Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia Loses the War of the Churches (19)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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ROC is rallying its proxies in Europe, the only major one recruited so far is Serbia, reported to be concerned about losing satellite churches itself. The self-induced schism causing mayhem in Germany and Turkey now. A bizarre report from Belarus that may contribute to the departure of the BOC from Russia’s orbit as well.

In Ukraine, the Rada votes to transfer the St Andrew’s church to the Constantinople Patriarchate for use as its new embassy in Kyiv. A survey in Ukraine shows strong public support for the new church arrangement, but not overwhelming. Pastukhov comments on the mayhem the Russians would like to create inside Ukraine – whether this transpires remains to be seen. The Russians may find their campaign fizzling just like the Novorossiya campaign fizzled – the realities of an ethnically and culturally different Ukraine continue to be blithely ignored.

We are seeing the death throes of the “Russian World” propaganda construct, as part of the gradual dissolution of the Tsarist colonial empire, artificially sustained for 70 years by the Soviet regime.

Reanimating corpses is a fool’s errand.

Russian Orthodox Church bans citizens from visiting churches in Turkey – Turkey News

Russian clerics have warned their citizens against visiting churches in Turkey after the Russian Orthodox Church’s decision to sever all relations with the Fener Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Fears of further Orthodox Church rifts after Russia-Constantinople split

Constantinople’s decision last week to end more than 300 years of Moscow’s control over Orthodox churches in Ukraine was met with the Russian Orthodox Church’s decision to split from Constantinople. The various Orthodox churches are already divided on the issue. Serbian Patriarch Irinej said in an interview with a local news site: “We don’t think in terms of ‘for’ and ‘against’.” “We are for the unity of the Church, harmony, responsibility for canonical order, and against everything that divides and leads to the risk of schism.” At the same time he said that the recognition by Constantinople of an independent church in Ukraine was “a move that leads to schism” and opens up the possibility of new splits within other Orthodox churches. Stevo Vucinic, vice-president of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church metropolis’ council, welcomed the decision by Constantinople as of “historical importance” and slammed what he called a “political dispute” led by Moscow and Belgrade. The Bishops’ Conference of the Finnish Orthodox Church said the decision by Moscow was “unilateral, sad and very unfortunate” and hoped the patriarchs would resolve the conflict in mutual negotiations. However Metropolitan Rostislav of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia wrote to Patriarch Kirill condemning “any attempt to legalise Ukrainian schismatics”. The Georgian Patriarchate said it would summon its Holy Synod shortly to decide on its position. ‘Two warring Orthodox worlds’ Even Kremlin-loyal Russian media stressed that Moscow’s move could lead to dire consequences. The Izvestia newspaper, which strongly supports the Kremlin line, wrote that Monday will enter Orthodox history as “one of its darkest days”. 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, it wrote. The front-page article referenced the Protestant Reformation of 1517 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. The RBK business newspaper 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”. Russian 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, an important destination for pilgrims and tourists that is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

Ukraine-Russian Orthodox church rift extends to Germany | News | DW | 16.10.2018

A push to establish an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church has also prompted Russian Orthodox bishops in Germany to “temporarily” quit a joint episcopate council. Their departure follows patriarchal orders from Moscow.

DW: Ukraine-Russian Orthodox church rift extends to Germany | UNIAN

The Russian Orthodox Church’s three bishops in Germany have “temporarily” ceased work within the Orthodox Bishops Conference in Germany (OBKD), a spokesman for the bishops told Catholic KNA news agency on Tuesday. OBKD German conference head Greek Metropolitan Augoustinos told Germany’s Protestant epd news agency on Tuesday that despite the crisis, good relations among Orthodox congregations in Germany were likely to prevail.

Serbian Bishops Back Russian Patriarch on Ukraine :: Balkan Insight

Serbian Orthodox Church leaders have &ndash; predictably &ndash; aligned their stances on Ukrainian Church independence with Russia’s Patriarch &ndash; accusing the Patriarch of Constantinople of encouraging a schism.

