We have decided to look into Andriy Telizhenko, a former employee with the Ukrainian embassy in the United States, who was recently hit by U.S. sanctions along with a number of other Ukrainian nationals for interfering, on behalf of Russia, in the U.S. presidential election, as well as spreading misinformation.
Interestingly, on December 11, 2019, Telizhenko, whom the Kyiv Patriarchate referred to on their website as “political consultant and ex-diplomat,” met with Filaret. During the meeting, Filaret discussed, or rather “consulted,” with a Russian agent on issues of mutual interest, including the need to “preserve the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.” In addition, Filaret informed Telizhenko, the man with close ties to the Russian FSB, about the alleged persecution of UOC-KP parishioners, “raiding attacks by the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and “brutal exploitation of the Church in the latest presidential election in Ukraine.”
In early October 2020, it became known that the United States had revoked Telizhenko’s visa. Mr Telizhenko, who had worked at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in 2015-2016, was designated a “Russian agent” for spreading conspiracy theories that it was Ukraine, not Russian intelligence, that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
In a recent statement, the U.S. Treasury said former Ukrainian government officials Kulyk, Onyschenko, Telizhenko, and current lawmaker Dubinsky “have publicly appeared with or affiliated themselves with Derkach through the coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent or unsubstantiated allegations” involving Joe Biden .
Telizhenko is believed to be connected with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which in coordination with Andrei Derkach (in 1990-1993, he studied at the FSB Academy and defended a diploma on “Setting Up and Carrying Out Meetings with Human Assets ) was engaged in spinning “Biden Tapes” where Poroshenko and Putin’s alleged communications were also highlighted.
“Russian disinformation campaigns targeting American citizens are a threat to our democracy,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. Former Ukrainian diplomat Telizhenko arranged for Derkach a number of meetings with U.S. officials to help promote false allegations of corruption in Ukraine. At the same time, Telizhenko was developing ties with Filaret to use him for striking a blow at the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and boosting the Moscow Patriarchate.
It was during the period of consultations with Telizhenko that Filaret launched an even wider campaign to compromise the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Almost immediately after his meeting with Telizhenko (December 13), Filaret announced a forum entitled “In Defense of the Kyiv Patriarchate.” On December 15-17, 2019, he ordained two more bishops of the “liquidated UOC-KP.” Filaret set for rapprochement with the ROC in Ukraine and claimed that the Tomos obtained by the OCU was wrong and that the UOC-KP had in fact never been dissolved. At the same time, in late 2019, OCU chief, Metropolitan Epifaniy, told the Ukrayinska Pravda outlet that certain pro-Russian forces were playing games behind Filaret’s back, while the honorary patriarch’s desire was to take the helm of the OCU. Theologian Dmytro Horevoi spoke of the trace of Russian security forces behind the attempts to restore the Kyiv Patriarchate.
On June 20, 2020, Filaret, echoing Russian propaganda reports, claimed that the Tomos was “not of the right kind” and “in violation of Orthodox purity,” although in 2008 he had agreed to a diocese within the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In a comment for the Spiritual Front of Ukraine, Metropolitan Oleksandr (Drabynko) said that the statement wasn’t authored by Filaret but by those had “law enforcement insignia” sticking out from under their robes. Metropolitan Oleksandr is convinced that “Filaret tries to bargain a plaque that’s already fallen off the wall.”
We also wrote in early 2020 that Filaret could unite with the Moscow Patriarch against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Russia has already drawn him into an information war against the OCU. Even rallies in support of Filaret were in fact organized by people closely affiliated with the Russian forces.
The ROC still has a letter of formal repentance from Filaret, which he sent to Patriarch Kirill and the ROC episcopate back in the fall of 2017. In this letter, Filaret asked to “repeal” his anathema and establish prayerful communication between the ROC and the UOC-KP [Kyiv Patriarchate].
According to Archbishop Evstratiy (Zorya), it even came to the point that Filaret is waiting to secure an autocephaly from Moscow. Filaret is convinced that Moscow will soon “give real autocephaly to the UOC” (-[ROC in Ukraine], and that he, Patriarch Filaret, will be ‘Patriarch of this true autocephalous Church.’ That is why what’s needed is to “be patient” and “not lose ground,” Evstratiy wrote.
But let’s get back to Telizhenko’s chat with Filaret in late 2019.
“The Kyiv Patriarchate is an independent Church of the Ukrainian people,” Filaret told Telizhenko.
