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RUSSIA: Churches collect 1 billion rubles for ‘people in need’ in occupied territories

Oleg Goncharov: the state is not pressuring the religions of the Russian Federation, they themselves collected a billion rubles in total for the victims of war (Credit: IRP)

RUSSIA: Churches collect 1 billion rubles (10 million EUR) for ‘people in need’ in occupied territories

The collaboration between religious groups and their own state in the invasion of a neighbouring country raises moral and theological questions

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (21.03.2023) – On 28 February 2023, a webinar titled “Religious Factor in Modern Political and Economic Life of Europe” was held by the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of SciencesINION RAN , and the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

According to Roman Lunkin, Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, religious organizations of the Russian Federation freely decided to collect funds “to help those in need during the Special Military Operation in Ukraine,” provide social and humanitarian assistance.

Social and humanitarian assistance in Russian-occupied territories

In an article published on 1 March 2023 by the Institute of Religion and Policy, and titled “Religions in the Russian Federation have raised a billion dollars for war victims,” Pastor Oleg Goncharov (Seventh-Day Adventist Church), Secretary General of the Russian Association for Religious Freedom and member of the Presidential Council, was quoted as saying:

“Basically, all associations focused on social assistance to those in need. Although there have been and are political statements from church leaders, everyone is united in the organization of humanitarian projects.”

“While most of the donations and other assistance are collected by the Russian Orthodox Church, Evangelical Protestant Churches have also made a significant contribution. Protestants have begun to regularly support residents of Mariupol since April 2022, various churches have had projects in Donbass since 2014. At Christmas, clothes and gifts were distributed in Lugansk.

As Goncharov noted, he was impressed by the trip to Lugansk in December 2022, where Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, Jews distributed food to children and the elderly together.

According to Goncharov, “The churches are working with the Ministry of Defense on this occasion.”

Questions:

  • Who were the providers of one billion rubles?
  • How were they collected?
  • Should religious communities collaborate with the Ministry of Defence of their aggressor country?
  • Isn’t this some form of complicity and support to the invasion of a sovereign country?

 

The “New Russian Territories” of the Russian Federation and Russian religions

Under cover of interreligious dialogue, the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill who fully support Putin’s war on Ukraine are now involving other Russian churches and religious groups in the “New Territories” ideology and the colonization thereof.

This is obvious in the article “New Territories of the Russian Federation were discussed by the bodies under the President of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.” published on 1 March 2023 by the Institute of Religion and Policy:

“The meeting, which was chaired by DECR Chairman, Head of the Commission on International Cooperation, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, was attended by:

Deputy Head of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation for Internal Policy Anatoly Vylegzhanin;

Head of the Department for Interaction with Religious Organizations of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation for Internal Policy Yevgeny Eremin;

Advisor to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Archpriest Nikolai Balashov;

Representative of the Russian and New Nakhichevan Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Priest Gevorg Vardanyan;

Chief Bishop of the Russian United Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith (Pentecostals) Sergei Ryakhovsky;

Deputy Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation for International Affairs Rushan Abbyasov;

Deputy Archbishop of Shafig Pshikhachev;

Did Hambo Lama Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia Dashi-Nima Sodnomdorzhiev;

First Deputy Chairman of the Euro-Asian Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Christian Church Oleg Goncharov, as well as other members of the Commission and invited officials.

“New Territories”

Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), Secretary of the Department of the Inter-Christian Relations, told the experience of religious organizations of the Russian Federation in providing humanitarian assistance to residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.

According to Rushan Abbyasov, he conveyed to the audience the words of greetings on behalf of the Chairman of the SAM of the Russian Federation and JIM Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin.

In the context of discussing the first topic of the meeting related to the provision of humanitarian assistance to residents of the “new territories” of Russia, Rushan Abyasov said that with the blessing of Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, the organizations he heads are doing a lot of work in this direction, as well as supporting our fighters on the front line and visit the wounded in hospitals.”

Interreligious dialogue

Archpriest Sergei Zvonarev, Secretary of the SPRC for Far Abroad, Executive Secretary of the Commission on International Cooperation, made a presentation on the prospects for the participation of traditional religious organizations of the Russian Federation in global interreligious meetings.

When discussing issues of international cooperation, he noted the importance of public diplomacy, Roushan Abbyasov spoke about the contribution of the SAM of the Russian Federation and the JIM to the development of Russia’s relations with the Islamic world, through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding, the implementation of joint humanitarian, cultural, religious and spiritual and educational projects.

Concluding the meeting, Metropolitan Anthony wished all those present blessed success in their future work.”

