Euromaidan: Is it really "victory of good over evil" for Christians?
The leaders of the OCU and the UGCC believe that Maidan is a "victory of good over evil", and we need to remember everything that we have achieved.
On November 21, Ukraine celebrated the seventh anniversary of the beginning of Euromaidan. On November 30th it recalled the "brutal beating" of students, the first Maidan victims, and, finally, the murders in February 2014. In general, this period of Ukrainian history is called the "Revolution of Dignity". One could approach it differently in 2013-2014, but only time gives a fair assessment of any historical event (and Euromaidan is really such an event). Is seven years enough assess the outcomes of Euromaidan? And how should we, Christians, evaluate it? After all, the Church views earthly events differently from secular society. It is important for Her how much love has multiplied in people and how much hatred diminished, whether grassroots have become more responsive, supportive of each other, loving the truth and hating lies, etc.
Recall that during the events of 2013-2014. Ukrainians, although they were not an ideal society, still used to live quite amicably. During the matches of Euro 2012, we equally ardently supported our national football teams at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk and at the Lviv Arena-Lviv; Donetsk residents had their rest in Western Ukraine, and Galicians went to Crimea; Western Ukraine mourned when blockages occurred in the Donbass mines, and Crimea and Donetsk sympathized with the victims of the Sknylov tragedy. Yet, Euromaidan changed everything. Those contradictions between the mentality of the West and the East of Ukraine, which existed initially, were exaggerated up to the hilt. The conventional West defeated the conventional East. And not only did it win, but also proclaimed "woe to the vanquished", completely forgetting that if we are a single country, then the defeat of one of its parts is the defeat of the entire country.
How did religious organizations behave in this situation?
Let us recall that such structures as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) have clearly taken a pro-Maidan position, dividing people not on the basis of their faith or disbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ, but on the basis of attitudes towards Euromaidan.
Let us also recall that only the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) called not for the victory or defeat of the Maidan, but for peace and harmony. Only the UOC declared that the supporters and opponents of the Maidan must remember that they are citizens of the same country, so they must respect and love each other regardless of one’s political views and beliefs. Only the UOC tried to become a peacemaker in the midst of revolutionary events that claimed the lives of hundreds of people. These peacekeeping efforts were symbolized by three brethren of the Tithes Monastery of the UOC – Hieromonk Melchizedek, Monks Gabriel and Ephraim, who on January 21, 2014, stood between the protesters and law enforcement officers.
They prayed and exhorted people on both sides of the conflict to repentance and peace. Unfortunately, the peace lasted only 22 hours, largely due to the fact that representatives of other religious organizations were only on one side and called for the victory of some over others, rather than for peace and harmony. Then the representatives of the UGCC and the UOC-KP imposed the mantra on the Ukrainians that God is with them, the Maidanites, that by overthrowing the government they are doing a godly deed. The religious issue was embedded in all the symbols of the Maidan, starting with the "Heavenly Hundred". Their death was called "life-giving", it was compared with the Easter sacrifice of Christ, while Instytutska Street was called "Ukrainian Golgotha".
Now, when the society in Ukraine is in deep crisis, Ukrainians are divided mentally and ideologically, when there is a war in the country, the "Maidan" confessions still claim that they did everything right, that the "Revolution of Dignity" is nearly the best what could have happened to the country.
Moreover, both Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Sergei Dumenko use the same rhetoric as seven years ago.
Sergei (Epiphany) Dumenko: “By God's providence, the Ukrainian people today have spiritual and state independence ... Today we will remember everything that we have achieved and got. Let us remember to thank our defenders, who in these minutes are protecting us from the Russian aggressor, as well as our to revere newest Heroes who sacrificed their lives for us ... Yes, there are many obstacles on our path and there are many who want to take away this fundamental value – freedom. But with God's help, we are overcoming obstacles, defending what was given to us by the Lord."
The head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk: “Today we look in a special way at the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, at the citizens of Ukraine, who with their lives and their deaths have witnessed the victory of good over evil. The Heavenly Hundred is a kind of icon of that Cathedral of the Archangel Michael and the ethereal heavenly powers in our earthly history."
