Kyiv recently saw a rally against the upcoming visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Vigilant locals have spotted a peculiar figure among those who came out carrying posters and banners. One of the photos available from the event shows Valentyn Lukiyanyk, a pro-Russian activist operating in Ukraine.
Valentyn Lukiyanyk managed pro-Russian organizations set up under the guise of the Orthodoxy. Among them was Kyiv Orthodox Brotherhood of St. Archangel Michael, supervised by the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine (ROCU). Also, he co-chaired the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine and Russia. Actually, this is not the first time Lukiyanyk rallies against Bartholomew’s visit. He also took to the streets back in 2008. After the ROCU Synod stripped his organization of its blessing, in 2011 it also banned Valentyn Lukiyanyk from taking communion.
The man co-organized pro-Russian stunts in Kyiv on November 6, 2015, and March 17, 2016. Also he is among those standing behind the so-called “anti-Maidan” rallies and “processions” carrying Russian imperial red and yellow flags and icons of the late Tsar Nicholas II.
Lukiyanyk also took part in purely political actions as a member of the Novorossiya Spiritual and Patriotic Union and the Left Opposition organization. He had been actively opposing autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, the country’s European integration and path toward NATO, the visits of Patriarch Bartholomew and the Pope. He was seen calling for the revival of the “Second Russia” on the territory of Ukraine.
Here is a brief overview of Lukiyanyk’s activity
In December 1992, in Bakhmut (then-Artemivsk), Donetsk region, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine and Russia was formed, headed by Moscow-based Hegumen Kirill (Sakharov), which took under its wing Lukiyanyk’s “Kyiv-Mohyla Brotherhood” and ROCU’s local Orthodox fraternities in Donetsk, Bakhmut, Yalta, and other cities. It was personally Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow (Ridiger) who blessed the brotherhood’s founding from his Moscow throne in December 1992.
In 1992-1993, the organization hindered attempts to open in Artemivsk (now Bakhmut) a separate church for the parish of Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP).
Lukiyanyk fought with the wing of autocephaly promoters within the ROCU (UOC-MP). On August 11, 2000, he teamed up with the chief of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukrainian, Serhiy Syrovatsky, and the head of the Society of Orthodox Doctors of Ukraine, Sviatoslav Demetsky, to pen an open letter to the Patriarch of Moscow demanding that the ROCU leadership be stationed outside Ukraine.
Lukiyanyk believes that the Russian Church enjoys canonical authority over Ukraine. In 2001, Lukiyanyk, along with a number of pro-Russian organizations, set up a series of rallies in Kyiv against the arrival of Pope John Paul II, claiming that the trip would manifest “Catholic expansion into the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
In March 2002, as chairman of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine, Lukiyanyk, took part in a press conference held by the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), Petro Symonenko, and CPU Secretary Valeriy Mishura.
Lukiyanyk and his supporters beefed up their efforts significantly in 2005, once Viktor Yushchenko became President of Ukraine and abandoned the ideas of economic integration and “customs union” with the Russian Federation, which had been nurtured by his predecessor Leonid Kuchma, and instead pursued Ukraine’s rapprochement with NATO Allies and EU member states. Lukiyanik has been a vocal critic of Ukraine’s plans for NATO accession, calling it a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty and national interests. Lukiyanyk has told of his vision in an op-ed released on one of Russia’s propaganda outlets, Russian People’s Line.
In January 2006, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, led by Lukiyanyk, decided to support the Communist Party of Ukraine in the upcoming elections. In April 2005, the Union founded an Orthodox Choice NGO and drew a charter of principles, by which they said they would support a political force. As per Lukiyanyk, the basic principles of the Communist Party of Ukraine are close to those of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods. besides, CPU offered Lukiyanyk’s organization spots on the electoral lists to be able to run for parliament and local councils. “If you love us, then love us in all seriousness, and serious intentions also imply spots on the electoral lists,” Valentyn Lukiyanyk said.
On November 11, 2007, under the leadership of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), the Synod of the ROCU decided to condemn the political stance of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine and a number of other NGOs: the Orthodox Community of Odesa, and the Novorossiya Spiritual and Patriotic Union, as well as their moves to circulate and promote ideas and liturgical rites that contradict the rules and teachings of the Orthodox Church. The Synod ruled to repeal its blessing for the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods.
