Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Again, Russia’s schism with global Orthodoxy is by far the dominant theme in Russia related media overnight, although the topics are drifting from news to analysis and backgrounders.
Excellent critical analysis by Goble in Jamestown, he is absolutely correct that an autonomous Ukrainian church is “….an existential threat to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his conception of a Russian World” (“Russkiy Mir”). ” How far will the regime go? Will it resort to military action? Much of the regime’s domestic propaganda base for maintaining cohesion is structured around narratives, often almost entirely fictional, that portray Ukraine as an integral part of the Russian nation, with a contiguous and continuous history flowing from the founding, and later baptism of Kyiv, leading to the formation of the Third Rome, the last bastion of real Christianity in a world corrupted by the evil West. This construct is a logical and factual house of cards, but the fiction was sustainable to zombified Sovok audiences as long the Ukrainians were compliant, and the Russian church could be presented as dominant in Ukraine. With the house of cards collapsing in the secular world, the revoking of the 1686AD dispensation also collapses the religious dimension of the “Russkiy Mir” propaganda construct. The problem is compounded by the fact that several smaller churches across Eastern Europe were prior to 1686AD part of the Kyivan Patriarchate, and Russia loses its claim to them as well.
Goble is entirely correct in his conclusion that “In such a situation, Putin may well conclude, as he has in the past, that rearranging the playing field by using force is his best option. This is especially likely if Western countries do not stand up to him because they do not understand the extent to which independence for the Orthodox of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova represents the end of the world as Putin wants it to be” – there are easily enough dullards in Western politics who neither know nor care for such an outcome to be possible. The collapsing polls add kerosene to this internal political conflagration. Tsipko expands on these Russian delusions about their former conquests, although he neglects to point out the far greater early cultural and genetic legacy of the Scandinavians in Ukraine and Moldova.
Eidman is on target with his observation on the ROC “… following in the track of the Kremlin’s Manichean worldview …” – the language and perspectives emanating from the ROC hierarchy are indistinguishable from that produced by Russian government entities. What is Russian is good, everything else is evil (especially if you are part of the unimaginably bad Pindos-Anglo world).
Luxmoore’s NCR analysis is very good, and he cites some interesting language by the ROC: “…Constantinople’s vile and treacherous policy is damaging not just Russian Orthodoxy, but the entire Orthodox world …The path now proposed is, in fact, an act of robbery against the territory of another local church. This is why the Russian Orthodox Church views the actions of Constantinople as an invasion of its canonical territory, an attempt to capture its flock…”. Allen and San Martin interview the Head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, who offers some excellent insights. Notably, other than blaming Russia’s self-isolation on a US inspired conspiracy in Constantinople, blame is now also being put on meddling by the Catholic church, no doubt bemusing to Catholic observers in Eastern Europe.
Much interesting reading in the remaining analysis essays and reports. There is a consensus, which is that this outcome is a catastrophic loss for the ROC, which will end up comparable in size to the Ukrainian and Romanian Orthodox churches, and possibly an even bigger loss for the Chekist regime that loses one of the primary pillars it uses to legitimise itself politically, the dubious narrative of Russia as the Third Rome and inheritor of all that was Christian and good in antiquity and ever since.
We are seeing now a confluence of factors that may compel the Vozhd to attempt another Krymnash – whether it will be Kievnash, Minsknash, or Astananash, of even Baltnash, remains an open question. All nations on Russia’s borders should be prepared for the worst, if current trends continue. Those least able to defend themselves are at the greatest risk.
