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‘Russia Did It’ – an epidemic of collective media hysteria

Who needs to actually investigate anything anymore, when it’s so easy to blame Russia?

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(Investig’Action) – Are you a western journalist or analyst with an issue you cannot explain? Do your symptoms include an unwillingness to learn anything from history and an unconditional embrace of western exceptionalism? Then we have just the thing for you: RussiaDidIt! Taken in the appropriate dosage, RussiaDidIt can be used for just any issue, small and large, old and new, near and far. Call your local US embassy or EU office and order your RussiaDidIt talking points. Side effects may include total paranoia, loss of credibility and a desire to wear the EU flag as a cape.

It seems like all the evils that plague the western world these days have a common cause. BrexitCataloniaTrumpracial tensions, the lack of credibility of the EU, all of these have a simple explanation, if we are to believe the mainstream media and pundits: Russia is behind it. And not just Russia, but Putin himself. He must be the busiest villain in history.

True journalists like Robert Parry have analysed and exposed the rise of this new McCarthyism, and how uncorroborated, or sometimes outrightly false, allegations gradually become unquestionable facts(1)

Screenshots from the Washington Post and Politico

In this piece we examine three articles that have different angles of this RussiaDidIt approach. They have the paranoia of Russian meddling in US elections as a background, but everything applies just as well to similar stories about the EU. Inevitably it all ties back to an inability, or unwillingness, to learn anything from history, and this disgusting myth that everyone should look up to the West as a beacon of superior values. We start of course with the ineffable Guardian.

Cheap journalism and cheap meddling

One day journalism students will study the spiral of lowering standards that took hold of the Guardian. One can sense the denial taking hold of the newspaper as their liberal centrist paradise crumbles. They yearn for a knight in shining armouwho can come and save them from Brexit, even if it is Tony Blair, because, believe it or not, the idea of the EU has been here since the Renaissance!(2)

As expected, the Guardian has embraced the idea that the Russians “hacked” the 2016 US elections (whatever that means) wholeheartedly. And it recently reported on new, ground-breakingrevelations:

“Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues […]

[…] the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.”

So far it sounds very serious. We then learn that the main “socially divisive issue” was race relations.

“RBC counted 16 groups relating to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race issues that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

Last month, CNN also reported that US authorities believed the Blacktivist Facebook group and Twitter account were the work of Russian impostors.”

The liberal media have often thrown these outrageous suggestions that activism like Black Lives Matter is part of a foreign agenda, as opposed to a reaction to the structural racism that exists in the US (more on this later). But the main point that needs to be addressed about this cunning plan is the following: how much did the Russians spend in these devious activities of inflaming tensions in the US? A whopping… 80.000 dollars! The Guardian thinks the activities of some alleged troll factory engaging in social media activity and paying activists a grand total of $80.000 represents unacceptable Russian “meddling”!

Billboard accusing Martin Luther King Jr. of being a communist

Let us put this number in perspective. Hillary Clinton made $3 million out of 12 speeches to big banks. The entire spending in the US presidential election was almost $2 billion. And the Guardian is worried about these $80.000 worth of meddling. For comparison USAID spent $4.2 million advancing US interests in Venezuela in 2015 alone. Even if these $80.000 had been spent in a single year, it would still be 50 times smaller than what one of the US empire’s foreign policy branches spent onlyin Venezuela.

The Guardian piece closes by mentioning that the evil Russians also bought ads on Google and Facebook for “tens of thousands of dollars” and “$100.000”, respectively. So in essence, the Guardian is reporting that it found suspicious grains of sand in the desert. (3) It would seem Putin is not just an evil mastermind, he is also a legendary bargain hunter. It should also be clear that the tech giants are more than happy to play their part in the witch-hunt and the crusade against “fake news”, which is nothing but an attempt by the dominant classes to monopolise their control over information.

Trump is a closet Marxist!

Next we look at an opinion column which has got to be one of the most ludicrous texts ever written. At first glance it could be mistaken for satire, but it was actually written by Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard and former member of the Obama administration, for Bloomberg News. The title is “Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump”!

While the entire piece should be framed for posterity, we will just quote some of the highlights:

“Karl Marx and his followers argued that revolutionaries should disrupt capitalist societies by “heightening the contradictions.” Russia used a version of that Marxist idea in its efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign. […]

What is more surprising, and far more important for American politics, is that President Donald Trump is drawn to a similar strategy.

