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RUSSIA: Will Patriarch Kirill be an accomplice to war crimes and the gravedigger of the Orthodox Church?

Will Patriarch Kirill go down in History as an accomplice to war crimes and the gravedigger of the Russian Orthodox Church?

Patriarch Kirill’s crucifixion on the cross

The Patriarch is The Patriarch is looking for a way out of the moral and political abyss while theologians from different countries raise the question of his excommunication (Novaya Gazeta, Peace Nobel Prize 2021, one of the last Russian independent media outlets)

HRWF Call to Patriarch Kirill: “Patriarch Kirill, you may be the only person who has the power to stop President Putin in his war in Ukraine. Will you use this power or will you go down in History as an accomplice to war crimes and as the gravedigger of the Russian Orthodox Church?”


Novaya Gazeta (20.03.2022) – https://bit.ly/3N6SLD0The current catastrophe of humanity has become a challenge to religious consciousness. There were a number of religious figures in Russia who have shown that they are able to “justify” absolutely everything. Can a Christian, following the command of conscience, not fulfill the command of power, which forces a grave sin?


After reading the prayer “On the “Brother Cain”, on the evening of March 16, Pope Francis spoke via video link with Patriarch Kirill. The details of the conversation are unknown – the patriarchy sparingly reports that “a detailed discussion of the situation on Ukrainian soil took place” and the parties expressed “hope for an early achievement of a just peace”.


On the same evening, Kirill talked to the head of the Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby. Both patriarchal interlocutors had previously harshly condemned what is forbidden to be called by real name. As condemned by the whole stunned Christian world (with rare exceptions, mainly coinciding with the border line of the Russian Federation). After all, the above… “situation” has a truly biblical, metaphysical scale.


“Justification” or at least “explanation” of evil and violence is a key problem of any philosophical system, any religion.


The current catastrophe of humanity has become a challenge to religious consciousness. There were a number of religious figures in Russia who have shown that they are able to “justify” absolutely everything.


How do they do it and how does the Christian tradition respond to them?

Legisl law”


“A fight that has metaphysical significance,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church described what is happening in Ukraine in his sermon on Forgiveness Sunday. So, it is performed not only on earth, but also in the sky, in the invisible world. It is difficult to get rid of associations with Islamic jihad, a holy war in which external violence is only a reflection of spiritual content. Kirill compared his own position in this struggle to the crucifixion on the cross.


Three days later, on March 9, in a new sermon, he addressed the problem of the nature of the state and the right of some states to violence against others. States “are institutions that have the legitimate right to use force, forcing … other countries, if they see them as a threat, to ensure that there is no threat.” This interpretation in principle justifies any war between countries, including World War II. The social concept of the ROC, adopted more than 20 years ago as its official doctrine, on the contrary, condemns state violence if it involves sin: “If the authorities force Orthodox believers … to commit sinful, spiritual acts, the Church should refuse to obey the state. A Christian, following the command of conscience, may not fulfill the commands of power that force him to commit committing a grave sin.”


For more than 60 years, the ROC has been a member of the largest ecumenical association – the World Council of Churches (WCC), which considers peacekeeping its priority. Now the Secretary General of the Council is an Orthodox priest from Romania John Sauca, who appealed to Patriarch Kirill to influence the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation. On March 10, the Patriarch signed a rather harsh rebuke to the Secretary General of the WCC, where he accused NATO countries of what was happening, allegedly deceiving Russia and allegedly intending to attack The Patriarch accused the West of excessive sanctions against the Russian Federation and rampant Russophobia.


This political concept is now included in the ROC worship. The Patriarchate ordered to proclaim a prayer at each liturgy, in which there are words addressed to Christ: “But with an infirmant language, to those who want and against Holy Russia to the rank – forbid and overthrow their plans.”


