Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Russian Orthodox Church · Ukraine Orthodox Church

Russia Loses the War of the Churches (64)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarch parishes are rapidly defecting to Ukraine and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. 

Numerous articles backing the law renaming the UOC-MP to indicate it is a part of the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The article by Tony Wesolowsky at RFE/RL is outstanding.  The fusion of the Russian government, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Russian military is now established and sacrosanct. This is established and blessed with the Grand Russian Military Cathedral.  There is no question now, the Russian Orthodox Church is a tool of the Russian government. 

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The Russian propaganda campaign continues, combined with a new influence campaign to buy favour with smaller Orthodox churches mostly outside Europe, while the dominoes continue to fall in Ukraine, parish by parish.

Some good analyses by Euromaidan authors, a historical timeline from 988AD, and Soldatov exposes the fusion between the ROC and FSB, more extensive than the penetration by the NKVD/KGB, and motivated very differently.

The analysis of the Russian Military Cathedral is fascinating – prima facie evidence of the fusion of church and state, and thus the Orthodox heresy Russia has committed, overtly and brazenly.

Law obliging church to indicate its ties with Russia comes into force in Ukraine –

The law #2662-VII on the duty of the religious organizations with the center in the country-aggressor to indicate this in the official title has come into force in Ukraine. The document was published on a parliamentary newspaper “Holos Ukrayiny”. The law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” states that the religious organizations with the center in the country-occupant should indicate this in the full and official title. The belonging of the church to the religious organization with the center in the country-aggressor is defined according to such signs: the mentioning of the entering the organization with the center in the state-occupant in the charter of the chain of the organization; the charter of the organization in the state-aggressor contains the mentioning of the chain in Ukraine and right of the leaders to make decisions in the canonical and organization issues, which are binding for the unit in Ukraine; the charter of the foreign religious association provides the obligatory entering of the leaders of the chain in Ukraine into the statutory bodies of the foreign organization with a right of the deciding vote. During a month from December 26 or from the moment of the declaration of the state as country-aggressor, the Culture Ministry checks the presence of the mentioned signs of the leading of the organization abroad. If such signs are found, then the message on the necessity to re-naming of the Ukrainian chain during three months will be published on “Holos Ukrayiny”. Totally, four months are given for the re-naming since this law comes into force or the declaration of the state as country-aggressor and if the issue is about the religious community, then the term is nine months. If the re-naming does not take place during this term, the points of the charter of the religious organization about official name cease to have the effect. The priests, preaches and mentors of the church with the center in the state-aggressor cannot stay at the military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military formations and places of their location.

By disputing law “on renaming of churches,” UOC-MP admitted its dependence on Russian Orthodox Church, – Yevstratii (Zoria)

Bill No. 5309 obliging religious communities to indicate in their names the subordination to aggressor state-based Church, if any, has no direct relevance to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) but by rejecting the law, this Church recognized its dependence on the Russian Orthodox Church. “There is no mention of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Russian Orthodox Church in the adopted law. But there are signs which help determine whether a Ukraine-based religious entity (practicing any religion or belief) is part of a Russian-based religious body and dependent on it. So, if the Moscow Patriarchate members have already recognized that the adopted law has relevance with them, they thereby recognize that the signs listed in the law have everything to do with them,” Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, Yevstratii (Zoria), wrote on social media, Censor.NET reports. He noted that such signs include references to subordination in the Charter, voting membership of Ukrainian religious leaders in the governing bodies of Russian religious entities, binding decisions of the governing bodies of a Russian entity for its Ukrainian subsidiary. “For a secular audience, I’ll draw an analogy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church: let’s imagine the Queen of England greenlighting appointment of the president and prime minister of India, the Indian lawmakers sitting in Westminster and the ministers taking part in the work of the British government while the laws and the decisions of the British Parliament and the government are binding on India and all this being hidden behind the name of “Independent and Self-governing Republic of India” along with the British laws saying that this republic is a part of the UK, but has its headquarters in New Delhi. Who would have believed in such ‘independence’? But people still believe in the “independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” And they would continue to believe if not for the new law,” the Archbishop said. He also called blasphemy comparison of the bill No. 5309 with the Third Reich’s obligation for Jews to have Star of Judah drawn on their clothes. On Dec. 20, Ukraine’s parliament passed a bill to rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). 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.