Marx contended that as the conditions of workers started to improve, they would cease to be content with their lot, or to regard their alienation as inevitable. Lenin seized on this idea and transformed it into a revolutionary strategy. […] The job of the communist revolutionary was to “heighten” or “accelerate” those contradictions.

During the 2016 campaign, Russians did something very much like that, not to produce a revolution, but to deepen and intensify social divisions (and to help elect Donald Trump).

In short, the Russians tried to foster a sense of grievance and humiliation on all sides. […] Lenin would have been proud.”

The Russian actions that Sunstein is talking about are none other than the buying of social media ads and fostering of activism that we described in the previous section. But how about that for a deep understanding of Marx and Lenin? Sunstein does try to shield himself with a footnote that says:

“I am giving a brisk summary of some famously complex and ambiguous arguments from both Marx and Lenin.” (my emphasis)

Marx, Engels, Lenin… and Trump? Cass Sunstein of Harvard University and Bloomberg News is on the maximum dosage of RussiaDidIt!

There is nothing ambiguous about Marx and Lenin. Sunstein’s argument, on the other hand, is unambiguously idiotic. The fundamental contradiction in capitalist society is that one (large) group, the working-class, sells its labour, while another one, the bourgeoisie, profits from it because it owns the means of production. These two groups have fundamentally different interests and are irrevocably at odds, this is called class struggle. Marx’s work is monumental because it was the first truly scientific analysis of the capitalist system, which meant it also explained how it could be destroyed.

The “accelerating of these contradictions” means accelerating this class conflict in order to do a little more than “disrupting” capitalism. The goal is to overthrow capitalism altogether, have the workers seize power and the means of production, and have a society free of exploitation (4) and where production is directed to satisfy human need and not the profit of capitalists. In other words, socialism.

Lenin’s contributions to Marxism, both in theory and practice, are of course way beyond the childish arguments in this piece, from his understanding of capitalism’s inevitable development into imperialism, to his development of the role of the vanguard party. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were responsible for the October Revolution of 1917, the first time that capitalism was overthrown, and the starting point for all the liberation movements that followed.

The whole argument, if it were taken seriously, would be about the strategy to “divide and conquer”, which has nothing to do with Marxism. Just like Trump, the real-estate mogul and reality-TV star, has nothing Marxist about him. If anything, Trump is the highest embodiment of western capitalism.

Surely among the vast libraries at Harvard there must be a “Marx for dummies” book that Professor Sunstein can read. But of course, writing these disingenuous pieces is much easier. The goal of course is to simultaneously push the RussiaDidIt argument and discredit a true alternative to the (capitalist) system, which has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton and a lot (or everything!) to do with Marx and Lenin.

Black Power and Red Baiting

The final article we wish to examine appeared in The Atlantic magazine, and it focuses on the long history of Russia’s “involvement in America’s race wars”. First of all, for a country with a history of slavery and segregation of African-Americans, not to mention the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, the term “race wars” seems like an awful understatement. One thing that actually has not changed is the red-baiting practices of the mainstream media, accusing anyone who deviates from the approved narrative of being a Soviet/Russian agent.

The article explores the history of the Soviet Union taking advantage of racial injustice in the United States for propaganda purposes. How dare those commies bring up the plight of black people in the US?Anyone who knows a bit of history knows that this is not entirely out of place. For example, in thestruggle against apartheid, notably in the war in Angola, the US was on the side of apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union was on the side of the Angolans (and of black South Africans), even if their hand might have been forced by the Cubans.

Soviet posters about the struggle against colonialism: Left: “Capitalism is doomed!” (Artsrunyan, 1966); Right: “People of Africa Will Overpower the Colonizers!” (Kukryniksy, 1960)

There is plenty to be said about the Soviet Union’s foreign policy, but the fact is that there was not a single liberation struggle in the Third World in which the Soviet Union was on the side of the oppressor/colonist and the US on the side of the liberation movement. In fact it is the opposite that was true in most cases, if not all.

This takes us to the crux of the matter. According to historian Mary Dudziak, quoted in this piece,

“Early on in the Cold War, there was a recognition that the U.S. couldn’t lead the world if it was seen as repressing people of color,”

Dudziak and all these analysts and journalists take for granted that the US, and the west in general, are supposed to lead the world. According to them, these issues of treating black people as second class citizens are a problem mainly because they make the US look bad, and its noble mission of spreading freedom and democracy becomes much harder! It would seem that if racism was a little more polite (or if the Soviets did not bring it up!), then the Sandinistas would have been happy with Somoza, the Viet Cong would have had nothing to fight for, etc.

