Select language:

Chronicles of Dark Decade: Ukraine "abolishes" the Orthodox Church

 / Главная / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Chronicles of Dark Decade: Ukraine "abolishes" the Orthodox Church

Chronicles of Dark Decade: Ukraine "abolishes" the Orthodox Church


Editorial Office of the Russky Mir portal

Photo credit:

Ukrainian authorities have launched a persecution campaign against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), the biggest one in the country's modern history. Over the past year, state sanctions were imposed on clergy representatives, searches were conducted in churches, clergymen were arrested, criminal cases were initiated, the activity of the UOC was banned in various regions of the country, and monasteries and churches were seized.

In the spring of 2023, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine announced the unilateral termination of the lease agreement between the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra State Reserve and the monastery of the same name. The inhabitants were ordered to leave the Lavra on March 29. Since that time, Lavra parishioners and inhabitants have faced attempts to evict monks of the canonical church from the monastery buildings, as well as provocations by supporters of the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

On April 21, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the law on "decolonization," which prohibits giving geographical objects the names associated with Russia, its landmarks, or historical events. The campaign against monuments and topographical names associated with Russia and the USSR has been underway in Ukraine since 2015 when the so-called decommunization law was adopted.

July 2023 saw the adoption of a law changing the date of Christmas Day to December 25, and excluding January 7 from the list of holidays and days off. In the past, the Christmas prayer service on January 7 brought together thousands of parishioners. There was a lack of space in the church for some of them. This year, on December 25, the service was attended by a dozen and a half visitors. About 50% of them were security guards, judging by the photos and videos published by the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

In October 2023, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed in the first reading a draft law banning the activities of the UOC. The UOC emphasized that the law violated the Ukrainian Constitution and the human rights convention.

The Russian Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom (RARF) has regularly issued reports on violations of believers' rights and religious intolerance in Ukraine since 2014. These reports have become a reputable source for monitoring the respect of believers' rights around the world.

The RARF-published monograph "Chronicle of the Dark Decade. Religious persecution in Ukraine in 2014 - 2023" was presented at a press conference held at the MIA Rossiya Segodnya.

Sergey Melnikov, Chairman of the Russian Association for the Protection of Religious Freedom, and Deputy Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, described the structure of the publication and the issues addressed. According to him, the English-language version of the monograph will be published in January. It is extremely important today given the poor public awareness of the situation in Ukraine in Western countries.

The expert referred to the adoption of illegitimate decisions by the government concerning the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, criminal persecution of clergy and believers, unlawful interference in the activities of church organizations, as well as the seizure and transfer of Orthodox parishes to the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. All these measures fail to find a response among Orthodox believers in Ukraine, Mr. Melnikov believes.

No one can force a believer to attend a church that he considers to be a pseudo-church with no divine grace in it,” he said confidently.

The final part of the publication offers a perspective on how state and confessional relations in the Russian Federation will be built and how religious freedoms for citizens will be ensured using the example of the territories that have already become part of the country. According to the expert, post-Soviet time saw the emergence of institutions that did not exist in the USSR. Today Russia has military priests, religious culture education at schools, the development of spiritual education, and extensive support for the social activities of various religious organizations.

"This framework has been successfully used in those territories that were liberated from the Kyiv regime and came under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation," said the RARF chairman.

Sergiy Melnikov also reported on attempts to reframe the cultural identity of Ukrainians by imposing false values, such as gay pride parades, attempts to legalize same-sex marriage, and the recent legalization of cannabis.

For decades, countries in the Western world have had a certain monopoly on the monitoring of human rights in general and religious freedom in particular. Western states believed that they alone had the right to decide whether religious freedom was violated or observed at its best.

Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy chairman of the Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and Mass Media of the Russian Orthodox Church, believes that such scientific research is extremely important, given the silence of Western states, governments, and international organizations regarding discrimination against believers in Ukraine. Russian scholars, historians, and publicists have demonstrated that massive violations of religious freedom, first of all of Christians, are also witnessed in those countries that the West traditionally recognizes as prosperous.

"It should be shown to the public, to the bar of history," Mr. Kipshidze believes.

Vakhtang Kipshidze emphasized that the destruction of the Western countries' monopoly to decide whether there is a violation of religious freedoms proves the maturity of our society and the state. It is no longer willing to accept moralizing through reports and is ready to evaluate the conformity of the actual observance of religious freedoms with the words heard from high stands in the West.

One of the most prominent examples of the victims of religious persecution in Ukraine is the writer and publicist Yan Taksiur. Having been charged with state treason, he spent more than five months in a pre-trial detention center in Kyiv in 2022. Then he was released on bail. In 2023, he was exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war with the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church and some public figures. Mr. Taksiur has repeatedly supported the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and opposed the actions of the Kyiv regime.

The writer is confident that the Ukrainian government's intention is the destruction of Orthodoxy in the country and the elimination of traditional evangelical values from the lifestyle of the Ukrainians.

For instance, Mr. Taksyur claims that some valuable icons have already disappeared from the temple despite the expertise of the monks' relics in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra scheduled by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. Some of those icons have been spotted in European countries.

"The purpose of the war with the satanic forces of the West is to safeguard the true salvation through the faith and the church," the Orthodox publicist summarized. "And it is this fact that turns the current struggle with the forces of global evil into a holy war."


New publications

Italian entrepreneur Marco Maggi's book, "Russian to the Bone," is now accessible for purchase in Italy and is scheduled for release in Russia in the upcoming months. In the book, Marco recounts his personal odyssey, narrating each stage of his life as a foreigner in Russia—starting from the initial fascination to the process of cultural assimilation, venturing into business, fostering authentic friendships, and ultimately, reaching a deep sense of identifying as a Russian at his very core.
When Nektary Kotlyaroff, a fourth-generation Russian Australian and founder of the Russian Orthodox Choir in Sydney, first visited Russia, the first person he spoke to was a cab driver at the airport. Having heard that Nektariy's ancestors left Russia more than 100 years ago, the driver was astonished, "How come you haven't forgotten the Russian language?" Nektary Kotlyaroff repeated his answer in an interview with the Russkiy Mir. His affinity to the Orthodox Church (many of his ancestors and relatives were priests) and the traditions of a large Russian family brought from Russia helped him to preserve the Russian language.
Russian graffiti artists from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, and Nizhnevartovsk took part in an international street art festival in the capital of Chile. They decorated the walls of Santiago with Russian and Chilean symbols, conducted a master class for Russian compatriots, and discussed collaborative projects with colleagues from Latin America.
Name of Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko is inscribed in the history of Russian theater along with Konstantin Stanislavski, the other founding father of the Moscow Art Theater. Nevertheless, Mr. Nemirovich-Danchenko was a renowned writer, playwright, and theater teacher even before their famous meeting in the Slavic Bazaar restaurant. Furthermore, it was Mr. Nemirovich-Danchenko who came up with the idea of establishing a new "people's" theater believing that the theater could become a "department of public education."
"Russia is a thing of which the intellect cannot conceive..." by Fyodor Tyutchev are famous among Russians at least. December marks the 220th anniversary of the poet's birth. Yet, he never considered poetry to be his life's mission and was preoccupied with matters of a global scale. Mr.Tyutchev fought his war focusing on relations between Russia and the West, the origins of mutual misunderstanding, and the origins of Russophobia. When you read his works today, it feels as though he saw things coming in a crystal ball...