Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia Lost the War of the Churches (77)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The colorized pictures of the Romanovs are truly haunting.

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In Ukraine, the process of transfer from the ROC in Ukraine to the OCU continues. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus follows Constantinople and recognizes the OCU – important given the high level of Russian investment in Cyprus., involved in a major legal battle with the government over alleged pro-Russian coverage, report on internal disputes within the Ukrainian clergy over the naming of the new church and who should take credit for its formation. JP reports that the controversial Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem refused to meet with Pres Poroshenko, noting the report is written from a Russian perspective rather than neutral perspective and is listed as sponsored content by a “Special Contributor”.

ROC in Ukraine again declares its intent to not comply with the legislation on the naming of churches, which will lead to the loss of their legal status as a church, and made contracts and leases null and void. A fascinating report by Goble on Melnikov’s analysis of Russian survey data showing that while the “Moscow Patriarchate seeks to present itself as the primary basis of Russian identity and Orthodoxy as the definer of Russian attitudes toward autocephaly in Ukraine, polls show that Russians don’t view religion as central to their identity and are remarkably indifferent to what is taking place in Ukraine” – this should not come as a surprise given earlier polls indicating that Russian participation in the ROC is but a tiny fraction of the officially propounded numbers. Put bluntly the evidence suggests the size and influence of the ROC in Russia are just as fake as a great many other projected aspects of Russia.

The ROC continues its campaign of sniping at Constantinople. More on the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witness community. Finally, a topic repeatedly intertwined in Russia with the ROC, the national obsession with the Romanovs. The digitally enhanced and colorized imagery on Flickr is highly recommended – a window into the past of Russia.

Russian Orthodox-affiliated parishes start switch to new Orthodox Church of Ukraine | The Ukrainian Weekly

KYIV – More than 130 parishes subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Ukraine have voted to join Eastern Christianity’s newest canonically recognized Church: the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

Patriarch Filaret: no new church exists. Tomos was given to Kyiv Patriarchate –

The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) believes, that Tomos, a decree of the head of a particular Orthodox church on certain matters, from Constantinople has got not some new Ukrainian church, but the very UOC-KP. Filaret said on the closed meeting of clerics, the report of which the Alliance of Orthodox Journalists have. “Today so-called “divines” started to use the expression “the new church appeared”. What new church? The church is not new, the church has existed over 25 years. If the church of Kyiv Patriarchate had not existed, who then would have received the Tomos? Some several Mosow bishops without even a parish? They should receive the Tomos on autocephaly? Or the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOCO), where there are over 500 parishes? It goes without saying that the Tomos was given to the church of Kyiv Patriarchate. So it is not a new church. The word combination “new church” should not be used at all. Father Mykhail, you posted something on the Internet. Whoever wants to call the church this way, let it be. However, in our Ukrainian sources the Orthodox Church of Ukraine should not be mentioned. The Ukrainian Orthodx Church – yes, but not – the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, – said Filaret.

Patriarch Filaret and professor of theology criticize new name of Ukrainian church –

The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret is outraged that the Autocephalous Church is called the new church. He wants the Ukrainian church to be called, as it is – Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Filaret said that on the closed meeting of clerics, the report of which the Alliance of Orthodox Journalists have. Filaret also gained support from other members of the meeting like Dmytro Stepovyk, the leading member of the Institute of Art Studies, Folklore and Ethnology of Maxim Rylskiy National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Professor of Art History of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy. Both of them plead all the people attending the meeting not use the term “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” in the press. The people’s reaction was loud applause. “The enemies will do everything in order our church could loose its unity. Their main goal is to separate us. As I have already mentioned this name was imposed on us, it is not ours. Who has something to do with the press should help us to eradicate the name from the mass media. It is not our name. We are Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as others: Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian, Serbian and so on. But the Orthodox Church of Ukraine means that it is not a dominant church, but just one of the churches in Ukraine. But we are not “in Ukraine”, we are the Ukrainian church. We are – the dominant church of Ukraine”, – Filaret said. He also addressed to Father Mykhail asking him to help to eradicate the name from the press. “Father Mykhail, you post something on the Internet. Whoever wants to call the church this way, let it be. However, in our Ukrainian sources the Orthodox Church of Ukraine should not be mentioned. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church – yes, but not – the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, – Filaret also said.