The decision of Universal Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I to move toward granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (see EDM, September 13) is an existential threat to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his conception of a Russian World” (“Russkiy Mir”). For one thing, the decision on Ukraine has already led Constantinople to also reject Moscow’s claims to having Belarus and Moldova as part of its canonical territory. These losses mean the Kremlin will now have far fewer levers to block moves away from Moscow not only in Ukraine but also in the two other countries of the former Soviet west. Consequently, Putin is now much more likely to launch a new wave of aggression against Ukraine; additionally, he may feel compelled to move even more quickly to absorb Belarus into the Russian Federation and to seek new ways to block Moldova from integrating more closely with the West. And these dramatic steps are all the more probable considering the fact that, as many experts believe, Putin may be under the impression that he can revive his flagging popular support at home by employing such strong actions abroad (Censoru.net, Ekho Moskvy, October 16; Iarex.ru, October 15). Both the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate have promised “a harsh response” to the Kyiv Patriarchate’s moves toward autocephaly lest they lose their power and influence. But today, they have far fewer levers than many seem to think either against Constantinople or Ukraine. In response to the latest decision on the Ukrainian Church, Moscow has broken with the Universal Patriarch, charged him with being an American agent, and even sought to have Ankara expel him from Istanbul (Gazeta.ru, October 15). But none of these activities is likely to restrain Bartholemew from taking the next step and extending a tomos of self-government to an independent Ukrainian Church. Even if Putin manages to slow down the process, Ukrainians remain committed to moving toward autocephaly and now have the legal basis to do so on their own. In Ukraine, Moscow can organize provocations in an attempt to cast blame on the Ukrainians; but Kyiv is prepared for that and has warned the world that this is, in fact, what the Russians are up to. Yet, unless Moscow intervenes militarily—most likely again in a “hybrid” fashion by seeking to organize conflicts among Ukrainians—it has few other levers in this situation. Moscow seems to implicitly recognize this reality: Last week (October 12), the Russian Security Council met to discuss how the government would respond to this crisis (Censor.net.ua, October 13; Credo.press, October 12, 13). Specifically, it promised to “defend the interests of the Orthodox in Ukraine” (Qha.com.ua, October 12), after which it expanded its criticism of the United States for this intra-Church development (Credo.press, October 12). Putin certainly knows that another overt Russian move into Ukraine would invite additional sanctions, something he wants to avoid if he can; but such a move will also have another consequence that may be more important for him. Western and especially European governments can be expected to respond to any violence by seeking to end it; and they may be quite willing to put pressure on Kyiv and Constantinople to slow down, if not completely stop, the march to autocephaly as a means to that end. Given that the loss of Ukraine as a result of independence for the Orthodox there represents an existential threat to Putin and his “Russian World,” he may be prepared to suffer sanctions in the hope that he will at least not face an independent Ukrainian Church. And now the Kremlin leader has two additional reasons for making that calculation. First, ever more commentators are suggesting that the Belarusian Orthodox will follow the Ukrainian lead in seeking autocephaly (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Ekho Moskvy, October 14; Polskieradio24.pl, October 15). Moscow certainly did not achieve what it hoped for by, on October 15, having the Holy Synod meet in Minsk, where the Russian Orthodox Church decided to break off relations with Constantinople. While Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka voiced calls for Church unity (Ritmeurasia.org, October 15), many Belarusians took note of the fact that not a single ethnic Belarusian attended this Synod meeting, a sore point in that country (Thinktanks.by, October 15). As a result, an increasing number of voices in Moscow suggests that annexing Belarus is the only way out for Putin because it would allow him to kill three birds with one stone: ending any talk of Belarusian autocephaly, reaffirming Russian power in the former Soviet space against the West, and winning back some of the popular support among Russians that he has lost over the last few months (Rosbalt.ru, October 12; Ekho Moskvy, October 15). Second, growing numbers of Orthodox faithful in Moldova are raising the specter that they too will follow the Ukrainian path to autocephaly. Izborsky Club ideologue Vladimir Bukarsky warns this is all part of the war of the global West against Russia and says Moscow must respond to it in the clearest way. In his view, intervening in Ukraine and absorbing Belarus would be enough to block such a move in Moldova, especially as the Orthodox Church there, currently part of the Moscow Patriarchate, is relatively small (Ruskline.ru, October 15). Moscow is being forced to confront the fact that Russian influence across Europe’s East, including the influence it has thanks to Orthodoxy, has been reduced to “pre-Petrine” levels (Novaya Gazeta, October 14) and that the Moscow Patriarchate has few real allies remaining in the Orthodox World (Politcom.ru, October 15). In such a situation, Putin may well conclude, as he has in the past, that rearranging the playing field by using force is his best option. This is especially likely if Western countries do not stand up to him because they do not understand the extent to which independence for the Orthodox of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova represents the end of the world as Putin wants it to be (Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, October 13).
