Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (63)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Russia does not appear to comprehend how their propaganda regarding the OCU and the former UOC-MP appears to the world. Russia looks to be flailing about, desperately grasping for the tiniest argument supporting their frantic attempt to negate their loss of the ROC’s status in the Orthodox world. 

#RussiaFail #UkraineWin

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Much of the media traffic on this topic revolves around the vote in Kyiv yesterday to mandate the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine”, as some in the Ukrainian media now label it, rename itself from the UOC-MP to what it really is, as in the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine”. Notable observations by the head of the OCU, Metropolitan Epifaniy: “Reality must reveal the truth. Every Orthodox Ukrainian must know which church they visit”,  put differently, the Russian subterfuge is over.

The UOC-MP AKA “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine” states it does not need to change its name, putting it on an intentional collision course with the law. Some foolish statements by Muscovy, no matter how foolish they are, the propaganda machine ensures the whole World knows how foolish they are.

Metropolitan Epifaniy on UOC-MP renaming: Reality must reveal truth | UNIAN

Newly elected head of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy welcomes a parliament decision on the renaming of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). The new church leader assures there is no interference in church affairs. Newly elected head of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy welcomes a parliament decision on the renaming of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). “Reality must reveal the truth. Every Orthodox Ukrainian must know which church they visit,” he told the Pravo Na Vladu TV panel show, the TSN news service reports. According to Epifaniy, this decision is likely to ease rather than complicate the situation between the Orthodox churches in Ukraine. At the same time, he said the political component of this decision should not be overestimated. “There is no interference in church affairs here. The state is streamlining its legislation with regard to security,” he explained. “There is no interference here. The Ukrainian people wanted and expected this,” Epifaniy added. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday passed a bill to rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. If a religious organization subject to this legislation fails to change its official name and does not apply for re-registration within four months after the law takes effect, its statute becomes void.

Epifaniy, the Head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – Law on church’s commitment to state affiliation with aggressor state is no interference with religious affairs –

Having passed the law on church’s commitment to state affiliation with aggressor state, the Ukrainian Parliament did not interfere with the religious affairs in the country. Epifaniy, the Father Superior of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine said that in an interview with one of the Ukrainian TV channels. ‘The reality should be in line with the essence. Every Orthodox Ukrainian should realize what kind of church he goes to. Why would one hide under some fancy signboards that are not real? I believe it will not cause any face-off, because currently the Ukrainian law is being put in order, which stipulates a simpler transfer of Orthodox eparchies from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Unified Orthodox Church in Ukraine’, the church leader said. Related: Ukrainian Parliament bind churches with center in aggressor state to state that in their names He expressed confidence that making such decisions ‘will only ease things, not complicate them’. Answering to the question about the government’s interference in the church life, Epifaniy said the following: ‘There’s no interference in the church affairs. The state brings the legal basis to order, as the law is based on the state’s security. It is the spiritual security of the Ukrainian government. For the Church is the basis that supports the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian people’. The head of the Orthodox Church stressed that the Ukrainian nation ‘aspired for and expected’ that decision of the state. Earlier, shortly after the creation of the unified local Orthodox church in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Parliament obliged the church organizations to state affiliation with the aggressor state. Under another law passed by the Parliament on Tuesday, December 18, the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate officially changed its name to the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

