Religious Divisions Threaten to Further Inflame Ukrainian Civil War

Not admitting the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to Kiev is like barring the Pope from Rome, but that is just what the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government has done, explains Dmitry Babich.

By Dmitry Babich
in Moscow
Special to Consortium News

During the American Civil War, in which 620,000 people were slaughtered on the battlefields alone and hundreds of thousands more injured, the organization of the Roman Catholic Church in the American north and south remained united throughout the war and after.

The same cannot be said for the four-year-old civil war in Ukraine, which has deepened existing divisions among Orthodox Christians in the country.

Tensions are rising to the point that the Ukrainian government has been accused of suppressing the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the coming of Christianity to ancient Rus, the proto-state of Eastern Slavs, which included the territories of modern Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. The government is being blamed for involvement in an effort to eliminate the original historic church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), because of its affiliation with Russia and the word “Moscow” in its name.

The UOC-MP currently includes more than 12,000 of about 18,000 parishes in Ukraine, and is headed by Ukrainian Metropolitan Onuphrius, under the higher spiritual authority of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus, seated in Moscow.

On July 27, a solemn march celebrating the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Rus by Prince Vladimir the Great of Kiev in 988 AD drew 250,000 faithful of the UOC-MP in Kiev despite the attempt to sabotage it by the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government of President Petro Poroshenko. According to numerous testimonies by UOC-MP’s priests, published in the Ukrainian press, transportation was cut off from outlying parishes and believers were intimidated.

Prince Vladimir brings Christianity to the Rus people in 988 AD.

But, if we believe the government, these actions weren’t a suppression of religion, but rather “required by a specific situation.” The Poroshenko regime, formed in the beginning of the civil war that followed the U.S.-backed 2014 bloody coup in the “Euromaidan” uprising, is favoring a split-off of the traditional church by an anti-Moscow church known as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate ( UOC-KP) headed by a self-proclaimed leader named Patriach Filaret (born, Denisenko).

Denisenko, a former cleric of the Moscow Patriarchate, left the UOC-MP in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He had lost an ecclesiastical election and tried to form his own church. Denisenko was then excommunicated. His church is not recognized by any of the other members of the international community of Orthodox churches.

There is no single authority in the Orthodox Churches similar to the Roman Catholic pope; rather there are independent or auto-cephalic regional Patriarchs considered equal in authority, with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), regarded as first among equals (primus inter pares) primarily for historic reasons because Constantinople, before its takeover by Turks in 1453, was the center of Orthodox Christianity.

None of these Orthodox Patriarchates recognize either the UOC-KP or “Patriarch” Filaret Denisenko. But now the Poroshenko government, together with Denisenko, is moving to reverse that situation. They have called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul to remove the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate and recognize a new, single independent Orthodox church in Ukraine, severing all ties to Moscow.

The single church in the Poroshenko-Denisenko plan would carry the UOC-KP name with the authority, according to Denisenko, to seize all churches, temples, chapels, monasteries and other properties belonging to the UOC-MP.

It would mean dispossessing the historic UOC-MP, which has direct “apostolic” continuity with the 1030-year-old original Kievan church and Christianity in the Eastern Roman empire, once brought there by Christ’s own disciples. UOC-MP said they would not pray in church together with the excommunicated Denisenko.

A Warning from Kirill

Kirill: Don’t split church. 

Russian Patriarch Kirill, speaking in Moscow at the celebrations of the 1030th anniversary of Vladimir’s baptism of Rus, warned against attempts by secular authorities in Ukraine to interfere with church affairs or to split the historic church.

Orthodox faithful inside Ukraine, both ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians, see the plans of Poroshenko’s government and Denisenko as an illegal assault on their tradition and religious heritage. In addition, some deputies in the Ukrainian Rada (Parliament) have warned that there could be “bloody consequences” if the properties of the UOC-MP are confiscated and its members forced to join a new church.

With a decision from Bartholomew expected next month, events took an important turn with the announcement of a planned Aug. 31 meeting between Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul. The announcement was made in early August through the ROC’s press service, which called the upcoming meeting a “very important talk” between the two Patriarchs.

Though the Ecumenical Patriarch doesn’t play the same role as the pope in the Roman Catholic Church, Bartholomew is nonetheless in a “make or break” position. All Russia and all of Ukraine will be anxiously watching that meeting, especially after the tensions that surrounded the UOC-MP’s celebration in Kiev of the 1030th anniversary of Christianization.

The core issue is that Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox believers have belonged to the same church since Russia’s conversion to Christianity in 988 AD. Against this powerful tradition, the government authorities in Kiev are spreading fear against the UOC-MP among some Ukrainian Orthodox believers that has been unheard of since Christianity was de facto “rehabilitated” in 1988 in the former Soviet Union during the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism.

The 1000th year anniversary celebration took place under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who broke the 70 years long tradition of enforced state atheism in the Soviet Union. The USSR had one legal Russian Orthodox Church (persecuted by Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev)– the same that had existed in the Russian empire toppled by Bolsheviks in 1917. Church leaders say Ukraine’s government cannot erase the united Church’s history, which goes back to Prince Vladimir and to apostolic times.

According to the historical record, the Baptism of Kievan Rus by Vladimir had the support and participation of the Greek Church in Constantinople, then the official church of the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as Byzantium. The first Orthodox bishops and metropolitans (equivalent to Western archbishops) in Russia were Greeks from Constantinople who got their “apostolic succession” from Christ’s disciples.

Poroshenko: More moves against Moscow.