In turn, Telizhenko said he had been honored, as always, to be able to meet Filaret in person. “I’m aware that you enjoy unwavering authority both in Ukraine and the United States. Today I work in the public sector and I’m seeing you at the request of my American friends. It was important for me to hear your opinion in order to convey it from the original source. Human rights are sacred and inviolable values in the United States, and we wanted them to be the same in Ukraine. It is inadmissible to ‘liquidate’ churches and forcibly drive believers to another denomination. In addition, the greatness of the golden-domed Kyiv as a religious center for all Ukrainians, wherever they live, must not be despised and replaced by the glory of foreign patriarchal thrones,”Andriy Telizhenko stressed.
In March 2020, it became known that a former employee of the Ukrainian embassy in the United States, Andriy Telizhenko, was offering money, seeking to have U.S. Republican senators Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham to lobby Ukrainian TV channels 112 Ukraine and NewsOne. That’s according to an editor of the Ukrainian English-language magazine Odessa Review, Vladislav Davydzon, CNN reported.
NewsOne and 112 Ukraine TV channels have been registered in the name of Taras Kozak (Viktor Medvedchuk’s ally) since the fall-winter period of 2018. Kozak has also been an owner of ZIK TV channel since June 2019.
According to a monitoring effort by the Detector Media platform, these channels spin pro-Russian narratives and promote members of the pro-Russian “Opposition Platform – For Life” party.
In addition, these pro-Russian platforms circulated narratives about Ukraine allegedly being “governed by external actors,” echoed Derkach’s messages, and shared propaganda against Patriarch Bartholomew and the OCU. The said TV channels provided coverage for ex-MP Serhiy Melnychuk’s claims of the “unlawful liquidation of the UOC-KP”, as well as for the pro-Russian “People of Peace” Forum hosted by Svyatohirsk Lavra, where accusations were voiced against the Ukrainian military who had allegedly been engaged in “looting”, along with the calls for reconciliation with Russia. At the forum, an ROC in Ukraine’s parishioner from Donbas said she and other inhabitants in the region would have been better off without Ukraine’s efforts to liberate the area. Ukrainian soldiers “should have better dug those trenches in their own towns,” she said. Unfortunately, these TV channels have so far not made it to the sanction lists in the U.S. or Ukraine.
It should be added that Telizhenko’s ideological fellow, Mr. Andriy Derkach, whose messages were circulated in Ukraine by pro-Russian media, cooperates with the Russian Orthodox Church at the highest level. In 2010, the ROC’s Holy Synod allowed Andriy Derkach joining the ROC Intercollegiate Presence, while in September 2018, Derkach co-signed a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew calling to postpone the granting of the Tomos to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In the fall of 2020, Derkach presided over the XVIII Pokrov International Orthodox Film Festival held at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra premises where the ideas of peace and friendship with the aggressor Russia were promoted.
“Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, has been an active Russian agent for more than a decade, maintaining close connections with Russian intelligence services,” the State Department said in a statement.
Having studies a bulk of open source data and spoken with our sources, we conclude the following:
1 Andriy Telizhenko together with Andriy Derkach are Russian agents working against the United States and Ukraine.
2 Telizhenko’s partner and handler, Andriy Derkach, has a number of strong and relevant ties with Russia and its security agencies: commercial ones, through Oleg Deripaska, and personal, through his father, as well as socio-political ones, through the Russian Church. While remaining a member of Ukraine’s parliament, he would frequently fly to Moscow unhindered.
3 Telizhenko met with Filaret in order to use him for striking a blow at the OCU and strengthening the presence of the Moscow Patriarchate and pro-Russian positions in the country in general.
Therefore we are now aware of the FSB’s “Biden tapes” smear campaign set up in cooperation with and with the information support of Derkach and Telizhenko, and a number of other minions. The U.S. government has slapped sanctions on the main actors in the plot, including Telizhenko. The latter has lately become friends with Filaret, who supports the restoration of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), as we have said before, aiming to merge with the Russian Church in Ukraine to unite efforts in destroying the Ukrainian autocephalous church. The UOC-KP restoration is most likely another game played by Russian intelligence agencies.
Exploiting the sign saying “Kyiv Patriarchate”, Russian spooks penetrate certain barriers of critical perception and achieve their goal, which is to impose onto the minds of Ukrainians and the country’s media field a bluntly fake narrative. The FSB is trying to make use of the last bits of Filaret’s once massive authority to advance their own agenda and destroy Ukraine’s church and statehood along the way.