Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia Loses the War of the Churches (33)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The Russian propaganda campaign continues, it appears mainly via proxies, as we see oddball articles in Western media popping up distinctly aligned with the Muscovian script. Pavlova’s commentary on “Russian fundamentalism” hits the core issues underlying “Russian exceptionalism”, “Russian truth” and the“Third Rome”  construct that is driving Russian behaviours and attitudes on church matters – the delusional ethno-centric belief that Russians are somehow better than the rest of the world around them, and specially entitled. This is of course exactly the same feelgood snake-oil peddled during the 20th century by Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, and more recently the Tehran regime – “you are specially entitled, so let’s exercise that entitlement at the expense of everybody else”. Needless to say the consequences are always the same – ruin and destruction.

Multiple essays exploring the Russian aspect of the self-induced anathema, written with varying degrees of detachment. The bone of contention inside Ukraine is who will control key real-estate, noting the Russian focus has been on material artefacts far more than the spiritual well being of the flock. This reflects the role this real estate plays as props in the propaganda theater of the “Third Rome”  construct and associated mythological narratives.

Some miscellaneous essays showing that the Orthodox world is in a period of flux and realignment, regardless of Muscovian mischief.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Fundamentalism is the Ideology of Putin and His People, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 5 – Irina Pavlova, a US-based Russian historian, has often called “Russian fundamentalism” the ideological foundation of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the reason why his overarching vision in this regard ensures him overwhelming support by a wide swath of the Russian population at the present time. On the occasion of the Day of National Unity, she provides a succinct definition of what she has in mind. It merits extensive quotation ( The current ideology of the Kremlin involves a commitment to “traditional Russian great power, cleansed from communism and dressed up in Orthodox clothing.” Its basic proposition, that “Russia is surrounded by enemies and must assert its status as a great power in the world” has the support of “the majority of the population” even if some object to this or that policy. “In Soviet times, the most consistent representative of this great power approach and state nationalist was Stalin.” That provided him with support and it provides Putin with support as well. Russians as a nation are “prepared for hours to speak about the greatness of Russia, its unique spirituality, and its special feeling for justice in contrast to the mercantilist West.” Attachment to this idea of Russia as a great power “unifies the powers that be, the elite, the people of Russia and also a significant part of ‘progressive society’” whatever the last may say about Putin’s specific actions or policies. He knows that even if they often do not recognize the fact. This Russian obsession with great power-ness had its beginnings in the idea of “’Moscow as the Third Rome,’” an idea formulated in the early 16th century. “For centuries of its existence, this idea has been transformed into an ideology and today after the Day of Victory has been confirmed as the foundation of Russian national consciousness, it is completely appropriate to speak already about Russian fundamentalism.” According to Pavlova, its basic features are on public view: the notion that “the Russian people is a state-forming people and the bearer of a unique morality and unique feeling of justice,” “a rejection of the West because of its lack of spirituality as a model of social development,” “its vision of the future Russia as a unitary centralized state and as an empire, and “confidence in its special historical role.” Putin promotes all these ideas as can be seen by anyone who reads his speeches over the last week alone.

A political power struggle for the soul of the Orthodox church | FT

I’m in a 17th-century monastery at the edge of Moscow’s Gorky Park, having a conversation that transports me several more centuries back in time. I’ve come to talk to Russian church officials about a new schism in the Orthodox church, a rupture that piqued my interest for its geopolitical dimension — and, in a small part, a personal one. I was raised Orthodox.

Perspectives | Russia’s abortion debate highlights limit to church-state partnership | Eurasianet

Russia is an acknowledged leader of the global movement to assert “traditional” values. Yet when it comes to abortion – a bedrock issue for most traditionalists – the Kremlin is sticking to a largely pro-choice stance that puts it at odds with the Russian Orthodox Church. Tension over abortion has been simmering for years between the church (ROC) and government. In September 2016, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill signed a petition to the federal government to ban abortion, calling for fetuses to receive the same legal protections as living persons. The petition’s sponsor, leading Russian anti-abortion group For Life!, reached its goal of collecting 1 million signatures in August 2017, and late last year submitted the petition to President Vladimir Putin. Rejection was a foregone conclusion: During a press conference last December, Putin maintained his commitment to legal protections for abortion and cautioned against drastic measures. He highlighted the government’s support for increased social welfare programs for mothers and families as the preferred method for addressing Russia’s shrinking population. Crucially, he invoked a need to follow the example of other “civilized nations” on the matter. Russian leaders view population decline as a national security issue. A May report by the United Nations predicted that Russia’s population would fall by 11 million (7.6 percent) by 2050, and would be increasingly concentrated in cities. Putin’s position on an abortion ban clashed with the church’s perception of Russia’s moral duty to protect the “traditional family” from the eroding pressures of Western liberalism. The president’s dismissal of the ban, and his appeal to the example of the “civilized world,” thus highlighted an area of church-state tension. The ROC is constantly negotiating between its prescribed role as a partner in a governmental project to increase Russia’s population, and its mission to promote Orthodox moral principles. An element in this moral mission is the total elimination of abortion. The government, on the other hand, seeks to reduce abortion not for moral considerations, but to increase the population; the state relies on the church to promote Orthodox ideals about motherhood primarily as a means of supplementing the financial incentives it offers for women to have children.

For One Moscow Parish, Orthodox Schism May Spell End Of Unique Status

One of Moscow’s oldest churches is fearing for its status amid what some are calling Christendom’s biggest schism in centuries.

Kyiv church transferred to Ecumenical Patriarchate to be renovated by 2020 | UNIAN

Adviser to the president of Ukraine, Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies Rostyslav Pavlenko has said the renovation of the Kyiv-based Saint Andrew’s Church, which has been handed over to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, may be completed by 2020. If necessary, the repairs will be accelerated within a reasonable deadline, Pavlenko said.