The petition to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to approve the invention of a new “united” Ukrainian church that eliminates the UOC-MP would violate this sacred apostolic succession, says the Moscow Patriarchate. The UOC-MP has also protested that neither Poroshenko nor the Rada are empowered to ask Bartholomew to change the church’s organization in Ukraine.

The strength of the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukrainian sister UOC-MP lies in the apostolic succession, which the current Ukrainian government can neither provide nor imitate,” the Russian Orthodox Church’s spokesman said. “The state cannot `create’ a church, nor should it aspire to do it. But this is exactly what the Ukrainian authorities are trying to do, urging the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to merge with Denisenko’s entity and asking from the ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople an autocephalous status for this new `united’ Ukrainian church of their own invention.”

This initiative is an abuse of power, an interference of state into church affairs,” UOC-MP’s the spokesman said.

The UOC-MP has remained the only public organization in Ukraine which still legally has the word “Moscow” in its name, and for millions of Ukrainian citizens, ethnic Russians or not, any kind of legal linkage to Russia is still valued.

Kiev’s Moves Against Russia

Almost immediately after seizing power in 2014, the new regime in Kiev terminated air flights between the two countries and banished Russian television and radio from Ukraine’s cable networks. One of the new regime’s first acts was to cancel the regional status of Russian language as “one of the official languages” even in those regions of Ukraine, where Russian speakers make up the majority of the population. The measure was reversed after some critical comments from Europe, but it was reinstated a few years later, when the European and American public became more tolerant towards the new Ukrainian regime’s whims.  Constant attempts are made by the Ukrainian government to shut down the Russian embassy, introduce a new visa regime between Russia and Ukraine or seal the borders, making it extremely difficult for millions of Russians and Ukrainians to see their family members.

The historic role of the Moscow Patriarchate has provided a spiritual and cultural link for tens of millions of people, who in the 1990s suddenly became divided by newly emerged borders. In the period of the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 the Russian church proved wiser and more flexible than the Soviet state.

Russian Orthodox Church then gave its `periphery’ so much autonomy, that this prevented the collapse of the whole structure,” said Yevgeny Nikiforov, the head of the Orthodox-oriented radio station Radonezh, and a specialist in Russian church history. “The unified state might collapse in tears, but the church did not follow it. It remained alive and did not give up its right to cater to believers on all sides of the newly emerged borders.”

Even in Soviet days the Moscow Patriarchate allowed sister churches in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova to have their own budgets, to appoint their own bishops and to run all their “earthly” activities (education, manufacture of church items, etc.) without consulting Moscow. In return, the Russian Orthodox Church remained in “eucharistic union” with them, with representatives of these churches participating in the election of the Russian Patriarch of the ROC. Believers in all of these countries were treated as equals.

It seems clear why Poroshenko’s regime is opposed to the UOC-MP. The church openly condemns the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, refuses to call it “Russian aggression” and retains the word “Moscow” in its name. In addition, pro-government Ukrainian nationalist organizations often accuse the UOC-MP of being “a pro-Moscow group of separatists in priests’ attire.”

Patriarch Kirill denounced the attempts by Ukrainian authorities to divide and subdue the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-MP while speaking to a convention of the world’s Orthodox churches’ representatives in Moscow on July 27. He underscored what the attempt by the Poroshenko government’s religious takeover means and how it could further inflame the Ukrainian civil war.

For our church,” Kirill said, “Kiev is the same … holy place as Jerusalem is for Christians of all creeds.”

Dmitry Babich is a multilingual Russian journalist and political commentator. Born in 1970 in Moscow, graduated from Moscow State University (department of journalism) in 1992. Dmitri worked for Russian newspapers, such as Komsomolskaya Pravda and The Moscow News (as the head of the foreign department). Dmitri covered the Chechen war as a television reporter for TV6 channel from 1995 to 1997. Since 2003 he has worked for RIA Novosti, RT, and Russia Profile. Dmitry is a frequent guest on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Sky News and Press TV. 

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65 comments for “Religious Divisions Threaten to Further Inflame Ukrainian Civil War

  1. David Otness
    August 29, 2018 at 15:35

    This cross-posted–the page jumped. Please remove the above post.
    Thank you.

  2. Martin - Swedish citizen
    August 23, 2018 at 11:31

    Thank you for this very important and thorough article. The situation is appalling and sad. Apparently, it is yet another aspect of the conflict over Ukraine.
    It would be interesting to follow how this problem evolves.

    Some brief research gave me the following rough picture and questions – all elaborations, comments and corrections would be most welcome. There are three bigger Orthodox churches in Ukraine, only one of which is recognised by Constantinople, the UOC-MP, as mentioned. The other two are UOC-KP and UAOC, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The UAOC began as a movement in Galicia around 1988 among the minority Galicians who were not Greek Catholic, with the support of the UOC in the US, which fusioned with UAOC and chose the US metropolitan Mstyslav as patriarch in 1990. Hierarchy and priests from the US migrated to serve the church in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) was created by Austria after the partitioning of Poland (to consolidate power?), retaining orthodox liturgy but being Catholic. It was revived from 1991 with significant support from Rome. The vast majority in Galicia belong to the UGCC, which accounts for 8 % of the entire population of Ukraine. The present regime, as well as earlier west-leaning presidents, seem to have favoured the UOC-KP, UAOC and UGCC against the UOC-MP.
    Apparently, after a brief existence in the 1920’s, the UAOC was reborn during the Nazi occupation. Russian clergy in exile were summoned, with German support. After liberation in 1944, the UAOC ceased to exist, and bishops and part of the clergy emigrated to Europe and America, where they established a UOC with jurisdiction in North America, recognised by Constantinople in 1995. The parallels make one think of Bandera, but perhaps there is nothing in this. It seems the UAOC is in favour of a fusion with the UOC-KP, but reluctant because of Filaret/Denisenko as a person?
    The popular support of the UOC-KP is said (Wkipedia) to be 44 % (13 % UOC-MP), and many of the remainder plain Orthodox, are these figures correct?
    How is Constantinople going to act?

