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Ukrainian religious figures have little support for government


The presence on Evromaidan of a substantial number of priests, including Orthodox, is not surprising

by Nikolai Mitrokhin, 28 January 2014


One month before the start of Evromaidan, the most authoritative Ukrainian religious studies expert, Viktor Elenskii, told me this story. At the present time he occupies the post of director of the Department for Relations with Religious and Social Organizations of the Fatherland party. And once he had occasion to travel to a congress of a large Baptist association in Donetsk. In this stronghold of Viktor Yanukovich, he came out on stage before several thousand participants in the meeting and asked them whether they supported the opinion of the leader of "Donetskites" about the equality of rights in the country of the two languages—Russian and Ukrainian. After receiving an affirmative answer from the audience, he began his speech in Ukrainian, to approving applause.


The political orientation of practically all Ukrainian religious organizations is unambiguous. They are proponents of a strong and independent Ukrainian state with a European orientation. In this attitude they reflet the point of view of the principal mass of believers. It is no secret that the overwhelming majority of people who realistically observe religious standards live in the center, the north, and of course the west of the country. That is, in the places where power in recent days has been transferred into the hands of supporters of Evromaidan.


However, even in the east and south of the country, a large portion of believers--for example, numerous protestants there (in Donetsk province protestants surpass Orthodox in number of registered parishes)--are "pro-Ukrainian" and pro-European minded. The UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate, which is second in size of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches, also is an unconditional proponent of Ukrainian independence. Its leader, Filaret, is closely connected with the Dnepropetrovsk political elite (Iulia Timoshenko and others); it is not in vain that he refused a medal recently from Yanukovich, who, knowing full well the real attitude toward him of the overwhelming majority of religious organizations and their leaders, tried to placate the most influential of them.  In their turn, they have not so far shown open opposition, but that you cannot buy love with gifts has become obvious in the first serious crisis.


Therefore the presence on Evromaidan of a substantial number of priests, including Orthodox, is not surprising. As in 2004, with the full support and sympathy of their leadership, lower clergy and parish activists and the church intelligentsia will help by deed and word to move the country in the direction of Europe.


It is a different situation in the largest religious organization of the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate (UPTsMP). It has a bit more than a third of the 37,000 religious groups of the country. At first glance it seems that it now should survive the crisis. Its principal sponsors and the socially active portion of laity are located in the east and south of the country. And these are people for whom the existence of an independent Ukraine is still in doubt. Not that all of them want to go directly into Russia, but they would build a version of a kleptocratic dictatorship independent from Russia, on the model of Transnistria, on the left bank of  the Dnepr. These people do not exactly want to live by European rules and they wish to see Russian as the state language.


On the other hand, the greater portion of parishes (and consequently of parishioners) of UPTsMP are located on the right bank and the northern part of Ukraine, and have on the whole a European orientation and are in primarily rural and Ukrainian-speaking regions. In the capital city of Kiev, church administrative personnel and the church intelligentsia on the whole share the ideas of Evromaidan. And even inveterate Russian patriots experience irritation at Yanukovich's regime, like, for example, the head of the UPTs press service, Vasily Anisimov. But at the same time some of the high church officials are maintained by the ruling clique, and thus they are forced to deliver speeches that provoke the displeasure, to put it mildly, of the basic mass of fellow believers.


The situation is exacerbated by the circumstance that Yanukovich himself is a man of faith and, in contrast to Putin, harbors a genuine interest in the affairs of the church. Believers of the "Donetskite" grouping, including Yanukovich himself, in the 1990s and especially in the 2000s, contributed much to the revival of Orthodoxy of the Moscow type, both in Donetsk region and in Ukraine as a whole. At the same time, Yanukovich seems to have an accurate understanding of the manners of the leadership of UPTsMP and its political sentiments. In addition to state officials and the security service, a possible "betrayal" of the church looms from the especially appointed "lookout" of the Donetskites, the Orthodox oligarch Vadim Novinskii.


