Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia Lost the War of the Churches (73)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Exodus from Russian church to OCU gathers momentum – 70 parishes abandoning Russia in 10 days. Text of Tomos decree published by EP, including English version. EP Ambassador to Kyiv appointed. Reports of multiple instances of parish members denying ROC/UOC-MP clerics access to churches – RFE/RL clip is illuminating, and not what other media are reporting.

Reports the Russian church is recruiting non-parish members to vote against transfers to the OCU, eliciting complaints – this will eventually see the Russian proxies identified, detained and charged. Despite this being a lost cause the Russians are determined to prolong their agony for as long as they can.

Numerous other reports of interest.


About 70 parishes leave Moscow Patriarchate, join OCU — Iryna Lutsenko

About 70 parishes of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) have come under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), People’s Deputy of Ukraine of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc Party’s faction, presidential representative to the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Lutsenko has said. A statement published on her party’s website says that she announced this at a meeting of the conciliation board of parliamentary factions and groups in Kyiv on Tuesday. “The duty of Ukraine is [not only] to preserve interfaith peace, but also to provide for a transparent model of such swapping of parishes in our democratic society… The head of state notes the importance of the initiative by the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada to support and introduce a bill that will ensure the fundamental right of religious communities to change their subordination,” Lutsenko said. As reported earlier, on December 15, 2018, the Unification Assembly was held in Kyiv, during which the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was established to be headed by Metropolitan of Kyiv and All of Ukraine Epiphanius (born Dumenko). On January 5, 2019, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos on the bestowal of the status of autocephaly for the PCU, and on January 6 handed the document to Metropolitan Epiphanius. As of January 5, 2019, more than 40 parishes of the former UOC MP joined the OCU, and on January 13 their number reached 62. According to UOC MP estimates, it had 11,393 parishes in Ukraine in late 2012.

Around 70 Moscow Patriarchate parishes come over to Orthodox Church of Ukraine – 112.international

Around 70 parishes of former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate came over to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This was reported by the president’s representative, people’s deputy of Petro Poroshenko Bloc Party Iryna Lutsenko during the meeting of Verkhovna Rada committee broadcasted by 112 Ukraine TV channel. “About 70 parishes have already switched from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate to an autocephalous independent Ukrainian church. Which is why, Ukraine’s task is to preserve the inter-confessional world, and to provide the model that is most acceptable to a democratic society for such a transition of parishes to those that they want to visit,” Iryna Lutsenko said. Related: Granting autocephaly to Orthodox Church of Ukraine ‘historical’, – Pompeo As it was reported earlier, on January 14, the activists of “Svoboda” political party along with head of the council of Vorsivka village, Malyn District of Zhytomyr region forcefully hindered the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to hold the divine service event on the territory of the church.

Kyiv Military Hospital’s church decides to join new Orthodox Church of Ukraine | UNIAN

The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin at the Main Military Hospital in Kyiv has become part of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). The hospital church has been subordinate to the then Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) for over 20 years, Ukrainian TV Channel 5 reports. The priest proposed joining the OCU and members of the church unanimously supported the idea. The church is located in the Main Military Hospital’s territory, therefore Donbas war veterans and military personnel who are now defending the country against Russia’s hybrid military forces often come there. Therefore, the local community did not hesitate about making such a decision. In total, over 40 UOC-MP communities have announced their plans to join the new church after the unification council and the creation of the local Orthodox Church of Ukraine, independent from Russia’s Orthodox Church. According to various estimates, the UOC-MP had over 11,000 parishes in late 2012.