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      August 27, 2018 at 14:33

      It seems that a similar conflict is taking place in Montenegro, with the Serbian Orthodox playing the role of the UOC-MP and the unrecognised minuscule Montenegrin Orthodox Church that of the UOC-KP, claiming the property of the Serbian Church.

  3. Mild -ly - Facetious
    August 21, 2018 at 11:17

    John McCain and his INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE have been powerful advocates in support of the Nazi favoring gov’t in Ukraine. — We haven’t heard much about the I R I or the N E D (NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY) recently but the I R I is back in the news today. Rapidity of the ‘news cycle’ spiced with so much ‘Fake News’ and ambiguity requires us to maintain a solid grasp of a HISTORY — of at least FIFTY YEARS worth of International and Political history. — otherwise, we only get caught up in the “Spin Cycle” of dizzying current events. — Below is a blast from the recent past that many have never known or have simply forgotten by reason of that aforementioned Spin Cycle — (or, as Poe would title it, “The Descent Into The Maelstrom.”)

    US Sponsored “Democracy”: A Tale of Two Protests. Ukraine and Thailand

    By Tony Cartalucci
    Global Research,
    December 21, 2013
    [ excerpt ]

    As unrest continues in both countries, a sharp, hypocritical divide widens for the “intentional community.”

    For audiences around the world watching pro-EU protests unfold in the streets of Ukraine’s capital of Kiev, they may have noticed flags bearing a lifted hand giving a “three-fingered salute.” This is the reformed Nazi salute of right-winged nationalist group Svoboda.

    Along with other racist, bigoted, extremist political parties including “Fatherland,” Svoboda has filled the streets, clashed with police, occupied government buildings and called for the overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine – for the sake of joining the European Union. The EU, for its part, awaits these mobs with open arms.

    Joining the EU in anticipation is US Senator John McCain of the US National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) International Republican Institute. McCain went as far as traveling to Kiev, Ukraine, and even taking to the stage at the protest – side-by-side with Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok.

    Of Svoboda, the Business Insider would have this to say in their article titled, “John McCain Went To Ukraine And Stood On Stage With A Man Accused Of Being An Anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi:”

    “…Svoboda (which means freedom in Ukrainian) is one of those reconstructed modern European far right parties — it is aligned with the British National Party and the French National Front, for example — and it has gained some kind of electoral legitimacy, winning 10 percent of the seats in Ukraine’s parliament in 2010.

    However, the party’s past is seriously murky. When it was founded in 1995, the party called itself the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), and it had a swastika-like logo. While it eventually split from its more right wing members, the party remained focused on celebrating Ukrainian ethnic identity in opposition to Russia and Communism.

    Tyahnybok himself was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction in 2004 after giving a speech demanding that Ukrainians fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” (he later clarified this by saying that he actually had Jewish friends and was only against to “a group of Jewish oligarchs who control Ukraine and against Jewish-Bolsheviks [in the past]”). In 2005 he wrote open letters demanding Ukraine do more to halt “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry,” and, even now, Svoboda openly calls for Ukrainian citizens to have their ethnicity printed onto their passports.”

    Image: US Senator John McCain reaches new depths in an already truly disgraceful career – associating with literal Nazis to support them in their goal of guiding Ukraine, its wealth, and its people into the arms of Wall Street and London. McCain’s support for sedition worldwide for similar purposes has seen him visit other nations such as Egypt in his capacity as chairman of the IRI


    One could scarcely imagine what justification John McCain could give for associating with literal Nazis. But one will have to be satisfied with only imagining, since the Western media, charged with seeking the truth, has not raised this question let alone answered it. Even the Business Insider attempts to give McCain the benefit of the doubt in order to allow the protests to continue and to allow the US, UK, and EU to continue openly supporting them.

    READ MORE: >>> Senator John McCain En Route To Ukraine To Hasten “Regime Change”

  4. TS
    August 21, 2018 at 04:38

    Mr. Babich’s article is interesting, but not entirely honest. As he surely knows better than I, there have been several schisms in the Russian Orthodox Church in recent centuries, often for political reasons. So these shenanigans are nothing really new.

    • JoeSixPAck
      August 21, 2018 at 10:00

      Government interference in religion is not a schism.

      • Ryan
        August 22, 2018 at 11:23

        One would be hard pressed to find an example of major schisms that did not involve government intervention.

  5. August 21, 2018 at 03:25

    Clearly the splitting of the Orthodox church, historically in both Russia and Ukraine, will do nothing to bring about peace between these two lands tied together for better or worse for over 1,000 years. For the Ukrainian state of just the past 4 years to support this split by inserting itself into a millennial church relationship seems the impetuous act of vengeful child. So much for the separation of church and state, a familiar founding principle of one of the major NATO backers of the putsch-produced government in Kiev. This sleeping time bomb doesn’t need such provocative acts to remain stable. Who’s doing this thinking?

  6. Professor
    August 20, 2018 at 18:36

    I’m 60 years old. When I go down to the Bay, in Berkeley usually, and look at the water, or south of here , where I grew I can see that the water at high tide has risen in the last ten years. It is an obvious increase, In the last year the SF Chronicle has begun to publish articles that speculate on what may happen on the bay shore in the next few years. Then I read stuff like this. I wonder if the human race has the ability let alone the time to evolve to the point where we all don’t die prematurely together. This is article is about policy, it’s a political decision that is indirectly supported by the US Government and the EU. I think it is sad or as The Donald might say, very, very sad.. Ukraine is not a country that we should support and Poroschenko is not a man that is worthy of support. This is as obvious than ocean level rise and the increasing frequency of fires around the world. Like I typed , SAD.