Filaret urges to eradicate name “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” –

Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate Filaret is outraged by the name of the autocephalous church “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” and wants it to be named Ukrainian Orthodox Church as all other Orthodox churches of the world as Union of Orthodox Journalists reported. He noted that when the Ukrainian church is going to be recognized by other churches then the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will strive for Kyiv Patriarchate from Constantinople. “What is the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia? It is 120,000 believers. It is one St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral. That is why it is recognized. When we are going to be recognized by all these churches, despite the Russian and Antiochia and we will unite as we raise the issue of Kyiv Patriarchate to not be perceived as Kyiv Metropolis and the primate should be considered as patriarch not metropolitan. It is our goal. The same as when we strived for the autocephaly. We got it. The next goal is to get the recognition of the Ukrainian church by the Patriarchate. And we will reach it. But we should not doubt as when you do then you cannot achieve. And you achieve when you do not doubt,” Filaret said. He also noted that the hostile forces “try to damage us”. “The first thing they will do is to take our church out of unity. It will the main goal to separate us. Then, they will try to impose us with not our name. It is the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. It is not our name. We are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Like the others: Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian, Serbian and so on. And the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church means that it is not dominant but one of the churches in Ukraine. And we are “not in Ukraine” but we “Ukrainian”. We are the dominant church of Ukraine,” Filaret thinks. He also appealed to Father Mykhailo Yemelian with a request to eradicate the name “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church”. “Father Mykhailo, write in the internet. People can call it as they want but in our sources, it should be named as Ukrainian Orthodox Church not Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” Filaret claimed. On October 11, the Synodus lifted the anathema from Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyivan Patriarchate, and Makariy, Primate of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Filaret stated that the United Jubilee Bishops’ Council would take place soon to create a unified Ukrainian local church.

Church of Cyprus to recognize Metropolitan Epiphanius, – Archbishop Chrysostomos

25.01.19 13:28 – Church of Cyprus to recognize Metropolitan Epiphanius, – Archbishop Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus said he knows about Metropolitan Epiphanius’ wish to establish communion and expressed his agreement. He also mentioned that Epiphanius had already been to Cyprus, is familiar with the local situation and fluent in Greek. View news.

Orthodox Church of Cyprus to recognize OCU head Epifaniy – news politics | UNIAN

The Orthodox Church of Cyprus is going to recognize leader of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy. The head of the Church of Cyprus also said he considers the Ecumenical Patriarchate “Mother Church,” and stressed “he has excellent relations with Phanar, which he will preserve despite any difficulties.”

World’s southernmost religious building may join Orthodox Church of Ukraine – news ukraine | UNIAN

The chapel, which is located next to the Ukrainian Vernadsky Research Base Antarctic Station, may join the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The St. Volodymyr Chapel, which is located next to the Ukrainian Vernadsky Research Base Antarctic Station, is considered the southernmost religious building in the world.

Patriarch of Jerusalem cancels meeting with Ukrainian President in Israel – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

