Back to the USSR: fakes as a justification for bills to ban the Church
Drafting their bills to ban the UOC, Verkhovna Rada MPs cite fake evidence of "crimes" of the Church as justification.
In the decisions of the last Synod of the UOC of May 12, 2022, the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine was officially condemned. The hierarchs, on behalf of the Church, expressed support for the Ukrainian soldiers and called on the Ukrainians to unite for the sake of victory. But has this led to the mitigation of the aggressive rhetoric of its opponents? No. The OCU calls on the central government to ban the UOC, while the people's deputies, the authors of anti-church bills, only stepped up their criticism.
Oksana Savchuk, “Svoboda” party member and author of bill No. 7204 “On the ban on the Moscow Patriarchate in the territory of Ukraine”, talks on TV about “dozens of cases when FSB agents in cassocks leaked the positions of our military, were fire spotters.”
Well, one of the authors of the bill No. 7213, MP from the Holos faction Natalia Pipa published a whole article “Why is the UOC-MP so ‘seething’ because of the registered bill?”, where she cited a list of “crimes” of the UOC. Unlike other accusers, who say “generally in general,” Pipa cites very specific facts, on the basis of which she proposes to ban the Church.
In our turn, we propose to consider them in detail and in depth.
"List of offences" of the UOC from Natalia Pipa
- Detention by the security forces of the priest of the UOC Mikhail Pavlushenko, "who had records and special devices that testified to his cooperation with the aggressor."
- Detention of “the priest of the Russian Patriarchate (UOC-MP) Onufriy. He 'leaked' information about the Ukrainian military, and a Russian flag and Z-symbols were found in the priest's house."
- Refusal in the UOC to bury Ukrainian soldiers from 2014 to this day.
- In Zaporizhia, the priests of the UOC "refused to bury a little girl who died during the war" because "she was baptized in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate."
The list can be supplemented with Pipa’s emotional attacks on the decisions of the Synod of the UOC, which, according to her, “generally do not fit either logic or head.” The indignation of the MP was caused by the wording of the document, where the following are called violations of the rights of believers:
- decisions of local authorities to ban the UOC;
- bills to ban the UOC, one of which was developed by Pipa.
The people's deputy ends the article with the following passages: “Numerous crimes of the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate must be punished. The spiritual status of individuals cannot hide the Moscow crimes on the territory of Ukraine... Now that it has become obvious to many that the UOC-MP is damaging the Ukrainians and conducting subversive activities, the only correct way out is to ban the Moscow Patriarchate. Our tomorrow depends on whether we give up the Moscow church. Our victory depends on it!”
Well, since the UOC has committed large-scale crimes against Ukrainian statehood, maybe it’s high time to ban it? However, Ukraine is a democratic power, therefore, with all due respect to the civil servant, it is still worth checking her accusations, given there are just a few of them.
About the "priest-saboteur" with "special devices"
The accusation against Archpriest Mikhail Pavlushenko is the first in Pipa's list of "crimes" of the UOC. On the first day of the war, February 24, he was indeed detained by law enforcement officers near a crashed Russian helicopter, being taken for a saboteur. However, this turned out to be a mistake. Father Mikhail lives in the suburbs of Kyiv, not far from Gostomel, where the helicopter crashed. It fell on the field just behind the priest's house, so he was the first to be at the crash site. Not knowing who owns the fallen helicopter, Fr. Mikhail ran to it, thinking that his help was needed. Almost immediately, the priest was arrested and taken to the district police station in Bucha. However, law enforcement officers quickly figured out the situation. On the morning of February 25, Fr. Michael was allowed to go home.
In other words, there were no "special devices" or "sabotage activities". On the face is a misunderstanding and a mistake.
The first "evidence of Moscow crimes" in Pipa's list turns out to be a fake.
About "priest-Onufriy" with Z-symbols
Pipa's second accusation against the UOC is the detention by law enforcement officers of "Priest of the Russian Patriarchate (UOC-MP) Onufriy." We are talking about a certain man in shorts, whom many media outlets hastened to call a cleric of the UOC.
However, this turned out not to be ta falsehood. On March 16, the UOC published an official refutation: “The Kyiv Metropolis reports that there is no Hieromonk Onufriy with the secular name Sergey Tarasov in the staff of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
The Stopcore resource reports that this person “really graduated from the seminary in 2009, but has never been in the ranks of the clergy. Moreover, we learned from our sources that this citizen had already been spotted committing a crime – he robbed a very real, not an imaginary priest, embezzling his funds."
Thus, the second "evidence of Moscow crimes" in Pipa's list turns out to be a fake again.
