Thursday, February 2, 2023

    U.S. suspects UOC (MP) lobbyist Andriy Derkach of financial crimes

    The Federal Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn has published an indictment against the People’s Deputy of Ukraine Andriy Derkach, who is affiliated with Russian intelligence. Derkach is accused of a number of financial crimes, for which he faces up to 30 years behind bars. Previously, he lobbied for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate and opposed the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine.

    “The conduct of this Kremlin asset, who was sanctioned for trying to poison our democracy, has shown he is ready, willing, and capable of exploiting our banking system in order to advance his illicit goals,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said, while announcing the charges.

    In total, Derkach is suspected of seven counts, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, as well as money laundering in connection with the purchase and holding of real estate in violation of US sanctions.

    The investigation established that the Ukrainian MP planned to purchase and maintain two luxury condominiums in Beverly Hills, while concealing his interest in the transactions from American financial institutions. The deputy faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty.

    In 2020, the U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Derkach due to his meddling in the U.S. presidential election. He gathered what he assumed was compromising material on Joe Biden (the-then vice president) and claimed the U.S. senior official interfered in Ukraine’s affairs.

    Who is Derkach?

    In 1990-1993, Andriy Derkach graduated from the Academy of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to first become a lawyer. The topic of Derkach’s thesis was “Organization and holding of meetings with clandestine agents.”

    Derkach has been associated with religion since 2010. It was in 2010 that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church introduced Andriy Derkach to the ROC Intercollegiate Presence. Derkach was also directly related to the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary of the UOC-MP where he was associate professor. Derkach taught the course entitled “State-Church Relations.”

    Since 2011, Andriy Derkach had led a group of advisers to Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov (unpaid post). He lobbied the interests of the UOC-MP in the Verkhovna Rada as he was a People’s Deputy of the third and ninth convocations. He is also a sponsor for the UOC-MP.

    Derkach would also fly to Moscow to attend the ROC’s official events.

    On September 10, 2020, U.S. sanctions were imposed on Derkach as an agent of the Russian secret services with more than ten years of experience. The United States has accused Derkach of trying to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

    Derkach popularized Ukraine’s friendship with Russia through the UOC-MP in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

    Derkach has repeatedly organized information forums, various information platforms, which promoted “Russian world,” friendship with Russia, and the “one people” concept.

    In the autumn of 2020, Derkach was president of the XVIII International Festival of Orthodox Cinema, held at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra of the UOC-MP, which promoted peace and friendship with the aggressor country, Russia.

    In his welcoming speech, the president of the festival, a disgraced agent of the GRU Andrei Derkach, stressed that, despite the difficulties created by the coronavirus, “life and work continue.”

    Hilarion (Alfeev), the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, also addressed the audience with a “welcoming speech.”

    The Orthodox Film Festival has been held since 2003 with the blessing of the head of the UOC-MP. The last time the festival was held with the blessing of the head of the ROCinU Onufriy (Berezovsky). The festival was held in Ukraine annually until the time of the full-scale war with Russia. The purpose was to popularize Russian culture, friendship with the Russian Federation, and the “Russian world” under the pretext of promoting Christian movies.

    Agent Derkach and the UOC-MP are allies in their war against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

    In February 2021, Derkach undertook efforts to prevent the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Ukraine. The agent of the General Staff of the Russian Federation personally “on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox people” wrote a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch, in which he called him to recall his visit to Ukraine and in fact threatened the patriarch. Derkach sympathized with the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate and defended them in every possible way.

    Derkach also asked the patriarch to give a road map for the Orthodox in Ukraine, despite the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch invited all Orthodox in Ukraine to the Unification Council, which was ignored by most UOC-MP bishops.

    Derkach also asked Bartholomew to take part in a non-canonical Amman assembly, which was to be organized by Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem. By the way, Russian ambassadors visit the latter regularly, every month.

    Thus, the agent of the aggressor power Russia, together with the UOC-MP, translated the consequences of the problems they had caused to Ukraine onto Patriarch Bartholomew, although they would never have emerged had the MP clerics in Ukraine listened to Patriarch Bartholomew and his call to participate in the Unification Council and chosen not to cooperate with the Russian assets. At the same time, the UOC-MP were then asking for a certain rewind. This proposal was supported by the Russian intelligence agent Andriy Derkach in his letters to Patriarch Bartholomew.

