Russian church meddles in Ukrainian election


Interfax-Religiia, 15 April 2019


The Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) believes that in the event of a victory by Vladimir Zelensky in the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine, there may be a restoration of inter-confessional harmony.


"If a person wins the elections who does not have a relationship with the church and who even in one of his statement ridiculed that tomos, comparing it with a thermos, one may hope that the persecution against the church will be ended and that inter-confessional harmony will be restored in Ukraine, even though very substantial damage has been done to it," the head of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Ilarion, declared in answer to questions from the host of the program Church and World on television channel Rossiia-24.


In the metropolitan's opinion, Zelensky's chances for victory in the second round of presidential elections, which will occur in Ukraine on 21 April, are very high and which are facilitated in particular by Zelensky's role in the popular serial Servant of the People.


"It is a very clever satire on contemporary Ukrainian society. It created the image of a people's president, a president who fights corruption and fights with bureaucrats, and I think that this image is very appealing to the majority of Ukrainian citizens. So this is why Zelensky has a high rating and a very high chance that after have depicted the president originally in the serial he then will become president in reality," the representative of the RPTs thinks.


At the same time, if P. Poroshenko remains in power, "one may expect a continuation of persecution of millions of Orthodox believers of Ukraine," the metropolitan continued, noting that "it is as a persecutor of the church that this man has left his mark on history."


Responding to the question of for whom winning the debates will be easier, a professional actor or a professional politician, Metropolitan Ilarion noted that he does not consider P. Poroshenko to be a professional politician.


"If he were a professional politician, he would not have made the mistakes that he has made. I think that his unprofessionalism was very clearly manifested in the incident of the tomos. Even if this incident gained him a certain percentage of votes, it still, I think, will not save him from defeat. That is, what this incident was conceived to be is now falling apart before this man's eyes," the hierarch said.


On 15 December of last year, with the active support of P. Poroshenko and the patriarch of Constantinople, a new Ukrainian church was created on the foundation of uncanonical religious organizations. Despite the fact that it was not recognized by world Orthodoxy, the authorities helped it in every way to be established within the country itself, viewing the tomos concerning autocephaly as one of the pillars of Ukrainian statehood. From the first days of its existence, activists of the new church structure began seizing church buildings of the canonical church everywhere, which provoked active protests of parishioners and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 April 2019)

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