    • Josep
      August 21, 2018 at 02:56

      What doesn’t help is that Poroshenko is also the founder and owner of the Roshen candy company (guess I’m not the only one around here who’s aware of it). As a fan of one of its products (Shipuchka), it disappoints me to see him politically change his country for the worse. Boycotting Roshen isn’t really something I’d want to do unless there’s a similar product made elsewhere.

    • Vincent Castigliola
      August 25, 2018 at 10:48

      Interesting segue from Religious division in Ukraine to sea level rise to Trump.
      As noted by the author, the US under president Obama has found it their business to provoke discord between Ukraine and Russia. That has been tragic for the people live there, and we may yet reap that whirlwind.
      Regarding your stated observations of sea level rise at high tide on the West Coast, I can only note my 60+ years observation while living on the South Coast. Having operated various vessels on the waters adjacent, all those years, I am not able to state that I have discerned or been able to measure any significant rise in sea level.
      Reports I’ve seen regarding measurements do not strike me as very compelling:

      “Core samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).” Jan 13, 2017
      Sea Level Rise – National Geographic

      How satellites can measure changes of 4-8 inches on earth over 100 years is impressive. Perhaps it helps to be a “true believer”

      I am genuinely concerned about my children and grandchildren. Our home about 100 yards from the shoreline and built on land approximately 12 ft above sea level. Nevertheless, sea level rise concerns me little, if at all, compared to the risk of nuclear war courtesy of intervention and continued hostility towards a Russian nation/federation which no longer promotes atheistic communism.

      I’ve associated with religious fundamentalists for many years. I wonder if they might be less dogmatic than many environmentalists

      • Professor
        August 26, 2018 at 17:11

        I’ve got to believe my eyes Vincent. By the way several years ago the Dog Beach behind Golden Gate Race Track that I used to frequent, like so many others, with my best friend was about to be sold as part of the package by the owner to Department of Energy who proposed an ambitious development there built around a Linear Light Accelerator which was to be burrowed underground. I found it very interesting that the entire project was going to be surrounded by a berm of a dike according to preliminary plans that were presented at a public presentation at the Race Track. . When I inquired as to why this was necessary I was informed that the US Government would require that the Department of Energy include protection against potential sea level rise of 48 inches over the life of the project which was said to be 75 years or the US Government could not allocated the money for the project… I suppose the properties would not then be redlined by insurance companie and could be insured as well since the proposal included private business , hotels , etc. . Just maybe the US Government, NASA and Insurance Companies know more than either you or I . Who was the dogmatic individual that you were referring to in your comment?

  7. Realist
    August 20, 2018 at 17:48

    This is just another application of the “Dubya Doctrine” of “you are either with us or against us,” us being the Washington regime. Everybody is forced to take sides against its list of “enemies” and embrace only its priorities and alliances. So Ukraine was given the ultimatum to join NATO and the EU and forsake a thousand years of union with Russia. There could be no sharing of orbits or living in two worlds. This ruthless approach apparently extends even to religion with the notion being put into the heads of stupid Ukies across the land that they must reproach absolutely everything and anything associated with “Moskva” in any way. They could never hope to be fully integrated “Westerners” otherwise. Now they hope to be rewarded generously by Uncle Sam for betraying family. I don’t get why Merkel continues to support such people, tying Nordstream 2 to continued gas transit through Ukraine, which will only continue to steal it.

    • Ma Laoshi
      August 21, 2018 at 07:42

      Well, who is Ms. Merkel? In 2003, when there still was a choice, Germany had one of the last two responsible governments in Western Europe (Social Democrats; the other, Chirac’s, was centre-right, which once again shows that these outdated labels are irrelevant to our predicament). Against its refusal to join the assault on Iraq, Merkel wrote a full-page op-ed in the Wash Post, “No, war, war, war!” Shallow opportunists like her serve the existing power, and for her the switch from the Communist Party to the Dark Throne was particularly seamless. She’d have preferred to serve Empress Hillary instead of the Donald, but the whole point of this system is that European preferences, including her own, don’t amount to much.

      This very month, she is welcoming al-Qaeda jihadists of the White Helmets variety as heroes into the country of her voters; the term treason would not seem to overstate the case. That Germans are putting up with this for fifteen years already proves in my eyes that they don’t deserve any better.

    • Dave P.
      August 21, 2018 at 12:54

      Merkel is very anti-Russian. She seems to have that economic, racial and cultural superiority type attitude of the West Europeans towards Russians, even though this type of attitude in the modern globalized World is meaningless. With the refugee crisis, new situation in EU, and election of Trump, and his behavior and actions as President has forced Merkel to seek some type of detente with Russia. Merkel was very fond of Obama and Hillary. Right after Trump won, Obama headed to Berlin in November 2016 to meet and plot with Merkel. Trump would not forget this type of backstabbing.
      Thank god Hillary was not elected, otherwise there would be full scale confrontation with Russia and a raging war in the Middle East at this time.

      The regime change project in Ukraine was funded by U.S. through NGO’s like NED, but the real plotting leading up to it was done in Germany by Vitaly Klitschko, current mayor of Kiev, his brother, and other extremists along with right wing German political element. There was a very long article about it in neoliberal conservative paper Der Spiegel during the Maidan Coup events ion Kiev.