And how does the leadership of UPTsMP react to this complicated situation? In my view, in the only correct way. It is said that in a critical situation, a wounded rider does better to drop the reins and the horse itself will make the necessary decisions and carry him away. The head of UPTs, Metropolitan Vladimir, is now losing the battle with cancer. His closest associates are divided into those who sit at his bedside and those who have to leave him in order to pay ritual respects to Yanukovich and his team. And besides, the "gifts of the Magi" have finally reached Kiev, that they also must attend.


Meanwhile the Ukrainian church intelligentsia and the Kiev clergy practically unanimously display their rejection of Yanukovich. And nobody "up top" hastens to stop these declarations. Critics of church liberals within UPTs now simply do not exist. Even metropolitans who are real supporters of Yanukovich—the heads of the Donetsk and Odessa dioceses—have recently preferred to sit quietly and not stick out another time. Only the Dnepropetrovsk bishop paid a visit to the provincial administration, but there he avoided a public expression of loyalty.


And this natural tactic of survival of the church higher-ups, that was worked out back in the days of the Orange revolution, is a pledge that in the future everything will be fine for UPTsMP. And with a new government, someone will be found to befriend (in fact there will be Orthodox intellectuals there) and normal relations will be maintained with "regional" sponsors (bishops have not opposed it; it's fine), and the Moscow patriarchate will not take offence (nobody at all has said anything about it). Pluralism is power! Therefore UPTsMP still remains up to now the largest Ukrainian religious organization, able to draw into its orbit the population of the west and east, north and south of the country that has diversity of thought (and diversity of spoken language). (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2014)


Russian original posted on site, 28 January 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Kiev patriarch states case for protestors



The primate of UPTsKP, Patriarch Filaret, thinks that Russia should stop interfering in the affairs of Ukraine; otherwise the internal conflict in the country will not cease. He said this on 25 January in an interview with Radio Liberty. Responding to a question of why participants in the conflict are not heeding the advice of the church, the patriarch noted that the nation has still not achieved its goal. "The goal is not to take power by force but to join the European Union as an associate member. This is Ukraine's goal. We prepared the nation for this entrance throughout 2013. When the moment came for the signing, it was refused. And the nation, students at first were outraged, but then, when they were beaten, the nation also was outraged."


The patriarch demanded an end to Russia's interference in Ukraine's affairs. In his opinion, as long as Ukraine "does not join as an associate member, the people will not be satisfied. They will not even be satisfied by the resignation of the government. Because the goal of the nation is not struggle with the government."


The convergence of Ukraine with EU was obstructed by Russia, "which wanted to draw it into the Customs Union," the patriarch continued. "The Ukrainian nation does not want the Customs Union. Why does it not want it? With all Europe's shortcomings, and same-sex marriage, and many other shortcomings, still where do our oligarchs deposit their money? In which banks? In Russian or Ukrainian? They deposit it in European or American banks, or in other world banks. Why? Because there it is reliable, but in Ukraine it is not reliable, and in Russia it is not reliable. People want to be with those where it is reliable and where there is democracy and where there is freedom. Where are our rich people treated—in Ukraine? In Europe. Where do their children study? In Europe. That means they recognize that it is better in Europe than in Ukraine. Therefore the Ukrainian people also know this, and thus they want to join the union of the more civilized states. Therefore so long as that question is not resolved, the people will not calm down. I also want to say that there is something positive—the people have overcome the fear of death. People now do not fear death." (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2014)

Civil authorities drawn into Orthodox sex abuse scandal



The Investigative Directorate of the Investigating Committee of Russia [SKR] for Tver province is examining information circulated by Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev about incidents of sexual harassment among clergy of the local diocese of RPTsMP. As Rosbalt reports, citing a senior assistant of the director of the Investigative Directorate, Valery Pavlov, SKR personnel are verifying this information in accordance with the law.