That is, some foreigners turned against Russia, however, in his other sermon, the patriarch made it clear that he had attacked… Ukraine:


“Political forces have emerged on a nearby, native Ukrainian land… How nasty and mean it is to use the fraternal people to implement their geopolitical goals! How terrible it is to set this people on your brothers! How terrible it is to arm him so that he can fight his half-brothers and half-believing brothers!” However, elsewhere in the same sermon, Kirill claims that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, which means that the “special operation” takes place not between countries, but within the same people: “Frightened by his power, the neighbors began to do everything to divide this people to inspire parts of this people that you are not one people at all.”


The main theological authority in the ROC in recent decades was considered Honored Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Alexei Osipov, who – to the disappointment of many of his fans – today has been actively involved in military propaganda. His main arguments simply repeat TV: “protection of Donbass residents”; “NATO containment” and “denazification”. The last slogan was answered by the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, which, in active cooperation with the State of Israel, is engaged in the evacuation of the Jewish population from the combat zone. “Thesis about “denazification,” says the community, “is a mistaken choice of Russian propaganda… – Is there a need to “denacify” a country where the law “On Countering and Preventing Anti-Semitism” was adopted for the first time in 30 years of independence?.. Criminal liability for anti-Semitism has been introduced.” During the conflict, both the buildings of the synagogues and the Babi Yar memorial in Kiev, where the Jewish cemetery used to be located, were damaged. “In the Talmud, desecration of bones is called a kind of form of killing,” the community reminded.

Is justice higher than forgiveness?


On the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on March 13, the Patriarch presented in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to the head of Rosgvardia the August Icon of the Mother of God, which appeared to Russian soldiers at the very beginning of the First World War, in August 1914. This phenomenon occurred near the city of Mariampol (consonant with Mariupol) in East Prussia. Both cities bear the name of the Mother of God, but what is happening in Mariupol is incomparable to what happened in Mariampol.


Pope Francis dedicated his last Sunday sermon to the universal tragedy of Mariupol: “The city bearing her name, Mariupol, has become a martyr city tearing the soul [a word that the RKN forbids to use], which exhausts Ukraine. Before the barbarism of the murder of children, innocent and defenseless civilians, there can be no convincing strategic arguments: it is necessary to stop this unacceptable armed [the word prohibited by the RKN] before it turns cities into cemeteries… In the name of God, I ask you: stop this bloodshed!”


As if in response to the call of 286 clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church to stop hostilities and remember mutual forgiveness Kirill said: “Forgiveness without justice is surrender and weakness.”


It is obvious that such “weakness” is overflowing with the entire Gospel and all Christianity, which should be replaced by religion that raises morale and nurtures hatred for the Western world.


“Russian World” as heresy and Manichaeism


Orthodox theologians from different countries recently signed a document in which the concept of the “Russian World” – one of the ideological foundations of “special operation” – is understood as a theological heresy. This document can form the basis for the condemnation of the ROC and the excommunication of its patriarch at the summit of the Pentarchy (the five oldest churches of the Orthodox East), which will meet in April in Constantinople. In his “historical speech” on the night of February 22, Vladimir Putin appealed to the doctrine of the “Russian World”. Professor of Theology Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun) (ROC) identifies this idea of Putin with Manichaeism – a Gnostic syncretical doctrine of the III-VI centuries, which influenced later occultism.


Putin’s Manichaeism is the belief that NATO and the United States are some kind of ontological evil and everything they say is a lie. Ukraine turned out to be the scene of a clash of light and darkness: being an organic part of the Russian World, it suddenly came under the full control of the West, which contradicts its nature, so Ukraine must be “saved”.


Oh. Kirill draws attention to the fact that Putin’s “Orthodoxy” on many points clearly contradicts the church tradition. For example, the president declared that Islam is closer to Orthodoxy than Catholicism, and that Saints Boris and Gleb should not be honored because they voluntarily went to death instead of fighting the enemy – Svyatopolk the Cursed. The professor notes the obvious occult aspects of this religiosity: numerology (the beginning of “military special operations” on “beautiful” dates such as 08.08.08 or 22.02.22) and dependence on parapsychologists.