This unquestioned embrace of US exceptionalism, coupled to a complete ignorance of history, is what ensures that these analysts completely miss the point. For them, people rejecting and resisting US imperialism, or rejecting the EU after years of austerity policies, is just a misunderstanding, which needs to be explained by nonsense such as RussiaDidIt. Had these people actually read Marx and Lenin, as opposed to spewing these idiocies, they would understand that backlash against neoliberalism, or resistance against US imperialism, is to be expected. And there is no amount of fancy speeches by the likes of Obama, saying “freedom” and “democracy” in every other sentence, that will fix that.

The loyal flag-bearers of the imperial establishment are outraged at the idea of someone paying $80.000 to US activists, but the US spending tens of millions funding NGOs and political parties all over the world is more than natural. They are outraged that RT reports on Occupy Wall Street or Ferguson, but Voice of America and Radio Martí are supposed to be welcomed by the rest of the world. Because they stand for the better values… Apart from all the death and misery that is caused by US imperialism, it is this belief in American exceptionalism that makes the US so despised around the world.

Finally, we should stress that our argument is not whataboutism. We are not saying that this issue in place X should not be discussed because there is this other issue in the US. Outlets like RT and Sputnik should have their editorial lines and journalism standards analysed and criticised. The same holds true for Russia’s foreign policy. But, paraphrasing someone who was also accused of being a Soviet agent, it cannot be the greatest purveyor of meddling in the world and media outlets with ever lowering standards bringing these charges forward and pretending to be the Guardians of truth.

Notes

(1) We have also written on the ridiculous report published by the CIA, FBI and NSA on the Russian “hacking” of US elections.

(2) One wonders why the EU is symbolised by the Medici paying Leonardo da Vinci or by Erasmus and Thomas More being friends and not, for example, by the bubonic plague or Lucrezia Borgia’s antics. You know what else was common to all of Europe before the EU? The slave trade.

(3) More recently the Guardian published another bombshell piece, saying that Russia’s Facebook posts reached 126 million Americans. But we are talking about 80.000 posts, only 0.004% of news feed content according to Facebook, during a two year period. The big number is perfect for propaganda, but conveniently it is not made clear whether 126m different users saw the posts, or if for example 10m users on average saw 120 of these posts.

(4) We should clarify that exploitation does not mean having a evil boss that pays low salaries and forces workers to work weekends. Workers in capitalism are exploited simply because there is a value difference between what they earn and what they produce. In other words, profit comes from unpaid labour. Exploitation is the foundation of capitalism and should not be framed in moral terms,which imply that the problem is not the system but a matter of finding “good capitalists”.

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Massacre in Crimea kills dozens, many in critical condition

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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Russian Orthodox Church officially breaks ties with Constantinople

Biggest separation in almost 1,000 years as world’s largest Orthodox Church cuts communion with Constantinople over legitimizing schismatics.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate became official today, October 15, 2018, as the Russian Holy Synod reviewed the recent granting of communion to two schismatic groups in Ukraine, pursuant to Constantinople’s intent to grant autocephaly (full self-rule, or independence) to the agglomeration of these groups.

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RT reported that the Synod ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible, given the current conditions. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev told journalists today about the breach in relations:

“A decision about the full break of relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate has been taken at a Synod meeting” that is currently been held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Hilarion said, as cited by TASS.

The move comes days after the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to eventually grant the so-called autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, thus making the clerical organization, which earlier enjoyed a broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate, fully independent.

The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” Hilarion said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.”

At the same time, the Russian Church expressed its hope that “a common sense will prevail” and Constantinople will change its decision. However, it still accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of initiating the “schism.”

The marks the most significant split in the Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054, in which Rome excommunicated Constantinople, a breach between the Roman Catholics and Orthodox which has persisted ever since then, becoming hardened and embittered after the Roman Catholic armies sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Many other local Orthodox Churches expressed support for the Moscow Patriarchate’s position prior to today’s announcement, but the break in relations between these two churches does not have any known affect on local churches who hold communion with both Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate at this time.

The website Orthochristian.com ran the entire statement of the Holy Synod regarding this situation. We offer a brief summary of statements here, taken from that source and patriarcha.ru, adding emphasis.

With deepest pain, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church received the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople published on October 11, 2018 about the decisions adopted by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: on the confirmation of the intention to “grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”; on the opening of the “stavropegion” of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Kiev; on the “restoration in the hierarchal or priestly rank” of the leaders of the Ukrainian schism and their followers and the “return of their faithful to Church communion”; and on the “cancellation of the action” of the conciliar charter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1686 concerning the transfer of the Kiev Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate

The Synod of the Church of Constantinople made these decisions unilaterally, ignoring the calls of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the entirety of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the fraternal Local Orthodox Churches, and their primates and bishops for pan-Orthodox discussion of the issue.