Map of Transfers to OCU from UOC MP – Google My Maps

Для внесення даних на карту необхідно заповнити цю анкету https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc4yo4nWbHHmkYtrPuu5iBRf4vDNmAtaeSY_R2krL4gSq-syQ/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1aS_1_UL1p8y14nfXgalFvuyu_xIGAm3xSafA1p-47X1aDzpCcxviIR1g

Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes text of Tomos on autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine – 112.international

The Ecumenical Patriarchate published the text of Tomos on autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine on January 14. The document is available in English, Greek and Ukrainian languages as the website of the patriarchate reported. “…we recognize and declare this Autocephalous Church, established within the boundaries of the sovereign territory of Ukraine by means of this signed Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos, as our spiritual daughter, and recommend that all Orthodox Churches throughout the world acknowledge and commemorate it by the name “Most Holy Church of Ukraine” with its see in the historic city of Kyiv, without being henceforth entitled to establish bishops or found extraterritorial altars in regions,” the document says.

PATRIARCHAL AND SYNODAL TOMOS FOR THE BESTOWAL OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL STATUS OF AUTOCEPHALY TO THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN UKRAINE – Announcements – The Ecumenical Patriarchate

Bartholomew, by God’s mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch: “You have come to Mount Zion . . . and to the Church of the first-born” (Heb. 12.22–23), as the blessed Paul, apostle to the nations, declares to all the faithful, appropriately likening the Church to a mountain to affirm conviction and recognition as well as steadfastness and stability. For although the Church of God both is and is called one flock and one body of Christ—everywhere sharing the confession of Orthodox faith, the communion through the sacraments in the Holy Spirit, and the constancy of apostolic succession and canonical order—already from the earliest apostolic times it also consists of local and native Churches internally self-administered by their own shepherds, teachers and servants of the Gospel of Christ, namely, their regional Bishops, not only for the historical and secular significance of these cities and lands, but also for the particular pastoral needs of these places. …….. Bartholomew, by God’s mercy Archbishop of…

Synod of Ecumenical Patriarchate appoints head of Kyiv Stavropigiya – 112.international

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed the chairman of the Kyiv Stavropigiya – that is, St. Andrew’s Church, which is the permanent representative office of the Church of Constantinople in the Ukrainian capital. It is the Archimandrite Mykhailo (Anischenko). It is reported by the BBC with reference to the site Romfea and sources in Constantinople. Archimandrite Mykhailo (Anischenko) had previously been the head of the church in the Turkish city of Antalya.  The Kyiv Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate re-established Kyiv Stavropigiya in October last year. Soon after, the Verkhovna Rada approved the decision to transfer the St. Andrew’s Church to Ecumenical Patriarchate for permanent use. This step was then called the “symbolic gesture of unity with the Mother Church”. It is St. Andrew’s Church that serves as the residence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the representation of the Church of Constantinople. The newly appointed Archimandrite Mykhailo (Anischenko) will become its head.

No Entry: Ukrainian Crowd Blocks Priests From Church

There was a confrontation at a church in northern Ukraine, as residents prevented priests affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate from entering on Sunday, January 13. There has been tension in the Orthodox community since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine recently split from the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

A church under surveillance by a man in a Toyota – BBC News

Ukraine has a new church, but some parishes remain loyal to the Moscow patriarch – and this sometimes causes tensions.

Activists seize Ukrainian [Russian] Orthodox Church in Zhytomyr region (photo, video) – 112.international

The activists of “Svoboda” political party along with head of the council of Vorsivka village, Malyn District of Zhytomyr region forcefully hindered the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to hold the divine service event on the territory of the church as the Informational and Education Department of the UOC reported. The meeting of the village on January 11 preceded this incident. The aggressive followers of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church supported by Head of Village Council Petro Pidruchny and Chairman of Malyn Department of “Svoboda” political party Mykola Polynovsky sealed the church. The majority of the attendances are people, who do not participate in the life of the church as UOC stated. Related: Poroshenko brings Tomos of autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine to Vinnytsia The conflict occurred after the agitation against “the church of country-aggressor” at the meeting as the witnesses stated. The followers of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church decided to claim the possessions of the community of Saint Nicholas Church and shouted at the objections of pastor and protoiereus Vasyl Semchuk. The priest was hospitalized with a hypertensive crisis after the communication with aggressive activists. The skirmish continued near the church. According to “Pervy Kozatsky”, the UOC community did not let the crowd to proceed to the temple. The police, which prevented the clashes, was on duty near the site. The Chairman of the Village Council insisted on the sealing of the building. The believers planned to hold the divine service under the open sky but the pastor could not head the service. Protoiereus Vitaly, the pastor of neighboring Saint Pokrovsky church in Malyn, was appointed as the temporary pastor.