Questions:

  • How can Russian Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and others accept in their soul and conscience to endorse Russia’s aggression of Ukraine, Russia’s invasion and colonization of Ukrainian territories.
  • How can they accept to work in the so-called ‘New Territories’ with the blessing of the ROC and the Kremlin?
  • How long can Adventist, Evangelical, Muslim, Buddhist… organizations in Europe and America tolerate the justification of the war and occupation by their brothers and sisters in Russia.

In the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, at a joint meeting on February 27, 2023, the bodies of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of the Russian Federation – the Commission on International Cooperation and the Interreligious Working Group for the Protection of Believers from Discrimination and Xenophobia discussed Russian “new territories” and work there, as reported by the DECR.

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: Call at the UN for prosecution of Patriarch Kirill

Oral statement at the UN for prosecution of Patriarch Kirill

Statement at the 50th Human Rights Council of the United Nations

HRWF (07.07.2022) – CAP Liberté de Conscience shares its deep concerns with Human Rights Without Frontiers which has documented, for the International Criminal Court, the grave responsibility of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in the outbreak and extension of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

 

CAP calls upon the U.N. to collaborate with the ICC which is currently busy evidencing war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine and identifying the perpetrators to be held accountable.

 

The prosecution of Patriarch Kirill falls within Article 25 of the Rome Statute which provides that “a person shall be criminally responsible and liable for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court if that person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of such a crime, aids, abets or otherwise assists in its commission or its attempted commission.”

 

Moreover, on 7 April 2022, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution in which it condemned the role of Patriarch Kirill, in providing theological cover for Russia’s aggression on Ukraine.

 

Read more

 

English:

https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/07/au-3-juillet-le-haut-commissariat-recense-plus-de-dix-mille

 

French:

https://www.ungeneva.org/fr/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/07/au-3-juillet-le-haut-commissariat-recense-plus-de-dix-mille

Photo: UN Live United Nations Web TV

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website





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RUSSIA: Patriarch Kirill against abortion in private clinics

Patriarch Kirill proposes stripping private clinics of right to receive female patients for abortions

Interfax Religion (17.05.2022) – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has come up with an initiative to prohibit private clinics from performing the artificial termination of pregnancies.

“Proposals being articulated by lawmakers right now, specifically on stopping the facilitation of abortions in private clinics, which would make statistical data more accurate and eradicate the encouragement to chase profits by terminating children’s lives, seem to be important,” Patriarch said when speaking during Parliamentary Meetings in Russia’s Federation Council on Tuesday.

He went on to call on lawmakers to show a braver approach to the protection of life, without paying attention to any opinions meant to frighten people with the potential growth in illegal operations. “Any illegal actions must prompt an adequate response,” Patriarch Kirill said.

He expressed hope that law enforcement authorities would ensure that healthcare issues remain “solely within the scope of competence of the professional medical community, and not merchants.”

Patriarch Kirill also told parliamentarians that the Russian Civil Code protects the right of any unborn heir. This rule could be modified in such a way so as to make the law protect the life of a child, a future member of society, from the moment of inception. “Surprisingly, the right to inherit is protected, and the right of a child is not! How did we get this? From what culture? From what tradition?” the Russian patriarch asked.

HRWF Comment

During the 2000s, Russia’s steadily falling population (due to both negative birthrates and low life expectancy) became a major source of concern. On 21 October 2011, the Russian Parliament passed a law restricting abortion to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with an exception up to 22 weeks if the pregnancy was the result of rape, and for medical necessity it can be performed at any point during pregnancy. The new law also made mandatory a waiting period of two to seven days before an abortion can be performed, to allow the woman to “reconsider her decision”. Abortion can only be performed in licensed institutions (typically hospitals or women’s clinics) and by physicians who have specialized training. The physician can refuse to perform the abortion, except the abortions for medical necessity. The new law is stricter than the previous one, in that under the former law abortions after 12 weeks were allowed on broader socioeconomic grounds, whereas under the current law such abortions are only allowed if there are serious medical problems with the mother or fetus, or in case of rape.

 

Photo credits: Wikipedia





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UKRAINE: Is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate on the side of Moscow or Kyiv?

Is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/ Moscow Patriarchate on the side of Moscow or Kyiv?

HRWF (05.05.2022) – The autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in communion with the Patriarchate of Moscow is in a very uncomfortable situation. Over 430 clerics as of 5 May have signed a petition accusing Patriarch Kirill of support to the Russian World ideology and the war on Ukraine. They are hereby siding with the Ukrainians and with Ukraine.

 

They have “filed a suit” to the highest church judicial authority calling to condemn the doctrine spread by the Russian Orthodox Church and its heretical leader – Patriarch.

