Why temples seized by OCU call to hang and shoot people

Ternopil deputy at the church celebration of the OCU sang about a bullet for a "Moskal" and a rope for a "Jew". Photo: UOJ

On the porch of Gnizdychne church, seized by the raiders of the OCU, the invited deputy sang a song urging to "hang Jews" and "shoot Muscovites".

In the second half of August, Ukraine was shaken by the news – the deputy of the Ternopil Regional Council Bogdan Yatsikovsky publicly sang a song in which calls were made to hang up "Jews" and shoot "Muscovites".

This literary and musical work speaks about Bandera, whose voice is "heard in the forest", the shooting of a "Moskal" and the reprisal against a Jew who yells "don't hit me, don't":

«Знов Бандери голос чути в лісі
Автомат захований у стрісі,
по селу ідем, москаль співає,
вчасний постріл – і його немає.
Всюди буйно квітне наша влада,
жид кричить – нє бєй меня, нє надо.
А його в садочку, в тихому куточку
жде мотузка, жде».

"Bandera's voice sounds again in the forest
The rifle is hidden in a thatch roof,
We are heading to the village, a Muscovite is singing,
A timely shot – and he is killed.
Our power is flourishing everywhere,
A Jew shouts – don't hit me, don't.
But the rope awaits him
In a quiet corner of the garden.”

(Free translation – Ed.)

Basically, there is nothing new or particularly interesting for the nationalist mob. Indeed, if at every public event “patriots” pronounce “canonical” slogans calling for death to the enemies (“Glory to the nation - death to the enemies!”), then the songs with executed “Muscovites” and ropes for “Jews” are a small wonder.

Nevertheless, the situation arouses certain interest. This action was particularly poignant for the fact that the song was performed by Yatsikovsky on the porch of the OCU temple; to make matters worse, it was done during the festive Transfiguration service.

On the temple in Gnizdychne village

Until March 2019, a situation like this would be impossible for one simple reason – the church in Gnizdychne belonged to the canonical Church.

But after receiving the Tomos and Poroshenko’s ordering local authorities to "transfer" the communities to the OCU, the community of the Holy Transfiguration church shared the fate of dozens of other parishes of the canonical Church.

In Gnizdychne, everything went according to the established scheme. On January 13, 2019, activists held a meeting of the territorial community (not a religious community), where it was decided to "transfer" the church to the OCU. The religious community of the church held its meeting, where it was decided to remain in the bosom of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. But it didn't make any difference at all.

On the morning of February 3, 2019, activists staged a provocation and disrupted the Divine Liturgy. The rector of the temple, Archpriest Stefan Balan, was beaten, knocked to the ground and his finger was broken. The police were on the side of the raiders.

On March 3, the final forceful seizure of the temple took place. The video shows people with the symbols of the "Right Sector" literally throwing UOC believers out of the church.

At this time, Ivan Lesyk, a new "rector" and representative of the OCU, "boosted his profile". The video shows him literally dragging outside elderly parishioners of the UOC community, who did not want to leave their native church.

A year and a half has passed since then. The UOC believers had to accept the fact their church was lost to them. After all, the local Ternopil authorities not only sympathize with the OCU but openly promote the interests of this structure.

So here we are – Ivan Lesyk invites the deputy of the Ternopil Regional Council and the head of the regional organization of Lyashko Radical Party, Bogdan Yatsikovsky, to the patronal festival of "their" Transfiguration church in Gnizdychne.

On August 19, there was a "festive liturgy", a cross procession, after which the floor was given to the guest of honor – Mr. Yatsikovsky, who did say (or rather, sing) to the parishioners of the OCU his festive "Christian homily” being notorious now.

Ivan Lesyk and Bogdan Yatsikovsky. Photo: Yatsikovsky's Facebook page

“Radical” Deputy and OCU

Bogdan Yatsikovsky is a hereditary deputy. His mother, Oksana Yatsikovska, is also a deputy, only of the Ternopil city council, not the regional one.

Both Oksana and Bogdan Yatsikovsky are pious deputies. Their Facebook pages are riddled with photos, where they attend festive church events at the temples of Ternopil and the region.

It is difficult to say for sure about the confessional preferences of Yatsikovsky's son. He publicly quotes the words of the former head of the UGCC Miroslav Husar and at the same time actively promotes the interests of the OCU.

The deputy is in active contact with Epiphany Dumenko.

Dumenko and Yatsikovsky. Photo: Yatsikovsky's Facebook page

 

Yatsikovsky receives letters of gratitude from the Ternopil "hierarch" of the OCU Nestor

In general, Yatsikovsky's position on the promotion of OCU is public and active. In June 2019, when Filaret attacked Dumenko, the deputy even changed his avatar for the inscription "I support the Church of Ukraine" with the relevant symbols of the OCU.

Yatsikovsky supports the OCU. Photo: Yatsikovsky's Facebook page

Even before the emergence of the OCU, in November 2018, Yatsikovsky proposed to the Ternopil Regional Council to force the Pochaiv Lavra to join the new "autocephalous church".

