The Sviatohirsk Holy Mountains Lavra and the Moscow Patriarchate in Slovyansk – whose people do they serve?

By Denis Bihunov 
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Ihor Girkin, head of the occupation forces in Slovyansk, in the Church of the Holy Spirit, 2014

In 2014, the “St. George’s ribbon” became an emblem of the terrorists who, armed with automatic rifles and RPGs, captured towns and villages in our peaceful Donetsk region. At the time, the Kremlin mercenaries failed to bring Ukraine to its knees. Thus, Moscow apparently decided to adjust their plans, and activated the Russian “Immortal Regiment” campaign in Ukraine. At first glance, this campaign may appear apolitical, but its purpose is to cynically exploit the unhealed historical wounds of the Ukrainian people.

The organizers of the Kremlin’s pompous “Immortal Regiment” campaign in Ukraine declare that it aims to promote peace and to honor the memory of those who fought against fascism. At the same time, cynical Russian propaganda relentlessly continues spreading lies about the alleged “domination of fascism in Ukraine,” adding fuel to the fire.

The main message peddled by the campaign organizers is: “We are one people.” Yet Crimea is occupied by Russia, and terrorists in Donbas are not running out of shells, tanks, or mines, even three years in. Is their supply inexhaustible? It is obvious that Russia is illegally supplying military hardware, equipment, and ammunition to Donbas, bringing wholesale bloodshed to this tormented region while, at the same time declaring that we are “one people.”

Branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) are working hard to promote the Kremlin’s “flash mob” in our region, too.

On May 9, the Sviatohirsk Holy Mountains Lavra (Cave Monastery) is organizing a Kremlin flash mob in Sviatohirsk, closely following the template of Russia’s “Immortal Regiment” campaign. One might ask – why does the Ukrainian Orthodox Church organize, here in Ukraine, events that promote the aggressor country, a country that illegally annexed our Crimea and started the war in Donbas with the capture of Slovyansk by [Ihor] Girkin’s (Strelkov’s) armed formations? Because we are “one people,” of course. This clearly reveals the real views of the Moscow-controlled church in Ukraine toward the Ukrainian people, our state, and its sovereignty.

At this time, the monastery is collecting photographs of Soviet soldiers from the Second World War, to use in the Kremlin “Immortal Regiment” campaign. Meanwhile, judging from the monastery’s website, Moscow’s holy fathers fail to show similar fervor in commemorating our ATO soldiers, who are even today defending the sovereignty, state independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Examples from recent years show that events like the “Immortal Regiment” are designed to split Ukrainian society, sow conflict and confusion, and disorientate people. It is hard to believe that the Moscow Patriarchate is oblivious to this. Yet it is nevertheless staging the “Immortal Regiment” campaign in Sviatohirsk: essentially a Russian state propaganda event disguised as a religious procession.

It bears reminding that religious processions are primarily spiritual events, performed by believers, who are asking for God’s help and who walk carrying icons, crosses, and saints’ relics – not portraits of Red Army soldiers. Religious processions move from church to church, or around towns or villages. They do not proceed to USSR-era memorials, even if dead soldiers are buried there, and they do not turn a religious event into political propaganda in favor of a neighboring aggressor country.

Organizing events to commemorate non-religious dates is the prerogative of  civil society and the authorities.

By deciding to hold a religious procession in honor of a secular and ideological public holiday – Victory and Red Army Day – the church authorities have transformed a spiritual event into a show of political and ideological solidarity with the Kremlin. This raises quite a few questions.

In reality, on this coming May 9 in Sviatohirsk, certain members of the clergy will exploit the religious and spiritual values of the populace to shape people’s political and ideological views, while drawing on the Gospels, and images of the saints, God and Christ. Does anyone see the hypocrisy?

Considering what went down in the town’s churches during its occupation in 2014 [see video below], it is not difficult to guess what the Moscow Patriarchate is really trying to achieve by holding such events in Ukraine. One wonders if that is a heavy cross to bear.

A church ceremony to consecrate the occupier’s flag and banner in the Church of the Holy Spirit, 2014

Video: “Novorossiya – Birth of an Orthodox Army”


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This translation work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The rights pertaining to the original work remain unaffected.

This entry was posted in Analytics, English News, Pictures, South&Eastern Ukraine, War in Donbas and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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