Paul Goble Staunton, October 16 – The impact of autocephaly on Ukraine is receiving widespread attention, but many Russian commentators are focusing instead on how that action will affect the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia more generally, with suggestions ranging from predictions of the final degradation of both to claims it sets the stage for a reformation in Russia. Such speculation comes on top of two other developments worth noting: On the one hand, ever more Russians are blaming Patriarch Kirill and his ecumenicism for Ukraine’s success, an indication that he may be forced out soon in favor of Putin’s favorite Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) (realtribune.ru/news/people/1173). And on the other, Russians are learning that autocephaly for Ukraine will have real consequences for them, including restrictions on which churches they can attend while travelling and the circulation of church relics from abroad (spektr.press/pravoslavnyj-razvod-chego-lishilis-prihozhane-rpc-iz-za-raskola-s-konstantinopolem-i-pri-chem-tut-ukraina-vsya-istoriya-korotko/). Andrey Kurayev, a dissident churchman, reflects the full range of views. On the one hand, he says that the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate in breaking with Constantinople will reduce Russian Orthodoxy to a national church rather than to one aspiring to be the leader of the Orthodox world (newizv.ru/article/general/16-10-2018/andrey-kuraev-rpts-zhdet-degradatsiya-do-urovnya-tserkvi-odnoy-natsii). That is because none of the other Orthodox churches in the world is going to follow Moscow and break with Constantinople. They will instead remain in communion with it, leaving the Russian church isolated and forced to go its own way rather than be in a position to create “an Orthodox Vatican” in Moscow. Moscow’s isolation from the Orthodox world will only grow with Orthodox churches on the territories of former Soviet republics increasingly pursuing autocephaly. That process is now underway even in Belarus, Kurayev says; and although it has relatively few supporters at present, their numbers will only grow as the Moscow church reduces itself to a national one. And on the other, the Russian churchman says the new “isolation” of the Russian church will open the way to its reformation by reducing the way in which the Moscow Patriarchate has been intertwined with the Russian state and by allowing the church to function as a church rather than as the ideological department of the state domestically (mk.ru/social/2018/10/15/razryv-otnosheniy-rpc-s-konstantinopolskim-patriarkhatom-ocenil-andrey-kuraev.html). Others agree that the Moscow Patriarchate’s actions will lead to the further isolation of the church and of Russia, but they put a far less positive spin on that in terms of what the Church is likely to do in the future – and consequently on its contribution to the future development of Russia as a whole. Igor Eidman, a sociologist who serves as a commentator for Deutsche Welle, argues that Moscow’s break with Constantinople means that the ROC MP can no longer credibly present itself as a Christian church. Instead, it is following in the track of the Kremlin’s Manichean worldview (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2073448429384792&id=100001589654713). In that world, Russia represents the forces of light and the West the forces of darkness. To the extent the ROC MP promotes that idea, Eidman says, it will change but only by becoming even more the handmaiden of the Kremlin that it has been since Stalin re-established the Moscow Patriarchate during World War II.