This is not what Vladimir Putin wanted for Christmas | Miami Herald

Orthodox Christian religious leaders worldwide are weakening an important institution that gave the Russian president outsize power and legitimacy. Vladimir Putin won’t find many great presents under the Christmas tree this year. Orthodox Christian religious leaders worldwide are weakening an important institution that gave him outsize power and legitimacy. The Russian Orthodox Church is being broken up, and an independent Ukraine Orthodox Church will be established. The Ukrainian flock soon will be led not by the Moscow-based church and Patriarchate, but rather by its own independent church and youthful leadership. Ukraine and its political class are suddenly freed from an influential Russian institution that has been fiercely loyal to Putin. This was not on Putin’s Christmas list. Instead, the news is like a lump of coal in his stocking. $20 for 365 Days of Unlimited Digital Access Last chance to take advantage of our best offer of the year! Act now! SUBSCRIBE NOW #ReadLocal Russia’s wider designs on — and power over — Ukraine have included a wide hybrid war from the Donbass to the recent naval blockade in the Black Sea. Moscow has its fingerprints on the shoot-down of the Malaysian MH-17 passenger plane over Ukrainian territory and its paw prints on an annexed Crimea. Every step of the way, Putin has found legitimacy in his actions and the nation’s military activity through reignited Russian nationalism and the silent acquiescence of Moscow’s spiritual leadership and clergy. Religion did not always play a central role in Russia. Not long ago, when Communism ruled the Soviet Union’s people and territories, an officially encouraged atheism led to secularized churches and iconoclastic behavior. Marxist ideology did not support both a Communist system and religious beliefs. But people continued to worship, both privately and surreptitiously. Putin himself admitted to being a closeted Christian during those dark days. By the end of the Soviet era, however, when Mikhail Gorbachev was making overtures to the West and meeting with Pope John Paul II in Rome during a state visit. Gorbachev saw religion as a means to bridge a godless Soviet Union to a secularized West, that nevertheless respected religion and religious freedom. As a Newsweek reporter, I traveled to Sicily with Raisa Gorbachev and Russian Patriarch Alexey II for a symbolically important trip that highlighted a mutually beneficial Russian church-state relationship. That relationship grew and strengthened after the Soviet Union collapsed — a relationship I observed while a Moscow correspondent living next door to Alexey II’s Arbat residence. Putin now openly embraces the church, its power, and, seemingly, his faith. For a while, it seemed that the Muscovite church was unstoppably ascendant. Tax-free revenues, powerful patrons and Putin-primed subsidies made it a rich realm. In a post-Soviet Russia, the enriched Moscow Patriarchate imagined a new, unique role and envisioned the glory and opportunity to take the spiritual crown from an Eastern Orthodox church, whose Ecumenical Patriarch lives and works in an increasingly inhospitable Turkey. Moscow’s religious hierarchs and political leaders believed that Russia’s time had come to fulfill its historic destiny: Moscow as the “Third Rome.” The Third Rome doctrine asserts that Moscow picks up the Christian mantle following the fall of Rome and after Constantinople (known as “New Rome”) succumbed to Islam’s Ottoman Empire. The updated version of the doctrine continues to drive Moscow’s belief that its time for ascendance is now. Except it’s not. Constantinople still holds sway. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople — today it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople in modern day Turkey — decided affirmatively that Ukraine needed to be ecclesiastically free and independent. Politically, this move weakens Moscow’s claims, but it also shores up the Ukrainian leader’s fortunes. In his annual marathon press conference this week, Putin said he considers the decision to split Eastern Orthodoxy as gross political interference directed by Washington and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate. Putin further warned that the breakup could lead to “difficult, even bloody” conflict over things like church property ownership. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whose popularity was recently sagging, has hitched his wagon to the fast-moving Kiev church’s new status. If Putin, Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church today see themselves as inseparable and unitary, then Poroshenko, too, wants to tie himself tightly to an increasingly popular Ukrainian Orthodox Church with loyalties to Kiev, not Moscow, able to name its own leader and not under the authority of an outside patriarch. Russia celebrates the winter’s big religious holiday not on Dec. 25, but on the 12th day that follows and concludes with the Jan. 6 Epiphany. That soon-arriving day will mark the end of the Russian Orthodox Church’s monopoly over the Slavic-speaking Christian world and end Russia’s dominance over Ukraine’s believers. The breakup of the church is the greatest Christian schism in a millennium. Eastern Orthodoxy now becomes a church in the lurch. Putin recognizes this holiday-season development both as a strategic threat and a political blow. Despite the bad news, Putin may have just received a nice little Christmas gift from President Trump’s abrupt decision to call for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Assad’s Syria, where Russia maintains troops and keeps a naval base. This, perhaps, unexpected gift gives Putin increasing influence and access to the warm waters and oil-rich fields of the biblical Middle East. Merry Christmas, after all, Vlad. Markos Kounalakis, Ph.D., is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of “Spin Wars & Spy Games: Global Media and Intelligence Gathering.”