Another Moscow Patriarchate’s parish to join Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church –

The parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in Trebukhivtsi village, Buchach district, Ternopil region has passed to the Local Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine as Ternopil eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church reported. “His Eminence Nestor, the Archbishop of Ternopil and Kremenchuk has granted the application of the community of the Temple of Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trebukhivtsi village, Buchach district and accepted it in the composition of Ternopil eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” the message said. Related: Renaming of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate may result in bloody conflicts, – Patriarch Kirill The proper order was released on December 26, 2018. Protoiereus Stepan Tataryn was appointed as the head of the community. Thus, the first community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in Ternopil region passed to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Turkey: Orthodox head rejects Russian church’s claims

Istanbul’s Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew has rejected claims that he received money for autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox church. “Although Russian church accuses me of receiving money to make this autocephaly, in reality, I did not receive money but many candies and chocolates from the factory of [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko,” Bartholomew said during a Christmas event in Fener neighborhood of Istanbul. Bartholomew said like the U.S. President Donald Trump, Poroshenko is also a businessman and he has a chocolate factory. In a video shared on Facebook on Monday, Bartholomew can be seen holding bags of candies and chocolates and distributing them to children. On Oct. 11, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was agreed to be independent of the Russian Orthodox Church during a meeting held at Fener Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Patriarch Bartholomew admits receiving ‘candies, chocolates’ from Ukraine – Turkey News

The leader of the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Dimitri Bartholomew, has responded to claims that he received money for autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox church in a sarcastic way, saying that he only received sweets from the Ukrainian leader.

Alya Shandra | New chances, new risks. Where Ukrainian Orthodoxy stands on the eve of independence |Euromaidan Press |

Ukraine has completed the penultimate step before receiving a recognized Orthodox Church independent from Moscow. On 15 December, a Council in Ukraine convened to unify the existing three Orthodox Churches, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC KP), Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) into one single Church, which would then be granted the Tomos of autocephaly, or declaration of independence, from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Council elected Epifaniy, a Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, as its Primate. While many in Ukraine are celebrating, others are less optimistic about the outcome of the Council and warn that the new Church has a long journey ahead before it is accepted by the family of world Orthodox Churches. Euromaidan Press talked to three experts in church issues to understand what happened at the historical event and what this heralds for the future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.

Ukraine Orthodox church ordered to change name to reflect Russian loyalties

The Ukrainian President has told the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian church to make their ties explicit in name.

How President Poroshenko Secured Church Independence for Ukraine

Receiving a Tomos of Autocephaly, or, to put it simply, the Ecumenical Patriarchate granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) its independence, has been one of the biggest events of the year. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been the driving force behind it. It was through his efforts that the fate of the UOC was transformed from an internal church issue into a matter of national security and a factor of the upcoming presidential elections. Over the course of his presidency, Poroshenko himself has transformed from an ordinary follower of the UOC-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) into a fervent supporter of the Ukrainian Church’s independence. Hromadske explains how all this came about and why it’s happened now.

Ukrainians consider Churches’ Unifying Council, martial law main events of 2018 – poll | UNIAN

Ukrainians consider the main events of the outgoing year the Unifying Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches and the creation of a unified local Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the introduction of martial law in 10 regions of Ukraine, and the act of aggression by Russia near the Kerch Strait. Respondents acknowledged the Unification of Orthodox churches as Ukraine’s main political event of 2018.

