Archive for May 18th, 2017

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Unorthodoxy – A fight for souls (and earthly riches)

May 18, 2017

Should a reader choose to believe that the recent Presidential Decree sanctioning numerous Russian individuals and companies – and in particular VK (VKontakte) and Odnoklassniki have far less to do with national security and far more to do with severing the Ukrainian Internet space of Russian social media dominance in an effort to cut yet more ties (not that it need be mutually exclusive) then it is necessary to see that as a small piece in a larger mosaic of de-Russification.

There is nothing wrong with such a policy – Ukraine is not Russia and is in fact fighting a war with Russia.   What is necessary, is to do so both strategically, tactically, and within the domestic laws and regional/international obligations and regulations that Ukraine has obligated itself to if public and international perception is to remain supportive of the current leadership.

As the Kremlin has open war fronts physically in eastern Ukraine, politically, diplomatically, economically, culturally and socially – the latter through the media space (social and main stream), the provoking of ethnic tensions (“Bulgar” uprisings in Odessa, “Polish” demonstrations in Lviv etc via Trojan horse civil society activists and NGOs), it is hardly surprising that a reader should also consider “the church” too.

Almost a year ago an entry highlighting the godly issue was published at a time when President Poroshenko and the Verkhovna Rada were set to appeal to His All Holiness Bartholomew 1, the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch to release the Kyiv Patriarch from subordination to the Moscow Patriarch within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

That the Russian Orthodox Church is infiltrated by the Russian Security Services is no surprise to anybody – long has it ever been thus.

Indeed several of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarch (UOC MP) were arrested when the Kremlin’s failed attempt to create the “Bessarabian Republic” in the west of Odessa Oblast, when acting as quartermasters for weaponry/warrior monks.

Further, particularly conservative orthodox UOC MP parliamentarian Vadim Novinsky is accused of assaulting and threatening those among the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarch (UOC KP).

Clearly there is also no desire among large numbers of the Ukrainian faithful to worship under a Moscow Patriarchy that has allowed its priesthood to publicly bless weaponry then used against the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ergo, if VK (VKontakte) and Odnoklassniki are barred from acces in Ukraine, officially for national security reasons of intelligence gathering, recruitment, subversion, disinformation, agitprop, etc., etc – in short attempting to sew discord and disorientation (and worse) into the Ukrainian social media space, then consideration of the UOC MP as a national security issue is equally deserving – for it too has a deep reach into Ukrainian society via a physical rather than virtual network.

However, whilst banning/sanctioning supposedly corrosive social media platforms is certainly legal (if perhaps questionable with regard to proportionality and ultimately its effect as a policy), clearly there are numerous domestic laws and international obligations that prevent Ukraine banning/sanctioning the Moscow Patriarchy.  This regardless of at the very least, equal opportunity and perhaps with greater influence than social media when it comes to national security threats.

Currently the UOC MP is fighting against Verkhovna RAda Draft Bills 4128 and 4511 which it claims are unconstitutional and contrary to international obligations, both perceived as aimed at the UOC MP.  No doubt The Kremlin is watching these Darft laws too.  While the Kremlin has an interest in using the UOC MP to influence the Ukrainian flock, the UOC MP has an interest in keeping the UOC KP subordinate within the Orthodoxy hierarchy and also subordinate in size within Ukraine as there are a lot of earthy assets and treasures at stake if parishes switch patriarchy.

Draft Bill 4128 details how a person or parish can perform a transition from one religion to another being recognised by law.

Ergo, a Catholic may become Buddhist or UOC, or UOC MP parishes or members can become UOC KP, or any other swap and change of religion or religious schism, but the mechanism and ultimately the legal recognition of such freedom to change is currently not codified.

That may make little tangible difference to the souls at stake, but it will have significance over the earthly assets and treasures of parishes.  Along with many Ukrainian souls heading to the UOC KP from the UOC MP, so would a lot of wealth – legally.

Bill 4511 aims to codify the fact that the governance of the UOC MP is situated in Russia (the clue is in its name), which has long-since been legally codified as an Aggressor State.

The UOC MP sees these Bills for what they are – a lawfully recognised way for individuals and parishes to leave its patriarchy and enter the UOC KP (whether there actually be Catholics who want lawful recognition as Buddhists or vice versa to which the laws would equally apply).

Naturally Russia-friendly Oppo Block are expected to lead the political charge by the UOC MP, and it is reasonable to expect Nash Krai to have more than sympathy toward this position too.

However, deep within the Nash Krai MP Anton Kisse and Oppo Block heartland of western Odessa Oblast – Ismail (and Bessarabia) etc, the truculent, belligerent and dismissive attitude toward the Kyiv Patriarchy is starting to have somewhat unorthodox repercussions – failed Moscow backed Bessarabian Republics and quatermaster priest/warrior monks aside.

In Belgorod-Dniester resides a local council that has long made it particularly difficult for the UOC KP to build a church – this despite there being no other UOC KP church there and a fairly significant number of UOC KP worshipers.

Only after significant pressure was a land plot on Olympic Street allocated for the construction of a religious building – that was almost a year ago.

On 18th May, matters came to a head.  Members of the executive committee stated that they would not vote to allow the UOC KP to build a church on that site.

Anton Kisse’s fellow ethnic Bulgar and Nash Krai representative Vasily Kaschi stating he would not vote for a UOC KP church due to his ethnicity.

His comments upon Crimea may raise an eyebrow too.

As a result Mr Kaschi was subjected to the green ink Navalny suntan and subsequently dumped into a rubbish skip.

The UOC KP faithful then stating that they would go and pray en masse in the Moscow Patriarchy church, thus causing panic at the MP church.

Clearly whatever the sympathies of Nash Krai MP Anton Kisse, which are not necessarily conducive to the current direction of Ukraine, it seems unlikely he will want his unofficial Tsardom/fiefdom (and business/”business” interests) to become a magnet for Ukrainian nationalists and UOC KP activists, and by extension become a significant blip on the Bankova radar in Kyiv.

Whilst Mr Kisse as an MP and leader of the Bulgar diaspora is adept at stirring the ethnic pot to his own advantage, he does so with some degree of skill and management to best lever his position in Kyiv without matters going too far.

It seems very unlikely that whilst Mr Kisse will probably back the UOC MP objections to Bills 4128 and 4511 claiming State interference in religion and/or unconstitutionality (or whatever the pro-Moscow line will be) he will not come out (publicly) against the construction of this UOC KP church.

The matter will return to the council agenda on 30th May, when Mayor Alla Ginak will also table the deselection and selection of a new, relevant committee.  (No doubt external instruction was deemed required – though it is unlikely any would “see the light” in a biblical sense.)

In the meantime local, regional and national representatives will have to chose between continuing to repress the UOC KP (this time in Belgorod-Dniester) or taking on a Bankova and Verkhovna Rada that are officially very much supportive of, and lobbying for, autocephaly for the Kyiv Patriachy within Orthodoxy if for no other reason to further sever more ties with Russia – perceived national security issues equal too or greater than VK and Odnoklassniki – or not.

It is a “no right answer” question reminiscent of – Which is the greater national security threat?  A physical network such as the infiltrated UOC MP Church, or a virtual network on a social media platform?  Discuss.

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