So, what have we “achieved and got” over the past seven years? What is the essence of the "victory of good over evil"? Let's just take a look at the facts:
- fall of the national currency by more than three times;
- increase in gas prices for the population by 11 times;
- growth of utility bills by five to seven times;
- migration from Ukraine to other countries at a rate of up to 200 thousand people per month;
- decline in industrial production;
- an increase in corruption and criminal offenses ...
This mournful list can be continued for a very long time. In 2019, the World Bank recognized Ukraine as the poorest country in Europe. These are only economic indicators, but this is also the case in other areas. One needs to have a fair amount of imagination to call it "the victory of good over evil". That is, by positioning Euromaidan as something positive for the country, the leaders of the OCU and the UGCC are telling an outspoken lie. Euromaidan has caused obvious harm to the Ukrainian society and the Ukrainian economy.
One needs to have a fair amount of imagination to call it "the victory of good over evil".
Now let's take a look at the issue of "spiritual independence" being a recurring theme in almost every speech of Dumenko or Shevchuk.
Let's not focus too much on the fact that today the "spiritual independence" that S. Dumenko has been talking about is actually the dependence of the OCU on Phanar, while the state independence is the dependence of our country on the mercy of officials from the IMF. But the words about the aggressors and heroes deserve separate consideration.
On November 25, 2020, none other than Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak voiced the number of Russian military personnel who, according to his version, are opposing the Ukrainian army in Donbass. According to the general, there are 3,000 people, while the total number of armed groups of the DPR and LPR, according to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, is 34 thousand people. Zorian Shkiryak called approximately the same figure when he was an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs. This means that more than 90% of all those fighting against the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass are Ukrainian citizens.
Recall that only people with Ukrainian passports participated in the most large-scale exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and the unrecognized republics of Donbass, which took place at the end of 2017 (300 people from both sides). Thus, plain facts indicate that a real civil confrontation is taking place in the Donbass. This data is not some kind of enemy propaganda. These are the figures announced by the most senior representatives of the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. If we project this thesis onto the words of the “Maidan” religious confessions about the defense of “spiritual independence”, it turns out to be an absurdity: from whom are they defending it – from the Ukrainians of Donbass?
But the main thing is not even the economic state of the country or what is happening in the east of Ukraine.
For people who call themselves leaders of the Church, the most important thing should be the spiritual condition of the flock: whether Ukrainians love each other or hate each other, whether they are ready to help their neighbor, or vice versa – wish him death – these are the questions that should concern real pastors in the first line, because the salvation of the human soul depends on them.
In this context, the statement of Sviatoslav Shevchuk that supporters of Euromaidan are "good" and their opponents are "evil" is a pastoral crime. Of course, it is very harmful for Ukrainian society, since it is the division of the people into first and second class citizens. But first of all, it is destructive for the souls of the "warriors of light" themselves. After all, if religious leaders confidently declare that the supporters of the Maidan are “on the side of good”, then everything they do is right not only here on earth, but also in the afterlife.
If religious leaders confidently declare that the supporters of Maidan are “on the side of good,” then everything they do is right not only here on earth, but also in the afterlife.
But let's imagine that such a person dies and goes to a private trial. What will be his posthumous fate? The fate of a man whom his pastors taught to love the anthem, coat of arms and nation, but most importantly – to hate everyone whom they labeled as enemies of this nation. However, Christ taught to love enemies, rather than hate them. Hatred, like a weight, pulls a person's soul down; it is impossible to reach the Kingdom of Heaven being hate-filled.
Representatives of the UGCC and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) seize churches, set fire to monasteries, beat up priests and believers. Do the people who do this have bright and exalted souls? No. Anger and hatred reign there. But where does a person end up after death with such a state of mind? The question is rhetorical.
For peace and harmony in Ukraine, it is necessary that the state authorities stop following double standards, giving preference to one and ignoring the opinion of others. And religious leaders should stop dividing people on a political basis, stop calling some as patriots and almost saints only for their political views, while stigmatizing others and calling them “evil” just because they do not share these views.
In the Gospel, one can find the answer to almost any of our pressing issues or difficulties. Christ tells us: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10: 11-13).
When Ukrainians understand who are their true pastors and who are mercenaries, only then will it be possible to give an objective and correct assessment of the events that took place in Kyiv at the turn of 2013-2014.