Belarusian Priest Defrocked For Facebook Photos, Amid Orthodox Schism

A Minsk priest has been defrocked by the Belarusian Orthodox Church for posting photos of Russian Patriarch Kirill’s extensive security detail during his visit to Minsk. MINSK — A Minsk priest never thought that taking pictures of visiting Russian Orthodox head Patriarch Kirill and posting them on Facebook would get him banished from the church. But that’s exactly what happened to Alyaksandr Shramko on October 16 when he received an official letter from the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Paval, saying he had been stripped of his duties at his St. Michael the Archangel Church parish and banned for one year from all church activities. “I do not know really why [the photos were] such a big problem, but I was told that I have dishonored everyone — Belarus, the [Orthodox] church, and the patriarch,” Shramko told RFE/RL’s Belarus Service. His letter from Paval said he had lost the right “to serve, wear the cross, or [give] blessings” because of the “systematic publication in the media [of photos and text] that discredited the Orthodox Church and sowed enmity and hatred in the hearts [of its faithful].”

The Crisis in the Orthodox Church and the Battle for Slavic History (Op-ed)

Now that the Russian Orthodox Church has severed ties with Constantinople, there will surely be chaos ahead. There are also more subtle forms of power at stake. In the authoritarian dystopia George Orwell famously conjured in his novel “1984,” one of the Party’s slogans is, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” That there is more than a grain of truth in this axiom is one reason Russia has reacted so sharply to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decree, which revoked the synodal letter of 1686 that granted the Patriarch of Moscow the right to ordain church hierarchs in what is now Ukraine, and what was then territory that had only recently been transferred from the Polish-Lithuanian state into the Russian Empire. In emphasizing that the letter had been issued only for reasons of “oikonomia” — meaning it was undertaken outside of the ideals prescribed by canon law for pragmatic purposes — Constantinople effectively declared that, from a canonical point of view, there has been a Ukrainian nation deserving of its own self-governed church for centuries. This view of history, which bolsters Ukrainian sovereignty and self-determination, is one that a Russian state still devoted to the idea of Ukraine as a “little brother” cannot abide. Many questions remain about what happens from here. Constantinople will likely issue a Tomos of Autocephaly — the document officially recognizing an Orthodox Church’s full independence — for Ukraine in November. In the meantime, Patriarch Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate is maneuvering to take the lead while the processes for implementing Constantinople’s decision are worked out. There will surely be some chaos ahead, including property disputes, lawsuits, and likely some violence, as well as a possible escalation of pro-Russian hostilities in eastern Ukraine. But inasmuch as the containment of Russian soft power, and of Russian attempts globally to undermine democratic institutions and support for human rights, is tied to the struggle for Ukrainian sovereignty, we must recognize that Constantinople’s bold move was the right one.

“One step closer to obtaining tomos,” – Poroshenko on St. Andrew’s Church transfer to Ecumenical Patriarchate | Censor.NET

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko welcomed the parliament’s decision to transfer St. Andrew’s Church to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “St. Andrew’s Church has been transferred to the Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchate to be used as its embassy,” the head of state wrote on social media, Censor.NET reports. According to him, Ukraine is on its way to more dynamic communication with global Orthodoxy while the embassy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the Mother Church, will help strengthen such ties and support Ukraine in the process of the independent Local Orthodox Church creation. “Today we took a step closer to our goal – obtaining the tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. I am grateful to the Verkhovna Rada for backing the relevant bill I have submitted,” Poroshenko said. Source:

Ukraine’s parliament hands over Kyiv-based St. Andrew’s Church to Ecumenical Patriarch | UNIAN

