Fight against the Church: from the "enemy" image to a razor to the throat

03 January 14:14
After incitement against the Church in the media, priests were attacked with weapons. Photo: UOJ After incitement against the Church in the media, priests were attacked with weapons. Photo: UOJ

The anti-UOC information campaign to create an "enemy image" of the Church has brought its first bloody results – priests have been attacked with a knife. What’s next?

At the end of 2022, Metropolitan Pavel, the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, compared the current attack on the Church with the one that took place in the USSR – from 1917 to 1939. "The only difference is that we are not being killed yet," the bishop said. It seemed at the time that Metropolitan Pavel was exaggerating and that such a situation could not happen again today because Ukraine is not Bolshevik Russia and because our country's authorities declare their desire to join the European Union, where religion and the views of others are respected.

However, on 2 January 2023, it turned out that Metropolitan Pavel was not far from the truth. A man broke into a church in Vinnytsia and started smashing everything he could get his hands on. When the rector came out of the altar to reprimand the intruder, the latter simply slashed his throat with a dangerous razor. The priest is in the intensive care unit, and the police reported that they apprehended the attacker by shooting him in the leg. And you know the first question that arose after the incident – who ordered this crime?

It is clear that in this situation there may be no formal "customer", that is, a specific person who would be directly interested in the murder of the priest. But does this mean that only the man with the razor is responsible for this crime? Could there still be those who put the razor in his hands? In other words, why do such things happen and who is to blame?

Beatings of UOC priests we are used to

The fact is that attacks on priests and UOC believers in our country have long become commonplace. For example, here is a short list of attacks on the clergy of our Church over the past few years:

  • 2016: in the village of Komarovo, an attacker beat up a priest during a service;
  • 2018: a priest was brutally beaten in the Khust Eparchy of the UOC;
  • 2019: Radicals in Haluzyntsi beat up a priest during an assault on a church;
  • 2020: in Kyiv, several armed ATO soldiers beat up a UOC priest.

And here are more recent examples:

  • A man in military uniform beat up a priest of the Tulchyn Eparchy. Not just beat him up but broke his nose;
  • In Novozhyvotiv, OCU adherents beat up a priest and demolished the UOC prayer house;
  • A UOC priest was severely beaten in the Odesa region;
  • In Mariupol, unidentified men in uniform robbed a cathedral and beat a UOC priest.

Yes, physical violence against UOC believers has happened before. However, it is now that attacks on priests are becoming widespread. Another difference is the extreme cruelty and use of weapons.

About a week ago, an unknown attacker tried to assault a priest of the UOC with a knife in a church in Chernomorsk. He was disarmed by the parishioners.

As we can see, the year 2022 saw the largest number of attacks on the UOC clergy, and 2023 began with an attempted murder. A coincidence? Rather a regularity.

Who creates an "enemy image" of the Church and why?

Of course, there will be those who say that the increase in physical violence against believers is related to the general psychological state of many Ukrainian citizens, who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown during the war. That may well be so. But it is clear that too often "nervousness", especially in relation to the Church, has a definite source and is very skilfully fuelled. First and foremost, in the mass media.

The day after the attempt it turned out that the perpetrator was a mentally unstable man. The opponents of the UOC say: why are you making a big deal out of nothing, what to take from a man with a medical note? However, mentally unstable people are the first victims of aggressive propaganda. They have no internal fuse. They are told that this is an enemy and they go to kill this enemy.

In this sense, the Ukrainian media have long been compared to Rwanda's “Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines” (French for "Free Radio and Television of the Thousand Hills"). It should be recalled that between 6 April and 18 July 1994 Hutus killed between 500,000 and 1,100,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, according to various estimates. The total number of victims was up to 20 per cent of the country's population and one of the main culprits in the massacres was none other than RTLM, whose presenters veiledly called for the massacre of Tutsis.

Some of the presenters and editors of many channels in Ukraine perform roughly the same function. They call UOC priests "Moscow priests", "FSB agents in cassocks", "Moskals", etc. And the UOC itself – "an agent network".

But the level of aggression to the Church "surpassed" all of them in the "Quarter 95" programme, the hosts of which took the liberty of blaspheming God and even verbally abusing the UOC clergy. In addition, this broadcast of Bayraktar News also implicitly contained calls for violence against the "Moscow priests".