Warsaw, Poland — As the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch goes ahead with plans to recognize an independent church in Ukraine, despite harsh Russian reactions, Catholic Church leaders across Europe have been keeping their distance from the inter-Orthodox row. Get NCR delivered to your inbox. Sign up for free newsletters. Prominent lay Catholics concede, however, that the conflict could have significant regional consequences, as well as raise questions about future Catholic-Orthodox relations. “Strictly speaking this isn’t really a conflict — the ecumenical patriarch is fulfilling his canonical duties in recognizing an independent church, and the Russian Orthodox are contesting this,” said Marcin Przeciszewski, director of KAI, the Polish church’s Catholic information agency. “Of course, this isn’t a matter for our church or the Vatican, and they won’t issue statements about it. But Catholics in countries like ours naturally want Ukraine to be fully sovereign, and it won’t be as long as part of its church remains dependent on Russia’s Moscow Patriarchate.” ……. The Russian church’s governing Holy Synod responded on Sept. 14 with a statement branding the appointments a “gross violation of church law” and suspending all “eucharistic communion” with Bartholomew’s Ecumenical Patriarchate. Ukrainian Orthodoxy had been under Moscow’s jurisdiction since the 17th century, the synod insisted. Bartholomew would forfeit his honorary Orthodox primacy if his “interfering activities” continued. “Constantinople’s vile and treacherous policy is damaging not just Russian Orthodoxy, but the entire Orthodox world,” the Russian church’s foreign relations director, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, told the Rossiya-24 TV channel. “The path now proposed is, in fact, an act of robbery against the territory of another local church. This is why the Russian Orthodox Church views the actions of Constantinople as an invasion of its canonical territory, an attempt to capture its flock.” The Russian hyperbole was rejected as “dishonorable” by an Ecumenical Patriarchate spokesman, Archbishop Job Getcha, who said Moscow’s pretensions to “direct religious life in Ukraine” were “baseless and improper,” and accused Hilarion and others of seeking “to intimidate the Orthodox world” with their harsh words. …… “Constantinople isn’t interfering in the affairs of another church — it’s acting within its canonical sphere,” Getcha told Ukraine’s Cerkvarium news agency. “Ukraine is no longer part of the Russian empire or Soviet Union, and if a division lasting almost 30 years has left millions of people outside any canonical church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a duty to take appropriate steps.” This summer, it looked as if Catholics could be drawn into the controversy, risking the better relations heralded by Pope Francis’ historic February 2016 meeting with Kirill in Havana, Cuba. During the Kievan Rus’ anniversary, Kirill complained of agitation by “splinter groups and uniates,” while Hilarion, a close confidant, warned darkly of bloodshed, telling the Interfax news agency the drive for autocephaly was being fostered by “schismatic structures and Greek Catholics” in the hope of bringing more Ukrainians into union with Rome. In May, Francis assured Hilarion — in Rome with a large Russian Orthodox delegation — that the Catholic Church recognized “only one Patriarchate,” and would not “get involved in internal matters of the Russian Orthodox church, nor in political issues.” Claims of Catholic involvement were adamantly denied by the Greek Catholic Church’s leader, Archbishop Svietoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.
His Beatitude Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek Catholic Church, sees a legitimate drive for affirmation behind the press for independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Aside from ecclesiological and doctrinal motives, the Russian Orthodox have more practical reasons for objecting to autocephaly. Over the centuries, a large share of both the church’s priestly vocations and its faithful have always come from Ukraine, and the loss would undercut its claim to be the numerically dominant force in the Orthodox world. Politically, there are fears the decision could provide a pretext for expanded Russian military activity in eastern Ukraine; ecumenically, some believe the move could fundamentally alter the calculus in Catholic/Orthodox dialogue, since, all of a sudden, the Russian Orthodox Church is no longer the 800-pound gorilla of Orthodoxy. For His Beatitude Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, the declaration of autocephaly is a natural extension of Ukraine’s desire for independence. “What Ukraine needs now is the affirmation of its rights,” he said. “It’s not just the right to have an independent country but also to have its own interpretation of its religious past, present and future.” Shevchuk spoke Oct. 13 in an interview with Crux at the Ukrainian Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat, home to Greek Catholic priests and seminarians in the Eternal City. While insisting that he can’t enter into the internal affairs of other churches, Shevchuk made abundantly clear that in the struggle between Constantinople and Moscow, he finds Constantinople’s reasoning more persuasive. “Everyone speaks of the clash between patriarchs, of juridical acts that have been cancelled, everyone talks about canonical territory,” he said. “But no one underlines that this gesture has given communion with the Church of Christ to almost 20 million Ukrainians who, in this way, feel a caress from their Mother Church.” Moscow, he said, appears to have a different logic.
At a time when the unity of global Orthodoxy is threatened by the battle over Ukrainian autocephaly, the Serbian Church should not take sides but defend its own interests.
Orthodox Church leaders from numerous countries on Tuesday called for unity and raised fears of further discord after the Moscow branch announced it would break ties with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate, in what has been described as one of the gravest crises in the church’s history.