      It seems to me that Western Europeans have to come to senses, discard the current alliances, and cease their hostilities towards Russia. It is the only way Europe can live in peace. With the rise of China, the geopolitical equilibrium in the World is changing fast. And the West is not learning fast enough. They do not want to accept it; they want to keep China down, and Russia colonized in some ways.

      • incontinent reader
        August 22, 2018 at 11:17

        Very good points. Up to now Germany has escaped accountability in its role in the coup,and held to the Western narrative that Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine and seized Crimea and must return it. Unless it owns up, and adopts a truthful narrative, it will continue to impede normalization of relations with Russia- though, at the same time, Germany’s refusal to cancel the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the face of U.S.threat of sanctions is an example of how its core economic interests may ultimately trump its political vassalage to the U.S. and result in increased accommodation with Russia.

        • incontinent reader
          August 22, 2018 at 12:33

          Dave – Re: where Germany may be headed read Gilbert Doctorow’s article “Putin’s Weekend Diplomacy with Austria and Germany: reading the tea leaves” dated August 21, 2018, at:

        • Dave P.
          August 22, 2018 at 19:25

          Thanks for the post. Gilbert Doctorow’s conclusions at the end of the article are pretty accurate. Trump has a very good understanding of the world geopolitics though he is not very good expressing it in words. Trump has been under continuous assault from the day he was elected, and he has not been able to deliver in foreign policy which he wanted to do.

  8. Martin
    August 20, 2018 at 15:54

    Good article.

  9. rgl
    August 20, 2018 at 15:34

    Still fighting over Mr. Magic Sky-guy, huh? If the dude made man in his ‘image’, god must’ve been one schizophrenic kind of guy …

    • irina
      August 20, 2018 at 16:15

      In Russian Orthodox theology, salvation is equally necessary for both man and deity,
      and is co-created between them. Pavel Chesnikov’s magnificent choral work,
      Spaceniye Sodelal (Salvation is Created) speaks to this theme. Try googling
      ‘Salvation is Created Yale Choral Artists’ for a really sublime rendition.

      The words mean, “Salvation is Created in the Midst of the Earth O God. Alleluia.”

      I’ll post a youtube link separately. It’s a very short, very beautiful acappella piece.
      Listen for the contrabass singer !

      • irina
        August 20, 2018 at 16:17

        Here is the link. There is a great deal of totally moving and lovely Russian Orthodox
        music, which touches the soul. Lots of examples available on youtube.

        Spaceniye Sodelal link :

  10. Gerbil
    August 20, 2018 at 15:12

    Why on Earth are we supposed to care about this? A catholic schism between Ukraine and Russia? Did RT or Sputnik buy the site? Only thing I can figure by their choice of topics.

    How about some domestic news topics, the Trump regime is serving up heaping spoonfuls of nepotism, corruption and illegality.

    • ToivoS
      August 20, 2018 at 16:40

      OK let me tell you why we should care about this. Ukraine after the break up of the Soviet Union was made up primarily of two ethnic groups divided by language. A solid 30-40 percent spoke Russian almost exclusively and then there was another 30% that spoke the Ukrainian dialect of the Russian language primarily. The remainder could speak both languages easily. It is likely that 80% of the people were comfortable with Russian. Basically Ukraine was linguistically divided at its inception in 1991. Every national election since then has shown those divisions with the majority east voting for one candidate and majority in the west (primarily Galicia) for another.

      In 2014 the candidate backed by the Russian east was president (that was Yanukovitch) who won a narrow majority in a perfectly legal election. The EU and the US backed the Maidan riots that led to the violent (and quite illegal according to the Ukrainian constitution) coup that deposed Yanukovitch, The US won!! Right on Russia’s door steps. We found another puppet state to oppose Russia.

      However, this does not negate the very real historical reality that there are many millions of Ukrainians that have strong economic, family and religious ties to Russia. Dmitry Babitch has just given us a simple background into the religious aspects of those divisions.

      Why should we care about this? Well as long as the US is backing the current puppet state to use as a wedge to diminish Russian influence and the fact that Russia will protect those Russians living in Ukraine from western oppression that combination could easily lead to nuclear war. Really those are the risks. There are many trip wires in Ukraine. This religious schism is just one. But it is a potential trip wire. If you think nuclear war with Russia is no big deal than maybe you should not care about this.

      • irina
        August 20, 2018 at 18:36

        Thank you for your succinct and important explanation.

        There is plenty of information if one looks for it, about what really
        happened during the Maidan riots. And more than enough evidence
        of extreme US meddling, including audio of Victoria Nuland (wife of
        neocon Robert Kagan) discussing the installation of ‘Our Man Yats”
        as Ukraine’s Prime Minister following the coup. We have been fed
        a very slanted storyline on the ‘annexation’ of Crimea as well, but
        that storyline has served to impose severe sanctions (i.e. economic
        warfare) on Russia. I first became aware of the use of sanctions
        after Bush the Elder’s Gulf War 1, during and after which we bombed
        water treatment plants in Iraq. Then we ‘sanctioned’ the delivery of
        repair parts and chemicals (could be used to make bombs !) needed
        to treat the water. This was the primary cause of an estimated 500,000
        child deaths during the 1990’s, and the reason Madeline Albright (then
        Secretary of State under Clinton) said that “It was a very hard choice.
        but worth the price . . . ”

        The possibility that a border skirmish between what is now ‘Western’
        and ‘Eastern’ Ukraine (roughly divided by the Dnieper River) could
        escalate into a ‘battlefield tactical nuclear war’ is very real and we all
        know where that might lead . . .

    • JoeSixPack
      August 21, 2018 at 10:03

      It’s not a schism, let alone a Catholic schism. The trolls are out in force today.

