Now many are talking about the upcoming election in the United States, which is due to take place this November, and the connection of events in Ukraine. At the same time, the religious environment is usually left out of sight, and this does not give an opportunity to look at the situation in whole.
Do you think that the religious environment cannot significantly influence politics in the United States? Then I’ll surprise you.
Let’s figure out first: Where did the crisis in the US political system start? The main reason was the publication of Yanukovych’s so-called “expenditure book”. This happened allegedly by accident at the end of May 2016, and on November 8th the presidential election in the United States had already taken place. The People’s Deputy Sergey Leshchenko published this infomation.
That’s precisely when the US political system started to fever, and it’s fevering even now.
According to “Radio Svoboda“, Leshchenko received materials from some anonymous sources. And these sources are still unknown precisely because the religious factor was not taken into account. But it’s in vain.
As early as 2006 Sergey Leshchenko received the Aleksandr Krivenko Prize. As is stated on the website of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lvov (UCU), the head of the UCU school of journalism is simultaneously the head of the award’s organisation committee. I.e., it is UCU employees who select candidates that are “worthy” of the award. It turns out that in 2006 in UCU paid attention to Leshchenko. And already in 2011 Sergey Leshchenko became a frequent guest of the UCU. If you open the website of the Ukrainian Catholic University, you can find 66 posts in which Leshchenko is mentioned at different times. In February 2015, due to this close cooperation, Leshchenko officially became a UCU teacher.
I.e., a year before the publication of the “expenditure book”, he was already in the UCU. But what does a religious-educational institution have to do with Yanukovych’s papers and the political situation in the United States? A lot.
Let’s start with Yanukovych. It was the Ukrainian Catholic University and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) that were the main organisers of the [Maidan – ed] protests. Of course, other organisations participated with the help and support of Western foundations, but the main role was played by UCU and UGCC, and often “Maidans of support” started directly from the doors of their temples. In order not to be unfounded, I will give a few quotes from representatives of this educational institution.
Thus, the head of the UCU Bishop Boris Gudzyak, in an interview with “Radio Svoboda”, said that half of all protesters in Kiev are members of the UGCC. UCU students started a Maidan in Lvov and in a number of countries. For example, a graduate of UCU writes: “Turned on the news. In one video – Yury Didula and his USA-rally, in the other – appeals of Lyudmila Kryzhanovskaya and Italian support. How nice to see UCU graduates and friends taking the initiative in different parts of the world.”
And on the website of UCU you can find the following message: “In addition to Lvov and Kiev, our students supported Euromaidans around the world.”
Often it was the clerics and hierarchs of the UGCC who started “Maidans of support” abroad. Here, for example, is how the first “Maidan of support” started in Brussels.
Sometimes actions in support of protesters took place right near temples.
And sometimes priests in liturgical clothes went with protesters from the church to where support actions were held.
It is known that the UGCC temples in different countries collected funds to support protesters.
It is also known that the hierarchy and clerics of the UGCC transported money from Europe to Kiev for transfer to protesters.
In view of this activity, the Security Service of Ukraine in early 2014, through loyal persons in the Ministry of Culture, even threatened to ban the UGCC on the territory of Ukraine under the formal pretext of having prayer tents on Maidan. And a few days later, the radicalisation of Maidan started – radicals with molotov cocktails suddenly attacked unsuspecting police officers in the centre of Kiev. But it’s not all that simple here either. The fact is that the core of the newly created organisation “Right Sector” was the organisation “Trizub” named after Stepan Bandera. Therefore, the head of “Trizub” Dmitry Yarosh automatically became the head of “Right Sector”. In turn, the organisation “Trizub” was established in 1992 and from the very beginning closely cooperated with the UGCC, providing protection during mass events, and Yarosh himself does not hide that he a deeply believing Uniate.
As is known, then it was precisely representatives of “Right Sector” who looted the offices and houses of officials, confiscating various documents allegedly “for the benefit of the people”.
This is how representatives of “Right Sector”, for example, recall the situation with the house of the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka: “We really protected this dacha of Pshonka, because we understood that there are all kinds of important cases, important documents that can testify to the crimes of that regime… We left from there. Of course, we took the documents away… And moved to the hotel ‘Dnepr’. And when we were evicted from the hotel ‘Dnepr’, then, accordingly, the Kiev police seized all these documents from us.” It is clear that the representatives of “Right Sector” gave only what was of no particular value to the rightless policemen, who were afraid to say an extra word to the radicals.
And two years later, Sergey Leshchenko, who is closely associated with the UCU, publishes materials that have generated accusations against Trump supporters and caused a protracted political crisis in the United States. It would seem: how can the UCU and UGCC be associated with the US Democratic Party? And yet, they have maintained close ties for a long time.