Sponsored content | The Patriarch of Jerusalem canceled a meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko who had been on a trip to Israel. According to the official version, Theophilos III was hospitalized with a minor illness. According to information from unnamed sources in the church circles of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the head of the Jerusalem church did not want to meet with the Ukrainian leader after a scandal with a letter that Theophilus III sent to Poroshenko in December 2018. Recall that in his appeal signed by the Secretary of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, a member of the Synod, Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, with the blessing of Theophilos III, he expressed his opinion “about the need to end the political persecution of the 4th President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and to involve him in active participation in the process of bringing peace to Donbass. Because a broad dialogue is needed to achieve national reconciliation in Ukraine, with the involvement of people from this region in the peace process, President Yanukovych could become such a representative”. After the appearance of this letter in the media, a serious diplomatic scandal broke out. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel, Hennadii Nadolenko, in a comment to Ukrainian News, stated that, according to his information, this letter had been allegedly recalled by the Israeli side, and that information about sending it to Poroshenko is fake. “The Jerusalem Patriarch did not write anything. But then it (the letter) was recalled, and it did not go anywhere. This is all pure fake … No one has ever addressed anyone,” the ambassador said. He also stated that the Patriarch of Jerusalem did not know about the existence of this letter. Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina refuted the words of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel. He stated that no one had recalled the letter and it was sent to the addressee. “Yes, there is such a letter. It is true … We were not asked to recall the letter,” he said and provided the Ukrainian media with a copy of this letter, adding that this document was written with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Theophilos III, who was extremely interested in establishing peace in Ukraine. Our sources in church circles report that, apart from the disappointment that the Patriarch’s sincere position on peace in Ukraine was ignored, the main reason for canceling the meeting was the Patriarch’s reluctance to “consecrate” the controversial topic of creating the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is no secret that Poroshenko’s open attempts to use the church theme for his election campaign cause a strong allergy among many church leaders in Ukraine and abroad. The utterly frank pressure on the Ukrainian church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the adoption of ambiguous church laws, creating tools for taking over parishes and seizures of church property have nothing in common with church canons or with principles of democracy. As it became known to our publication, Theophilos was going to call on Poroshenko to leave church issues to priests and ordinary people, and to stop state intervention in such a sensitive issue. Any awkward movement in this matter can lead to irreparable consequences. Belief in the Lord is a subtle matter and it is not measured by geographic, political, economic measures. People should be given an opportunity to offer their prayers to the Lord without obstacles and violence. The patriarch had to focus the attention of the head of Ukraine, Poroshenko, on stopping the process of seizing churches in Ukraine. The words of Theophilos III were conveyed to President Poroshenko by the Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchoalso s, who conducted a tour of the Holy Sepulcher for the President of Ukraine. By the way, not so long ago, the ambassador of Ukraine to Israel, Gennady Nadolenko, called Aristarkhos “only a secretary” and, in the end, it was the Synod member Aristarchos who, in the absence of Theophilus III, accompanied P. Poroshenko on the shrines of Jerusalem. “No power can resist the power of God. Let the people decide which temple to go to, and not the state and the “thugs” point the way to the Lord, ”noted Aristarchos. Referring to the December letter of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Synod member Aristarchos again focused the attention of the head of Ukraine on stopping political persecution of opponents and on the need to find the strength to direct all efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the military conflict in Donbas. The words of Theophilos III’s were addressed to President Poroshenko in a letter about “forgiveness and reconciliation” with the former President of Ukraine V. Yanukovych, along with the reiteration of the need to use every opportunity to resolve the protracted military conflict in Ukraine. In his turn, Poroshenko also transmitted a number of messages to Theophilos III through the Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, but their essence is still unknown. According to sources in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Petro Poroshenko at a meeting with Theophilus III wanted to enlist his support in the creation of the Most Holy Church of Ukraine in Ukraine. However, Theophilos III, who had previously expressed his protest against the creation of autocephaly in Ukraine, did not want to discuss this issue with the President of Ukraine.

TURKEY – UKRAINE – RUSSIA For Bartholomew, the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is an act of justice

On the feast day of Saint Gregory of Nazianuz, the ecumenical patriarch defends his decision to grant autonomy to the Ukrainian Church, as well as upholding the “primus inter pares” status for himself and the Mother Church of Orthodoxy.

UOC MP not to change its name — locum tenens of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