The imminent emergence of an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine deals a blow to Vladimir Putin’s attempts to keep the country in Moscow’s orbit and bruises the Russian Orthodox Church, writes Konstantin Eggert.
Currently, the majority of Ukrainian parish churches in Ukraine belong to the Moscow—rather than the Kiev—patriarchate. But, while Moscow controls many of the most important monasteries and churches, many will now have an opportunity to switch allegiances. That process has been ongoing over the last four years with the schism driven by the view among many Ukrainians that the Russian Orthodox church took Moscow’s side in the war between the two states. There have indeed been incidents of Russian affiliated clergy in Ukraine having refused to take part in funerals for Ukrainian soldiers killed fighting against the Russian occupation of Eastern Ukraine. Ominous promises to “protect Russian Orthodox believers living on the territory of Ukraine”, have emanated from Moscow over the last few weeks echoing earlier pledges to protect Russian speakers that served as a pretext to invade Ukraine in 2014. Many observers of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict have braced for a sharp escalation of fighting along the contact line in Eastern Ukraine. Though Radio Free Europe reported today that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov claimed “earlier that day that Russia will protect the interests of the faithful in Ukraine if the historic split leads to illegal action or violence” even as “he promised that [the Kremlin] would use “exclusively political and diplomatic” means to do so”. The proxy war over social identity triggered by the church split has lit up Ukrainian social media with jubilant emotion in the wake of the announcement of the church’s independence on October 11th. Even non-Christian Ukrainians have joined in with patriotic declarations that they are: “Atheists, Kiev Patriarchate” or “Ukrainian Jews, Kiev patriarchate by association” over social media. The political, cultural and historical implications of the split will likely be tremendous and will likely be felt for decades to come. In the meantime, one can only hope that the split will not trigger a renewed episode of total war in Eastern Europe.
Ukraine is pulling churches away from Russia’s grip – a very sensitive issue in the current conflict.
On Monday evening, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church resolved to break with the Patriarchate of Constantinople – setting the largest branch of Eastern Orthodoxy on a collision course with its spiritual centre.
The split comes after Ukraine’s church was recognised independent of Moscow
16.10.18 15:43 – Russia deployed its thugs to stage provocations in temples on Oct. 14, – Poroshenko The Kremlin was so impatient waiting for someone to storm the Ukrainian churhes during a grateful prayer in Kyiv on Oct. 14, that it even placed its “titushky”, which were supposed to play this role. View news.
These days, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople ceased the decree of 1686 on the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate, and also removed the anathema from the heads of two non-canonical churches – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). This means that the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew did not reconsider his previous decision: the wanted Tomos is very close, and soon Ukraine would be able to create the United Ukrainian Autocephalous Local Church on its territory. Only one thing darkens a truly historic event – the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is still against the independence of the Kyiv Metropolis and proceeds from threats to some tough actions. “A meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is scheduled in Minsk, and the highest executive body of the Russian Orthodox Church will give a proper assessment of what happened,” Moscow Patriarchate announced immediately after the decision of Constantinople was made public. A complete break in relations: Moscow’s answer October 15, meeting of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church with the participation of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), Metropolitan Onufriy, took place. One question was put on the agenda – a reaction to the decisions of the Patriarch Bartholomew regarding Ukraine. Related: Ukrainian church wins independence battle against Moscow Patriarchate For more than seven hours the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church has been deciding on hitting Constantinople. Starting at 4 p.m., a man came out of the building of the diocese several times and announced to the journalists who had gathered near there that the decision