Old wine in new bottles: how bad habits derailed Ukrainian Church unification – interview with Cyril Hovorun |Euromaidan Press |

On 15 December 2018, Ukraine made the penultimate step towards realizing a multigenerational dream of attaining church independence. Inside the St. Sophia Cathedral, bishops from the three disunited Orthodox Churches in Ukraine convened to elect the Primate who would head the future United Church and receive the long-awaited Tomos of church autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Many in Ukraine are celebrating a strategic victory over Moscow: after all, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) would no longer be the only recognized, or canonical, Church in Ukraine, its pro-Russian influence over the minds of Ukrainians will be diminished, and Ukraine upped its game in the struggle for international subjectivity. However, others view the insignificant participation of the UOC MP as a misfortune and lament the absence of real Church unification. Meanwhile, the Moscow Patriarchate and the UOC MP has condemned the Council as “schismatic” and punished the bishops and priests who took part in it. Euromaidan Press talked to Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, PhD, Senior Lecturer at Stockholm School of Theology, former Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC MP (pictured on the left), to understand what happened at the Council, what kind of unified Church Ukraine now has, and what lies ahead.

A short history of the Ukrainian Church: infographic |Euromaidan Press |

On 15 December 2018, Ukraine completed the penultimate step towards attaining the multigenerational dream of independence for its Orthodox Church, hitherto subjugated to Moscow. The Unification Council, although achieving an imperfect unity, had molded representatives of two hitherto schismatic churches, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and several representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, into a new Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and sent them on the way to becoming a legitimate and recognized Church in the Orthodox family of churches. But attempts to secure an independent Church in Ukraine go back to 1918. Although the Kyivan Rus, a medieval kingdom with the capital in Kyiv, received Christianity from Constantinople in 988, political upheavals of the following centuries led to the rise of the Moscow Tsardom, the Moscow Church splitting off from Constantinople in 1448 and engulfing the Kyiv Metropolia in 1686, although having been given only management rights.

Orthodox Church of Ukraine Regains Independence, Kremlin Concerned – Georgia Today on the Web

Unlike the NATO officials, Bartholomew I of Constantinople displayed principle will and Ukraine did succeed in regaining its autocephaly. The fact that this is a new geopolitical catastrophe for the Kremlin is obvious: President Putin has gathered a security council on the issue and the case of Ukraine’s autocephaly was discussed by the Prime Minister, Chairman of the Federation Council, Secretary of the Security Council, Ministers of Internal and Foreign Affairs, Defense Minister, as well as the Head of Federal Security Service and Director of Foreign Intelligence Services. Whew! This assemblage shows that it is more than a random case, in fact a very important case for the Kremlin, as it threatens the downfall of the idea of a “Russian World.” The geopolitical doctrine of the Kremlin, which collapsed together with the Soviet Union and was resurrected by Vladimir Putin, has clashed into a barrier for the first time. Clearly, the Kremlin has lost its debut and Bartholomew I has gained a tempo and an advantage. Although the whole game is ahead, what matters is for whom and of what value is the checkmate. Now is the time for the choice of the Orthodox Churches on recognizing the decision of the World Patriarch. If we recall the boycott that took place during the Council of Crete, obviously Moscow is in the minority, as only four Orthodox Churches rejected the invitation, with the churches of Russia, Antioch, Bulgaria and Georgia refusing to participate. How Russia will try to increase its number of supporters is hard to tell as they would need the support of a minimum of eight churches. Perhaps this explains the two-week visit of Metropolitan Ilarion, the head of international relations of the Russian Church to Alexandria on November 15, Antioch on November 17 and Cyprus on November 19. On November 29, the Russian Church transferred a solid amount of money to the Atiochian Patriarchate for the restoration of demolished churches in Syria. Parallel to the Metropolitan’s visit, the Russian Church representatives visited Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A lengthy tour took place to the Orthodox Church of the US. Metropolitan also visited Georgia. The representatives of the Russian Church all had a single advice-demand: to deny the autocephaly of Ukraine and condemn the decision of the World Patriarch. “The power of Patriarch Bartholomew is threating the Orthodox world with destruction,” preaches Russia. The Patriarchate of Constantinople consists of eparchies of six archbishops, eight churches and 18 metropolitans, two out of the said eight, that is the Finnish and Estonian, are autonomous. Bartholomew I of Constantinople has the historical status of “The first among equals” within the Orthodox Christian community: whatever the length of the tours planned in Moscow, the consistency and principality of the World Patriarch has only increased his authority. By Zaza Jgarkava