Metropolitan Pavlo (born Lebid) of Vyshhorod and Chornobyl, the locum tenens of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (monastery), has said the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) will not change its name despite a law passed in December 2018. “[Our name] won’t change. There is no reason for it. We are our own Ukrainian church with our own people in our own country,” he said in an interview with the Segodnya newspaper published on Wednesday, January 23, in response to a question whether the UOC MP is going to change its name in accordance with the recently enacted law. He said it is “lawyers who decide how to act” in a metropolis. As earlier reported, on December 20, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada passed a law that obliges the UOC MP to mention its belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church in its official name in Ukraine. The law was signed by the president of Ukraine on December 22 and came into effect on December 27. On January 18, 2019, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine received a motion by 49 MPs demanding that the law be declared as unconstitutional.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Orthodoxy Doesn’t Define Russian Identity or Russian Attitudes toward Ukraine, Melnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, January 24 – At a time when the Moscow Patriarchate seeks to present itself as the primary basis of Russian identity and Orthodoxy as the definer of Russian attitudes toward autocephaly in Ukraine, polls show that Russians don’t view religion as central to their identity and are remarkably indifferent to what is taking place in Ukraine, Andrey Melnikov says. The influential editor of NG-Religii says that polls show Russians view themselves as defined by history and territory, including by history that was anti-religious, rather than by Orthodoxy, according to polls, and that fewer than two percent now attend services on major church holidays ( And despite all the hullaballoo from the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kremlin about Ukrainian autocephaly, he continues, more than a quarter tell pollsters they have never heard of this issue before pollsters asked and another third say that they are indifferent as to the outcome of church reorganization in Ukraine. Even hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate acknowledge, the religious affairs specialist says, that “genuine participation in religious life is displayed by a tiny fraction of the citizens of Russia.” Metropolitan Merkury of Rostov and Novocherkassk even said that “our people do not have any idea” about the most important aspects of the faith. As far as church attendance is concerned, the MVD office in Rostov reports that this year, only about 42,000 people attended church services on Russian Christmas, two percent of the total population and only half as many as was the case four years ago. Roughly similar figures were true for Russia as a whole, Melnikov says. The numbers appear to have been higher for the ceremony Russians have elaborated on the occasion of the anniversary of Christ’s baptism in which they jump into icy waters. But many priests of the Russian Orthodox Church say this is less a religious act than a kind of recreation for people looking to be entertained. These poll results and this participation level points to “several important conclusions about the essence of our national idea,” the editor says. “First, the term ‘Russian’ should not be treated as equivalent to ‘Orthodox Christian.’ Second, identity, based on political and territorial community is more important than religious and ethnic attachments.” Russians are proud of many things in their national past, in particular Victory in the Great Fatherland War, that are “impossible to link with the Christian faith,” however hard some in the Moscow Patriarchate try. And third “and most important,” Melnikov continues, “the worldview and ideological basis of patriotism consists of episodes of national history which look to be a poor fit from the point of view of Christian Orthodoxy – the revolution of 1917, the victory of Bolshevism int eh Civil War, and Victory over Nazism.” Indeed, some members of the church intelligentsia “even consider the cult of Victory in 1945 the basis of ‘the civic religion’ formed by the state” and that leaves Christian Orthodoxy to the side. “From this,” Melnikov says, “arises an unexpected practical conclusion: the course of the Russian powers that be toward the formation of national identity and patriotism connected with the glorious past of the Fatherland and in particular Victory in the Great Fatherland War” is surpassing any “deepening of the participation by religious organizations in social and political life.”

Istanbul, Moscow churches trade barbs over Ukraine

The autonomy status granted to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by Istanbul’s Fener Greek Orthodox Church has caused a dispute between Fener and Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate. Fener says it has right to grant the status, Moscow called it a violation of canon law. On Jan 5, at the Fener Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko received the Tomos of Autocephaly (autonomy) of Ukraine’s church from the hands of Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew. Nicholas Papachristou, Director of the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate’s Press and Communications Office, told Anadolu Agency that Fener Patriarchate has the right to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Patriarchate “has the exclusive privilege and right to grant the status of Autocephaly to local churches when specific pastoral needs and conditions call for such action,” Papachristou said. He said the Patriarchate “rightly” decided to grant autocephaly to the church of Ukraine. Papachristou said for the last five centuries, Fener Patriarchate has granted autocephaly to many local churches like churches of Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania and others. In all of these cases, including the most recent one concerning the Church of Ukraine, Fener Patriarchate acted within the framework of its canonical duty and responsibility in order to ensure the unity of Orthodoxy, he noted. He added it would be impossible for the Fener Patriarchate to exhibit any less interest for its “Orthodox brothers and sisters” in Ukraine than it has already demonstrated to its “fellow Orthodox brethren” in Russia, Greece, Bulgaria and elsewhere. “Fener’s actions are a gross violation of canon law” On the other hand, Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Synodal Department for Church relations with society and media for the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate, told Anadolu Agency the granting of tomos of autocephaly by Fener Patriarchate to Ukrainian President Poroshenko is a violation of canon law.

Russian Trial Called ‘A Litmus Test For Religious Freedom’

A Russian prosecutor has asked a court to sentence a Danish man to 6 1/2 years in prison for being a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the U.S.-based Christian denomination. Forty-six-year-old Dennis Christensen was detained in May 2017.

Cast in Russia as ‘enemy within’, Jehovah’s Witnesses see Soviet history replay | Reuters

The first Jehovah’s Witness detained for extremism in Russia has likened the authorities’ behavior to that of Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union ahead of a verdict in his trial.

