Orthodoxy – "Russian world" – jail: what "Servants" are preparing for UOC

Being Orthodox can become a criminal offence. Photo: UOJ

MPs from the "Servant of the People" faction registered bills according to which one can go to jail for declaring spiritual ties with the ROC.

On March 17, 2021, in the Verkhovna Rada, deputies of the “Servant of the People” faction registered bills 5258 and 5259, according to which the “Russian world” is equated to Nazism and for its propaganda, including in the form of belonging to Orthodoxy, you can go to prison for ten years.

What is the "Russian world"?

As an epigraph, we can cite the masterpiece statement of Professor Preobrazhensky from "The Heart of a Dog" by Mikhail Bulgakov: "The devastation is not in the closets but in the heads." The text of bills 5258 and 5259 is written so illiterately that if approved by the Verkhovna Rada, it will allow everyone to be imprisoned in general, including, probably, its authors. These authors are unfamiliar not only with how the regulation of social relations occurs with the help of legal norms but in general with the elementary concepts of the theory of state and law. In addition, the authors did not bother to click a couple of times with the computer's mouse and check how true the statements that they prescribe in the bills and explanatory notes to it are.

The essence of bills 5258 and 5259 is to ban the "Russian world" in Ukraine and establish criminal punishment for its propaganda up to ten years in prison. But what is the "Russian world"? How broad is this concept? What is included and what is not? Nobody knows the answers to these questions. More precisely, each has its own answer to them. So the authors of the bills demonstrated unrestrained creativity to formulate the definition of the "Russian world". The flight of fantasy in this direction led to the assertion that the "Russian world" is:

"a related form of National Socialism (Nazism), a Russian foreign policy strategy, the declarative goal of which is to ‘gather lands’, to return Russia the status of a ‘superpower’, to create a power-civilization from Russia, which carries the mission of uniting all Russian-speakers on the basis of common cultural civilizational values of Russia”.

Let's remember what National Socialism is, with which the "Servants" MPs put the "Russian world" on the same level.

So, National Socialism is an ultra-right ideology, which includes elements of totalitarianism, fascism, racism and anti-Semitism, which had as its goal the construction of a racially pure state. As the official political ideology of Nazi Germany, it was recorded in the relevant state documents. You can treat Russia differently, its domestic and foreign policy, but there is no reason to attribute all of the above to the "Russian world". In addition, from a purely legal point of view, the Russian foreign policy strategy is determined by the document “Concept of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation”, approved in 2016. The text of this document contains nothing about “gathering lands”, “superpower” or “power-civilization”. There is not even anything about “uniting all Russian-speakers”. It mentions the support of citizens and compatriots abroad, but absolutely the same is in the legislation of all countries, including Ukraine. That is, all these theses were written by the authors of the bill.

What is, according to the authors of the Ukrainian bills, the basis for uniting "all Russian-speakers"? Let's choose the most odious formulations from the list.

"- imperialism (authoritarian empire) of the traditional model – autocracy, Orthodoxy, nationality <...> It all comes down to monoculture – the ‘Russian world’ and the Russian language ..."

So, regarding monoculture, in Russia, 22 languages have state status, and 13 more languages have official status. Both supermarket cashiers and government officials can speak these languages. Where one can see monoculture here is unknown.

"- an ideology that defines the Russian nationality as a priority over others, thus allowing the citizens of Russia to consider themselves a superior race ..."

To confuse the concepts of "nationality" and "citizenship" is impermissible for any educated person, and not only for a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada. The citizens of Russia are representatives of 190 nationalities, and if all of them are a "superior race", then where is the point in general?

"- using language as a manipulation mechanism and a way of inciting hatred ..."

Should this be understood in such a way that if a person speaks Russian, then he automatically incites enmity?

"- loyalty to the Russian Federation, which wishes to act within the country and in the international arena as a natural successor to the Russian state tradition, the integral parts of which are the Russian Empire and the USSR".

What does loyalty to succession have to do with it? On March 20, 1992, in Kyiv, a document was signed "On succession in relation to Treaties, state property, archives, debts and assets of the former USSR", in which the CIS member states, including Ukraine, and the Russian Federation were recognized as legal successors of rights and the obligations of the former USSR.

The Bolsheviks’ work to be continued?

One can feel sad or laugh at the illiteracy of bills 5258 and 5259, but in fact, not only these bills but in general the latest decisions made by the authorities in Ukraine, painfully resemble the actions of the Bolsheviks in the 1920s. Then, too, no one paid attention to the illiteracy of the decisions made, but the consequences, as we know, were tragic. The UOJ has written more than once that the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine with the help of the state and the struggle with its help with the real Church of Christ is almost identical to how the Bolsheviks created the so-called “Living Church”. The Orthodox churches were taken away and handed over to the "living churchmen", the canonical Church was outlawed and the "Living Church" was supported in every possible way, and even the recognition of this "Living Church" by the Patriarch of Constantinople exactly coincides with modern events.