According to Sergei Shumilo, Director of the International Institute of Athos Heritage, the Soviet-Orthodox ideological hybridity “combines painful ideas that have inspired residents of Russia over the past 30 years. They believe that there was no Ukraine, that someone is constantly “inventing” Ukrainians. The city of Kiev takes the place of a magical symbol in this doctrine.


Among those who signed the theological document condemning the “Russian World” there are only a few theologians from Russia. This is the rector of the Bible and Theological Institute Dr. Alexey Bodrov, Professor of Leningrad State University named after A.S. Pushkina Tatiana Pronina, Dr. Bishop Gregory (Lurier) and former editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” Sergei Chapnin. We must pay tribute to their courage. In short, the authors of the document call “Russian World” “ethnophyletic religious fundamentalism of a totalitarian nature.” The essence of the doctrine is that “there is a transnational Russian civilization called Holy Russia, which includes Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (and sometimes Moldova and Kazakhstan), as well as ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking people around the world. It is claimed that this “Russian World” has a common political center (Moscow), a common spiritual center (Kiev), a common language (Russian), a common church (Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate) and a common patriarch (Patriarch of Moscow), who works in a “symphony” with a common president/national leader (Putin) in the field of governance of this Russian world, and also defends a common original spirituality, morality and culture… This “Russian world” (as the doctrine says) is opposed by a corrupt West led by the United States and Western European peoples, capitulating to “liberalism”, “globalization”, “Christophobia”, “rights of homosexuals” promoted on gay parades, and “militant secularism”. Against the West… the Moscow Patriarchate, together with Vladimir Putin, acts as true defenders of Orthodox doctrine, which they consider in the categories of traditional morality, rigorist and unyielding understanding of tradition and veneration of Holy Russia.


“Ethnophyletism” as a doctrine of a special place or special rights of one people in the Orthodox Church has already been condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 1872. The identification of the church with the mission of some earthly state contradicts the words of Christ: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom had come from this world, my servants would have fought so that I would not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36). Adherents of the Russian World, on the contrary, reduce the function of the church to auxiliary work in the interests of the nation and the state. The “Association of Orthodox Experts” of the ROC writes that after the “liberation” of Ukraine, the church will be engaged in the return of … the Russian national identity of Little Russians, who need to be helped to remember “where did the Russian Land come from”.


It is not clear whether the authoritative book of the New Testament is for supporters of the Russian World. In it, for example, the Apostle Paul writes that “there is no more Jew, nor Greek, nor slave, nor free, there is no more man and woman; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). What is the significance of the notorious “Russian identity” for connecting with Christ and saving the soul?! Christianity recognizes the unity of all human nature, in which Christ, the Son of God, was incarnated, and the nature of Russians in this sense is no different from the nature of Americans. In addition, theologians write that “the unleashing <…> is the final failure of Christ’s law of love.”


This is also evidenced by the Synod of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which calls the phenomenon that we are forbidden to call by our name the most terrible sin.


“Do not touch my anointed, and do not do evil to My prophets” – such a commandment is contained in the Psalms (psalm 104). In the Orthodox tradition, it was customary to interpret it in the meaning of the inviolability of individuals of kings and priests. But during the “special operation” the facts of destruction and desecration of churches and violence against clerics were noted. On the night of the celebration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the rocket hit the buildings of the Svyatogorsk Lavra of the Moscow Patriarchate, which was previously considered a stronghold of the Russian World. And in Berdyansk, after his “liberation” priest Oleg Nikolaev, who belongs to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, disappeared. Mission Fr. Oleg was studying the feat of the new martyrs of the twentieth century, and now parishioners fear that he may follow the path of martyrdom.


In Russia itself, there is already the first priest convicted of “Blessed are the Peacekeepers” – Fr. John Burdin from Kostroma.


