. The procession follows the same route that the regicides carried the murdered remains of the Imperial Family and their faithful servants to an abandoned mine at Ganina Yama. The procession does not go to Porosnkov Log, where the regicides buried them in a second unmarked grave. The route of the procession begins at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky

The head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky was quick to respond to the governor’s announcement, by writing in his Telegram page about the importance of upholding the tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession, sacred to many Orthodox Christians and monarchists, and about the choice of each of us in a situation where there can be no ideal solutions.

“The tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama has outgrown the framework of the so-called Tsar’s Days events and has become sacred for tens of thousands of people. And now people will continue to follow the holy path. But, will they walk along safely blocked streets? Or on narrow sidewalks next to dangerously speeding cars? Time will tell.

“In the current pandemic situation, there are no perfect solutions. Everyone must independently find a balance between courage and fear, responsibility and caution.

I will definitely go!”, declared Vladyka Yevgeny.

“The decision of the authorities, who have cancelled this years Tsar’s Cross Procession, is well founded, however, one should not stigmatize believers as the culprits of the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is not death from fear of the coronavirus or from the coronavirus itself, but life with God and love for our neighbours.

“I urge everyone to take maximum precautions to protect themselves and of those around them. I pray that the Lord will preserve all of us in health and long life, and I bless you to add caution and love for your dearest to your prayer” Vladyka Yevgeny concluded.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2021