Entering into communion with those who have departed into schism, let alone those who have been excommunicated from the Church, is tantamount to departing into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the holy Church: “If any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any of the clergy shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church” (Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 10, 11 of the Holy Apostles).

The decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the “restoration” of the canonical status and the reception into communion of the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko, excommunicated from the Church, ignores a number of successive decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, the legitimacy of which are beyond doubt.

By the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkov of May 27, 1992, Metropolitan Philaret (Denisenko) was removed from the Kiev Cathedra and was banned from the clergy for not fulfilling the oath made by him before the cross and the Gospel at the previous Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

By its ruling of June 11,1992, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed the decision of the Kharkov Council and expelled Philaret Denisenko from his rank, depriving him of every degree of the priesthood on the following charges: “Cruel and arrogant attitude to the subordinate clergy, dictatorialness, and intimidation (Tit. 1:7-8; Canon 27 of the Holy Apostles); introducing temptation among the faithful by his behavior and personal life (Matthew 18:7; Canon 3 of the First Ecumenical Council, Canon 5 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council); oath-breaking (Canon 25 of the Holy Apostles); public slander and blasphemy against the Bishops’ Council (Canon 6 of the Second Ecumenical Council); the celebration of clerical functions, including ordinations, in a state of suspension (Canon 28 of the Holy Apostles); the perpetration of a schism in the Church (Canon 15 of the First-Second Council).” All ordinations performed by Philaret in a suspended state since May 27, 1992, and the punishments imposed by him, were declared invalid.

Despite repeated calls for repentance, after the deprivation of his hierarchal rank Philaret Denisenko continued his schismatic activity, including within the bounds of other Local Churches. By the ruling of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1997, he was given over to anathema.

The aforesaid decisions were recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.

… Now, after more than two decades, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has changed its position for political reasons.

… St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, in his Pedalion, which is an authoritative source of ecclesiastical-canonical law of the Church of Constantinople, interprets Canon 9 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, rejecting the false opinion on the right of Constantinople to consider appeals from other Churches: “The Primate of Constantinople does not have the right to act in the dioceses and provinces of other Patriarchs, and this rule did not give him the right to take appeals on any matter in the Ecumenical Church… “ Listing a whole range of arguments in favor of this interpretation, referring to the practice of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, St. Nikodemos concludes: “At present … the Primate of Constantinople is the first, the only, and the last judge over the metropolitans subordinate to him—but not over those who are subject to the rest of the Patriarchs. For, as we said, the last and universal judge of all the Patriarchs is the Ecumenical Council and no one else.” It follows from the above that the Synod of the Church of Constantinople does not have canonical rights to withdraw judicial decisions rendered by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Patriarch Bartholomew lifts anathemas on schismatics in Ukraine (VIDEO)

Most of the Orthodox world is in strong opposition to this move by Patriarch Bartholomew, whose motivations seem not to be of Christ.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The biggest news in the Eastern Orthodox world in recent times occurred on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, lifted the anathemas against two schismatic Ukrainian Churches and their leaders, paving the way to the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian national Orthodox Church.

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This announcement was given in English and is shown here in video with the textual transcript following:

“Presided by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018 in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda. The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length, the ecclesiastical mater of Ukraine in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishp Ilarion of Edmonon, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed (emphasis added):

First, to renew the decision already made, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine;

Second, to re-establish at this moment the stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Kiev—one of its many starvorpegion in Ukraine that existed there always;

Third, to accept and review the petitions of appeal of Philaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich and their followers who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy of all the autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church;

Fourth, to revoke the legal binding of the Synodal letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through economia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the clergy-laity assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the first hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople;

Fifth, to appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties as well as every other act of violence and retaliation so that he peace and love of Christ may prevail.”

There are a few things that must be said about what this declaration is not before we get to the matter of what the points of actually are. The point of reference is the strict letter of the text above itself.

