Opinion Society, 10/03/2019

Russian Orthodox Church Inc.

Oleksandr KRAVCHENKO

Recently, the Guardian published the article “Ukraine deports Orthodox bishop after stripping citizenship” which underlines the issue of the harmful influence of Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine, in particular, its bishops, one of which was abandoned to enter Ukraine. This article induced one to look deeper into this issue and to examine motives of such acts by Ukrainian state agencies.

After Ukraine gained its independence from the Russian Orthodox church and established the new Orthodox church of Ukraine, there are a lot of discussions in international media concerning this religious issue. Moreover, there is a growing consent that the religious activity of the Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine became a mechanism of hybrid war conducted by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Thus, a lot of Ukrainians percept Russian secret service when talking about the Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine.

Besides, there is the flip side of the coin – the Russian Orthodox church in Ukraine is also a mechanism of profit. One of the excellent illustrations is “Father Dionysius” case.

Since the armed conflict at the east of Ukraine began in 2014, Russia-backed terrorist entities “DPR” and “LPR” took control over some part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The normal economic life on those territories is almost non-existent, the residents live in poverty, the urban infrastructure is decaying. It is hard to survive, receiving small pensions and social benefits from the “LPR.” However, even people living under the “LPR” rule respond the call to charity. The St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is considered the “spiritual center” of the Stakhanov town. The abbot of the cathedral Father Dionysius (Denys Tiviakov) often initiates fundraising for noble purposes. For example, to help disabled children. At the same time, according to the reliable sources, Denys Tiviakov spends significant sums on entertainment, although he is the archimandrite, which means “monk-priest.”

Particularly, according to the Luhanshchina.UA, he traveled to the Maldives at the end of January 2019. In the article, the author demonstrates the copies of the flight tickets and voucher from the hotel by the name of Denys Tiviakov. According to calculations, the flight from Rostov-on-Don to the capital of Maldives, Male, and back through Moscow cost 39,000 Russian rubles. Transfer from Male to the hotel on the island Thoddoo with the hotel accommodation for eight nights costs $520. In general, the holidays of the Orthodox “monk-priest” cost amounts to $1,100.

It is a pot of money by the standards of residents of the temporarily uncontrolled areas of Donbas. Father Dionysius’ cathedral collected donations for disabled children just before abbot’s journey. They have collected 30,000 rubles (about $500) from the whole town, while most of Dionysius’ parishioners lives on a pension from the “LPR,” which is $50 a month.

Unfortunately, such trips are not too unusual for priests of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate from the occupied Donbas area. Just four months earlier, in October 2018, the same priest-monk Father Dionysius traveled with his relative, probably it was his mom, to a resort in Turkey, the newspaper writes. His colleague, Archpriest Serhii Dubovoi, the abbot of St. Nicholas Cathedral from the neighboring town of Bryanka and his wife, flew to the resort with him.

It is impossible to tell whether priests spend charitable contributions or they receive income from some other source. One of the possibilities is that clerics receive money from the occupying administration or directly from the special services of the Russian Federation for participating in the events of the “LPR” and anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

Father Dionysius-Tiviakov is an ardent supporter of the “Russian world. He boasts of ties with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was baptized in the St. Nicholas Church of Stakhanov in childhood.

The Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in occupied areas takes an active part in the life of “DPR” and “LPR.” The priests of the Moscow Patriarchate conduct processions with the militants, serve as military priests in illegal armed groups. In this regard, many priests are listed as accomplices of terrorists at the Myrotvorets website.

There is a lot to do for Ukraine, both government and people, to make all possible to get rid of the influence that Russian Federation projects onto Ukraine through its numerous mechanisms, such as Russian Orthodox church. It is relieving that the international community stays with Ukraine and helps to cope with these issues as well as learning from Ukrainian sad experience.

Photos: luganskua

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