Fabrice Deprez | Pochaev Monastery gripped by fear of ultranationalists- La Croix International

Pochaev Monastery gripped by fear of ultranationalists. Ukraine’s orthodox monasteries, which are under the control of the Moscow Patriarchate, are among the stakes of the movement for an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Aerial view of the Pochaev Monastery in Ukraine. (Photo: slava2271 – At first glance, there is nothing unusual about the Pochayiv Lavra, one of Ukraine’s most important Orthodox monasteries. The religious complex, the first traces of which date back to the 13th Century, sits atop a hill overlooking the small town of Pochaev in the west of the country. From sunrise, the faithful, tourists and visiting clergy start pouring in. The atmosphere is calm, both in the three cathedrals and in the underground churches for which the monastery is famous. The calm is deceptive, says Pavel, one of the khaki-uniformed guards in charge of the monastery’s security. “Of course we are under threat,” he says. “We all need to be careful.” That’s because for some weeks now, this monastery, which is under the control of the Moscow Patriarchate, is afraid of being forced to join the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced by the Patriarch of Constantinople, a decision fiercely opposed by the Patriarch of Moscow. The monastery’s management declines to make any comment. However, at the entrance, a signboard calls on the faithful “not to listen to the advocates of schisms and heretics.” It recalls that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – the official name of the Church that depends on the Moscow Patriarchate — is independent and self-managed, an indirect response to criticism from the Ukrainian Government, which views the Moscow Patriarchate as “an agent of the Kremlin.”

Alex Moldovan | The Orthodox church and a very Balkan affair | openDemocracy [PROPAGANDA WARNING]

A Ukrainian church with Philaret as Patriarch is more likely to end up as a cheaply disguised religious cover for a brutal war, rather, than as a harbinger of peace. In one of the most important social institutions in eastern Europe there is a major split happening in world Orthodoxy on the basis of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Tensions in the Ukrainian wing of the Russian Orthodox Church have been high since the dissolution of the USSR in 1992. The Moscow Patriarchate excommunicated Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko who was once seen as a rising star in the church. Philaret managed to split with a few parishes forming a social base for the new Kiev Patriarchate. Since 1997, the Kiev Patriarchate’s lobbying effort for recognition has caused ire between the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow. The most recent spate of the conflict began with Philaret asking Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for an autocephalous (independent) Ukrainian church. Such a request is problematic because Ukraine formally falls under the ecclesial authority of the Moscow Patriarchate which considers Philaret a “heretic” and “schismatic”. It stretches the power of Patriarch of Constantinople beyond what many consider reasonable. Despite all of this Bartholomew went ahead and agreed to grant the Ukrainian church independence. In retaliation, the Moscow Patriarchate immediately broke communion with the Constantinople Patriarch, splitting off whilst voiding Bartholomew’s decision on the Ukrainian church. Defending his initial decision, Bartholomew argues that like the Balkan peoples, the Ukrainians should have their own church too.


Russian ‘spiritual centre’ set to open in the heart of Paris | World news | The Guardian

Construction of controversial 4,800 sq metre complex has been marred by architectural, financial, and political disputes

PM Tsipras plans to abolish everything relating to Jesus Christ from Greek Constitution · Greek City Times

The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, has made it clear he wants the Greek state to separate completely from the Greek Orthodox Church and to adopt a strict “religious neutrality” stance, with all references to Jesus Christ being abolished from the Greek Constitution. In Article 3 of the Greek Constitution, it states that the main religion in Greece is the “Orthodox Church of Christ and the Church of Greece acknowledges as the head, Jesus Christ.” Tsipras plans on deleting this Article from the Greek Constitution and told his SYRIZA party in a meeting last week that he is confident the church will agree to his proposal, saying he believes the Greek church is sufficiently mature and has the wisdom to put its relationship with the State on a rational basis. The PM, however, did not elaborate on the new relations which may be in place between the two. In his meeting with the SYRIZA parliamentary group, Tsipras reminded them that it is time Greece’s Constitution sets in stone the religious neutrality principles which are the future of modern Greece. Tsipras was emphatic about his proposal for making the proportional electoral system a reality. He asked for a “constructive vote of no confidence,” and also said his intention to push a proposal which will need anyone who holds the prime ministerial post to be an elected one. This will result in not repeating any political situations where unelected people have become leading to the unnecessary fracas.

People’s Cathedral in Bucharest, 95% built after EUR 110 mln investments | Romania Insider

Romania’s biggest religious building, the People’s Cathedral in Bucharest, is currently 95% build, but there is still far from being completed, according to the Romanian Patriarchy. So far, the Romanian Orthodox Church has spent EUR 110 million, VAT included, for this project, 25% of which came from donations, the Patriarchy told Mediafax. Most of the money, namely about EUR 82.5 million, came from state authorities, including the Government, Bucharest City Hall and district city halls. The Government approved at the beginning of October a new RON 104 million (EUR 22.3 million) financing for this project. This money should help complete the structure, install the doors and windows, finish the roof, install the crosses, and several other amenities. The cathedral will be consecrated on November 25 and several other religious and cultural events will take place between November 26 and November 30. Romanian state-owned Hidroelectrica will power up People’s Cathedral

Georgian Patriarchate appropriates Armenian church in Tbilisi – PanARMENIAN.Net

Cultural activists filed a request for information with the National Agency of State Property later that month and discovered that Tandoyants had been gifted to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate

Georgian Orthodox Church takes aim at Armenian churches | Eurasianet

The Georgian Orthodox Church is trying to seize at least seven historical Armenian churches, straining Georgian claims of religious tolerance