On 21 January, in an interview with the LifeNews TV channel, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev described new incidents of homosexual harassment among clergy in Tver diocese of RPTsMP. He said that Metropolitan Viktor's harassment of young people is "documented."


Kuraev also recalled that sexual harassment of subordinates is a punishable offense according to the Criminal Code of RF. Such actions may be categorized as coercion for sexual relations by abuse of official position. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2014


 Russia Religion News Current News Items

Patriarch speaks about homosexuality for first time since Kuraev's reports


Does not  explicitly mention revelations of Fr. Kuraev, 28 January 2014


RPTsMP Patriarch Kirill called for halting "on the governmental level" attempts to recognize same-sex unions as legal, and he declared that marriage is only a union of a man and a woman.


"Speaking about the preservation of the institution of the family I would like to propose  at the governmental level stopping attempts to change Russian legislation that recognizes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. In response to the widespread international discussion on this matter we decisively declare: marriage is a union of a man and a woman, based on love and mutual understanding for the procreation of children," Kirill said on 28 January during parliamentary meetings in the Federation Council which are proceeding within the framework of the 22nd annual Christmas Readings.


He said that the church is ready to support all state and social institutions in their attempt to strengthen traditional moral values, according to RIA Novosti. The primate of RPTsMP emphasized that such a position is conditioned by the very nature of Christianity and it is not an attempt of the church to influence the political situation.


He also noted that the state "in complying with natural moral standards is not being religious" but is becoming "a prudent trustee" of the common good.


This was the patriarch's first statement devoted to the topic of homosexuality after one of the most prominent representatives of RPTsMP, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, began a campaign in December for exposing a "gay lobby" in the administration of the Moscow patriarchate. The paradox of Kuraev consists, among other things, in the exposure of the hypocrisy of church leaders who in their words criticize "Eurosodom" while in practice they permit in their life such manifestations of homosexuality that in any European country would be classified as criminal offenses. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Voice of Moscow patriarchate threatens Ukraine with Russian force


Interfax-Religiia, 28 January 2014


The countries of the Russian World should have influence in the most active form on what is happening today in Ukraine, declared the head of the synod's Department for Relations of Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. "A small group of people, guided by views that are false from both a theological and a social point of view, are doing what a large nation should not permit itself to do, to use force against the historic choice and will of the whole nation," Fr. Vsevolod declared Tuesday at the Christmas Parliament Meetings in the Federation Council.


In his opinion, the nations that are linked together by the historic choice made by the holy Prince Vladimir in the "Kiev baptismal font" should help those "who are experiencing a crisis of freedom in the fact of the invasion by a new 'horde.'"


"It is unambiguously clear that Ukraine's future today will not be determined without the participation of outside forces. It is obvious that it will not turn out to be limited to internal, national processes. That means, there will be intervention by one or another.  That means, there will possibly be intervention by those forces that would not want for Ukraine to remain a part of the Eastern Christian civilization," the priest declared.


He is sure that it is possible to overcome what is happening "only through the participation in the fate of the people of Ukraine by the whole civilization joined together by a common history."


"And it is necessary to participate without paying attention to any new 'horde' and I am not thinking about what they will say to us or about us, even in the prelude to the events that are most significant for us that will occur in Sochi," the representative of the church summed up. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Baptists petition for Putin's protection



To: Russian President Putin, V.V.

Copies: Prosecutor General Chaika, Yu.Ya.

President of State Duma Haryshkin, S.E.

District prosecutor of Zheleznogorsk Agapov, A.M.



of believers of the Moscow Church of Evangelical-Christians Baptists


"Do not bear false witness against your neighbor." Bible, Exodus 20.16

"The Lord loves truth." Bble, Psalm 36.28


Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich


It is known that in the city of Zheleznogorsk and several other settlements of Kursk province, more than 140 persons (according to information of RIA Novosti, 24 January 2014) have become ill with measles. The majority of patients belong to the congregation of EKhB believers who are members of the Union of Churches.