  • This is not a granting of autocephaly (full independent self-rule status) like the fourteen universally canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the world. However, it is a huge step towards this status.
  • As far as Constantinople is concerned, Filaret Denisenko, the leader and “Patriarch” of the “Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” and Makary, the “Metropolitan” of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church”, and all their faithful are now restored to communion. The statement says that this applies to “The Church” which may be trying to state that these two men (and all the faithful that they lead), are now in communion with the entirety of canonical Orthodoxy, but more likely, this may be a carefully worded statement to say they now are in communion with Constantinople alone.
  • There is an official call for the cessation of the violence directed against the Moscow Patriarchate parishes and communities, who are the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and who are also the largest by far in that country. The Kyiv Patriarchate and Uniate (Roman oriented) Greek Catholics in Ukraine have gone on record for seizing MP church properties, often by force, with neo-Nazi sympathizers and other radical Ukrainian nationalists. So this official call to cease the violence is now a matter of public record.

However, the reaction has been far less civil than the clergy wished for.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: “Expressing his view of the Moscow Patriarchate, Poroshenko added, “This is a great victory of the God-loving Ukrainian people over the Moscow demons, the victory of Good over Evil, the victory of Light over Darkness.”’

Perhaps this is the reason Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine (exarch under the Moscow Patriarchate) has been labeled an enemy of Ukraine and is now receiving death threats. Very civil.

Poroshenko’s statement is all the more bizarre, considering that it has been Ukrainian ultra-nationalists that have been violently attacking Moscow – related parishes in Ukraine. This has been corroborated by news sources eager to pin the blame on Russia, such as the U.K. Guardian.

The Union of Orthodox Journalists, based in Kiev and supportive of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been under intense cyber attack since October 11th, when the EP’s announcement was issued.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary: “What happened at the Synod in Istanbul yesterday shocked the entire Orthodox world. It seems the Patriarchate of Constantinople is consciously embarking on a path of schism in world Orthodoxy. Patriarch Bartholomew ignored the calls of the Local Churches to convene a meeting of the primates to work out a common and conciliar solution to the Ukrainian Church issue and unilaterally made very serious but erroneous decisions. I hope the Orthodox world will give this action an objective evaluation… Having received the schismatics into communion, Patriarch Bartholomew did not make them canonical, but has himself embarked on the path of schism. The schismatics remain schismatics. They did not receive any autocephaly or tomos. It seems they have lost even that independence, although non-canonical, that they had and which they always emphasized.”

Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia:“The Orthodox world recognizes the only canonical primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and confirmed by the primate of the Great Church of Christ His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on behalf of all present at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches that was held in Chambésy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia wrote two letters to the Ecumenical Patriarch, advocating that the provision of a new autocephaly is possible only with the consent of all local Orthodox Churches. According to Sedmitza.ru (Translation by Pravoslavie.ru),

“In these letters, it was very clearly stated that the granting of autocephaly cannot be the prerogative the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone, that new autocephalies must be created only with the consent of all the Local Orthodox Churches, as the Holy Synod of Antioch also said in its recent statement.”

Pat. Irinej also warned the Patriarchate of Constantinople against making such major decisions unilaterally, because “it will not bring harmony and peace to the Ukrainian land, but, on the contrary, will cause new divisions and new schisms.”

The Holy Synod of Antioch, the oldest Orthodox Church, and actually the very first place where the disciples of Christ were even called “Christians” weighed in on the issue as well and they had several things to say:

“The fathers examined the general Orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to a unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissensions and quarrels within the one Church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox world.

To summarize, this move by Constantinople is not being warmly received by many, many people. Most of the local Churches are on record giving their reaction to this process. In brief, here is the list most of the Local Churches and a one or two word summary of their reactions.

Patriarchate of Georgia: Unilateral action is wrong; Constantinople and Moscow must cooperate and find a solution together.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem: recognizes Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church alone, as do all other local Churches

Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa: The Church does not bow to politicians. Moscow-led church is the only canonical Church in Ukraine.

Archbishop of Cyprus: Decries the Ukrainian situation but offered to mediate a discussion between Moscow and Constantinople

Bulgarian Patriarchate: Interference of the State in Church affairs leads to serious and negative consequences for both.

Polish Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Sawa called for a council of Orthodox ruling hierarchs to discuss this situation.

Estonian Orthodox Church: Condemns Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

Greek Archdiocese of America: Supports Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church of Greece (Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus quoted): “Schismatics, as we know, are not the Church, and communion with them is forbidden by the Divine and holy canons and the Apostolic and Ecumenical Councils. Why then this persistence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in recognizing schismatics as an autocephalous Church? To provoke schisms and divisions in the one universal and Apostolic Church of Christ?”

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR): Ceased commemoration of Constantinople, ceased concelebration with Constantinople.

This issue has also rocked the secular geopolitical world.

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