Arctic sovereignty: Russian bishop christens the North Pole

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

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 Russians, 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."