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"Holy Rus", semi-decomposition

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Will the liquidation of the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate lead to the decolonization of Ukrainian Orthodoxy?

The story about the fate of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine is moving towards its climax. In addition, as it approaches, the intrigue becomes clearer and the stakes rise. Until recently, it was possible to guess what strategy the authorities would choose: prosecution of specific clergymen for specific crimes or a direct legal ban on the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate structures on the territory of Ukraine. It is worth noting that both have their advantages and disadvantages. The first is technically more difficult and longer, but relatively safe from the point of view of possible accusations of violation of freedom of conscience. The second is faster and more decisive, but combined with all kinds of risks. 


The detective we were not shown

At a certain point, it was possible to assume that the Ukrainian authorities would take a longer, but also more reliable, path - by prosecuting, according to the law, clergymen who promoted the "Russian World" under church signs. The visits of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) to monasteries and dioceses, the names of odious clergymen in sanctions and suspect lists, and even a large number of compromising materials in the media seemed to be a sign of future interrogations and trials.

However, unfortunately, in the long-awaited TV series "SBU vs. the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP)" things did not progress beyond the pilot series - everything subsided as unexpectedly as it began. All we got after such a promising prologue was a small list of sanctions and the news that some of the participants were “deprived of Ukrainian citizenship”. That is, they were actually removed from the jurisdiction of Ukrainian criminal legislation.

The only tangible result of the raids by the SBU and the information campaign that accompanied it was that in the society — largely indifferent to the church issue — the image of the UOC-MP as an enemy took on a more convex and complete form.

However, taking everything into account, neither the SBU nor other state authorities have the intention to really persecute agents of the "Russian peace" in such an institution as the UOC-MP. They can be understood: it is difficult, long and not telegenic. Besides, the main thing is why do it when the problem can be solved much faster and more effectively? One decisive political blow — a direct ban on the activities of MP structures in Ukraine.


Expert opinion: UOC-MP!

Preparation for the liquidation of the structure of the UOC-MP involves two important stages: to adopt a law on the inadmissibility of the work of church structures affiliated with centers in the aggressor country, and to prove the affiliation of the UOC with its Moscow center.

An expert commission convened by the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience had to collect and analyze the evidence. Having studied the documents of the UOC-MP and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the commission came to the conclusion that the UOC-MP was and remains a structural part of the ROC. Despite the assurance of "full autonomy" and the decision of the council, which, in fact, did not change anything in the status of the UOC-MP. This expert opinion is, of course, contested in the Metropolitanate of Kyiv. However, the materials published by the commission look quite convincing.

This means that after the adoption of the "liquidation law" there will not be much room for maneuver in the UOC-MP. For this institution, there will be only two options: to agree to a complete and actual break with the Moscow Patriarchate, or to move to a semi-legal position and try to preserve its parishes in conditions of decentralization. It is worth noting that both ways are extremely unpleasant.

The break with the Moscow Patriarchate will put the UOC-MP in a difficult canonical situation. In fact, it will find itself in a split — that is, in the position in which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) of Patriarch Filaret existed for many years. In addition, the MP has been scaring its parishioners with a "split" for a very long time, so now it will be especially difficult to go down this path.

However, the path of decentralization is no less difficult. After the ban on the activities of the UOC-MP, the parishes belonging to this church will have to re-register. They must be registered as "free", that is, not affiliated with any of the existing centralized church structures (it is doubtful that they will immediately want to join the OCU). In the long run, such a "disintegrated" state will lead to the weakening of ties between parishes, the emergence of different centers of gravity, and in the end either a new church structure will emerge, or what was once the UOC-MP will be partly marginalized, partly quietly dissolved in the stormy sea of modern history.

Thus, in both cases it would be possible to talk about the success of the liquidation of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. However, there are nuances.