Russian Prosecutor Seeks Nearly Seven-Year Sentence For Danish Jehovah’s Witness

A Russian prosecutor has asked a court to sentence a Danish man to 6 1/2 years in prison for his affiliation with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the U.S.-based denomination deemed by Russia to be extremist.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Court’s Decision to Declare a Religious Service an Illegal Meeting Gets Comic Book Treatment

Paul Goble Staunton, January 23 – One of the more absurd rulings of a court in the Russian Federation was a decision by a judge in Naberezny Chelny to declare a religious service at which ministers baptized congregants an unsanctioned and thus illegal meeting and to impose a 20,000 ruble (300 US dollar) fine on the cleric involved. The court’s decision has attracted withering criticism from religious and human rights activists, but now, it has become the subject of a comic strip available both in hard copy and online – and provoking the laughter among Russians at the officials, the kind of laughter that few regimes can survive. Novaya gazeta has now posted on its online edition a selection of the cartoons which make what the Russian court did appear even more outrageous and absurd than a simple description of the actions (

Евангелисты в судебном аду. Как суд счел религиозный обряд несанкционированным митингом: комикс

Как суд Набережных Челнов счел религиозный обряд несанкционированным митингом

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kirillovite Branch of the House of Romanov has Less Support than Some Think, Historian Says

Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – Those of us trained 50 years ago as sovietologists could hardly imagine a future in which there would be learned discussions in Russia of the problem of dynastic succession in the House of Romanov, with various scholars supporting one or another branch of that complicated and long-suffering family. But that is exactly what is happening now, with some Russian writers doing everything they can, including falsifying “evidence,” to promote one branch of the family, while others seek to point out why the arguments of their opponents lack any historical foundation – even though most Russians have little interest in monarchy let alone the details of this fight. Fortunately for those interested, there has emerged what might be called “a guide for the perplexed” in the works of Andrey Kostryukov, a Moscow historian who specializes in the complex record of the Russian emigration and especially its attitudes toward the pretenders to the Rusisan throne. In a new essay, he examines the history of the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad toward the Kirillovites, Kirill father, Vladimir the son, and Mariya granddaughter and shows the church however sympathetic some of its hiearchs may have been never recognized them as tsars or tsarinas ( This may seem a small thing, but it is rooted in the fact that Kirill appeared to recognize and support the Provisional Government in March 1917, to the outrage of monarchists of all stripes, that Vladimir played a less than sterling role during World War II, and Mariya is neither male nor the product of an entirely legitimate succession. But given the extinction of the Nikolaevites, the competing branch of the Romanov family in the 1920s, and the problems with other more distant relatives, many Russian monachists and some officials playing at monarchy have pushed the Kirillovites forward and justified it by the recognition they supposedly have from the Russian Church Abroad. The works of Kostyukov, not just this article but others and entire books, are making the achievement of their goals more difficult; and thus deserve attention because they are likely to make that task completely impossible.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Colorization Means Last Romanovs Too Now Will ‘Never Grow Old’

Paul Goble Staunton, January 21 – Peter Jackson’s remarkable documentary, “They Shall Never Grow Old,” in which he colorized and remastered black-and-white film clips from World War I, is changing the way many in the West view World War I, not as a distant conflict but one far closer to our own time. When one watches that film, the people in it look like us; and we lose the distance that black-and-white photography puts between those photographed and those looking at their photographs or films. How large a transformation this film will make on the views of that conflict of whom there are now no surviving combatants is unclear, but change them it will. Now, something remarkably similar is taking place in Russia with the family of the last tsar. Artist Olga Shirnina has transformed almost 200 black-and-white photos of the Imperial Family into colorize versions and put them on line where they look out at us very differently than their earlier versions ( In reporting this development, the portal suggests that as a result of Shirnina’s work, “the old photographs have acquired a second life, and now we can look at the blue-eyed daughters of the tsar in their lace dresses, at Nicholas II in his blue and red uniform, at the unhappy Tsarevich Aleksey, and at others as well” ( Once one sees the tsar and his family as they actually looked and not reduced to black-and-white artefacts, it is far easier to view them as human beings and far less easy to accept their reduction to weapons in the hands of those who want to make them into demons – or into mythical heroes either.

Romanovs | Flickr

Explore this photo album by Olga on Flickr!