In 2008, Lukiyanyk, along with Valery Kaurov (another pro-Russian figure), advocated the creation of a new church leadership of the “southeastern metropolis” and took up on a spree of “opposition to barcodes”. One of the op-eds authored by these figures draws parallels between the “supreme episcopate of the ROCU” and the bishops who signed the Brest Union in 1596 – a clear allusion to the possible “betrayal” of the entire ROCU episcopate. The infamous “Appeal of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Novorossiya, the United Fatherland non-profit, residents of the tent camp and participants in the rallies on Odesa’s Kulikovo Field to the Holy Synod of the ROCU,” signed by Valeriy Kaurov, deserves special attention. As seen in the key quote, the purpose of the Appeal was blackmail through the threats of a “pro-Russian” split: “People of God will go for pickets and standing rallies in diocesan administrations that no one would be able to pepperspray them out of there. And we will blow the trumpet across the whole Orthodox world about the pious struggle of believers for Church purification, which will make the whole of Ukraine rise. The people are already putting forward demands for the creation of the South-Eastern Metropolis with direct subordination to the Holy One [Moscow Patriarch – SFU]. The newly created Metropolis will become a territory free from the ‘Orange Revolution’, the union, sectarianism, and the individual taxpayers’ registration numbers.”
It should be noted that under the name “Novorossiya”, with the support of Russian troops in Ukraine in 2014, a union was formed of terrorist groups of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) and “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”), operating in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.
On August 9, 2007, the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine and Russia split up to be renamed into Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods of Ukraine and Russia, with ROC Hegumen Kirill (Sakharov) and Valentyn Lukiyanyk elected as co-chairs. In 2012, Lukiyanik was re-elected as the co-chair.
In 2010, Lukiyanyk claimed that communists and Orthodox had one path and one goal. On Lukyanyk’s recommendation, representatives of the Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods were included in the Communist Party’s electoral lists at all but the highest levels.
On June 28, 2011, the ROCU Synod, chaired by Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), ruled to excommunicate Lukianyk from church communion until he repents – “for anti-church and destructive activity bringing disturbance in church and public life”.
On October 30, 2015, ROCU, chaired by Onufriy (Berezovsky), dropped all charges against Lukiyanyk, clearing his access to taking communion.
In 2016, Lukiyanyk, together with his Union of Orthodox Brotherhoods, called for Ukrainians to join Russia’s “Immortal Regiment” campaign, behind which stands a propaganda non-profit, founded by three journalists in Tomsk in 2011. In 2017, in the cities of Simferopol (Crimea), Donetsk, and Moscow action, processions were held where participants would carry alongside portraits of the Soviet Soldiers killed in WW2, pictures of Russian terrorists killed in the Donbas war.
On July 10, 2016, Lukiyanyk and his supporters was seen heading to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to “exorcise evil spirits.”
On July 17, 2016, during a mass public procession outside St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Valentyn Lukiyanyk and his allies sang the Russian Empire’s national anthem “God save the Tsar” and chanted separatist slogans: “Let a new Russia rise.” Also, protesters carried the symbols of the Russian Empire and portraits of Russian Tsar Nicholas II, and sat on the tombstone of the first Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate Vladimir (Romanyuk). In April 2017, the SBU Security Service pressed charges against Lukiyanyk, accusing him of encroaching on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
On July 24, 2017 in Kyiv, a public movement “Ukrainian Choice – the Right of the People”, led by Vladimir Putin’s main political operative in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, held a conference dedicated to the 1029th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. However, it was mainly about undermining Ukraine’s European integration prospects. Valentin Lukiyanyk was among those who took part in the conference. The resolution stated: “We believe that the ongoing process of forcibly dragging Ukraine into the European community is not only a crime before our ancestors, it also relentlessly leads Ukraine to civilizational and the First National Failure. The public movement Ukrainian Choice – the Right of the People, led by Viktor Medvedchuk, will continue consistently defending and strengthening Orthodox-Slavic values as the basis of Ukraine’s civilizational choice.”
On July 27, 2013, on the initiative of Viktor Medvedchuk’s Ukrainian Choice movement, an international conference “Orthodox-Slavic Values – the Basis of Ukraine’s Civilizational Choice” was held in Kyiv with Putin’s personal participation. The day prior, on July 26, 2013, the organization’s members together with the “People’s Council” of Ukraine led by Ihor Druz (of whom our outlet has already written in earlier reports) went for a picket “For Orthodox-Slavic values” outside the EU Delegation’s Headquarters in Kyiv. Pro-Russian politicians and a number of public figures attended the event. Other pro-Russian organizations joined the act – the Slavic Guard, the Union of Citizens of Ukraine, and the Association of Orthodox Experts, led by Kyrylo Frolov. Vladimir Putin thanked praised the Ukrainian Choice’s efforts: “You know that in the post-Soviet space, various processes are ongoing, related to integration… The only question is how we will agree to work together on absolutely equal, fair, clear, and transparent terms. I know how much work you’ve been doing to find the most optimal ways of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine. I’d like to thank you heartily for this and wish you success.”
So the person behind rallies against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit has turned out to be an anti-Ukrainian activist who has long been setting up pro-Russian stunts and even founded a so-called “Spiritual and Patriotic Union of Novorossiya.” It remains a mystery, how come the SBU Security Service of Ukraine hasn’t already nabbed the man.