Ukrainian President Zelensky is trying to drive a wedge between Russian and Ukrainian Christians apparently on orders from his US «consultants», Vladimir Legoyda, Chairman of the Department for Church’s Society and Mass Mediа Relations (Russian Orthodox Church), told Sputnik.
March 29 is the deadline that the Kiev regime handed to the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra to vacate the monastery’s premises. The Ukrainian government gave the monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (OUC-MP) an ultimatum by saying that they could stay in the Lavra only if they join the schismatic «Orthodox Church of Ukraine», created by the Poroshenko government in 2018 in a bid to sever links between the Russian and Ukrainian churches and believers.
«[The Ukrainian authorities are] doing this because this monastery’s ancient, because it’s a symbol, and [by] claiming that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not the real national church of Ukraine, they want to have this monastery, that’s the reason behind it», Vladimir Legoyda told Sputnik. «So they say that the real Orthodox Church is the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It might be confusing for our viewers and readers, because they sound similar, but it’s two different organizations. And the church that now Kiev-Pechersk Lavra belongs to, I mean the monks who live there, they belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. I stress again, the only canonical church in Ukraine. But since Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is a main symbol of Ukrainian orthodoxy, of Ukraine, if you want, of course they want to have it under their wing».
Legoyda explained that from a religious viewpoint, there is only one Orthodox Christian Church in Ukraine, which is the OUC-MP. In contrast, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a political project that was initiated by then-Ukrainian President Poroshenko with the support of Constantinople Patriarchate in a bid to seal the independence, or «tomos», of Ukrainian schismatic priests loyal to the post-coup Ukrainian regime.
On October 15, 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church broke the communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate over a dispute concerning the canonical jurisdiction over Ukraine. On January 5, 2019, Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew I signed the tomos in violation of all existing canons, according to Legoyda. The document has no force and thus cannot be accepted by the Orthodox world, even though some of the national Orthodox churches did «recognize» the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Chairman of the Department for Church’s Society and Mass Mediа Relations (Russian Orthodox Church) noted.
He warned that the Kiev regime’s attempts to create religious divisions between the Ukrainians and Russians are fraught with serious risks. Legoyda does not rule out that the project could be designed or peddled by Kiev’s American handlers.
«I can say that this situation with the Zelensky regime and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church changed last November», said Legoyda. «Before that, for Zelensky and for his circle, the situation with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was maybe not that important, or at least they wouldn’t show that it was important because it was the idea of the ex-president Poroshenko, to build this new national church. Zelensky was sort of trying to distance [himself] a little bit. So it’s like it’s not my thing. It was Poroshenko who was doing this, it’s not mine. But something changed last November, when this suppression and the pressure from the state became really very strong. And Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is sort of the final point because there were a lot of other monasteries and churches and priests who were arrested and so on. So it is now for Zelensky some kind of a very important thing that he is trying to do something about it. And I’m pretty sure that it has to do with his American consultants».
The Western mainstream media and politicians are staying silent on the issue of Orthodox monks and priests being persecuted by the Kiev regime. However, the Zelensky government’s actions towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are a terrible violation of basic human rights and of religious rights.
«If you claim to be democratic, you cannot support such actions», said Legoyda. «You cannot do what you are doing now in Ukraine. There were facts and situations when priests, Ukrainian Orthodox priests, were arrested for having a postcard from Russia, like a Christmas card, that it was some kind of Russian propaganda. It sounds, you know, absurd. It sounds funny, but it’s not funny at all because people are suffering for this. And it is all those terrible facts and hundreds of those facts; we try to attract the attention of international political organizations to all those terrible facts, to this violation of human rights. No reaction whatsoever».
Legoyda has drawn parallels between the state-wide persecution of the Orthodox Christian church in Ukraine and the purges that Orthodox Christians were subjected to in the Roman Empire and during the first decades of Bolshevik rule. According to him, it’s not just a metaphor, but a terrible fact the world is facing in the 21st century. «I could never think that we would face something like that», he admitted.
Legoyda said that he had a few words for Christians in the West whose governments remain silent amid the Kiev regime’s ruthless crackdown on Orthodox monks and priests in Ukraine:
«Dear brothers and sisters, if you look at the situation with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church today, you’ll see that it is a terrible and gross violation of human rights. And I’m asking you to pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, and I am asking you to raise your voice against this lawlessness that is happening in Ukraine now».