Russian Church warns UN Council for persecution of Orthodox Ukrainians


Eastern Europe

Russia's Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia. Photo EPA, Justin Lane

In a historic United Nations address, Metropolitan Anthony of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) condemned the actions of the Ukrainian government against the Russian Church in the country.

According to Metropolitan Anthony, the basis of peaceful dialogue is undermined in Ukraine by attempts to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate UOC). "For many centuries, Orthodox Christianity has formed the common spiritual and cultural basis of the life of the peoples of Russia and Ukraine and could serve to restore mutual understanding in the future, but the very foundation of such a dialogue is being undermined in Ukraine right now when attempts are being made to destroy the UOC on the initiative of the leadership of Ukraine", the Metropolitan said according to the Russian state-owned press agency RIA Novosti. As CNE reported earlier, Ukrainian President Zelensky is increasingly involved in church affairs.

The Metropolitan noted that the Russian Church takes part in protecting the rights of believers around the world, "especially Christians". "We are extremely concerned about flagrant violations of the universal and constitutional rights of Orthodox believers in Ukraine. It is difficult to overestimate the peacemaking potential of religion and the Church in interstate and civil conflicts."

The statements of the Russian Metropolitan were historic since it was the first time a Metropolitan of the Russian Church spoke at the UN Security Council. Anthony is seen as the ‘second man’ in the Russian Church, after Patriarch Kirill. The meeting was convened by the Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, to discuss the "persecution" of the UOC.

Subsequently, the Ukrainians urged the Russian authorities not to speak on their behalf and "not to use the religious factor for their own political purposes." The UOC has been trying for some year already to cut the canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate, but that is difficult. The UOC defends the independence of Ukraine and condemns the Russian invasion.

At the same time, the UOC asked the Ukrainian authorities to "pursue a balanced religious policy within the country" and not to give reasons to use the state's religious policy in the interests of others.


In Germany, the political scientist Prof. Andreas Heinemann-Grüder sees a “symbiotic proximity” between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the “autocratic system” under Vladimir Putin. This reports The scientist writes in an essay that there are “substantial parallels to clerical-fascist tendencies of the 1920s and 1930s” between the two sides, for example in Italy, Spain and Germany. The article was published by the CDU-affiliated Konrad-Adenauer Foundation.

According to Heinemann-Grüder, the ROC is an instrument for realising Putin’s neo-imperial fantasies. The church's rhetoric “turned the cynical power politician Putin into an ideological offender and empowered the war enthusiasts”. Instead of Christian peace ethics, Kirill gave the fighters against Ukraine absolution in advance at the end of September 2022 that they would be washed clean of all previous sins. “The war thus becomes a purification ritual. In this context, aggressive war is no longer a sin, but a form of worship.”



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