Monday, September 20, 2021

    Azerbaijan’s Orthodox leader who debunked Russian propaganda myths about “religious war” in Karabakh dies

    On June 10, on the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Alexander of Baku and Azerbaijan, succumbed to a long and severe illness.

    That’s according to an official statement by the Baku Diocese of the ROC.

    Echo of Moscow, with reference to the Russian media, informs that the cleric died of the COVID-19 complications. Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein) was to turn 69 on June 13.

    The Spiritual Front recalls Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein), despite being part of the Russian Orthodox Church, successfully fighting Russian propaganda that sought to create an artificial image of “religious war” that Azerbaijan has allegedly been waging against the Orthodox Christians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

    At a time when Orthodox Russians and other residents of Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh) were writing open letters to Russian leader Vladimir Putin calling on him to prevent the destruction of Orthodox Christians by the Azerbaijani army, and Archpriest Vladimir Vasilik, member of the ROC Synod’s Worship Commission, called for the Kremlin to support Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein) of Baku made a bold move to sign off a class petition of Azerbaijani religious organizations addressing President Ilham Aliyev to express support for the government’s actions in the area.

    Besides, with the blessing of Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein), head of the ROC Baku diocese’s press service Archpriest Konstantin Pominov told the media that Armenia and other propagandists were trying in vain to paint the war as “anti-Christian.” He explained that the Christians of Azerbaijan profess their religion freely. At the same time, he added, there are no encroachments on the territory of Armenia, as well as no threats to the Armenian people, as Azerbaijan is simply seeking to regain own lands.

    It is noteworthy that none of the clergymen of the ROC’s Baku diocese, including Archbishop Alexander (Ishchein), were subjected to disciplinary pressure from the Moscow Patriarchate for unquestioning support for the actions of their host country’s authorities. And it is precisely such courage and resilience of the spirit that many bishops and ministers of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine (UOC-MP) lack.