was about to be made. Rianovosti Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion Finally, at around 8:00 p.m., the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (DECR MP), Metropolitan Hilarion, came out and announced that the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to completely sever relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The reason is quite simple: he allegedly took anti-canonical actions by entering into communion with Ukrainian schismatics and thereby attacked the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church. Constantinople-destroyer: The main arguments from the statement of the Russian Orthodox Church The Russian Orthodox Church is indignant, mainly due to the fact that the Synod of the Church of Constantinople launched the process of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church unilaterally, ignoring the calls of other churches for pan-Orthodox discussion of the issue. In addition, in her opinion, it is impossible to cancel 300 years of the history of church life with one stroke of a pen, and there is no rule that Moscow’s decision for church authority over the Kyiv metropolis from 1686 could be canceled. Moreover, this metropolis has grown about three times during its stay in the ROC. Related: Russian Orthodox Church follows self-isolation path, – Poroshenko Also, Moscow says that one church, even it is “first among equals,” cannot remove the anathema imposed by the other. In the 90s Bartholomew had nothing against imposing anathema against Filaret and supported the decision of the ROC. Rejection of eucharistic communion: what does it mean The rupture of eucharistic communion is almost the last resort in interchurch relations. This means that the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church will not be able to perform joint worship with the hierarchs and clerics of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and its laity to take communion in churches under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, and to participate in other sacraments. Usually, when the Eucharistic discourse breaks, the patriarchs of the quarreling churches also cease to remember each other during the liturgy. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill does not remember the primate of the Church of Constantinople, Bartholomew, for a month now. That is, back in September, everyone understood that the end of inter-church relations between Moscow and Constantinople is inevitable. The ROC has even made an indicative list of temples for tourists where it is not allowed to pray. Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, secretary of the DECR MP, announced that the temples of the Constantinople Patriarchate are located, in particular, in Istanbul, Antalya, Crete, and Rhodes. Also, Mount Athos, a self-governing territory within Greece that houses 20 monasteries, one of the main Orthodox shrines, would be forbidden for Orthodox Christians, baptized in the ROC and its metropolises (in the UOC MP and the Belarusian Church).
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he is convinced that the strategy of the Russian president’s policy is now a complete fiasco. He stated this in an interview with the ZIK television channel. “Putin’s strategy is now turning into a complete fiasco – he has no allies in the world, he regrets very much that he has lost the church, he has a deep economic crisis. He cannot and will not explain to anyone why it was done when Ukraine was a friendly neighboring state,” Poroshenko said. At the same time, Poroshenko said that Putin’s plans included a military scenario for the return of the Donbas, but added that Ukraine would not allow this. “According to sociological surveys, over 60% of Ukrainians want the territories to be returned in a political and democratic manner. Only 11% of Ukrainians propose filling Donbas with blood and starting a military operation. I categorically disagree with this scenario. I will not allow repeating in Donbas the scenario with Grozny, when the city was destroyed and hundreds of thousands were killed. Why? Because these are Ukrainians, these are our citizens, this is what Putin wants, and this is a gift that we will never present to him,” he said. Poroshenko also noted that most Ukrainians are against “peace on the conditions of capitulation” and noted that it is global solidarity with Ukraine that helps strengthen sanctions against Russia and motivates Putin to return to the negotiating table in order to accept and fulfill commitments under the Minsk agreements. According to him, after the withdrawal of Russian occupation troops the currently temporarily occupied territories will return to Ukraine very quickly and exclusively politically and diplomatically.