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has handed over the St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv for permanent use to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Relevant draft law No. 9208 was backed by 235 MPs registered in the session hall. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has handed over the St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv for permanent use to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Relevant draft law No. 9208 was backed by 235 MPs registered in the session hall, an UNIAN correspondent reports. During the first vote, the parliament did not get enough votes – only 216, but later the Verkhovna Rada passed the document immediately in the first reading and as a whole as a law. The law establishes that the St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv as a religious state-owned building is to be handed over to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for religious services, rites, ceremonies and processions. According to the final clauses, the law comes into force on the day following the day of its publication. The handover of the church is carried out by decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. At the same time, this handover does not entail its exclusion from the list of objects of immovable cultural heritage of the National Sanctuary Complex “Sophia of Kyiv.” In accordance with the legislation and taking into account the peculiarities defined by this law, the Cabinet of Ministers must ensure the handover of the St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv for permanent use to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople within a month from the day the law enters into force.

Ukraine’s parliament transfers Kyiv-based St. Andrew’s church to Ecumenical Patriarchate

18.10.18 12:53 – Ukraine’s parliament transfers Kyiv-based St. Andrew’s church to Ecumenical Patriarchate The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the law on the transfer of the St. Andrew’s Church to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for perpetual free of charge usage. View news.

Poroshenko tables in parliament a bill on transfer of St. Andrew’s Church to Constantinople – 17.10.2018 18:23 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has tabled in the Verkhovna Rada a bill on the transfer of St. Andrew's Church to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Poroshenko accuses Russia of meddling in Ukraine’s affairs on church issue

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he views the Russian Security Council’s decision on the protection of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine as interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs. “And after the Russian Federation Security Council made a decision on the protection – mind my words! – of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, I see this as immediate interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs and an element of hybrid aggression. And we clearly understand the threats that exist in this connection,” Poroshenko said at a conference on the implementation of a program to build housing for soldiers in Starychi in Lviv region on Tuesday. After the Ecumenical Patriarchate made its historic decision granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and describing the Russian Orthodox Church’s encroachment on the Ukrainian Church as illegitimate, “the so-called Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church held a session yesterday,” he said. “They demonstrated yet again that they are under the direct and immediate influence of the Kremlin, the Federal Security Service,” Poroshenko said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Autocephaly a Process Not an Event – and in Ukraine, It May Prove Explosive, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 17 – Many people watching Ukraine’s pursuit of autocephaly for its Orthodox appear to believe that this is a one-time event that will occur when the Universal Patriarch offers them a tomos recognizing that status, but in fact, Vladimir Pastukhov says, autocephaly is a process and in the case of Ukraine, it is unlikely to be easy or peaceful. In a commentary today, the London-based Russian historian points out that “the separation of the potential Ukrainian Patriarchate from the Russia is not one and the same thing as the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox church from the Russian Orthodox Church.” These are separate but “interconnected processes” ( As a result of this complexity, shifts by priests and church hierarchs may not correspond at least in time to shifts by parishioners. It is not too difficult to discuss the probable shifts of the former, Pastukhov continues, but it is “still difficult” to predict the latter. Moreover, the relationship between these two shifts may not be the same in all regions of Ukraine. Given the likelihood that Ukrainian civil authorities will intervene in this situation in ways that may backfire, it is thus possible that the process of achieving autocephaly will lead to “a new civic conflict” even if everyone agrees on where things are ultimately likely to end up, he argues. What is particularly important to keep in mind is that this conflict won’t be as territorially specific as the war up to now has been. Instead, it is entirely possible that it will “seize almost the entire territory of Ukraine with the exception only of its most extreme Western oblasts where the number of supporters of the Moscow church are extremely small.” Differences between elites and masses are likely to have serious consequences as well, Pastukhov suggests, because the former are far more enamored of the idea of autocephaly as a path to Europe than the latter and the latter have been once again put in political motion at a time when Ukrainian politics is again heating up. Yet another reason for thinking the autocephaly process will be difficult is that “a new ‘small victorious civil war’ appears today to be equally attractive to influential political forces both in Moscow and in Kyiv.” Both have lost public support, and both are looking for ways to recover it by playing up patriotic messages. Moscow will certainly seek to fan the flames in order to destabilize Kyiv, Pastukhov continues, while the Ukrainian government will hope that “this fire before it reaches the upper reaches of the powers that be will burn up potential competitors in the lower floors.” That makes the future of both countries very worrisome with real violence a real possibility. If the situation tips slightly in the wrong direction, he continues, it is entirely possible that the world will see a full-blown war between the two countries and not a replay of the more limited one that Russia launched in 2014. Thus today’s situation as a result of autocephaly is far more serious than four years ago and than most are inclined to think. Autocephaly is “practically inevitable” given Russia’s past and present actions, Pastukhov says; but the process is critical lest it spark a new and broader war. Both sides need to be cautious rather than precipitous in their actions because now is far from the best time for such a drive to independence for the Ukrainian church to take place. “The main question today is not whether there will be separation or not,” he says. Rather, it is how to achieve it in a timely fashion. In that it is much like the burying of Lenin – a challenging task in which yesterday was too early but today is already too late.”