At the same time, a majority of news media are claiming that "adherents of the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (EKhB) do not undergo vaccination on the basis of religions convictions;" "Baptists refuse, on the basis of religious convictions, not only vaccinations but also full treatment;" "members of the confession refuse vaccination, which creates a threat of the spread of infection."


These statements to not correspond to reality.


Neither the doctrine nor the charter of the EKhB church forbids believers to seek medical help and to have vaccinations. Believers, like other citizens also, enjoy their civil right to vaccination or to refusal of vaccination. Those believers who refuse vaccination do so not on the basis of religious convictions but because of the danger of postvaccination complications. For this same reason citizens who do not belong to the EKhB church also refuse vaccinations.


Unfortunately, vaccinations themselves can pose a serious danger for health, especially for children. News media have described many cases of severe postvaccination complications and even fatal outcomes after vaccinations.


This problems is so serious that it is reflected in the legislation of RF. Postvaccination complications are referred to by federal law "On prophylactic immunization against infectious diseases," No. 157-FZ of 17 September 1998 (with amendments taking effect on 25 Nov. 2013):

--article 19. point 1. "When postvaccination complication arises, a citizen has the right to receive state a lump sum payment.  . . ."

--article 19. point 2. "In the event of a citizen's death caused by postvaccination complication. . . ."

--article 20, point 1. "A citizen who is found to be disabled as a consequence of postvaccination complication has the right. . . "


This same law (article 5, point 1) declares: "Citizens in the implementation of prophylactic immunization have the right . . . to refuse prophylactic inoculation."


In addition, inoculations do not guarantee protection from the diseases against which they are made. Infection by measles is occurring in other regions of the country, too. While people who have undergone vaccination also are becoming ill.


The claim that believers refuse treatment also is false. Many infected believers have undergone and are undergoing treatment in medical institutions of Zheleznogorsk. Believers of the MSTsEKhB [International Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists] of Zheleznogorsk report: "On our part we are making efforts to mitigate the situation that has developed, we are following the instructions of physicians. . . .We hope for the welfare and peace of residents of our city and we do not want to pose any danger to anyone."


Thus the information spread in news media that Baptists supposedly "do not take vaccinations on the basis of religious convictions" and "they refuse treatment" is slander.


The measles infection is being used as a pretext for inciting in people hatred and strife toward believers on the basis of their affiliation with the congregation of the Union of EKhB Churches.


There already have occurred manifestations of hatred and strife:


--According to reports from Zheleznogorsk, recently illegal actions on the part of personnel of medical institutions and the administration have occurred with respect to citizens of the Evangelical Baptist confession. This has been reflected in contemptuous remarks, ridicule, refusal of medical observation; there have been insults to individuals and profanity. A hostile mood exists in local news media on the basis of religious identity.


--State Duma deputy V.V. Zhirinovsky called for "forced [vaccination] or removal of children." This represents a call to blatant disregard of Russian laws and the violent destruction of family. Hatred against Baptists is being sown in society on the basis of religious identity.


We petition you to stop the spreading of lies and slander in news media and the inciting of hatred with respect to Evangelical Christians-Baptists and to officially condemn these actions.


26 January 2014

Signed by 95 persons

(tr. by PDS, posted 27 January 2014)


Russian original posted on site, 27 January 2014

Russia Religion News Current News Items

New Minsk metropolitan first senior hierarch to speak in public about "gay lobby"


Andrei Kuraev receives new threat, 27 January 2014


Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Pavel, patriarchal exarch of all Belarus of RPTsMP, spoke out about the problem of the "light-blue lobby" in the Moscow patriarchate in an interview on Radio Liberty, a correspondent reports.