On the refusal of the UOC to bury Ukrainian soldiers
Natalia Pipa: “Ever since 2014, the priests of the UOC-MP refused to bury the dead soldiers of the ATO. ‘The priest said he would not perform a lity for the lad, because he shot at our brothers.’ Today, they continue to refuse to bury the dead Ukrainians.”
Actually, stories about the refusal of UOC priests to perform a funeral service for Ukrainian soldiers are one of the “pillars” of propaganda against the UOC since the beginning of the ATO. This is a favorite accusation of the Church from the OCU, the media and simply "concerned people". However, no one ever clarifies – which of the priests specifically refused to bury the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine?
Fortunately, Natalia Pipa supplied a quote in her publication, according to which we were able to find the original source. This is about the case in the village of Bovsuny, Luhyny district, Zhytomyr region, which occurred in 2014. Who started the rumor about the “non-funeral” remained a mystery, but DePo journalists, who are not at all sympathetic to the UOC, contacted the relatives of the deceased and the priest himself. In short, all the accusations turned out to be lies.
“This is not true, there was nothing like that. Father Vladimir, on the contrary, helped with the funeral,” says Svetlana, the sister of the deceased ATO fighter. “This is a very good priest, he was slandered. Who did it and why, I don't know. I hope you fix this mistake."
The journalists then contacted Fr. Vladimir.
“I don’t know why they said that about me, I would never do that, the whole village knows me – you may come here, go door-to-door, talk to people,” Fr Vladimir told DePo through tears. “We are distant relatives and neighbors with the family of the deceased. I personally saw him off (Alexander, a soldier – DePo) to the army. I know this family. It's so disappointing".
Well, Pipa’s accusations that the UOC allegedly even now “refuse to bury the dead Ukrainians,” look like a totally blatant lie. In order to be convinced of this, it is enough to scroll through the website of the UOJ or the official resources of the Church – funeral services for the dead Ukrainian soldiers are performed almost every day in the dioceses of the UOC.
Hence, the third “evidence of Moscow crimes” from Pipa’s list turns out to be a fake. Again.
Was there a girl?
Natalia Pipa: “In Zaporizhia, the priests refused to bury a little girl who died during the war. Do you know what the argument was? She was baptized in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.”
The Zaporizhia diocese has already reacted to this passage: “We asked the priests of the Zaporizhia diocese of the UOC a question about the reality of this statement, who exactly from the clergy was asked to perform the funeral – none of the current priests confirmed this.”
The diocese believes that Pipa is telling lies in pursuit of her own goals. She incites hatred for the Church in society, thereby pushing through her bill.
However, perhaps Pipa just messed up a little? After all, some time ago, there was a countrywide wave of persecution of one Zaporizhia priest, who refused to bury a dead child, whom his parents “baptized” in the UOC-KP. But it was not during the war, but at the end of 2017, the boy died, not the girl, and the situation did not take place at the funeral, but in the apartment. The "accused" priest personally called the representative of the UOC-KP, who performed the ceremony.
In addition, the issue of recognition or non-recognition of the sacraments is an exclusively internal church issue, which is not a civil servants’ business. After all, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which granted Dumenko the coveted Tomos, neither recognized the Kyiv Patriarchate in 2017, nor recognizes it now.
In any case, Pipa's fourth "evidence" turns out to be another fake.
Fakes in official documents
When a people's deputy publishes fakes in the media, it is unpleasant, but not fatal. But when a lie becomes a justification for bills, it's certainly wrong.
Having carefully studied the "Pipa’s" bill No. 7213, we found out an interesting detail: in its Explanatory Note in section 1 "Justification for the need to adopt an act" there are all the same fake "offences" of the UOC, which we have already considered above.
“For example, on February 25, 2022, in the Kyiv region near Gostomel, Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine Mikhail Pavlushenko, who helped the Russian army, was detained. On March 16, 2022, Father Onufriy, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, was detained in Kyiv. During a search of his house, it was found that he collaborated with the special services of the Russian Federation. And such cases are frequent,” – here is the text of the Explanatory Note of the draft law on the prohibition of the UOC. It's hard not to recognize the first two items from "Pipa's list".
Moreover, it doesn’t make a big difference whether Pipa wrote her article in the media based on the Explanatory Note, or she herself is the author of the legislative document. It is important that what is written there is a LIE. After all, it is on the basis of this LIE that the Verkhovna Rada is proposed to ban the activities of the largest confession in the country:
“All this demonstrates the need for a legislative ban on the activities of religious organizations and associations controlled by states that are recognized in Ukraine as having committed military aggression against our State.”
Reading the transcripts of the accusatory trials taking place in the USSR against the clergy, many of us probably wondered – how was it possible for a normal person to concoct such false and absurd accusations against the Church? How could innocent people be sent to camps and executed? So far, this is not entirely clear to us. But there is a feeling that tomorrow it will be clear entirely.