Orthodox Church of Ukraine will definitely get status of patriarchate – Filaret

Honorary Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Filaret said this in his speech after a thanksgiving prayer service in the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Lutsk on Tuesday, an Ukrinform correspondent said. “Today we have the status of a metropolis, but our goal is to reach a patriarchate, and we will definitely achieve this goal. To do so, we must unite all Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The sooner we unite all Ukrainian Orthodoxy into one single Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the sooner we receive recognition of our status not of the metropolis, but of the patriarchate,” Filaret said. He added that this is the future, but for now, it is necessary to thank Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and all the Ukrainian people who wanted autocephaly and asked God for help in uniting Ukrainian Orthodoxy. “We will definitely unite. There is no other way for Ukrainians,” Filaret said. He said that today “some of our brothers still do not want to unite with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and hope for the strength of Moscow.” “But Moscow will lose its strength, and the victory will be ours, Ukrainian, along with the entire civilized world – with America, with Europe, because we are not alone,” Filaret said.

Poroshenko: Ukraine’s independence becomes stronger with autocephalous Orthodox Church

President Petro Poroshenko has said that Ukraine’s independence has become stronger with the creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. — Ukrinform

President to present tomos of autocephaly in Zhytomyr on Jan. 17

On Thursday, January 17, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will take part in a liturgy at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Zhytomyr. — Ukrinform

Poroshenko brings Tomos of autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine to Vinnytsia – 112.international

President Petro Poroshenko arrived in Vinnytsia for liturgy on the occasion of receiving Tomos of autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Tomos itself have also been brought to the city. Poroshenko claimed this on Twitter. ‘Today in Vinnytsia, together with believers, we prayed in the Transfiguration Cathedral for the unity of the Ukrainian Church, peace and prosperity. The Tomos of autocephaly is in Vinnytsia today, everyone will able to see this historic document, which became the symbol and the expression of our spiritual independence,’ Poroshenko said. Related: Tomos becomes word of year in Ukraine Earlier it was reported that the members of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate signed the Tomos on providing autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew passed the Tomos of autocephaly and bishops’ crosier to the apostle of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epifaniy. The event happened during the festive service in St. George’s Cathedral. Besides, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko guarantees the state’s respect for the religious choice of every citizen of the country.

Fire breaks out at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra premises (Photo, video) | UNIAN

At 20:07 Kyiv time, the fire was put out.

Police detain suspect in arson of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra building – 112.international

A suspect in the arson of the building owned by Kyiv Pechersk Lavra was detained. He turned to be a homeless person as Andry Kryshchenko, the Head of Chief Department of Kyiv National Police reported on Facebook. It turned out that the fire occurred due to a 24-year-old homeless man. He entered the facility under the influence of alcohol and burned the mattresses, which were in one of the rooms.

Ukrainian Catholic leader sees new possibilities for ecumenism. Published 1/11/2019. World.

ROME (CNS) — The formal recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine brings ‘a wind of hope’ that new opportunities will be created for dialogue and concrete cooperation in the search for Christian unity, said the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Ukrainian, Russian church split reflects political importance of Orthodox Christianity | Pew Research Center

Ukraine is an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian nation, and 46% of Orthodox Ukrainians look to the Ukrainian national church leaders as the highest Orthodoxy authority.