The outstanding church writer Archpriest Valentin Sventsitsky wrote in 1906, addressing his modern hierarchy: “Woe to you, Pharisees and scribes, who exhausted the people, bless rapists, robbers, robbers who covered the entire Russian land with terrible wounds. Woe to you, metropolitans, bishops, priests, together with the servants of the antichrist, who tormented Christ, who came to you under the spect of a servant. Woe to you, who strangled the light of Christ, alienated the best people from the Church, guarded faith with machine guns, soldiers and gendarmes.” There’s nothing to add to that.

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RUSSIA: Un(der)reported news from Novaya Gazeta, Nobel Peace Prize 2021

War in Ukraine (12 March): Un(der)reported news from Novaya Gazeta, Nobel Peace Prize 2021


HRWF (12.03.2022) – Novaya Gazeta is one of the last media outlets in Russia which has still not been prosecuted or banned for using its freedom of speech but when reading their articles we must keep in mind that the editorial board has to deploy a lot of ingenuity to cover sensitive issues and denounce abuses.


Law criminalizing information about the war in Ukraine: At least 60 cases were initiated as of 7 March

Human rights activist Pavel Chikov – about the beginning of the application of the article on “discrediting the actions of the Russian army” because of rallies against “special operation.


Russia began to apply a new article of the Code of Administrative Offences – 20.3.3, which entered into force only on March 4 this year. Code of Administrative Offenses (“Public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security”). This was reported to Novaya Gazeta by the head of the international human rights group Agora Pavel Chikov. Cases, according to him, began to start after yesterday’s protests. The maximum amount of fine for individuals provided for in the new article is 100,000 rubles, for officials – 300,000 rubles, for legal entities – a million rubles.


Full article in Russian and English here



Testimonies of female detained protesters/List of over 5000 detainees

What the girls who found themselves in the Department of Internal Affairs “Brateevo” heard and experienced on the eve of March 8, Women’s Day.


On Sunday, March 6, actions against what cannot be called were held in 65 cities of Russia (under the threat of criminal prosecution of journalists and media closure). According to OVD-Info*, more than 5,000 people have been detained throughout the country (according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs – more than 3,300). The day before, 26-year-old Muscovite Alexandra Kaluzhskikh allowed to publish an audio recording of what was happening in the Brateevo Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, this is not an isolated case of pressure on protesters and passers-by accidentally hit by paddy wagon. “Novaya” talked to the girls detained at the protests.


See lists of detained demonstrators here


Full article in Russian and English here




Censorship: The Prosecutor General’s Office demanded that Meta (ex-Facebook Inc.) be recognized as an “extremist organization.”

The agency demanded that the spokesman for Meta Platforms Inc. Andy Stone to say that “in the light of events in Ukraine,” the company will temporarily stop blocking aggressive statements against the Russian military. Later, Meta Vice President Nick Clegg further explained that negative statements about the Russian army will be allowed only by Ukrainians to allow them to “pour out anger”, and the platform itself will not tolerate Russophobia as a phenomenon.

Roskomnadzor has already decided to block Instagram.

Full article in Russian and English here

Dissident from the 6th “A”

At the history lesson, a Moscow schoolboy expressed his position on the “special operation”. After that, the police came to his house and cut off the electricity


Kirill (we do not specify his last name at the request of his mother) is 12 years old, he studies in the 6th grade of the Moscow school (the number is in the editorial office). His mother Natalia says that the boy has Ukrainian roots, he visited the Ukrainian Cultural Center. What is now happening between Russia and Ukraine hurts him.