    • FB
      August 24, 2018 at 12:37

      Just the fact that you are railing against the ‘Trump regime’ tells us all we need to know about your credibility…I take it you have never seen a regime change that you don’t like…including Ukraine, and the one playing out now in the US…

  11. Deschutes
    August 20, 2018 at 15:02

    Has US government intervention and meddling written all over it. What a horrible country the USA is, to sow such deep, hateful divisions so it can get its way geopolitically. The number one problem for the world today is the USA–easily the world’s #1 ‘terrorist state’.

  12. rosemerry
    August 20, 2018 at 14:42

    So sad. All along despite the interference of the USA and others in Ukraine, President Putin has insisted on the “brotherhood” of Ukraine and Russia, and the ludicrous lengths that Poroshenko seems willing to go to in order to destroy any cooperation show how unrealistic, unethical and of course unChristian (!) his supporters are.

  13. Occupy on!
    August 20, 2018 at 13:55

    I am in awe of this very important article by Dmitri Babich and the aware, thoughtful reader comments of Joe Tedesky et al that followed. These give me assurances that in spite of US cruel aggression into so many sovereign territories and political tampering with so many lives throughout the world, there just may be, environment aside, a tomorrow for life on this planet.

  14. Lou Cassivi
    August 20, 2018 at 12:50

    The U.$.-I$rael-led global elite are simply sticking to their game plan: divide and rule.

  15. August 20, 2018 at 12:46

    But organized religion is the problem!

  16. August 20, 2018 at 12:30

    Virtually all of the public acts of this Ukrainian government seem to be of this nature.

    Petulant, childish, vindictive, and in any large sense, meaningless. Whether we are talking about the kind of anti-Russian language legislation they early on drafted causing the people of Donbas and Crimea, overwhelmingly Russia-speakers, to secede or about the Kiev government’s start of armed hostilities against those regions.

    Whether we are talking about the miserable performance of the Ukrainian army against a far smaller “enemy” or about their efforts to have a draft in Western Ukraine, an act which literally saw armies of young men run away or go into hiding.

    Whether we are talking about their inability or unwillingness to rid themselves of such clearly fascist organizations as the Azov Battalion or their unwillingness or inability to even begin doing what they must to implement the Minsk Accords, the internationally accepted formula for peace.

    Whether you are talking about serious incidents of sabotage in Crimea or the dozens of blundering little hostilities that have occurred, from talking about closing the much-used rail connections to Russia to taking temporary hostages such as the crew of a Russian ship.

    Despite their blunders and dangerous acts, they remain protected by America, the same America, of course, we know arranged the original coup against an elected government.

    We know this thanks to the ugly talk of graceless former State Department official, Neocon, Victoria Nuland, who was heard bragging about the 5 billion dollars her country spent on the project, just as she was overheard yelling, “F—k Europe!” when reminded of any European concern.

    America, too, has worked overtime behind the scenes pressuring for European support of this illegitimate and shameful government.

    And there was its biggest piece of work, the complete obfuscation, and even corruption, of the investigation into the downing of Flight MH-17, which appears almost certainly to have been downed by the same incompetent Ukrainian military. A shameful and unethical cover-up to protect the just plain awful current government of Ukraine.

    I am sure that it all reflects both the immense tensions within this coup-installed government and the just plain incompetence of its leaders.

      August 20, 2018 at 12:44


      The entire vast project was intended to create an irritant and a threat along a major Russian border. And Russia’s reactions so deftly and appropriately to deflect the threat simply have infuriated Washington’s new-aggressive-imperialist and Neocon crowd. This success of Putin’s along with his acting to help stop paid mercenary terrorists trying to destroy the beautiful country of Syria – mercenaries paid, supplied, and supported from the beginning by the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, France, and Britain – has earned him the eternal enmity of Washington’s establishment.

      • michael crockett
        August 20, 2018 at 15:49

        You are spot on John Chuckman. Your sharp analysis and your ability to provide context to the Russian/Ukrainian conflict is very much appreciated. The US role in all of this remains disgraceful. The empire has become a terrorist state itself. The MIC rakes off much of our tax dollars as healthcare and infrastructure collapse in a America. Reports cite an epidemic of homeless people living in their cars or RVs in large cities along our West Coast. They suffer further when their vehicles, ticketed by police, eventually end up in impound lots. They are now stripped of all their worldly possessions and that little bit of shelter they had from the storm.

        • Professor
          August 21, 2018 at 14:43

          There are a lot of people in California and other West Coast cities living in their cars,RVs, vans, in parks , along waterways and on the streets. Certainly more than a million. The quality of life has been impacted for everyone. It really is shameful in a country as rich as ours that our government won’t do anything to limit immigration or tax the top end of the economy nor will they help the homeless or create jobs through necessary infrastructure improvements. I can’t resist noting that the fares on bridges in the Bay Area are being increased to $10 and toll roads are being built all over the freeway system in the Region. . It Homelessness definitely swept under the rug by the National Media. I just want to add that this exploded under Obama that’s Obama . .., after Russia gave Snowden (Remember him?) asylum and Obama said give him up or else. , just as the New Cold War 2.0 against Russia has been institutionalized in government, the news media and foreign policy. Homelessness is an extranalogy that we won’t talk about now but when the Economy of Constant War and Boogie-men stealing our elections finally turns down and we have to look in the mirror, well, there are a lot of problems. Here in California the economy is unsustainable . All this construction and stimulus is going to make the collapse worse. and this is the engine that is driving th the US economy. This is unsustainable. How to keep everyone, even the losers in line? Divide and conquer. Identity politics . Not just here but in Ukraine as well, These people are useful fools. I don’t like messing with “Faith” but we are doing even worse between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East and all through Pipelinestan. Peace.