If we open the official website of the UGCC, we will find a very interesting publication. A year before the beginning of Maidan, the head of the UCU Boris Gudzyak was ordained a bishop. Representatives from different countries attended the event. Among others, US Ambassador John Tefft was there, who gave Gudzyak a letter of congratulations from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This alone suggests a close relationship between the head of the UCU and Mrs. Clinton, and the post on the UGCC website, among other things, emphasises that Clinton and Gudzyak are long-time friends: “It has been a great pleasure for me to know you for many years. I hope that we will still have an opportunity to meet in the near future. In the meantime, please accept my best congratulations,” said Secretary Clinton in a letter addressed to the head of the UCU.
And this relationship did not manifest itself only at the level of interaction with Gudzyak and did not start in 2012. Thus, on the UCU website in 2010, when Yanukovych first came to power, it was reported that a representative of the SBU visited the University and held a conversation with Gudzyak about the use of students in protest movements. Gudzyak then stated that Ukraine’s security services were putting pressure on his educational institution. And then we find another entry on the UCU website: in it Gudzyak reports that Hillary Clinton and Melanne Verveer, during a visit to Ukraine, discussed issues related to UCU and acted as defenders of this institution.
In the autumn of 2012, Melanne Verveer attended UCU and delivered a lecture in which she said she had high hopes for UCU students.
It is noteworthy that these ties between UCU and representatives of the US Democratic Party existed already with the explicit inclusion of Sergey Leshchenko in the work.
So, it was Leshchenko who found and posted the video showing Melanne Verveer supporting Maidan.
But there are even more interesting details. Victoria Nuland, a representative of the US State Department associated with the Democratic Party, visited Ukraine in December 2013. On December 13th, the media reported that Victoria Nuland had held a meeting with Rinat Akhmetov. Ms Nuland said that if Maidan was dispersed it would entail personal sanctions against a number of oligarchs in Ukraine, including Akhmetov.
But refusing to disperse Maidan is only half the case. The aim was to encourage oligarchs from the Party of Regions to cooperate with the organisers of the protests. Similarly, Gudzyak previously worked with the well-known oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who was a major sponsor of the UCU, and after Maidan Gudzyak and the UGCC disowned him. In any case, on December 17th, the head of the UCU Boris Gudzyak appealed to major businessmen to stand in solidarity with Maidan.
A day later, Sergey Leshchenko mentioned that after Victoria Nuland’s warning, some activists picketed Rinat Akhmetov’s apartment in London, leading to extremely unpleasant consequences, and Akhmetov even had to hire people who later apologised to his neighbours.
Who were these activists who reacted so quickly to the situation and immediately after Nuland’s visit arranged a picket of Akhmetov’s apartment in London? On December 18th, a video about this picket appeared.
In the video, the head of the London branch of UCU Andy Hunder, who from the first days of the protests was the organiser of “Maidans of support” in London, spoke to the audience. I.e., such a chain of events is being built: Victoria Nuland holds a meeting with Akhmetov and threatens sanctions, after which the head of the UCU calls on large businessmen to stand in solidarity with the protesters, at the same time the head of the London branch of the UCU brings protesters to Akhmetov’s apartment in London, and Leshchenko describes the whole situation, stressing the importance of such pickets.
In the same days, other equally interesting events took place, indicating the connection of UGCC representatives with protesters and high-ranking representatives of the US Democratic Party. For example, it is known that on December 15th 2013 in Kiev, along with Senator John McCain, another senator spoke on Maidan – member of the US Democratic Party Chris Murphy.
And then there were events that leave more questions than answers. The UGCC hieromonk Stepan Sus is sent from Lvov to New York. In New York, he meets with the local Uniate bishop Paul Chomnycky. There they take with themselves the rector of local theological seminary Bogdan Danilo (Danilo and Sus after Maidan were elevated to the rank of bishops of the UGCC after Maidan for their merits), and all three go a Vatican structure that is engaged in financing eastern churches, which, certainly, the UGCC belongs to, and hold a meeting with its director.
For what purposes did the UGCC require funding from the Vatican during the protests?
Further, there is more. After this meeting, Sus and Chomnycky go across the country to meet Senator Murphy, take a joint photo with him, and then Sus returns to Ukraine.
What was the purpose of Sus’ trip first to New York, and then across the country to meet Murphy? For such a trip Sus needed permission from the leadership – Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk, who at the time was a bishop in Lvov, and now serves in the US. I.e., it was a working trip, during which a visit to the foundation that financed eastern churches and a meeting with the Senator were planned. Of course, without sufficient facts, I cannot say this unequivocally, but it looks like the sending of a messenger who had to pay the Senator for his speech in Kiev on Maidan.
As part of the most close cooperation between UCU and UGCC with radicals on Maidan, on the one hand, and representatives of the US Democratic Party, on the other hand, Sergey Leshchenko, who became an employee of UCU as early as 2015, before the US presidential election publishes materials that were supposed to hit Donald Trump’s electoral campaign.
