Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
From some feedback that I have received, it is apparent that some readers do not understand the multiplicity of attack vectors that Russia is using to attack Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) lost the Ukraine Orthodox Church (UOC) through a ruling by their ‘headquarters’, the Ecumenical Orthodox Church. As a result, the ROC withdrew from the umbrella organization for the Orthodox Churches. I have predicted, and it appears I was correct, that Russia is planning to use remnants of ROC within Ukraine as launching points. Currently, it appears to be limited to propaganda. Today’s ban on Russians of military age from entering Ukraine might severely limit any participation of the ROC supporting unconventional warfare attacks on Ukraine.
Let’s watch what the SBU develops in regards to the ROC investigation. Chances are there is actionable SIGINT to cause the SBU to detain and question the Abbott of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery.
Bottom line, the ROC in Ukraine is just another weapon in Russia’s Hybrid Warfare and Information Warfare toolboxes. Right now it is limited to Information Warfare, let’s see if anything else develops. Hat tip to South Africa for that reminder.
While Russia plays its “Azovnash” game and gloats about its glorious martial accomplishments this week, it continues to lose its grip in the war of the churches. The Synod meets in Constantinople, dissolves the Russian controlled Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe by repealing the 1999 Patriarchal Tomos, drafts a constitutional charter for the autonomous Ukrainian church, and agrees on the date for Ukraine’s clerics to meet agree upon the new head of their church. Pres Poroshenko has been ecstatic, and for good reason, as it has been a 325-year long journey to autonomy.
No less interesting developments in Ukraine – the ROC Abbott of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery, founded in 1051AD and one of the largest and oldest in Slavic Christendom, is detained and questioned for offenses against the law on “inciting religious hatred”, and his residence searched for incriminating materials. It is unknown whether this investigation was triggered by complaints from others in the clergy or intercepts of electronic communications, but it is unlikely that the cautious SBU would action this without credible evidence. Concurrently, auditors from the Culture Ministry arrive at the monastery to perform an inventory of the immense collection of historically valuable religious artifacts, the monastery is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. There have been numerous reports over the years of a thriving illicit trade in Russia involving very old religious artifacts, and Ukrainian fears are well justified given the manner in which Russia stripped everything it could of value from Crimea and Donbass in 2014. If the Ukrainians determine that valuable items are missing, the ROC will be in very deep trouble as the monastery and its relics are state property, not church property.
Included some other reports of interest.
Ukraine’s president announced Thursday that the Constantinople patriarchy has approved a decree granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, a major boost to the president’s approval ratings.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the Constantinople patriarchy has approved a decree granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence
President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday Ukraine was on the cusp of securing its own independent church, snapping centuries-old ties to a Russian clergy that Kiev accuses of meddling in its affairs.
UKRAINE’s president is celebrating after it was announced his country’s church is set to sever ties with the Russian clergy as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate.
The Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Istanbul on Thursday said it had drafted a charter for an independent church in Ukraine, a step toward cutting centuriesold ties with the Russian Orthodox Church that Kiev says is essential to stop meddling by Moscow. “… the Holy and Sacred Synod drafted the Ukrainian Church’s Constitutional Charter,” a statement said. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko celebrated the step toward independence. “Today, at the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, historical decisions have been taken on the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Poroshenko said in a televised address. Patriarch Bartholomew I will soon announce when the Ukrainian clergy is to meet to pick the head of the new church, Poroshenko added. The synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate began on Tuesday in Istanbul in a bid to approve an official decree, called a “tomos,” granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church an autocephaly. Under the leadership of Bartholomew I, the patriarchate announced in October that it would grant autocephaly, or independence, to the Ukrainian Church, a move Russia has long campaigned against. The decision ended more than 300 years of Moscow’s control over Orthodox churches in Ukraine and affects millions of believers in Russia and Ukraine. In a three-day meeting was expected to announce the exact date when the Unification Council of the Orthodox churches of Ukraine will convene in Ukraine. The Unification Council, set to meet in December, the representatives of Ukraine’s Orthodox churches will choose the patriarch of Kyiv and announce officially the creation of a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church, independent of Russia. Rostyslav Pavlenko, the deputy chief of staff of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is also taking part in the synod. Bartholomew I is regarded primus inter pares (first among equals) of Orthodox churches across the world, including Greek, Russian, Serbian and Romanian that appeal to 300 million around the world. His degree of influence varies, but many consider him the spiritual head of the entire Orthodox faith. Unlike the rest of the world, Turkey does not recognize Bartholomew I as the Ecumenical Patriarch but just as the leader of Turkey’s remaining Greek Orthodox minority.
