Will Lukashenko be able to return Ukraine to the bosom of “true faith”?

Lukashenko intends to return Ukraine to true faith. Photo: UOJ

The President of Belarus made a resonant statement in the Minsk church about Ukraine, schism and autocephaly. We read and analyze.

On January 7, during his visit to the Nativity service in the Minsk church of the Optina Elders, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made several vibrant statements.

In particular, he said, “I took a tougher course in order to preserve our sovereignty and independence, so that we would be a state. But we were in close contact with our nearest friends and brothers. What are they? This is Russia, this is Kazakhstan, this is Ukraine. No matter what is going on in these countries today, the people there are destitute to the bitter end. It cannot go on like this for a long time, and we must do everything to return Ukraine to the bosom of our true faith. Even in a religious plane there has occurred such a split that it will be very difficult to overcome. This is the scenario we could have been imposed back in 2020: autocephaly, schism of our Church, and so on and so forth. You all know that we managed to avoid it. I wish our neighbors could avoid it too. Kazakhstan is another attempt to attack the post-Soviet states along the Russian perimeter. They need to drown Russia in blood. I repeat once again: if Russia collapses, we will be done before we even know it. They will simply step over us, as I say, grind us in millstones and spit us out. Therefore, no matter what the cost, we need to preserve the center of our civilization, the center of our Orthodoxy and not only that.”

A. Lukashenko on the pulpit of the Minsk church of the Optina Elders. Photo: belta.by

What Lukashenko is wrong about

To begin with, it doesn't befit a layman, albeit the head of state, to stand in the center of the holy gates and make political statements. This is akin to our Petro Poroshenko, who would regularly turn the pulpit into a political propaganda tribune during the Tomos Tours in the temples of the OCU. It is clear that Lukashenko might not have realized that the place where he stands is sacred and allowed only for a clergyman. However, the clergy of the temple had to make a remark to the president's protocol service and move a microphone away from the open royal gates. Moreover, the microphone was placed to the right of the Primate of the Belarusian Church.

The second unpleasant moment is an assertion that "the people in Ukraine are destitute to the bitter end." This is not true. Of course, the living standard of Ukrainian citizens is lower than that in Belarus, but we still have not reached the abysmal level, although, "thanks" to the efforts of our government, it can move tangibly closer. In any case, this being said by the president of a neighboring state sounds at least incorrect.

Finally, the third point is Mr Lukashenko's commitment "to do everything to return Ukraine to the bosom of our true faith." What faith did he have in mind? Orthodoxy? But this is outside his purview. Russian civilization? Union of fraternal nations? Maybe. Anyway, such issues should be resolved by the people of our country, rather than by external forces. While American officials, the so-called collective west, explicitly disregard the sovereignty of our people, the President of Belarus should still approach this issue more carefully.

What is Lukashenko’s fair point

First, it is the understanding that the US is fighting Russia, while the former Soviet republics are the tool that the US uses in this fight. The Americans have never hesitated to betray their allies, if necessary, or throw them into the furnace of war in behalf of American interests. The most telling example of this is the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, when the Americans left the vast majority of Afghans, who previously worked for the US, to be torn to pieces by the Taliban. A little earlier, they did the same with their Kurdish allies in Syria, when the Turkish army launched an operation against them. Basically, in any country in which the Americans staged a color revolution or planted "democracy" with the help of their armed forces, chaos, rampant crime, the collapse of the economy, the degradation of social institutions, and so on settled for many years. Moreover, there could be no issue of sovereignty in these countries at all. They were manually controlled by the United States, which did not take into account the interests of the citizens of these countries at all. It will suffice to recall Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan. Therefore, when saying that “Americans will simply step over us, grind us in millstones and spit us out”, A. Lukashenko is most likely absolutely right.

Secondly, there is indeed a large-scale split in Ukraine. Yes, Filaret started it almost 30 years ago. But there was established a foothold in the form of the OCU by American officials who did a great deal of diplomatic work for this. The goal of this project is still the same – to weaken Russia by weakening the Russian Orthodox Church. Can anyone seriously believe that US State Department employees have been wasting their time and resources to make Orthodoxy flourish? No. Unfortunately, both the OCU and Phanar are only tools for asserting American hegemony.

There is nothing new in American politics, it was invented by the ancient Romans – divide and conquer. In Ukraine, they managed to consolidate the existing split, while in Belarus they misfired. Why? Because the creation of the so-called Belarusian Autocephalous Church was an element of the political struggle. In August 2020, when there was an attempt to organize a “Belarusian Maidan” and overthrow the legitimate government, one of the ways to exacerbate the situation was to step up the creation of autocephaly. A year before the events in Belarus, namely on August 17-18, 2019, a conference was held in Chernihiv under the auspices of the OCU on the issue of obtaining autocephaly. That is, the Ukrainian schismatics, legalized by Phanar, passed on their experience to their Belarusian counterparts. In August 2020, at the height of the confrontation, the opposition forces developed the so-called “Resuscitation Package of Reforms”, in which a separate item provided for the “restoration of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” as a “national alternative to the Belarusian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church”.