In March 2020, Yatsikovsky initiated an appeal by the Ternopil Regional Council to the President to stop worshiping at the Pochaiv Lavra in connection with the coronavirus and to impose a state of emergency there.

Then in April 2020, the deputy proposed to the Regional Council to consider the termination of the lease agreement with the Pochaiv Lavra. In other words, to expel the monks from the monastery.

Yatsikovsky's appeal with a proposal to terminate the contract with the Pochaiv Lavra. Photo: Yatsikovsky's Facebook page

In other words, Bogdan Yatsikovsky is a person who is obviously affiliated with the OCU, has close ties to its leadership and acts in its interests, including those which are explicitly directed against the canonical Church.

The deputy's Facebook page contains many publications from church holidays, where the deputy addresses the believers of the OCU on the porch of churches exactly in the same format as in Gnizdychne. In his subsequent reports on these events, Yatsikovsky usually writes something about "spiritual unity".

But what does this very "unity" unite around? If only one video about such celebrations – from Gnizdychne – demonstrates the deputy offers to unite on the basis of executions of "Muscovites" and hangings of "Jews".

Songs about the executions of "Muscovites" and ropes for "Jews" are normal

The video with Yatsikovsky's songs became infamous. A lot of Ukrainians considered such a “performance” inappropriate and unacceptable.

MP Renat Kuzmin addressed the head of the National Police with a deputy appeal, in which he accused Yatsikovsky of inciting interethnic hatred. Kuzmin demanded the initiation of a criminal investigation under Part 2 of Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

In response, Yatsikovsky habitually called his critics "Kremlin agents", accused them of "anti-Ukrainian propaganda", and said that the video had allegedly been edited, and that the song was "sung by many Ukrainians."

In any case, the scandal would not have been possible without the man who invited the deputy to the church holiday, put him in front of the parishioners and gave him the floor. This man's name is Ivan Lesyk. And he is not only the "rector", he is the real colleague of Yatsikovsky.

How the rector-deputy invited a radical deputy to the temple 

The current "rector" of the OCU in Gnizdychne, Ivan Lesyk, who in 2019 threw old UOC parishioners out of their church, is a complicated person. He is a "deacon of the Zbarazh district" and in good standing with Epiphany Dumenko. 

Ivan Lesyk with Epiphany Dumenko and Nestor Pysyk

But among other things, Lesyk is a deputy of the Zbarazh District Council from the European Solidarity Party. This accounts for the outspoken assistance of the police by seizing the UOC temple and its complete inaction at the sight of Lesyk's violence against the believers of the canonical Church. The deputy of Poroshenko's party during Poroshenko's presidency, on top of that, had a carte blanche for any actions.

Screenshot of the site of Zbarazh District Council

The telegram channel Churcher, which is close to the OCU, wrote about Lesik in 2019 as follows: “What change in mentality are we talking about, when a priest with a dubious reputation pushes old women out of the temple? It is about a resident of the village of Zarubintsy, Archpriest Ivan Lesyk, who used force against the believers of the UOC-MP who had come to the Holy Transfiguration church for talks. The policemen, who entered the church after the activists of the "Right Sector", did not react when the priest used force against the women, including the elderly, but were simply watching the scene."

Together with Lesik, another "priest" of the OCU, Boris Leskiv, is a deputy in the Zbarazh District Council, but it is Lesyk who uses his “power capacity” to the fullest. In 2016, he blackmailed the leadership of his faction, demanding the appointment of his wife as head of the RSA’s Education Department.

***

The situation at hand allows us to draw some obvious conclusions:

  • In Western Ukraine, there is a close junction between representatives of the OCU (and the UGCC) and local authorities. Bogdan Yatsikovsky is a telling and typical example of this. He has a lot of photos with both the leadership of the OCU and the "priests" who invite him to their festivities and give him the floor.
  • Representatives of the OCU fully share the nationalist views of politicians. We can see red and black flags at almost every church celebration. And the song about murders of Russians and Jews, which was sung with the consent of the "rector" on the porch of the church is another evidence that the "priests" of the OCU are unanimous with politicians in their hostile attitude to other nationalities.
  • Complete lack of Christian love in the OCU. We will not talk about all parishes. Maybe, there are some, but they clearly do not prevail in this structure.

The case in Gnizdychne clearly demonstrates the difference between the canonical Church and the structure of the OCU. And this is not a propaganda trick of the author to highlight the UOC as good and the OCU as bad. It is not even about the person of the deputy from "European Solidarity" Ivan Lesyk, who in 2019 threw the old women out of the temple in order to grab it.

Let us ask ourselves a simple question – can you picture a situation in the canonical Church during a church celebration when a rector gives the floor to a politician who allegorically calls for murder albeit implicitly? And this rector is standing nearby, nodding his head in agreement or maybe even singing along?

It’s best if the parishioners of the OCU give an answer to this question themselves.

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