Over 54% of Ukrainians positive about idea of creating single local church – poll – 17.10.2018 15:42 — Ukrinform News

The idea of creating a single local church in Ukraine is positively assessed by more than 54% of Ukrainians, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Rating sociological group.

Majority of Ukrainians support autocephaly of Ukrainian church – poll | UNIAN

The majority of Ukrainians (54%) support the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, while 19% of respondents adhere to the opposite opinion. Another 19% remain indifferent on the issue, according to the study by the Rating sociological group. Residents of Ukraine’s western and central regions support the creation of the single local church mostly.

Tomos for Ukraine: rocking the Moscow foundation – news portal

Tomos for Ukraine: rocking the Moscow foundation. Without exaggeration, 11 October 2018 can be called a historical day for Ukrainian history. The day when the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul passed a number of key decisions on the “Ukrainian issue”. The official document (it should be noted that it was published extremely fast as usually it takes a day or two before open sources report on the results of Synod meetings) contained five main points, in particular: – to confirm the “decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine”;  – to reestablish the “Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv”;  – to revoke the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, by which the Kyiv see was de facto transferred under the leadership of Moscow;  – to canonically reinstate the hierarchal or priestly rank of Filaret (head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate) and Makariy (head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, UAOC); – to appeal to all sides that they avoid appropriation of church property, other acts of violence and retaliation. What does this mean for common believers? And what do church hierarchs, hierarchs of the Kyiv Patriarchate, Moscow Patriarchate, and others think about it? Let’s try to figure out the details. [[editor.image url=“” author=”” ]][[endeditor]] Political – news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Putin to launch offensive in Ukraine as the response to threat to Russian World –

The decision of Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to provide the tomos to Ukraine means the impossibility of Moscow to pretend to Moldova and Belarus….

Taras Kuzio | Orthodox church split just tip of Putin’s crumbling ‘soft power’ in Ukraine

The Hague, 16. Oct, 07:44 The historic decision in Constantinople (Istanbul) at the synod of the Orthodox Church to grant Ukraine autocephaly (independence) from the Russian Orthodox church has geopolitical ramifications for Europe. Russia’s control over religious life was the last vestige of soft power Russian president Vladimir Putin exercised over Ukraine. Putin’s annexation of the Crimea and military aggression against eastern Ukraine, where his occupation forces remain ensconced, produced the opposite to his intention of clawing back what he considers to be a rebellious ‘Russian’ province that belongs in the ‘Russian world’. Instead, over the last four years, Russian soft power has disintegrated in five areas under the impact of Ukrainian public opinion turning radically against Russia, the collapse of economic, trade and family ties, and the determination of president Petro Poroshenko to make this process irreversible.

The Russian-Constantinople schism in the Eastern Orthodox Church over Ukraine, explained – Vox

This could be the biggest crisis for the church in centuries.

Russian Orthodox Church Splits with Orthodox Leaders Over Ukraine

The Russian Orthodox Church broke ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Orthodox Christianity’s leader. The move came after the Patriarchate recognized the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.