Giving Tanks At Grand Russian Military Cathedral | RFE/RL

Steps crafted from the metal salvaged from military hardware seized from the Nazis by the Red Army will adorn a controversial new Russian military cathedral near Moscow.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: FSB Agents in Orthodox Hierarchy Now Less about Beliefs than about Property and Money

Paul Goble Staunton, December 26 – Since Stalin restored the Russian Orthodox Church during World War II, it has been widely known and accepted both by most believers and nearly all experts on that church that the KGB recruited members of the hierarchy and made their elevation in the church possible in order to ensure ideological control of the population. That unfortunate trend has even been the subject of a classic novel, Lavr Divromlikov’s The Traitor in which the security organs recruit a priest, murder his wife so that he can rise into the hierarchy, and leave him at the end uncertain as to whether he is serving God or state or himself. Nonetheless, every time information comes out confirming this sad reality of Soviet times, it becomes a scandal, as has happened in recent days with the release of the KGB files left in Latvia after the fall of Soviet power, with journalists and commentators treating this as “a revelation” rather than simply a confirmation of what has long been known. One of the reasons the information from Latvia has attracted so much attention is that it concerns not church hierarchs who served church and state a generation or more ago but rather men who are in senior positions in the structures of the Moscow Patriarchate in Latvia now, something especially critical as the Orthodox Church in Ukraine moves toward autocephaly. But this coverage has generally failed to note two important things: On the one hand, secret police penetration of the Russian Orthodox Church did not end in 1991 and has become far more intense since Vladimir Putin came to power. And on the other – and in a measure of the corruption of the state and church now – it is as much or more about property than about belief. That has now been corrected in an important new article by church historian Aleksandr Soldatov ( He points out that Metropolitan Aleksandr, the current head in Latvia of the semi-autonomous Latvian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was recruited by the KGB in 1982 and then had a dizzying career upwards. That is a typical pattern, Soldatov suggests, but he points to something often neglected: Secret police links with the hierarchs didn’t end with the Soviet Union. Instead, they continued with the FSB, which with Aleksandr and most others becoming less about ideology alone than about control and disbursement of property and money. Using commercial structures, the FSB continued to work with the metropolitan and in fact was able to make the Latvian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate into “a kind of oasis of the Soviet Union” in which property passed from the church to others ( As Soldatov notes, the FSB still cares about controlling what the hierarchs think and preach, but it now appears, especially in the Putin era, that its chief concern is gaining access to the control and distribution of the enormous wealth of the church or using it as a cover for financial machinations, a concern that further corrupts the church. After the Soviet Union collapsed, several efforts were made to expose the KGB’s role in the ROC MP, but most were stymied by official delays. Then, after 2000 when Putin assumed power, these efforts were mostly stopped altogether with the heroization of the KGB and other security agencies. The religious specialist notes in conclusion that “there is no clear answer as to whether the cooperation of the hierarchy with the special services of an atheist state was justified. And that is yet another piece of evidence that the Moscow Patriarchate is condemned to share the fate of the Chekist regime when its historical time runs out.”

Renaming of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate may result in bloody conflicts, – Patriarch Kirill –

Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill stated that the law on the renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate may lead to the bloody conflicts as TASS reported. “Obviously, there is some ultimatum: if the church does not change its name, then it will be removed from the register; if the church changes its name then the severe pressure will be put on it, first of all, on the Ukrainian people, on community. Certainly, the enforcement actions for the confiscation of the churches will begin and all events around may result in the bloody conflict,” Kirill said.

Kiev’s push to change name of Ukraine’s canonical Orthodox Church ‘risks blood’ – Patriarch Kirill — RT World News

Kiev’s new law demanding that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church change its name to show affiliation with Moscow is “insane” and may ignite “bloody conflicts,” the primate of Russia’s Orthodoxy has warned.

TASS: World – Russian patriarch points to dangerous consequences of onslaught against Ukrainian Church

Russian patriarch points to dangerous consequences of onslaught against Ukrainian Church

Law on Renaming Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church Enters in Force in Ukraine – Sputnik International

KIEV (Sputnik) – The law that requires the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to change its name was put into force on Thursday after it was published in an official outlet of the Ukrainian parliament.