The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has approved the text of Tomos for the Ukrainian Church, the date of the Unification Bishops’ Council will soon be announced by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said. “A historic decision has been made to create an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Text of the Tomos on granting independence to the Ukrainian Church has been approved. A decision has also been made to convene the Unification Council. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will soon announce its date,” the head of state said in a video address on Thursday evening.
On November 27, a three-day meeting of the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate begins in Istanbul, which is expected to approve a Tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It is reported that the Synod of the Patriarchate will announce the date when the Unification Council will convene in Ukraine. At the Council, the creation of a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church shall be announced and its new head selected.
Ukraine’s intelligence service said its officers have searched the home of the father superior of Kyiv’s biggest and oldest monastery, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ihor Huskov, chief of staff of the SBU intelligence agency, told reporters on November 30 that Father Pavlo, who leads the Pechersk Monastery, was suspected of “inciting hatred.” There are currently three Orthodox communities in Ukraine, including two breakaway churches. The Ukrainian church, which has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, moved close to forming an independent church earlier this year. The Kyiv Patriarchate broke away from Moscow in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Its bid for recognition as a self-governing or autocephalous institution intensified after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The searches are being conducted at the place of residence of Pavlo, as well as in the premises of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in the probe of stirring up religious hatred. Ukraine’s Security Service conduct searches at the place of residence of Pavlo, the archpriest of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, according to Olena Hitlyanska, according to the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) spokeswoman, the Ukrainian News reported. According to Olena Hitlyanska, the searches are being conducted at the place of residence of Pavlo and in the premises of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra within the probe of stirring up religious hatred, which is a subject to Criminal Code of Ukraine. As it was reported earlier, the Ministry of Culture initiated checks of relics and shrines in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Later the SBU clarified that investigative activities are being held under procedural regulation of Prosecutor’s Office of Kyiv region in fulfillment of the order by the Investigative Direction of National Police of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to grant the autocephaly for Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. The respective document appeared on the official website of the Patriarchate. This outraged the Russian Orthodox Church, which already promised ‘a tough and decisive response.’ The head of the SBU administration, Ihor Huskov, has confirmed this information. “The SBU is taking investigative measures at the vicar’s place of residence as part of a criminal case opened under Article 161 of the Criminal Code,” Huskov said at a press briefing at the SBU on Friday.
Ukraine’s intelligence service said its officers have searched the home of the father superior of Kyiv’s biggest and oldest monastery, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. Ihor Huskov, chief of staff of the SBU intelligence agency, told reporters on November 30 that Father Pavlo, who leads the Pechersk Monastery, was suspected of “inciting hatred.”
Ukraine’s intelligence service said its officers have searched the home of the father superior of Kyiv’s biggest and oldest monastery, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. There are currently three Orthodox communities in Ukraine, including two breakaway churches.
A special commission of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine has been deployed on November 29 to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv to carry out an audit of holy items that were handed over to the lavra 30 years ago, the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said. “The locum tenens of the abode, Metropolitan of Vyshhorod and Chernobyl, Pavlo, has discussed with members of the commission the procedure of inspection of the availability of the items. On the first day of the Nativity Fast, the members of the commission started an inspection of the availability of hallows in the Closer and Farther Caves of the Lavra,” a statement on the official website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate says. The statement said the commission’s work is being supervised by monks and local personnel. This is the first inspection to be carried out at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in 30 years. The special commission made up of employees of the Ministry of Culture and the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural Reserve was set up by the Ministry of Culture. The commission’s job is to make an audit of the existing ecclesiastical antiquities and holy items that have been handed over to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra since 1998 when the monastery there resumed operation.
The Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which will determine the date when the Unification Council will convene in Ukraine to further be granted Tomos of autocephaly, is being held in Constantinople on Nov 27-29. But today we can already say that the Moscow Patriarchate, which is vehemently resisting the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, is gradually losing its flock, even in the traditionally more “pro-Russian” regions. The Moscow Patriarchate is gradually losing Ukraine. Among other things, this is evidenced by a rather inert reaction to statements of the opponents of the “new unified church” idea – namely the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the traditionally more pro-Russian regions – Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Odesa. At the same time, pro-Russian priests are taking a far more aggressive stance. The Moscow Patriarchate is gradually losing Ukraine. Among other things, this is evidenced by a rather inert reaction to statements of the opponents of the “new unified church” idea – namely the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the traditionally more pro-Russian regions – Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, and Odesa. At the same time, pro-Russian priests are taking a far more aggressive stance. The Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which will determine the date when the Unification Council will convene in Ukraine to further be granted Tomos of autocephaly, is being held in Constantinople on Nov 27-29. But today we can already say that the Moscow Patriarchate, which is vehemently resisting the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, is gradually losing its flock, even in the traditionally more “pro-Russian” regions. Several factors contribute to this. First, this is about a move by the Russian Orthodox Church to sever ties with Constantinople – a step far from being perceived as adequate (or Christian). It raised brows of even the most ardent parishioners. Secondly, it’s about the behavior of some priests of the UOC-MP, blindly following instructions from Moscow, while actually losing support from their flock in Ukraine. And, thirdly, it’s about the traditional passive stance of the population, including the congregation of the UOC-MP, in the above-mentioned regions. However, this does not mean that the corresponding work has halted in these regions toward those loyal to the aggressive appeals of the pro-Russian church and those who attend churches only on big holidays. Non-christian behavior Perhaps residents of Zaporizhia region are shifting away from the Moscow Patriarchate at the fastest pace. As early as last spring, when Zaporizhia-based clerics of the UOC MP traveled to the outskirts of Mariupol, Donetsk region, to “support the fighting spirit of their countrymen” in one of the military units of the National Guard, the officer told the priests that Ukraine defenders of Ukraine did not wish to meet with “Moscow” priests. Clerics tried to complain but to no avail. It was Father Viktor, a clergyman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, who told UNIAN this story. At that time, he was a chaplain in that unit. According to him, representatives of various confessions and religious organizations would come to visit the military, and the doors of the unit would always be open to everyone – except the Moscow Patriarchate. In the winter of 2018, some of the soldiers who in 2017 refused to meet with the UOC-MP priests were close to making Zaporizhia another hot spot of hostilities… On December 31, 2017, a two-year-old child died in a fatal accident in Zaporizhia. During the funeral, the priest, who was invited to perform a rite of burial, asked if the boy had been baptized. Having learned that he was baptized in the church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the cleric refused to perform the ceremony, branding the UOC-KP a self-styled church. The grieving mother knelt before him, begging for understanding, but the priest was unshakable as he simply left the funeral. Eventually, a priest of the Kyiv Patriarchate was invited, who conducted a rite of burial… The story caused shock waves across Ukraine. In a matter of hours, a flash mob was organized in social networks: throughout the country, people would bring teddy bears to the temples of the UOC-MP as a reminder of the deceased boy. And everywhere the reaction was the same: the staff collected toys and defiantly threw them away. In Zaporizhia, this provoked a new round of scandal. A Ukrainian soldier and his local volunteer friend brought the toys to one of the churches and, upon seeing a priest’s attempt to throw them away, entered into an altercation. Shortly, a group of men arrived at the scene and brutally assaulted the two men. Later it turned out that the attackers were members of the “Orthodox Union Radomir” public organization. Subsequently, these same people would “ensure public order” at the Russian propaganda-inspired “Victory Regiment” march and the anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad … Fighting for property, not for flock The story has become a kind of “point of no return” in the confrontation between the clergy and the Zaporizhia public. Local veterans urged their comrades-in-arms neither to respond to violence with violence nor take radical measures. Local police even took under protection the temples of the UOC-MP in the city. But while adequate people were trying to smooth out the conflict and prevent a serious confrontation in the city, the situation was being “heated up” by Bishop Luka of Zaporizhia and Melitopol (UOC-MP). He would publicly brand the Kyiv Patriarchate “impostors,” justifying the move of that priest who refused to perform a service. Luka has to this day remained quite categorical in his statements, especially in matters of Ukraine receiving Tomos of autocephaly: “Now global redistribution is