    After Derkach released his letter, ‘Russian World’ adepts s were offended that the Ecumenical Patriarch was ignoring the document so they planned to hand it to him in person.

    Similar steps were taken by front organizations run by the UOC-MP, such as the Myriany NGO. Together with Derkach, they would organize rallies, write appeals, and give angry interviews in order to ensure that Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Ukraine is canceled. The UOC-MP brought out its faithful to confront Patriarch Bartholomew on Kyiv streets with insulting posters targeting His Beatitude.

    It is obvious that Derkach, an agent of Russia’s military intelligence, did not like the independence of Ukrainian Orthodoxy from Russia, so he did everything he could to “roll everything back to the pre-Tomos period.” The UOC-MP tried to do the same.

    Derkach and the UOC-MP Congress of Monks in the Pochaiv Lavra

    In July 2021, Andriy Derkach continued his anti-Ukrainian activities, addressing a congress of UOC-MP monks in Pochaiv. It was then that the monks were to appeal to President Volodymyr Zelensky, prime minister, and head of the Interior Ministry, about alleged “constitutional violations and anti-church bills.” As “violation of the Constitution,” the ROCinU has traditionally saw the accession of parishes to the OCU, done by a majority vote at parish meetings. The Russian agent was obviously supposed to supervise the event in this regard and instruct the monks on how to bring up the issue on the agenda.

    “MP A. Derkach is seen at the rostrum of the Pochaiv congress of monasticism in Ukraine. Judging by media reports, he is a specialist in handling human assets, certified by the FSB Academy. The U.S. government has included him on the sanctions list as an ‘active Russian agent.’ As Dmitry Kiselyov, the luminary of Putin’s propaganda, likes to say: “Coincidence? I don’t think so,” Archbishop Yevstratiy, a spokesman for the OCU wrote at the time.

    He noted that, despite such facts, some on Facebook recently ridiculed the expression “UOC-FSB”: “Funny? People in Crimea and Donbas have already had their ‘laugh’…”

    At that time, the head of the UOC-MP, Onufriy, did not personally attend the congress, but limited himself to a message in which he touched on purely ecclesiastical topics. He did not utter a word about “anti-church laws” or “violations of constitution,” as the clerics of the UOC-MP claimed at the instruction of Russian asset Derkach.

    The Congress was also attended by the hierarch of the UOC-MP from Sviatohirsk, Metropolitan Arseniy (Yakovenko). He is the governor of the Sviatohirsk Lavra of the Moscow Patriarchate, which, according to Army General Igor Gordiychuk and Russian military operative Igor Girkin, was used as a hideout for “LPR/DPR” terrorists. By the way, in 2018, Arseniy claimed that the war was started by Ukraine, not Russia. Yakovenko also describes Russia’s war against its neighbor as a internal civil conflict in Ukraine. It should be noted that a month before the congress of monks of the UOC-MP in Pochaiv, on June 15, 2021, anti-state rallies took place outside the President’s Office and Parliament in Kyiv with the participation of UOC-MP believers.

    Ukraine’s reaction and outcome

    In August 2021, the National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions against Sharij, Huzhva, Derkach, and the media outlet. After that, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree imposing personal sanctions on Derkach and Telizhenko.

    On June 24, the SBU recognized Derkach as a Russian GRU asset who was tasked with helping the aggressor to seize Ukraine.

    It is obvious that Derkach is closely connected with the UOC-MP and cooperated with the organization to help it split Ukraine from within. In addition, he assisted the liquidated UOC-KP, more precisely Filaret, to divide the OCU.

    Given the numerous facts of collaborationism on the part of the UOC-MP clergy and the exposure of Derkach as a GRU asset, there can be no doubt that the UOC-MP has other FSB and GRU agents in its ranks, who are yet to be publicly exposed. As we can see, the UOC-MP is closely affiliated with Russian operatives so the authorities should consider a law banning the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.

    In Ukraine, Andriy Derkach was charged with two counts of treason and illegal enrichment. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Since the MP is on the run, the charges were pressed in absentia.

    Also, the politician was declared wanted. In October, the court ruled to arrest Derkach once he is located.