Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The other day the initiative group of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) appealed to the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to put an end to the regular attacks of representatives of nationalist structures on the temples and shrines belonging to the only canonical spiritual structure of the Eastern rite in the country at the moment.
In the petition, signed by no fewer than 5,000 people, the head of Ukraine is asked to influence extreme-right organisations, the activists of which almost daily assault priests of the UOC MP, plunder temples and destroy church property, and also set fire to the houses of the most active parishioners. No reaction came from the government in Kiev in relation to this request: Poroshenko is busy with negotiations with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew over the creation of the so-called “united autocephalous Ukrainian church”.
But representatives of the schismatic Ukrainian orthodox church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC KP), as well as the “Right Sector“ and “National Druzhina“ groups, reacted to the action of pro-Russian believers: nationalists declared a new war against the UOC MP.
The head of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret (Mikhail Denisenko, who was excommunicated by the Moscow synod from church) officially declared that soon all churches, monasteries, and even outbuildings and cemeteries belonging to the UOC MP will transition to the “united and indivisible property of independent Ukraine”.
“When our power will definitively come, both Lavras (Kiev and Pochayev) will be ours,” he noted, in particular.
And meanwhile he stressed that against this background, the only way out for parishioners of the UOC MP will be to “join the family of a church organisation that is independent of Moscovy”. It’s like saying: otherwise he – “patriarch Filaret” – won’t be personally answerable for the actions of “patriots” [nationalists – ed].
It seems that the leader of schismatics isn’t already answerable for such “actions of patriots”. According to the statistics that local police departments are compelled to compile, in the last three months alone on the territory of the Ivano-Frankovsk, Ternopol, Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Kiev, Chernigov, and Sumy regions 150 (!) acts of vandalism concerning the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate were recorded. In most cases attacks on temples were carried out by thugs in camouflage with “Right Sector” identification marks, and also formations consisting of former participants of the ATO in Donbass.
“Young people came in, pushed me away and started destroying church items, tore down some icons, and then trampled on books written in the Church Slavonic and Russian languages,” said the watchman of one of the parishes of the UOC MP in the Akhtyrka district (Sumy region) Vladimir to the Federal News Agency. “And while leaving, they said that they won’t set fire to the temple because soon it will be in their possession”.
“The case in the Akhtyrka district became just the next link in a chain of flagrant offenses and crimes concerning parishes whose believers don’t adhere to the Ukrainian schism — both in society and in faith,” noted the Kiev lawyer Andrey Evdokimenko in comment to the correspondent of the FAN.
“Here it is possible to also remember the attack of thugs from ‘Right Sector’ on the temple of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God in the center of Odessa on August 5th, when nationalists cruelly assaulted a priest, and also the attack on the Saint Spyridon’s temple in Kiev (vandals desecrated the building’s facade, having sprayed the graffiti “Get the Russian Patriarchate out of Ukraine”), and a dozen more ‘patriotic’ tricks. As a rule, law enforcement bodies aren’t in a hurry to investigate such cases – it isn’t excluded that in the light of new political events ‘vandals’ will become heroes,” he added.
It seems that these “vandals” indeed felt like “defenders of united Ukrainian faith“.
“Soon Poroshenko will obtain from patriarch Bartholomew recognition of our united local church, and then we will stage a real ‘Bartholomew’s night‘ against Moskals,” said in confidentiality the former participant of the ATO with the nickname “Sokira” and curator of the public projects of the “Trident of Stepan Bandera” group.
“It will be total slaughter: the only ones who will remain will be those who accept our faith,” stated “Sokira”.
However, “Sokira” immediately tried to explain his phrase about “slaughter”. Allegedly, the word was used in a “figurative sense”.
“We will cut out Moskals from our society, let them go to their Moscovy,” said the nationalist, trying to soften his outpourings.
The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko expressed himself in practically the same vein. After the first conversation with patriarch Bartholomew, the president of Ukraine made it clear to his compatriots that current government in Kiev isn’t going to refuse the idea of autocephaly. And nobody will try to keep in Ukraine those believers who will still “orientate themselves towards the aggressor country”.
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