Metropolitan Pavel noted that no complaints against Bishop of Gomel Stefan had been received, and that discussion of him on the Internet is reminiscent of "judicial reprisals against priests after the revolution." The exarch promised that in the event complaints arrive they will be considered in accordance with accepted procedures that require the conduct of an investigation.


Metropolitan Pavel suggested a way of responding to sodomite bishops: In our Orthodox ascetic there exists a very interesting method. Young monks who came to a hermitage in order to practice along with elders once asked: 'Father, how should we deal with a person who has sinned?' And the elders said: 'Cover the sinner with a mantle.' Very interesting, right? Cover his sin so that this sin will not tempt anybody else, but you yourself pray for him so that he will reform. This is the ascetic approach to a sinner."


Users of social networks have discerned a substitution of concepts in Metropolitan Pavel's statement. "He is juggling by substituting an ascetic rule for the rule of admission into the clergy," Bishop of Petrograd and Gdovsk Grigory of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (RPATs) commented on this approach in one blog.


Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, in the same blog, responded to Metropolitan Pavel's report about the absence of complaints: "Several days ago I sent to the metropolia the evidence, the names and telephone numbers of two young people who were Bishop Stefan's victims. Does the metropolia not wish to make contact with them? Should I now betray their trust and have concern for their lives?"


"Kuraev, get out of here with your lie, or your head will soon be bashed (for the lie), and no sect of rights advocates will help," a blogger commented on this report. (tr. by PDS, posted 27 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items

Pro-Moscow news agency spreads biased views in name of church


He says protesters in Kiev acting cynically, hiding behind women and elderly

Interfax-Religiia, 27 January 2014


The "western footprint" is clearly discernable in the situation in Ukraine, declared the head of the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate, Vasily Anisimov. "In everything that is happening I see primarily 'terrible revenge' of the European Union and USA against the Ukrainian government for not signing the agreement of association with EU. The West is exercising financial, political, organizational, and information 'protection' for the antigovernment Maidan," V. Anisimov declared on Monday in an interview with Interfax-Religiia.


He said that in two months Kiev has been visited by many political and government leaders of the West, "but nobody has condemned either the seizure of government buildings or 'Molotov cocktails,' or beating of law enforcement officers, or the creation of parallel bodies of government in the regions 'by peaceful protests.'"


The representative of UPTsMP pointed out that today, thanks to Russia, there has appeared in Ukraine "an enormous amount of money and real prospects for the revival and development of the economy, and the elevation of social standards," and it is these successes "that are the chief reason for the West's organization of the antigovernment putsch."


Commenting on an incident involving Vitaly Klichko, whom protesters in Kiev sprayed with a fire extinguisher a few days ago, the news agency's interlocutor declared that "this is all cheap theatrics by the organizers." "They sit on the square, train stormtroopers, equip them with clubs and these cocktails, incite them, saturate them with anger, and when the angry mob goes to beat up the police, they jump in front of the TV cameras for two minutes trying to prevent a clash. Remember the 'unedited' films where Klichko persuades the police to scuffle a little with protesters and he 'makes peace,'" he said.


As V. Anisimov noted, the technique of the protesters is like this: several hundred persons drive to a provincial center, where the local opposition "collects a mob for them of two or three thousand persons and buys them shovel handles and helmets."


"Militants in masks storm the provincial administration building, making sure to drag with them women, old men, girls, and youths. Look at the films of the captors—everywhere next to camouflaged thugs are defenseless people. Some thunder, others scream. In such situations it is impossible either to use either force or special devices. After seizing the building, the militants disperse and the opposition begins 'administering' the region. Very sneaky technique," he stated.


V. Anisimov suggests that the church should urge the opposition to remove from the areas of conflicts and clashes at least the children and women. In his opinion, the peace is now very fragile, and "it is necessary to decrease the anger a few degrees and insistently remind all sides of the conflict that political problems are resolved only by political means." (tr. by PDS, posted 27 January 2014)

Russia Religion News Current News Items


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