underway, a lot is changing … And now, when Russia began to develop economically, it is very beneficial for someone to crush it, it is advantageous to play against it. This is life without God,” says Luka. A Zaporizhia-based religious expert Ilya Bey says that Luka does not limit himself to such statements. According to him, during sermons, he is warning people of the upcoming bloodshed that he says will be a result of obtaining a tomos. “The moods of the congregation depends on Luka. Today, he is setting people up to accept the fact that there may be bloodshed, that the “junta” has seized the church, and so on. Recently, the UOC-MP conducted a very manipulative “poll,” whose results show what ideas are being channeled to parishioners,” says Ilya Bey. Thus, according to that fake “poll”, “more than 97% of believers are against any changes, both in canonical status and in ritual matters”, as regards the legal status of the church and the language of worship. Ilya Bey does not rule out provocations in Zaporizhia once Ukraine obtains the tomos from Constantinople. “It is clear that Luka does not take such decisions, but various provocations may be beneficial to Russia. This may be, for example, explosions in temples. Suppose the community decides not to reunite with the new church and something bad happens… Then they will say: “Here! This is the revenge of the fierce Banderites!” Or, say, if they decide to join the new church, something bad could also happen. They will say: “Here! Once you switched to those fierce Banderites, see how it ended?” But everything depends only on what decision will be made in Moscow, and how the Russian intelligence services will act as well as ours – whether they can foresee and prevent such scenarios,” the expert says. However, despite Luka’s efforts to convince parishioners that the UOC-MP is united and inviolable, things within its framework are a bit different. According to Bishop Fotiy of Zaporizhia and Melitopol (UOC-KP), to date, part of the “Moscow” bishops have already announced their intention to join the new United Orthodox Church. “There is evidence that some part of the episcopate of the MP in Ukraine declared their will to join the United Church, signing an appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch for the granting of autocephaly. So far, it is about 10 people, whose names are not disclosed for security reasons… In the future, about a quarter of the episcopate could join the new church,” says Fotiy.
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From informed sources, we learned that the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate gathered today at the Phanar. They have just decided to dissolve the Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe by repealing the Patriarchal Tomos of 1999. The official statement with the details to come up soon!
The decision by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to revoke the patriarchal tomos of 1999 by which it granted pastoral care and administration of Orthodox parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe to His Archbishop-Exarch is a sign of care for believers and is aimed at optimizing intra-church management processes. “We are here to reassure the pious faithful of the parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe and their communities. It is by pastoral concern that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has decided to integrate and connect parishes to the various holy cities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the countries where they are located. Our Mother Church will continue to ensure and guarantee the preservation of their liturgical and spiritual tradition,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate said in a statement on its Facebook page. The document says that the decision responds to the needs of the present. “This decision responds to the pastoral and spiritual needs of our time, with the greatest respect for canonical law and the spiritual responsibility that lies with us,” the Patriarchate said. According to the document, the “historical circumstances leading to its creation of such a structure in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of October 1917, just a hundred years ago, have evolved deeply.” “We are particularly pleased that the Mother Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has taken the responsibility to offer its canonical protection to these communities and thus allow them to enjoy, in accordance with the church order, a freedom synonymous with life in the Holy Spirit,” reads the document. Earlier media reports said that at a meeting of the Holy Synod in Istanbul, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to dissolve the archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe. Later, this news was interpreted by some media outlets as the abolition of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is an error of judgment.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate at a meeting of the Holy Synod in Istanbul decided to dissolve the Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe by repealing the Patriarchal Tomos of 1999, the website Orthodoxie.com has reported, with reference to well-informed sources.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate has dissolved the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe. The official statement with details is yet to be released.
In a country facing an HIV epidemic, the Church is providing fact-free lessons on “family values” in lieu of formal sex education.
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church have inaugurated a massive new cathedral in Bucharest, amid controversy over the use of public funds for the project.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Sunday blessed the world’s largest Orthodox Church, located in Bucharest. He officiated along with Romanian Patriarch Daniel and one hundred priests.