Paul Goble Staunton, October 16 – However much Vladimir Putin insists otherwise, Aleksandr Tsipko says, Russians and Ukrainians “are not a divided nation.” They are instead two different Slavic peoples who over the course of many centuries have lived separately, who have not only different languages and who have different spiritual worlds and geopolitical preferences.” The Russian philosopher and commentator devotes an essay in Nezavisimaya gazeta to dispelling this myth which he argues is not only destructive of any possibility of good relations between Russians and Ukrainians but also of any chance for Russia itself to develop in a positive way (ng.ru/ideas/2018-10-15/9_7332_myth.html). However “insane” it seemed in the early 1990s, Tsipko begins, the Russian Federation and Ukraine developed separate lives “completely and finally.” It turned out to be the case that “there was no spiritual unity of Russians and Ukrainians just as there was no faith of Soviet people in the ideals of communism.” Russia did not develop a system of division of powers. Instead, it returned to “traditional Russian autocracy.” But it did manage to completely separate the Russian Federation from Ukraine. “It turned out to be easy to destroy even that which had been established over the course of centuries.” The events of 2014 made that division absolutely permanent. Since that time, the Ukrainian authorities have done “everything possible and impossible” to ensure that outcome in part because “anti-communism in Ukraine was more consistent than it is in Russia” but also because Ukrainians have come to see that all their misfortunes are the result of Russia as a whole. To ignore this reality, Tsipko says, and to accept as true Putin’s claim that Russians and Ukrainians are a divide people, inflicts “the greatest harm” on both peoples and countries. Moreover, it was clear in the early 1990s that “relations between the new Russia and independent Ukraine would have nothing in common with relations between the US and Canada.” When Ukraine gained its independence in1918, this was clear because “an independent Ukraine could not but be a colony of the main enemy of Russia.” For the same reasons, Tsipko continues, there exists “the inviolable friendship of independent Ukraine and the United States of America.” “It is difficult to say,” Tsipko suggests, “how many residents of Ukraine really view present-day Russia as a mortally dangerous enemy. But it is beyond doubt that today in Ukraine both in politics and in ideology, the initiative belongs to those Ukrainians who hate the Crimea-is-Ours Russia.” Russians do not want to understand that Ukrainian attitudes toward Russia are not new but centuries’ old and that Russian behavior has made them worse, convincing ever more Ukrainians to view themselves as “victims of the colonial policy of the Russian Empire,” Tsipko says. “Even to the unaided eye,” he continues, “it was always obvious that by itself unity of faith and belonging to one and the same church doesn’t produce spiritual unity or attachment to one another.” Each side views the other in slighting terms even if they go to the same church. And differences in their national language reinforce that. Tsipko says he is genuinely disturbed by “the inability of our present-day leaders to dispense with the Soviet myths about the inviolable brotherhood of Russians and Ukrainians.” One has to see that this was not true, is not true and will not be true. But still worse, the current Russian leadership understands this reality much less well that did the tsarist regime. “The question arises,” he says: “why does the new Russian administration in the form of its leader Vladimir Putin not want to take into consideration the real history of the interrelationships of Ukrainians and Russians” and to recognize that “the imperial project is dead and that it cannot be revived?” “If our leaders were to see the truth about the Russian Empire, then they would understand that we Russians can be attractive for other peoples only when we can offer them models of a more well-off and free life,” the Moscow commentator says. Instead, they pursue a policy of expanding the territory of present-day Russia. “We are thus sacrificing not only the well-being of the population of the country but our own future. We for some reason can never understand that it is impossible in the present-day globalized world to force former Slavic people of Russia to be friends with us, with a country which at present not only doesn’t project anything attractive but in fact alienates others.” According to Tsipko, “we must recognize that present-day Russia is pushing present-day Ukraine and thinking Belarusians away not only by its reborn autocracy and the all-powerful nature of Putin but by its poverty, its unpredictability, and its readiness to fight everywhere and with everyone.” “It is time to recognize,” he concludes, “that all these imperial projects are only making the ring of enemies around Russia ever tighter and that the situation will end with ‘the cry of empty shelves’” in Russia itself.
A schism has erupted within the eastern Orthodox church, threatening bitter divisions for its roughly 300 million followers.
One day after the Russian Orthodox Church said it had decided to sever links with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in protest over its endorsement of Ukraine’s request for an “autocephalous” church, Kremlin voiced concern over developments, while expressing the hope that the interests of the Russian clergy will be honored. “Certainly, we are watching very carefully and with great concern how relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are developing. This arouses our concerns,” Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by TASS agency as telling reporters Tuesday. “We hope that still common sense will prevail but at the same time we certainly hope that all interests of the Russian Orthodox Church will be honored,” he reportedly said.
By recognizing the independence of Ukrainian Orthodox сhurches from the Moscow Patriarchate, Constantinople lost the right to be called the heart of Orthodox faith, says the Russian Church’s public relations chief.
