The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has again resorted to spreading fake news to denigrate the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and create an image of “persecution.” This time, the story focuses on the village of Zadubrivka, Chernivtsi region, where the majority of local parishioners voted for the transition to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The ROCinU press service claimed that on March 13, Vasyl Khashchiyuk, 63, a parishioner of the local St. Michael’s Church was assaulted.
The Moscow Patriarchate put all blame on “OCU supporters” in order to expose them as radicals and, most importantly, “persecutors.” At the same time, the ROCinU has been spitting out accusations without any evidence whatsoever. It might seem that the attackers wore some kind of unioform with tags “OCU supporters.”
This is a classic scheme that is being exploited by pro-Russian organizations to evoke sympathy or pursue some mercenary motives. Recently, a pro-Russian influencer and fringe party leader Anatoliy Shariy ordered the beating of his fellow party member, only to blame the “right-wing radicals” and tell his audiences “how bad things are in Ukraine” and how “good” he and his organization are. The assault, which left the victim with grave injuries, cost Shariy some UAH 5,000, while the only aim was to improve the public image of Shariy’s party.
The latest situation is no different. The ROCinU and its sponsors from the Russian intelligence exploit their supporters in Ukraine as necessary sacrifices for creating the appropriate picture for the Russian media. And naturally, it’s “OCU supporters” who are being accused of the attack.
Expert Oleksandr Kovalenko shares the same opinion. “As expected, the ROCU, which is now cultivating a narrative of “persecution” of its believers, will soon begin to provoke the army of its parishioners by means of staged provocations. And it seems that the test stunt has already been carried out.
Kovalenko pointed out that even propagandists with the ROCinU on other resources only suggest that it could be OCU supporters who committed the crime.
“That is, even they are not sure about it, but all accusations are still being directed at the OCU. Such theses are dispelled by specific pro-Russian resources affiliated with the ROCinU… Presumption of innocence? Evidence? Facts? No one seems to care!” Kovalenko emphasized.
Halyna Yeremitsa, a journalist from Bukovyna, told the Spiritual Front of Ukraine in a comment that she had appealed to the police for clarification. There she was told that it was a domestic conflict and that it had no religious grounds behind it. “Later, the press service of the Chernivtsi Region PD also replied that the case is being investigated under Article 125 – infliction of bodily harm. They promised to follow up on that,” the journalist said.
After such a statement by the police, all bits were supposed to make up the puzzle. But the Moscow Patriarchate again decided to pursue with their wishful thinking. A street fight, many of which may occur any day in any city, town or village Ukraine, they qualified as “persecution” and of defenseless parishioners of the ROCinU by the OCU. If we follow this logic, almost every street incident involving a believer of the Moscow Patriarchate could be referred to as “persecution” by the OCU.
Halyna Yeremitsa has confirmed our assumptions about the “staged show”.
It turns out that non-local journalists with the pro-Russian outlet run by the Russian Orthodox Church, Vitrazhy, have arrived in Bukovyna some two weeks ago. Vitrazhy is known to have been systemically denigrating the OCU in its reporting, being supervised personally by ROCinU Metropolitan Antoniy (Pukanych).
“They were in Zadubrivka recently and did their so-called ‘report’ there. Well, it’s not a report, actually, but pure propaganda, you see, it’s distortion of facts. They also visited Mikhalcha. They now travel across those religious parishes where sharp conflicts have been reported. There’s this guy, Denis Lapin, who refers to himself as journalist and analyst, although I have information that he’s not. He was a Donetsk-based blogger. […] And he said he would be visiting all ‘persecuted’ communities, attempting to show ‘truth’ (with quotation marks, of course), about ‘how they are assaulted’ and ‘raided.’ In my opinion, all this is done for the cameras of the pro-Russian channel,” said journalist Yeremitsa.
So it turns out that exactly prior to the assault, a pro-Russian outlet’s crew arrived in the area, doing reports on “persecution” of Russian church believers… It is very difficult to call their arrival accidental, while their reporting – impartial and objective.
It follows that the assault on the elderly man was well planned, to further inflame the theme of “persecution” through various media platforms. However, as soon as there were no facts of such a brazen beatings of ROC believers, for a “better picture” such assaults had to be staged.
There is no doubt that Denis Lapin is yet to interview the “victims” of the OCU’s religious “terror”.
The incident is also aimed at fueling protests among believers of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, so that there is another pretext to implement the “Montenegrin scenario” in Ukraine and lead people to anti-government rallies on March 21, called for by ROC leader Onufriy (Berezovsky).
It is also worth recalling that the OCU parishioners in Zadubrivka have been praying literally out in the street for two years already. On January 27, 2019, the majority of the village, which is 158 parishioners, voted for the transition to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. There were the police and the state registrar, who witnessed the vote. It was only the registered locals who voted. Meanwhile, the belligerent minority who chose to remain with the Moscow Patriarchate employ non-local thugs to inflame conflicts.
Meanwhile, fake news spinners affiliated with the Russian GRU military intelligence, including their pool of Telegram channels, as per Ukrainian expert Oleksandr Kovalenko.
He recalls that it was GRU operatives who had been supervising efforts toward destabilization of Montenegro through the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“In fact, we can see a classic fake news spin, devoid of any improvisation and ingenuity. It was initiated by ROCinU resources and is now being accelerated by the GRU’s hybrid sites. Such a primitive and monotonous approach, which has been repeatedly used by Russian propaganda for its revanchist purposes, only confirms that the current campaign has a clear trace of Russian intelligence acting synchronously and in tandem with the ROCinU,” said the expert.