  17. August 20, 2018 at 12:27

    Thanks for this detailed, nuanced analysis of a situation I was completely unaware of.

  18. TomG
    August 20, 2018 at 11:10

    From the article, “Russian Orthodox Church’s spokesman said. “The state cannot `create’ a church, nor should it aspire to do it.”” There have been plenty of ‘state churches’ which I’m not suggesting is a good thing. The problem is a church that is complicit with the state and with empire. The Amish have 400+ years of community life without a church building. Apostolic succession, church real estate, lines of authority–are these really what the rank and file people of Russia and Ukraine really need to concern themselves with?

    To quote Wendell Berry’s character, Jayber Crow, “As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.”

    • JoeSixPAck
      August 21, 2018 at 10:06

      So I guess you didn’t read the article because you missed the point completely. Here’s a thought read history. You may learn why religion is important to people.

  19. barry k.
    August 20, 2018 at 10:03

    Interesting facts. Valdimir, actually Prince Vlad, was a Viking prince. His selection of Christianity was arbitrary. He called in reps of xtians, Jews and Muslims to present their cases. He originally favored Judaism because it was oldest and parent of the others but rejected it when he found Jews had no land – therefore weak. He next favored Islam because they were strongest but rejected it when he learned Muslims can’t consume alcohol- definitely a Scandinavian staple. So xtianity was the
    default. Basically a pagan who selected a religion for economic reasons.

    Ukrainians and Russians differ to the same extent as Texans and Scots. They speak what is essentially the same language. At various historical times Ukrainian was the queen’s russian, then it became the equivalent of hillbilly Russian when power shifted from Kiev to Moscow, then it became a separate language when the Ukraine was invented as a separate country by the oligarchs who split the spoils of Soviet collapse in cohorts with western thieves in suits.

    The tragic comedy continues as Ukrainian Nazis pretending to be democratic anti Russians with their own religion, orchestrated of course, by the same suits who robbed Ukrainians and Russians post Soviet collapse.

  20. August 20, 2018 at 08:46

    Foolish and divisive move by Poroshenko, who has always shown himself as an American toady and a corrupt opportunist. .

    • August 20, 2018 at 12:29

      Ribbit… Ribbit…

  21. Geoffrey de Galles
    August 20, 2018 at 05:13

    Interested & concerned readers would do well to follow up on Dmitry Babich’s essay by searching at YouTube for his excellent 38 mins interview yesterday (August 19) with Alex Christoforou of The_Duran:
    “Ukraine President Poroshenko moves to steal Russian Orthodox Church property”, which constitutes both a recap and an elaboration of all of what he has to say here.

  22. backwardsevolution
    August 20, 2018 at 03:32

    “The UOC-MP has also protested that neither Poroshenko nor the Rada are empowered to ask Bartholomew to change the church’s organization in Ukraine.”

    Sure, just “invent” a new church! Rip the country apart and then sever the only tie that binds – the church. Shred tradition and culture – who needs them (sarc)!

    The Wiki page on Poroshenko is interesting:

    “The estimate of his assets was set at $979 million USD, a 20% growth, and his ranking increased from 9th to 6th wealthiest person in Ukraine. The article noted that Poroshenko remained one of the only two European leaders who owned a business empire of such scale, with Silvio Berlusconi of Italy being the other.

    A total of €450 million is kept in an Amsterdam-based company registered in Cyprus, as a result of which his effective tax rate is 5% rather than the statutory tax rate of 18% in Ukraine.”

    Maybe the good citizens of Ukraine can do some “inventing” of their own, like passing a new law barring Poroshenko from hiding his money in tax havens.

    “Between 1996 and 1998, UkrPromInvest acquired control over several state-owned confectionery enterprises which were combined into the Roshen group in 1996, creating the largest confectionery manufacturing operation in Ukraine.”

    Another oligarch (just like the Russian ones) who swooped in and bought up state-owned assets, probably for peanuts. Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe he paid a fair market price – peanuts!

    Feeling like you don’t have a lot of say anymore? Your voices are being stifled, you’re being monitored, your jobs are being offshored, you’re bombarded with “fake news”, your countries suddenly have no borders, monopolies are gobbling up what’s left of business, and you’re getting a new church whether you like it or not. Hey, don’t forget to vote – it really matters (sarc).

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 20, 2018 at 09:55

      Hey backwardsevolution your frustration is heard. Funny how the U.S. although officially a state separated from a religion backs the likes of Israel who is positively Jewish, Saudi Arabia who dominates under Wahabi influences, and now Ukraine with their own orthodox Christianity. Odd in my estimation that our secular style of governing the masses supports such ancient thinking governments. Our side may boost having the most modern and superior weaponry, but on another level we are living and waging war as if we were living in the 12th Century. No sense in wondering how your long ago ancestors got suckered in by European monarchs on their way to fight the Crusades in the Middle East, because we modern western homosapiens are now doing the same. Don’t you just love progress? Joe

      • August 20, 2018 at 11:50


        Some of us always think of compromise, and dream of things as if only all this has not happened in Ukraine and Russia since 1991, and common sense had prevailed in Ukraine.

        At this time, there will be high speed trains running between Kiev and Moscow, and Odessa. The people in both countries would be enjoying a very harmonious and prosperous lives by this time. East and South Ukraine was the Industrial heartland of Russia built during Soviet period. Whatever the shortcomings and rather violent history of Soviet period, great scientific, industrial, and cultural potential was developed during that period. Russia during the Czarist Empire was a peasant country.

