Rostislav Ishchenko: Poroshenko’s Options for Combatting the Moscow Patriarchate

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The president of the Center for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostislav Ishchenko described how the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is going to fight against the priests of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) who will not support the creation of a new church structure in the country.

“The question is now whether or not Poroshenko will dare to use forceful methods. Because if he opts for this, then he will, of course, start with small things — with the capture of temples, something else, but in the end, since the problem rests on the collective will of the church and on the position of Metropolitan (Kiev and all-Ukraine) Onufry then, in general, the process can also reach political murders quickly enough,” considers the expert.

According to the political scientist, the Ukrainian president understands that he is faced with a hard choice, because “it is easy to push a stone from a mountain, but after this it cannot be stopped” and he will have to bear responsibility.

“On the one hand, he has no place to retreat: he needs to create something that he will be able to call the autocephalous church. It is clear that any autocephalous stubs will not play any role and will look rather ridiculous in the presence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the Ukrainian territory. He needs to force the Ukrainian Orthodox Church out of there — he isn’t in a position to do this using political and administrative methods. I repeat, the question remains whether or not he will decide to use forceful methods,” assures Ishchenko.

At the same time he notes: although the patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and the Americans hoped that the issues in Ukraine will be peacefully resolved, clashes on religious grounds are already happening in the country.

“After all, on the sly Nazi militants who are adherents of Filaret captures temples anyway, and nobody ever issued a condemnation of these captures. I.e., by and large they (Constantinople and Washington), on the one hand, wash their hands, but they give Poroshenko a free hand: ‘You, Petro, try it and we will judge the results and see whether to condemn you or to close our eyes to any of your tricks. And if there is a result, then it means that we will close our eyes. And if there isn’t a result, then you will suffer a defeat and we will condemn you’. It’s similar to how the West behaved with Hitler at the time,” explained the political scientist.

As a reminder, earlier the Sobor of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made the decision to sever eucharistic communication with the Constantinople Patriarchate. The church also emphasised that it perceives Fener’s actions as nothing less than “illegal interference” and also as an attempt to resolve the church issue with the help of the government and schismatics.

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In addition, because of the Synod, Poroshenko’s planned meeting with bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate – ed] was disrupted as the president did not attend. However, later he had a talk with three hierarches of the church.

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