 

The head of the UOC, Metropolitan Onufriy is embarrassed by such a situation and did not enter into conflict with them, avoiding an open schism, but for how long. Indeed, at any time, they might drag their parishes into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople since 2018, and hereby weaken the UOC.

 

Metropolitan Onufriy has opted for a very diplomatic attitude because in addition, there was a legislative threat of the UOC to be banned by the Ukrainian Parliament. As the Union of Orthodox Journalists in Ukraine has said in a long article, the UOC is helping ALL Ukrainians who are victims of the conflict. Here are concrete actions showing their Ukrainian patriotism that are listed in the article of Konstantin Shemliuk “Is the Church being dragged into internal strife of security forces?”.

 

Union of Orthodox Journalists (02.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3FeL4HF – Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has clearly and unambiguously articulated its attitude to the events. For example, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry was the first religious leader in the country to call the war a sin and to compare the Russian military action against Ukraine to the sin of Cain. Besides, many UOC spokespersons and officials condemned the war.

Two dozen eparchies of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have stopped commemorating the name of Patriarch Kirill at all services, thereby expressing their disagreement with his position on the war in Ukraine. At the same time, the UOC is very actively involved in volunteer work, using all its resources for humanitarian aid to people and regions affected by the war.

It is the priests of the UOC who have rescued several thousand people from shelling. For example, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko said that Archpriest Boris Kovalchuk, rector of the Church of the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki in the village of Pilipovichi, helped evacuate over 1,500 civilians during the occupation of the Borodianka district. Archpriest Andrei Pinchuk, a cleric of the Dnipropetrovsk eparchy of the UOC, together with a team of like-minded people saved 725 children from shelling (data as of March 13).

Metropolitan Luke of Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol personally accompanied fifteen buses with evacuees from Mariupol. In response, Alexander Starukh, chairman of the Zaporizhzhia RMA, thanked the bishop and noted: “If you hadn’t gone, things would have been much worse… The children, most importantly, were taken away. Thank you.”

Furthermore, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry said that “the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, through the efforts of the episcopate, clergy, monks and believers, is ready to organize a prayer procession from the town of Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia region, to the Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol to provide emergency aid and withdraw civilians. The procession could also take out the wounded military and pick up the bodies of the dead”. It later became known that the UOC Primate blessed several dozen clergymen who went to Mariupol in order to carry out this mission.

It would not be out of place to say that a great number of UOC believers defend Ukraine with weapons in their hands on the front lines. Almost every day in temples of the UOC they hold memory services for the dead soldiers, most of whom were its parishioners. On 17 April 2022, Metropolitan Luke received the news about the death of his brother Alexander Kovalenko, who was killed in the line of military duty. In other words, today it is quite clear that the Church, for its part, is doing everything possible to ensure that the Ukrainians have a peaceful sky over their heads as soon as possible

Photo: Are law enforcers trying to use priests in internal confrontation? Photo: UOJ

Further reading about FORB in Ukraine on HRWF website





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UKRAINE: A bill on sanctions against Patriarch Kirill and hierarchs in Parliament

A bill on sanctions against Patriarch and hierarchs of ROС submitted to Parliament

By Elena Yufereva

Union of Orthodox Journalists (02.05.2022) – The authors of the bill declare “criminal activities” of Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan Tikhon and Archpriest Nikolai Balashov.

A draft law on sanctions against Patriarch Kirill and another three representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church has been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada.

The corresponding draft resolution No. 7332 was registered by the Ukrainian Parliament on April 29.

More than 20 MPs from the parties “Voice”, “Servant of the People”, “European Solidarity”, “Freedom” are submitting the document for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada. Among them are the authors of bills No. 7204 and 7213 on the prohibition of the UOC.

The bill prescribes to impose sanctions against Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) of Volokolamsk, Head of the DECR ROC, Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Pskov and Porkhov, and Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Head of the DECR MP “for systematic and active support of the war against Ukraine, legitimization of the invasion of troops and the genocide of Ukrainians by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”, as well as support for the “Russian world” ideology.

The sanctions proposed for consideration by the National Security and Defense Council provide, in particular, a ban on entry and blocking of assets, temporary restriction of the right of a person to use and dispose of his property, restriction of trade operations, restriction, partial or complete cessation of the transit of resources, flights and transportation through the territory of Ukraine, prevention of the withdrawal of capital outside Ukraine, suspension of the fulfillment of economic and financial obligations, deprivation of state awards of Ukraine, other forms of honoring, a ban on the acquisition of land plots and others.

As the UOJ reported earlier, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada stated the Parliament does not intend to raise an issue of banning the UOC.

Photo: Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Photo: life.ru

Further reading about FORB in Ukraine on HRWF website


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