So, a flow of foul language directed at UOC priests began with a story of the presenters about how some guy swore at a priest and the court (the most humane in the world) fined the guy only 119 hryvnias. This was followed by a set of obscene phrases, after which the hosts announced the "price list" which included the following "prices": "to spit at an MP priest – UAH 20", "to strike on the left cheek and automatically on the right – UAH 100". We wonder how much such an action as "slitting a priest's throat" would cost the "Q 95" guys.

It should be noted that not only we but also YouTube users are asking a similar question. Many of them believe that it was the “Q 95” statements that became one of the causes of the Vinnytsia tragedy.

  • "Quarter 95, a UOC priest from the Vinnytsia Eparchy was stabbed today. His blood is also on your hands. Yes, we have a free country, only it turns out that when you open your mouth, someone’s freedom is over."
  • "They cut a priest's throat in Vinnytsia... How much did “Q 95” pay for it?"

Indeed, it is impossible to say that the incident in Vinnytsia was a pure accident. Especially when you consider that such wild escapades as the "Quarter 95" programme remain completely unpunished. And it is well known that impunity breeds permissiveness, which in turn leads to insane cruelty.

In this situation, the Ukrainian media are doing everything to establish among the people the idea that the UOC is an "enemy”. The purpose of such an assertion is simple – to push the people to violence against the "enemy” and conclude that in the fight against the "enemy," all means are good. Even a "razor to the throat".

From the "enemy image" to the razor

Many years of crazy propaganda and promotion of the "enemy image" from the UOC have already begun to bear fruit. And it is safe to say that the Vinnytsia incident is just the beginning. Why? Read public posts and comments on social networks that have published information about this tragedy. Read them and you will be horrified by the cynicism, rudeness and hatred with which most of our fellow citizens react to the razor blade to the throat of a priest.

Here are a few examples, for example:

  • "It's God's will, isn't it? Seems to have been called to a meeting".
  • "Didn't believe that Archpriest Antony Kovtoniuk actually believes in God".
  • "They don't want to go to Moskovia voluntarily, so they'll get help."
  • "Catch the father! He stole our sausage!!!"
  • "What's wrong with the man? Pity him, not the priest..."
  • "All these priests and their parishes are business stores, there is no God there. Just look at their shiny fat faces and remember the sin of gluttony. I'm not interested in their mafia hit at all."
  • "I think that the priests of the UOC MP should not be in Ukraine".
  • "You should close all the mospatriarchates together with their parishioners".
  • "It's a shame when the first and only Russian priest could only be cut by a guy with a note from a madhouse, and not all these fine people from the comments."

And these are by no means the vilest comments found on the web right now. It's just that the format of our publication and our Christian conscience do not allow us to quote everything that Church opponents write.

The script and the scriptwriters

Note that all this is written by those who live with us in one country, who buy food in the same groceries as we do, and whose children go to school with our children. They are written by those who consider themselves normal, educated and civilized Europeans. Why? Is it only because there is a war in the country? No, of course not. It is simply very convenient when there is an unanswerable "enemy" nearby whom one can blame all one's troubles and misfortunes on. An "enemy" whose image has been created long and hard, and which has finally taken shape. The next step is destruction.

Anti-Semitism in Germany followed exactly the same scenario, which resulted in millions of Jews dying in the ovens and gas chambers. At first, the media persuaded Germans that the Jews were to blame for their economic, political and social problems. Then petty politicians picked up the idea, followed by the leadership of the country. Then ordinary citizens, who had lived with Jews all their lives, drunk beer together and been family friends, turned them into the Gestapo and rejoiced over their deaths.

The same scenario was used in the Soviet Union. First newspapers branded them "enemies of the people", then they were "exposed" by Party spokesmen and when the accusations came from the highest tribunes, the security services and ordinary but conscious citizens took up the cause. The result? Millions of the dead in concentration camps and prisons.

The scenario is always the same as well as the end result. Do those who stand behind the defamation of the Church understand this? Those who from every news article pour dirt on millions of their fellow citizens, calling them the enemy? We think yes, they do. They are deliberately encouraging some of our country's citizens to pick up dangerous razors and cut the throats of other citizens of the country. Why would they do that?

Because they have been living their whole lives according to the principle "the worse, the better". Because if there is an internal war in Ukraine, if there is disorder and chaos, it will not only be easier for all these instigators to steal. They will have a chance to gain (or retain) power. And for that chance, they would cut anyone's throat.

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