Big spenders Since 2005, Russians have donated roughly $200 million to monasteries at Mount Athos, a source close to the Patriarchate leadership told the BBC’s Russian-language service. An “Orthodox entrepreneur” and source in Russia’s State Duma reportedly confirmed the claim. There are about 20 monasteries at Mount Athos that are subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Representatives of the Russian establishment are especially fond of pilgrimaging to this area. Vladimir Putin, for instance, has made two trips. Earlier this week, the Russian Orthodox Church broke ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate after it agreed to grant autocephaly (independence) to the new church in Ukraine. Explaining the Moscow Patriarchate decision to suspend Eucharistic communion with Constantinople, Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said on Tuesday that Moscow’s “necessary inflexibility” is not an attempt to “defeat or punish anyone,” but an effort to “restore a disrupted fraternal dialogue.” Vedomosti on the schism In an editorial, the newspaper Vedomosti writes that the schism between the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates weakens the soft power of both the Russian Orthodox Church and “secular Moscow.” The Russian authorities are clearly aware of this, which is obvious from their sudden resort to geopolitical rhetoric, when commenting on the news, Vedomosti’s editors point out. In fact, Russia’s Security Council even discussed the issue at its meeting on Saturday. Moscow has only itself to blame, however, given that its annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in the Donbass is what renewed Kyiv’s interest in autocephaly, the newspaper argues. Now local churches must decide between the “big and wealthy Russian Orthodox Church” and the “most influential” Constantinople Patriarchate. For Petro Poroshenko, at least, the schism is an unqualified good, as he can finally point to a victory over Moscow, albeit in the absence of “significant political and economic achievements.”
RBK business daily warned of a “war between (Holy) Synods” on its front page, referring to the Churches’ ruling bodies. A Russian expert on religion, Roman Lunkin, told RBK that Moscow’s move has created “two warring Orthodox worlds”. Advertisement Izvestia, a Kremlin-loyal daily, quoted the Moscow Church’s warning of a threat “of the destruction of the unity of global Orthodoxy”. Monday will enter Orthodox history as “one of its darkest days,” wrote Izvestia. The newspaper said the split between the Constantinople and Moscow Churches – the highest-status and largest Orthodox Churches respectively – followed on from the two greatest upheavals in Christian Church history. The front-page article referenced the Protestant Reformation of 1517 sparked by German theologian Martin Luther, and the schism between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches in 1054. Now each of the branches of the Orthodox Church “will have to choose with whom to be – Constantinople or the Russian Orthodox Church”, Izvestia wrote. Media including government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote with regret that Russians will no longer be able to go to pray at Mount Athos in Greece, a major destination for pilgrims and tourists that is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.
The Russian Orthodox Church has broken all ties with the See of Constantinople, seen as the center of Orthodox faith, but whether the church’s members will continue to view it as their faith’s ‘capital’ is up for debate.
‘I can only describe the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew as predatory – it’s clear they will lead to a split in the Orthodox world’ Russia’s Orthodox church has reacted furiously to a decree last week by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, cancelling Moscow’s jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and lifting the excommunication of the country’s breakaway Orthodox communities. “I can only describe the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew as predatory – it’s clear they will lead to a split in the Orthodox world”, said Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian church’s foreign relations director. “This decision was foreseen, and it reflects the logic of Constantinople’s actions since April. Church canons have been violated and Orthodox unity infringed, as the Constantinople Patriarchate’s invasion of the Russian Church’s canonical territory has been documented”.
The Russian Orthodox Church severed ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate on Monday, in what many consider to be the biggest split in Orthodox Christianity since the Great Schism of 1054 between Eastern and Western churches. [NYT / Neil MacFarquhar] Russia’s move came a few days after leaders in Constantinople, the “first among equals” and leading authority of the Orthodox religion, recognized the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as independent. [RT] Although most clerics in Ukraine pledge loyalty to the Russian church, Moscow fears they will soon switch allegiance to the new independent religious body. [AFP] The decision means that Russia and Constantinople will no longer be able to worship or perform ceremonies together. Additionally, Russian followers cannot participate in Eucharistic communion at unaffiliated churches or go to Mount Athos in Greece, the center of Eastern Orthodox monasticism. [Meduza] Constantinople holds near-unprecedented influence in the religious community, with more than 300 million Orthodox followers around the world. The Moscow Patriarchate had 150 million members as of 2011. [BBC]