At the same time, Trump’s competitor in the US election was the long-time friend of UCU head, Hillary Clinton. It is most likely that after the end of Maidan, “Right Sector” radicals, taking over different buildings and offices, found this “expenditure book” of Yanukovych and handed it over to the UGCC, which they cooperated with for decades. The UGCC edited the materials, removed anything that could compromise the representatives of the US Democratic Party, and decided to help Hillary Clinton before the election in the hope that if she became president, she would thank her loyal friends. And to make it public, Sergey Leshchenko was used, who said he had received documents from anonymous sources. In addition, the behaviour of UCU is largely due to the fact that more than half of all funding received by the university comes from the United States and Canada. I.e., the structure itself is entirely dependent on funding from different organisations in the United States, which often have a very bright political orientation. For example, the George Soros Foundation has long supported and financed UCU programmes.
And the fact that the United States values such services can be seen even in the example of the former head of the London branch of UCU Andy Hunder, who after some time was appointed head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. It was he who negotiated with Vladimir Zelensky immediately after the second round of the presidential election in Ukraine, even before Zelensky took office as president.
Another question arises: is hostility against Trump an initiative of the UGCC? I think that the roots of this enmity need to be sought deeper – because we all remember perfectly well how Pope Francis criticised the US’ migration policy during the 2016 election, thus trying to ruin Trump’s electoral campaign. I fully assume that within the framework of cooperation between Vatican officials and representatives of the United States of America, a project was implemented that led to a long political crisis in the United States.
In addition to the UGCC, Trump has enough enemies among Poroshenko’s supporters. We remember Poroshenko travelling to the United States in the autumn of 2016 and meeting with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton there, while there was no such meeting with Trump. We remember that the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who still remains in office, publicly called Trump a “dangerous marginal”.
Of course, the schismatics from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate (UOC KP), who after the unification with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the receipt of Tomos of Autocephaly were called the HCU (Holy Church of Ukraine – that is how it is prescribed in Tomos), were also extremely negative about Trump’s election victory and expressed hope that he would not remain in the presidential seat for the rest of his term.
Cooperation between the leadership of the UOC KP, which became the core of the new church in Ukraine (HCU), and representatives of the US Democratic Party was also evident after the 2016 election. It was Joe Biden who was visited in the autumn of 2018 by the head of the UOC KP Filaret Denisenko.
And a few days after the talks with him, the US State Department website published a headline that the US supported Ukraine’s aspirations for autocephaly.
Of course, compared to the influence of the UGCC and UCU, the new religious structure organised by Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew plays the role of political opportunists, but I am more than sure that both the UGCC and the UOC KP have already used all their resources in power to ensure maximum support for Trump’s electoral opponents.
Although in the case of representatives of the HCU, it is necessary to take into account the influence that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has on them. Most recently, the American Archdiocese published a document prepared by Patriarch Bartholomew and the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. We are talking about the social concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and recently this document, which was called “For the life of the world: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church”, was published on the official website of the American Archdiocese.
After much explanation that there is a position in the world that corresponds to the will of God and one that contradicts it, the authors of the document turn to very pressing issues that directly affect US public policy. At the end of section 7, “Orthodoxy and Human Rights,” we read:
In our own time, we have seen some European governments and a great many ideologues affecting to defend ‘Christian Europe’ by seeking completely to seal borders, by promoting nationalist and even racialist ideas, and by rejecting in countless other ways the words of Christ himself. We have seen nativist panic encouraged in Europe, in Australia, in the Americas.
And after these general phrases that someone violates the will of God and contradicts the words of Scripture, the text refers in detail to the situation in the United States:
“In the United States, the most powerful and wealthiest nation in history—one, in fact, born out of mighty floods of immigrants from around the world—we have seen political leaders not only encouraging fear and hatred of asylum-seekers and impoverished immigrants, but even employing terror against them: abducting children from their parents, shattering families, tormenting parents and children alike, interning all of them indefinitely, denying due process to asylum-seekers, slandering and lying about those seeking refuge, deploying the military at southern borders to terrify and threaten unarmed migrants, employing racist and nativist rhetoric against asylum-seekers for the sake of political advantage, and so forth. All such actions are assaults upon the image of God in those who seek our mercy. They are offenses against the Holy Spirit. In the name of Christ, the Orthodox Church denounces these practices, and implores those who are guilty of them to repent and to seek instead to become servants of justice and charity.“
Thus, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which cooperates closely with the Vatican and has influence over the representatives of the HCU in Ukraine, gave its believers a clear signal that voting in the US election for Donald Trump is absolutely unacceptable. Naturally, now this policy will descend to the level of the HCU, and through them there will be a certain influence on Ukrainian officials.
It is noteworthy how all these figures reveal their essence: for the sake of political interests they are ready to go even against Christian teaching. While Donald Trump personally participated in anti-abortion pro-life actions,
While many Christian disputes with LGBT representatives under Trump are resolved in favour of the former, while even now during the coronavirus epidemic the rights of religious communities are actively protected, they despise him and wish him defeat, supporting his rivals from the Democratic Party – the likes of Hillary Clinton, who believes religion should be sacrificed for liberal values, and Joe Biden, in whose house, in the same 2016, during the electoral campaign, LGBT representatives from the White House got married.
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