Church map of the world and war

"Liquidation of the church" sounds scandalous to an ear not deafened by explosions and sirens of air alarms. Therefore, the UOC-MP and its Russian assistants are working tirelessly to compromise this initiative outside of Ukraine. Mostly they promote this idea in the West. Defenders of the "unified canonical church of Ukraine" regularly present the "persecution of the church" to Western TV viewers and "brothers in faith" — world church leaders, including the Pope and bishops of local Orthodox churches. Sometimes one can ignore TV, because propaganda is propaganda...

However, a church protest — if it arises — can lead to an awkward situation. It is worth noting that it can arise because "trade interests" are affected – an unpleasant precedent is being formed for church organizations, when the authorities in a European state can interfere in the activities of the church for political reasons, etc.

This is exactly what the UOC-MP is counting on, pressing all the levers: it appeals to the world community through the mass media, bombards colleagues in church ministry with appeals in which they mix the sinful with the righteous things and the truth with lies, not knowing what exactly will work in each specific case.


Something in this spectrum can, of course, work. However, there is no guarantee. After all, in the world Orthodoxy and the church field in general, as well as in the geopolitical field, everything depends on the military and political success of Ukraine. As the political map in our corner of the universe changes, so will the schedules on secular and church gambling tables. In this area, at this moment, everything froze in anticipation, when one scale pan will surely outweigh.

Representatives of the UOC-MP usually appeal to the Moscow Orthodox satellites — the Bulgarian, Polish, Serbian, and partly Georgian Church — confident that they will support them. After all, they always supported them. However, the position of the Russian Orthodox Church has shaken no less (even more) than the position of the Kremlin on the world stage. The short leashes on which the MP kept its Orthodox satellites loosened a little. In addition, under good conditions, namely the success of Ukraine in its war with the empire, they have a chance to get rid of these leashes altogether. It is worth noting that the balance of power and influence in the world Orthodoxy is already changing and may change even more in the near future.

On the way out of the "Russian World"

Do not take offense at those who solve their problems "at our expense". After all, politics is the art of the possible, and everyone takes advantage of the opportunity that is given to them. It is worth noting that it is good if each political player takes advantage of a certain opportunity suitable for him. It will be worse if these political players continue to live by the myths and illusions of the past.

It concerns us to the same extent as conventional "them". After all, one of the main risks of the strategy chosen by the authorities to combat MPs in Ukraine — the strategy of liquidation and prohibition — is not even what will be said about us on Fox News, at the UN Security Council or during the papal audience. The main thing is whether we will be able to win in this way or not, and what exactly we will call victory.

The problem of the liquidation strategy without investigations and criminal liability of specific executors is the same half-measure as the prosecution of specific executors without a political decision to liquidate the Russian World branch on the territory of Ukraine. These are two sides of the same coin, and one way or another, this coin is not worth a penny.

The doctrine of the "Russian World" and "unity of Holy Russia" promoted by the UOC-MP is an imperial project for which our country pays too high a price. It must be banned, just as Nazi and Communist ideologies were banned. In addition, by the way, the history of the ban and condemnation of these two ideologies can serve as a lesson for us.

The victory over the Nazi ideology was confirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal. At that time, Communism did not receive its counterpart at the Nuremberg Tribunal. After all, no one was convicted for specific crimes committed in the name of the ideology of communism. As a result, to decommunization and de-Sovietization, the Ukrainian people are walking a path filled with their own blood.

Likewise, the liquidation of the MP in Ukraine may not be the final point in the history of the decolonization of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy and Ukraine in general. This may not happen even if the doctrine of "Holy Russia" is condemned and the UOC-MP is dissolved. The only way to put an end to this is to find the guilty people, prove their guilt and carry out the sentence. It is worth noting that without this, there will always be room for speculation and doubts about whether everything happened in a lawful manner and who is really to blame.

Punishing the guilty is not about "bloodthirsty desire for revenge." This is about an action completely opposite to this process: it is about the inadmissibility of collective responsibility. In addition, it is at the same time a guarantee that the forbidden structures and ideology will not be rehabilitated in the near future and will not be resurrected under new brands.

Read this article in russian and Ukrainian.

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