Full article in Russian and English here


Resistance: A teacher who refused to conduct a “propaganda lesson” was fired in Moscow


On 8 March, a 28-year-old geography teacher at school No. 498 published a post on his personal Instagram page. He was suspended from work and will certainly be dismissed. This was his post:


“You have to live in such a way that your conscience does not torment you. Recently, at school I was told: “You can’t have any position but the official, state one.” So, I have my own opinion! And not only me, many teachers have their own opinion. And you know what? It clearly does not coincide with the opinion of the state. I don’t want to be a mirror of state propaganda, I’m proud that I’m not afraid to write about it now, I’m proud to be a teacher! My conscience doesn’t torment me. I love absolutely every student I have had, is and will be.”


Full article in Russian and English here


Photo credits: Novaya Gazeta

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RUSSIA: Russia acts against Evangelical movement with international ties

Russia acts against Evangelical movement with international ties

Omon troops break up conference of Protestant Churches in Ramenskoe and arrest up to 200 participants

Novaya Gazeta (03.12.2021) – In Ramenskoe near Moscow police arrived at a conference of pastors of “New Generation”* protestant churches and arrested up to 200 persons. This was reported by Pastor Albert Ratkin in a video on YouTube.


The conference began on 1 December. It involved registered and unregistered religious organizations. According to Ratkin it assembled around 200 persons.


He described how in the evening of 2 December, OMON troops with automatic weapons stormed the conference and arrested all of the participants.


“They laid them face down, like criminals. They beat some. . . They lay on the cold floor for 40 minutes,” Ratkin quoted one of the detainees. He said the security forces collected personal data from the detainees and fingerprinted them. They also demanded that they acknowledge that “election of new leadership was conducted” at the conference.


The pastor reported that the believers “were trying to call Latvia and Ukraine.”


In August, the office of prosecutor general declared that four religious organizations, which are linked with those countries, were “undesirable in Russia.” They included the New Generation International Christian Movement, the New Generation Evangelical Christian Church, the Spiritual Board of Evangelical Christians of the New Generation Ukrainian Christian Church, and the Religious Academic Institution of the New Generation International Bible College.


The reason for declaring them to be undesirable was the conduct of activity that “represents a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and to the security of the Russian Federation.”


After midnight Ratkin reported that the detainees began being released. Indictments were composed for them, but it is not known what article they were based on.


*The “New Generation” church organizations are registered in Latvia and Ukraine, but have been declared undesirable in the R.F. (tr. by PDS, posted 3 December 2021)


HRWF Comment: Novaya Gazeta got the 2021 Peace Nobel Prize


Security troops storm “New Generation” pastors’ congress in Moscow suburb (REN TV)


Photo:Siloviki went down to the congress of the undesirable movement “New Generation” – Ren TV

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

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RUSSIA: Belarus refuses to extradite to Russia Jehovah’s Witness

Belarus refuses to extradite to Russia Jehovah’s Witness requesting political asylum

Novaya Gazeta/ Stetson Russia Religion News- (20.10.2021) – https://bit.ly/3E0HKOl – The office of the prosecutor general of Belarus refused to extradite to Russia the Jehovah’s Witness Oleg Lonshakov, Mediazona* reports, citing the press service of the religious organization.


In Russia, Lonshakov is accused of creating an extremist organization (part 1, article 282.2 of the Criminal Code) and he has been placed on the international wanted list.


The believer was arrested on 29 September in Brest, where he has been for more than a year now on a residency permit. Several days later he was sent to the SIZO until 8 November. The Jehovah’s Witnesses note that at the present Lonshakov has been released from the holding cell.


In September 2021, he filed a petition to receive the status of a refugee on the basis of religious confession. The Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs has promised to consider it in the coming weeks.


In April 2020, the Belarusian prosecutor general’s office also refused to extradite to Russia an adherent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses from Yugra, Nikolai Makhalichev, who had been arrested at Russia’s request. The believer requested political asylum.


Prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia began in 2017 after the decision of the Supreme Court finding this organization extremist. Since then, criminal cases have regularly been opened against its adherents and searches of their homes have been conducted.


*The publication has been listed by the Ministry of Justice in the register of news media that perform the function of “foreign agent.”

Photo: allrussias.com

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

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