Old new slap: Andrei Yurash can be “in charge of religion”

Andrei Yurash may head the new state agency responsible for religious affairs. Photo: UOJ

What can the Church expect if Andrei Yurash becomes the head of the State Service for Freedom of Conscience? 

Since the end of October, the government commission has been holding a competition for the post of head of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience. And one of the main candidates for this position is the former head of the Department of the Ministry of Culture for Religions and Nationalities Andrei Yurash.

Is criminal investigation no longer a problem for an official?

Andrei Yurash, who was “in charge of religion” under the team of Petro Poroshenko, is an odious person and in many ways scandalous.

In accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, the Church is separated from the state. But recently, this article of the country's main Law has been violated very often. And not the last role was played here by Andrei Yurash.

He was not only one of the most active supporters of the creation of the so-called OCU but also repeatedly intervened in the affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and other religious organizations.

For example, Yurash urged the UOC to withdraw its diocesan centers from the uncontrolled territories of Donbass, accused the Church of lies and manipulations, and called anyone who refused to cooperate with the authorities in the field of religion “pro-Russian” and “Russian world adherents”. Yurash was very active in promoting the scandalous law on renaming the Church and threatened all religious organizations that did not want to comply with this discriminatory law with removal from the State Register and the loss of the right of a legal entity.

Moreover, he himself has been in no hurry to comply with the laws of Ukraine and in many cases openly violated them. The head of the Department for Religions was spotted in manipulating court documents, and on September 10, 2019, the State Bureau of Investigation initiated a criminal investigation against him for falsifying the case against Archpriest UOC Viktor Zemlianoy.

Even from this short list of facts, it is completely obvious that Andrei Yurash is a person who cannot and should not occupy the post of head of the state body for religious affairs. However, as the UOJ found out, in the corridors of the Ukrainian power, they apparently believe that this is far from the case.

Competition: candidates, results and an expert

According to the sources of the UOJ, the competition for the post of head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience, which is currently taking place in Kiev, can be won precisely by Yurash.

Of the 18 candidates who applied for the position, only two have been shortlisted – Andrei Yurash and Yuri Reshetnikov. Only they passed the third stage of selection, during which the candidates for the post of head of the State Service wrote an essay.

The most interesting thing is that the theme of the essay directly related to the Church-state relations was the following: “The OCU received the Tomos. This raised more questions than answers. What should be the state policy regarding the Church from your point of view?” The answer seems to be quite obvious since it has long been spelled out in the Constitution of Ukraine. However, according to the expert invited to assess the essay, this is the wrong answer.

The theme of the essay was developed by an expert invited by the Commission on Higher State Service, which turned out to be the historian and religious scholar Igor Kozlovsky. The strangest thing is that he checked the results single-handedly.

In 2017, with the help of the UOC and the ROC, Igor Kozlovsky was released from captivity in the Donbass, in which he stayed for contacts with the “Svoboda” party. In the world of Ukrainian religious studies, he made a name on publications on yoga, including: “The Chakras and their place in the architectonics of man”, “Prana – the energy of life”, “Tattva shuddhi sadhana”, “Yoga of the Lotus Feet”, “Yoga of the Divine Womb” , "Ancient Sadhanas of the realization of solar energy," "Mystical love Sadhanas in the traditions of the Kaula Tantra of Vajrayana".

At the moment, this person is the president of the “Discovery Centre” of the Ayurveda Yoga Tantra School. In addition, Kozlovsky is also a member of the expert council at the Department of Religion under the Ministry of Culture, the body that reports to the Department for Religions and Nationalities headed by Yurash. It is in this connection that there is every reason to doubt the objective assessment by Kozlovsky of the works written by the candidates.

The UOJ received another confirmation of the validity of such doubts from its sources. The applicants for the post of head of the State Service handed over their work sealed in an envelope without indicating their surname so that the results of the paper were as objective as possible. However, almost immediately after the assignment, Kozlovsky assured Yuras that he had the highest score and he shouldn’t worry.

What to expect next

The new Minister of Culture, Vladimir Borodiansky, has said recently that he supports the law on the involuntary renaming of the UOC. The words of the boss are echoed by his first deputy Svetlana Fomenko, who assured that the Ministry of Culture intends to move step up steps towards renaming the UOC.

It is possible to draw a well-founded conclusion that the authorities want to see precisely Yurash as the head of the new State Service for Freedom of Conscience. Why do they need this person? He is most likely to continue the policy of the previous government in the religious sphere.

Firstly, Yurash has repeatedly demonstrated his position in relation to the UOC, and you can rely on him not only in matters of renaming.

Secondly, this is a man who has proved many times that, in matters of religion, he is guided exclusively by his own sympathies and political expediency.

Therefore, if he wins, one can most likely predict what the UOC can expect:

  • Full and unconditional support for the OCU by the government;
  • A return to the renaming of the UOC, which will lead to a new wave of seizures of Orthodox churches. In a recent interview, the representative of the OCU Eustratiy Zoria openly stated that the “transfers” to the OCU will be activated after the law on the forced renaming of the UOC comes into force, and meanwhile, “the potential for the second wave” of transfers is accumulating;
  • Illegal re-registration of the statutes of UOC temples in favour of the OCU;
  • The lobbying of new anti-church laws;
  • Problems with the registration of statutes of religious communities of the canonical Church.

From this point of view, the victory of Yurash in the competition for the post of head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience will undoubtedly be a joyful event for Ukrainian schismatics. After all, led by this person, they will be able to continue their activities to destroy the Church.

But will this be a victory for the new government? Unlikely. The seizure of the temples and the open pressure of the UOC will not lead to anything good. To appoint Yurash to this post means to destabilize the religious situation in the country and society and increase tension in the sphere of Church-state relations.

Almost all of Andrei Yurash’s activities as head of the Department for Religions shows the complete lack of professionalism and, at the same time, his readiness to fulfill almost any political order.

First of all, because he violates all the democratic principles that the country's leadership declares.

Secondly, because he pursues a selective religious policy.

Thirdly, a criminal investigation was initiated against him.

All these arguments are so evident that Yuras should forget about the activities of an official for many years. Well, we will find out on November 22 whether he will forget this.

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Poll

What will happen if the Church of Greece recognizes the OCU?
it will put itself out of Orthodoxy
49%
it will give rise to global recognition of the OCU by Local Churches
18%
nothing will happen, the Greeks will be the first and the last to recognize the OCU
33%
Total votes: 560

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