Ukraine Lawmakers OK Law To Rename Moscow-Loyal Orthodox Church

Ukraine’s parliament has approved a bill that would force the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to change its name.

Ukraine passes law forcing Moscow-backed church to identify as Russian; fight erupts in parliament | KyivPost

The Ukrainian parliament has passed a law requiring the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to rename itself to reflect the fact that it is based in Russia. During the Dec. 20 parliamentary session, 240 lawmakers voted in favor of the draft law. Provided the bill is signed by President Petro Poroshenko, the church will now likely be known as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.” According to the new law, any Ukrainian branch of a religious organization with a center in a state legally recognized by Ukrainian law as an aggressor must indicate its origins in its name.

Ukraine may force church to add ‘Russian’ to its name | Reuters

Ukrainian MPs passed a law on Thursday that could force the Moscow-backed church in Ukraine to add “Russian” to its name, aimed at curbing the influence of priests whom the authorities call a threat to national security.

“A unified Orthodox Church is justice”. Turchinov about the conflict with Russia | BBC Ukrainian [Interview Transcript]

BBC News Ukraine : In Russia they say about the dangers of religious war in the Ukraine through tomos. Does it really exist? Oleksandr Turchinov : I am a Protestant, but I certainly support the creation of a single Orthodox Church in Ukraine. This is historical justice and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have the right to have their own independent church. But this is also a security issue. After all, to the great regret, the religious communities of the Moscow Patriarchate, primarily their clergy, were used by Russia’s leadership against our country. They were used as a means of information warfare: distribution of misinformation, adjustment of people against their own country, etc. There were even more serious tasks – conducting an agent work. It is a cynical abuse of status and church facilities. Imagine the SBU detaining the clergyman of the Moscow Patriarchate, even after a hard-line allegations of espionage, law-enforcement, etc.-you understand that there will be an outbreak of alleged bills and an attempt to destroy the honest ministers of the church. I do not rule out that Russia’s special services will try to arrange provocations for the instigation of religious conflicts. But I am convinced that both the leadership of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the leadership of the state will do everything to prevent such provocations and provide an evolutionary way of returning Orthodox Christians who were parishioners of the MP to the Ukrainian church. BBC News Ukraine : How do you see your future after the presidential election? Alexander Turchinov : The Lord teaches: wherever you work, do everything that you can do honestly and qualitatively. And everything will be fine. I am working not on political projects, but on the projects of the country’s security and defense, and I believe that for today the country is an important priority. And further life will show.

Former UOC-MP sees no grounds for change of its name | UNIAN

Head of the Information and Education Department of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), Archbishop Klyment has said the church sees no grounds for changing its name in accordance with Ukraine’s parliament decision. “It seems to me the decision has nothing to do with our church, because it is not written anywhere that we are related, subordinated or governed by some foreign center where there is an aggressor state. Our church has no grounds for change of the name because our governing center is not in the aggressor state. This is probably about someone else,” he told the news outlet Hromadske. According to the document adopted by the Ukrainian parliament, the UOC-MP should change its name and indicate its affiliation to Russia, however, the UOC-MP insists its head office is located in Kyiv. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday passed a bill to rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. If a religious organization subject to this legislation fails to change its official name and does not apply for re-registration within four months after the law takes effect, its statute becomes void.

‘Inappropriate’ for Pompeo to discuss Ukrainian church affairs with Kiev – Putin — RT World News

It’s “inappropriate” for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the creation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with Kiev, Vladimir Putin said, while also accusing Ukraine’s government of interfering with religious affairs.

Kremlin Points to Pompeo’s Unprecedented Meddling in Ukrainian Church Affairs – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s recent call to the “the main schismatic of the Ukrainian Orthodox church” is an unprecedented incident which can be characterized as meddling in the church affairs in Ukraine, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.

TASS: Society & Culture – Law renaming Ukrainian Orthodox Church rejected by Rada’s expert department

According to media reports, the experts concluded that the law imposes restrictions on the right to the freedoms of expression and religion

Orthodox believers rally to protest Ukraine parliament vote

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Over 1,000 believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church rallied outside the country’s parliament Thursday to protest its demand that their church’s name is changed to reflect its ties to Moscow.