The creation of the so-called Belarusian Autocephalous Church was an element of the political struggle.

The fact that the creation of the Belarusian autocephaly was supposed to lead to an increase in civil confrontation in society was not a secret to anyone. Moreover, the example of Ukraine, where the creation of the OCU led to numerous seizures of churches, violence and hostility between residents of the same settlements, demonstrated this very clearly. In this respect the Belarusian authorities turned out to be much more sensible and responsible. In turn, A. Lukashenko responded to the prospect of creating autocephaly in the following way: “We will now plunge into a war, an inter-confessional struggle and subsequently – an inter-ethnic one. Otherwise it will turn out that what we have always been proud of (national cohesion – Ed) will be rejected and dishonored." Belarus managed to avoid such a scenario in 2020, but if no efforts are made, sectarian schism may enter the agenda in this country again.

OCU spokesman Ivan (Eustratiy) Zoria wrote about this on his Facebook page: “In fact, the narratives of people like Lukashenko are an excellent recommendation for the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church. It would be strange if the bandits praised us. In addition, his statement also testifies that after the liberation of Belarus from the shackles of the bloody Lukashenko dictatorship, the time will come for the autocephaly of the Belarusian Church.”

As we can see, I. Zoria connects the autocephaly of the Belarusian Church not at all with the desire of the Orthodox people, but with the longed-for fall of A. Lukashenko's regime, which he calls "bloody". There is no doubt that the next stage should be ranting about the upholding of the independence of Belarus by autocephalists (by analogy with Ukraine). One can treat the President of Belarus in different ways, but the fact remains that it was under his rule that peace and consent of civil society reigned in Belarus, while bloody events and riots arose there when Belarusian oppositionists came to the fore promoting, inter alia, the idea of autocephaly.

Zoria connects the autocephaly of the Belarusian Church not at all with the desire of the Orthodox people, but with the longed-for fall of A. Lukashenko's regime, which he calls "bloody".

Thirdly, today we are really talking about the fact that Orthodoxy in our land is being subjected to serious threats and trials. It is not known whether A. Lukashenko was aware of what these threats were when he said that “we need to preserve the center of our civilization, the center of our Orthodoxy”, but we are now witnessing attempts by the West to challenge the civilizational choice of the Holy Prince Vladimir. In fact, Orthodoxy is now under attack.

It's no secret that the OCU and the UGCC in Ukraine are striving to unite in one form or another. Moreover, our country can become a testing ground for the alleged union between the Vatican and Phanar. In the event of the creation of the Belarusian Autocephalous Church, Belarus would also be included in this project. After all, the historical Uniate Church, which arose in 1596 at the Brest Council, spread its activities in the territories of modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Accordingly, this historical experience can be revised today in the interests of certain political forces and used to implement another Uniate project.

But the union lurks threats not only of a purely religious nature. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism have formed separate self-sufficient civilizations in their respective countries, in which the religious worldview leaves an imprint on all spheres of public and private life. This happens even in cases where people no longer consider themselves to be bearers of religious consciousness.

However, there is an attempt to impose on us a change in our civilizational paradigm, our civilizational code. This will not lead to the fact that we mentally become French, Germans or Poles, but it will definitely result in our turning into “grassroots who do not remember their kinship”, people without a past, and therefore without a future.

It is for this preservation of our national identity, our civilizational code that an irreconcilable struggle is now going on. One can't argue with this statement either.

Conclusion

In his speech, A. Lukashenko said something else: “This year (2022 – Ed.) will not be easy. The world will change in a major way. The world will change in terms of uniting peoples and states into unions.” It seems that we are waiting for some large-scale events. Let's not speculate what it could be. But in any case, remember the following:

  • sovereign power in Ukraine is its people, who must make their choice;
  • a Christian under no circumstances should violate the Commandments of God, not a single secular benefit is worth trading eternal life for it;
  • to give thanks to God, Who in this difficult time placed worthy and spirit-bearing pastors at the helm of the Church: Metropolitan Onuphry in Ukraine and Metropolitan Veniamin in Belarus. Following their calls and instructions is a pledge that our nations will be able to avoid shocks and tragic events.

As for the issue raised in the title of the article, the Belarusian president is not supposed to return Ukraine anywhere, since the choice must be made by our people only. The fact that for three years, with the comprehensive support of the Ukrainian authorities and American officials, the OCU project has proven to be very unfortunate indicates that our people have made this choice. And this choice is loyalty to “our true faith” –  Orthodoxy.

 

Kirill Alexandrov

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How has your life changed since the outbreak of war?
It hasn't changed in any way
71%
My church has been seized by OCU members
6%
My church has been damaged/destroyed by shelling
6%
I'm going to another church because of displacement
17%
Total votes: 17

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