        Russia and Ukraine which have a common history together for over eleven hundred years except for a brief period of separation during fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. They are brothers.
        But the Ukro-Nazis ruling in Kiev are have the same type of philosophy and mind as Zio-Neocons here. This type of extremist ideology will lead to destruction of humanity on Earth.

        Same is true for Middle East. If only the West had not applied their Divide and Rule sectarian policy in ME during the last six or seven decades to control those Nations resources, there would have been a very moderate, prosperous, and stable region by this time, their people enjoying a much better life . Also, the same is true of Africa. The West’s policies will result ultimately in their own destruction, as it has started to impact Europe already with these desperate millions heading towards Europe.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 20, 2018 at 16:16

          Colonial conquest is above all else paramount to the Imperial Western powers way of thinking. We the people have been led to believe that we are the only true representatives of civilization, and with that we all are trapped into a group mind think that isn’t good. If only we in the West were to respect other cultures, and religions, then our colonial asperations would dry up to be replaced by a more suitable mindset of universal common values, as this would be the game changer we here talk about. I don’t know if this may become our future, but at the rate our nation is going I would not bet on it. Something of a very big catastrophic event will need to take place, so as to wake us all up. Funny thing is though, is outside of here at the Consortium the rest of our news doesn’t speak to such as what is currently happening in the Ukraine, and with that we all are left to be the dumber for it.

          Dave it is always good to hear from you. Joe

          • Professor
            August 21, 2018 at 21:46

            Joe how can you fail to understand that WE are the “Exceptional Nation”? Haven’t you been listening? Hasn’t this been repeated over and over, like a mantra to meditate on and absorb, by everyone in our government? This is the official orthodoxy of our government. The Chinese sent people to re-education camps. Soviets to Gulags. I hope this is not in your future here . This article tells of an extreme manipulation of Orthodox Religion in Ukraine. Well we have something rather extreme going on here as well. Aren’t we One Nation Under God after all? Perhaps you and I should both consider embracing this new Orthodoxy here in America. It is for our own after all and for the entire world’s good as well. It’s better than being rendered then disappeared to Camp for Heresy.. C’ya.

    • Dmitry Babich
      August 20, 2018 at 10:22

      Excellent analysis, backwardsevolution! You understood the religious side of the controversy and you rightly described the way Poroshenko approaches the issue of creating a “united” Ukrainian church. For Poroshenko and Denisenko, the matter is mostly commercial – we are talking about billions which Ukrainian and Russian believers donated to build church buildings, to create great works of church art, etc. The Ukrainian press and former deputy prosecutor Renat Kuzmin even accuse Poroshenko of stealing 15 million out of 25 million dollars which the Ukrainian oligarchs donated for “making it easier” for Constantinople to agree to Pporoshenko’s demand.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 21, 2018 at 04:33

        Dmitry Babich – thanks, Dmitry. You’ve written a very interesting article, and please keep us informed on how it all plays out. I hope the Poroshenko-Denisenko plan goes down to defeat. 1,000-year-old faith, culture and tradition should not be wiped out by a big, fat bureaucrat! Good luck, Dmitry.

  23. David G
    August 19, 2018 at 23:20

    The era of human history when spiritual and cultural traditions served to moderate the goals and means of the men of violence and acquisition seems to be well and truly over.

    Hey, maybe the new, de-Russified Ukrainian church can use candy from Poroshenko’s factories as Communion bread!

  24. David G
    August 19, 2018 at 23:09

    I’m really glad to see Dmitry Babich here. Welcome!

    But maybe this piece has been sitting on the shelf for a few weeks, since it tells us of a “planned Aug. 3 meeting between Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul … [which] all Russia and all of Ukraine will be anxiously watching”.

    If that was the actual date, and the meeting occurred, we’d like to know what happened.

      August 20, 2018 at 02:06

      It was a typo. The meeting is planned for Aug. 31, link to article included.

      • David G
        August 20, 2018 at 02:59

        Ah, thanks!

          August 20, 2018 at 03:03

          Thanks for pointing it out.

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 20, 2018 at 08:51

            Thanks for restoring my original comment Joe

    • Dmitry Babich
      August 20, 2018 at 04:50

      Actually, it is a misprint! Patriarchs Kirill and Bartholomew will meet on 31 August, 2018

      • David G
        August 20, 2018 at 09:12

        Thanks, Dmitry!

        The editors have already cleared up the date misprint, but it’s great to see you here. Don’t be a stranger!

  25. mike k
    August 19, 2018 at 21:47

    What use does the current regime in Ukraine have for religion? After all, they have Nazism instead.

    • Louise
      August 20, 2018 at 13:40

      No, you seem to forget that Hitler tried to design his own church as well
      using the Protestant church in Germany. Even dictators need some
      “spiritual” support.

  26. Joe Tedesky
    August 19, 2018 at 21:36

    Once again my comment disappeared… it wasn’t anything that good, but I did talk about the U.S. having some pretty despicable allies.

  27. Joe Tedesky
    August 19, 2018 at 21:22

    So with this state religion news coming out of Kiev, the U.S. continues to associate with the most despicable. Add Ukraine to the list along with Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and there you have it… we are the bad guys. Is anybody watching this? Does anyone even care, anymore? Doesn’t matter just stand for our National Anthem, and wave bye bye to our First Amendment Rights. You can thank the overly abused soldier, but please give the DC politician the finger the next time you see one.

  28. Jeff Harrison
    August 19, 2018 at 17:45

    Once again, the US demonstrates its ability to fuck things up. The US and the EU will rue the day that they tried to enforce a break between Ukraine and Russia. These things are more complex than the fools in Brussels and Washington realize.

    • August 19, 2018 at 20:02

      I can hear the silver coins falling from the sky onto the pentagon already…….

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