Moscow Uses Non-Church People To Prevent UCO-MP From Shifting To OCU – To Inform is to Influence

Evidently, the ROC is bringing non-church people into the UCO-MP (Ukraine Orthodox Church – Moscovy Patriarchate) meetings in Ukraine to stop their voting to change to the OCU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). The Orthodox Church of Ukraine received a Tomas of Encephaly, granting them independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. It seems the ROC, now, is fighting dirty and attempting to prevent UOC-MP churches from joining the new OCU. This is an example of yet another tool of Russian Hybrid Warfare, Religious Warfare. Again, this might not be legal and it might not be illegal. It certainly is unethical and immoral. As far as one can tell, the ROC is behind this. I can only hope the SBU is investigating this action by Russia. </end editorial>

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Using Non-Church Members to Try to Block Shift of Parishes from Russian Church to Autocephalous Ukrainian One

Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – Ever more congregations formerly subordinate to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate are shifting to the newly autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. (For a map of these that is updated daily, see google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1XQR0sfHFFiiXyGiVYqI1mNylJ9fFPdnh&ll=49.40279846208503%2C27.02496023437493&z=7&fbclid=IwAR0tZD7PJmR8Fz4pQJG_EZtiz1E_md2nc6dOanWsURfdlejbLCH5l2LJu-o.) Most of these transitions have occurred as the result of a vote by parishioners, and to try to stop this trend, the Russian church has adopted a tactic that if it becomes widely known may have the effect of leading ever more genuine Orthodox believers in Ukraine to believe that their proper home is the OCU. What the Russian church is doing is bring into parish meetings where these decisions are made people with little or no connection to the church and demanding that they be allowed to have a vote alongside real parishioners. Efforts by Ukrainians to block this have been shouted down (ahilla.ru/perehod-hramov-iz-upts-v-ptsu-kak-otvetka-na-150-millionov-veruyushhih-rpts/). However, in at least one case, this Russian move ran into trouble. Parishioners, the Akhila portal says, “understanding what decision would be taken at the assembly of residents of the village, the absolute majority of whom come to church in the best case on Easter for kulich and eggs, appealed to the Vinnitsa bishopric of the OCU.” Its representative, Father Petr Chaplinsky, told these people that they shouldn’t be making decisions about the subordination of the church if they have no idea about what the church stands for. Study a little, he said, and then you can vote on this. But some non-parishioners objected arguing that they should have the right to vote regardless. In some ways, of course, this reflects what is a widespread confusion among Russians between Orthodoxy as a religion and Orthodoxy as a national identifier, a confusion Patriarch Kirill and the Russian government have encouraged. (On this phenomenon, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/01/i-am-atheist-orthodox-and-other.html.)

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russia’s Ruler Given by God Mustn’t Be Criticized’ – and 12 Other Facets of New-Old Russia Today

Paul Goble Staunton, January 14 – Observers of Russia are often in the position of the blind men and the elephant. So many things are going in so many different directions that it is often impossible to say which are the most important trends. The Kremlin appears to be counting on that, hoping that what people see or hear in Moscow will be what they think is true of Russia as a whole. As seems to be always the case, the last two days bring stories that should be enough to disabuse anyone who thinks that way, not only regarding the enormous diversity of people and developments across the country but also about the curious mix of various pasts the Putin regime is promoting. Perhaps the most obvious effort to reach back into a combination of the Soviet and tsarist path is a drive to impose judicial penalties on anyone who dares to criticize the authorities. After all, one blogger says, since Russia’s rulers are given by God criticism is inappropriate and should be banned (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2019/01/14/vlast_oskorbit_nevozmozhno_esli_ona_ot_boga/). But there have been 12 other developments reported worthy of note that suggest just how complex the new-old Russia of Vladimir Putin has become. They include:

  1. Moscow has decided to add yet another military parade to the calendar. With the addition of a winter one, there will now be such an event each quarter (echo.msk.ru/blog/openmedia/2351771-echo/).
  2. Is Jesus’ Life Really Over But Patriarch Kirill’s Continuing? An Orthodox commentator is upset that Russia’s Life of Remarkable People has put out two books on famous people. One is about Jesus Christ and treats his life as over; the other is about Patriarch Kirill and treats his as continuing (diak-kuraev.livejournal.com/2291776.html).
  3. Duma Members Want to Impose State Controls on Magicians and ESP Adepts. When one believes that everything should be regulated by the government, it isn’t surprising that one is constantly casting about for new sectors to conquer. The current target of Duma legislation is Russia’s magicians and ESP adepts, people some in Moscow clearly believe need to be regulated (profile.ru/society/gosudarstvo-pytaetsya-navesti-poryadok-na-rynke-ekstrasensornyx-uslug-63730/).
  4. Social Chamber Member Calls for Creating Special Force to Arrest People Abroad Moscow Views as ‘Criminals.’ Aleksandr Malkevich says that the Kremlin must develop a special operations force capable of travelling abroad, arresting those Russia views as criminal and brining them back to Russia for trial and punishment (kp.ru/online/news/3352717/).
  5. Blogger who Filmed Russian Police Attending Major Criminal’s Funeral Arrested. Russian police were embarrassed by a film clip showing that many officers had come to pay their respects at a recent funeral of a major Russian criminal. They have now responded by arresting the man who filmed this episode (snob.ru/news/170925).
  6. Duma now prepared to block private tour firms from leading groups into Orthodox church facilities so that the church can provide guides itself and profit as a result (meduza.io/news/2019/01/10/gosduma-progolosovala-za-zapret-turfirmam-organizovyvat-palomnicheskie-poezdki).
  7. Russian officials have made the Itelmen, a numerically small people of the Russian Far East, feel like “aliens in their own land” by taking away property they believe had been granted to them for all time (sibreal.org/a/29707502.html).
  8. A new study concludes that nearly one-third of all news stories carried on the Runet are fake news (fedpress.ru/news/77/policy/2176643).
  9. Moscow Patriarchate won’t accept new calendar, guaranteeing that Russia will have two Christmases and two New year’s celebrations well into the future (themoscowtimes.com/news/orthodox-church-says-it-wont-budge-on-date-of-russian-christmas-64128).
  10. Chechen officials again imprisoning, torturing, and in at least one case killing LGBTs. So far, Moscow has done nothing to reign in its man there, Ramzan Kadyrov (themoscowtimes.com/news/tortured-to-death-in-new-anti-gay-purge-in-chechnya-activist-says-64124).
  11. Russia returning to Bolshevik standard on gun ownership: Only members of the ruling party will have free access. A St. Petersburg commentator says that increasing restrictions on gun ownership in Russia point to a return to the standards of Bolshevik times. Then, only approved members of the ruling party were allowed to own guns; now, perhaps, only members of United Russia will be (gorod-812.ru/kak-rossiya-ot-svobodnogo-oborota-oruzhiya-prishla-k-nesvobodnomu/).
  12. Book publishers are now being compelled to do what newspapers and journals already are: to identify groups as extremist in their production that the Russian authorities have found to be such (the-village.ru/village/business/news/337717-zakon-o-smi-v-knigah).

Orthodox Church Says It Won’t Budge on Date of Russian Christmas

The Russian Orthodox Church has said it has no plans to move the date Christmas to Dec. 25 in line with other Christian churches. Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, which celebrates the birth of Christ on Jan. 7. Some Russian officials, including the firebrand leader of the LDRP Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have previously called for Russians to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 as dictated by the Gregorian calendar.

Ahead of visit, Putin gets church in Serbia named after him

BANSTOL, Serbia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin already has a village, a wax figure, a plum brandy and several cafes named after him in Serbia. Now, he’s getting a church. Topped with Russian-style green-and-gold onion-shaped domes, the church in this tiny village in northwestern Serbia is still under construction but it has already been dubbed “Putin’s church.” Locals say the emerging structure is meant as a sign of admiration for Putin and the centuries-long brotherly ties between the two nations that share common Slavic roots and the Orthodox Christian religion.

Eerik-Niiles Kross: the idea to declare Russian Orthodox Christmas a national holiday is more dangerous than it seems – Estonian World

The mayor of Tallinn, Taavi Aas (the Centre Party), has come up with the idea to declare the Russian Orthodox Christmas (celebrated according to the Julian calendar on 7 January) a national holiday in Estonia; security expert and a former MP Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) writes that the idea is more dangerous than it seems.

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