Unfortunately, these parallels can be continued. The Explanatory Note to Bill 5258 contains the following phrase: "The concept of a ‘divided people’, Z. Brzezinski noted, is the starting aspect of chauvinistic statements <...>, and the example of Ukraine is a constant and persistent rise of Russian quasi-mystical chauvinism."

And here is another phrase: “This legacy consists, firstly, in the remnants of great-power chauvinism <...> These remnants still live in the minds <...> they receive reinforcement in the form of “new” changing milestones of Great Russian chauvinist trends <...> Therefore, a decisive struggle against remnants of Great Russian chauvinism is the first immediate task ... "

No, this phrase is no longer from the Explanatory Note, this is from the theses of I. Stalin, voiced by him at the XII Congress of the RCP (b) in 1923, the very Congress that adopted the programme of total Ukrainization, not only in Ukraine but also in others places and even in Kazakhstan.

The text of the bill allows them to punish people for merely belonging to Orthodoxy.

There are many such parallels, but we are more interested in the attitude of the state towards the Church. It is known that the Bolsheviks were sharply hostile. In the same 1920s, an Anti-Religious Commission was created under the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), headed by L. D. Trotsky (Leiba Davidovich Bronstein). This commission, among other decisions, adopted the following: “Religions with their own dogmas, ethics, holidays, rituals, being in themselves a counter-revolutionary ideological force <...> all this leads to the weakening of the country's defence capability and is essentially the preparation of the homefront in the interests of world imperialism".

Almost 100 years have passed, but the Church is still accused of complicity with imperialism. For example, the authors of bill 5258 are confident that the "Russian world" is directly connected with imperialism and is guilty of "denying the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church" (apparently, the authors had in mind the OCU – Ed.).

Cracking down on the Church?

Let's pay attention to one logical legal construction, which is directly contained in the text of bill 5258:

  • the concept of "Orthodoxy" is included in the concept of "imperialism";
  • the concept of "imperialism" is included in the concept of the "Russian world";
  • the ideology of the "Russian world" is condemned on a par with Nazism.

The text of bill 5259 reads: "propaganda <...> of the ideology of the ‘Russian world’ <...> is punishable by restriction of freedom for up to five years or imprisonment for the same period with or without confiscation of property." That is, proceeding from the text of the bill, Orthodoxy itself is already criminally punishable. But that is not all. "The same actions committed <...> by an organized group <...> are punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to ten years with or without confiscation of property." Needless to say, any church community falls under the definition of an "organized group", doesn’t it?

Based on the text of the bill, Orthodoxy itself is already criminally punishable.

One can, of course, say that all this is speculation, and the authors of the bill did not mean anything like that. But the practical significance will not be what the legislators had in mind but what the officials applying the law will have in mind. And the text of the bill allows them to punish people for merely belonging to Orthodoxy.

You can also argue that representatives of the OCU consider themselves Orthodox, and even Greek Catholics. But even in this case, the authors of the bill provided that only supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church would be prosecuted. The text of the bill states that the propaganda of the "Russian world ", for which they are going to give up to ten years in prison, may take the form of "denial of the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church". Here the authors of the bill either completely forgot and wrote "UOC" instead of "OCU", or they did it deliberately, hoping that the UOC would be renamed into the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and the name "UOC" would go to the organization led by Sergei Dumenko.

It is also worth mentioning another form of manifestation of the "Russian world" in bill 5258: "the use of the Church and Orthodoxy for political purposes and state structures as an additional lever of obedience and intimidation". Again, a striking example of legal ignorance and lack of logic in the construction of a phrase. But this definition can cover a lot of things from the normal church life of Orthodox communities.

Conclusion

Given the fact that the text of the bill is written absolutely illiterate and tendentious, there is a hope that the bill will not be adopted. But…

Firstly, it is possible that some more or less competent lawyer will be instructed to revise the text, remove obvious blunders and absurdities from it but at the same time leave the possibility of criminal prosecution of the UOC. In this sense, the appearance of such a mediocre written text is nothing more than the opening stage of the Overton window. You just need to throw in the information field a reason for discussing such ideas, and you can finalize the bill a little later.

Secondly, as recently as March 19, 2021, the ex-head of the "Right Sector" Dmitry Yarosh said that the UOC is allegedly an agent network of the Russian Federation and called for its liquidation: "The activity of the Russian 'Church' during the War of Ukraine for its Independence poses an immediate threat to the existence of our State, therefore it must be eliminated, its imperial activity prohibited, and property and material resources returned to the Ukrainian people." And the latest political events in our country indicate that the government prefers to rely on precisely that social group, which D. Yarosh represents.

***

These bills are just another link in the chain of actions of the authorities against the Church, the link is not the first, and, most likely, not the last. Therefore, it is necessary to admit that the persecution of the Church will continue in one form or another. And all those who are hostile to the Church would like to recall the words from the Holy Scripture: “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5: 38,39).

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