Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    “This goes beyond what’s acceptable”: Religious scholar on UOC (MP) lobbyist’s threats

    Archimandrite Kyrylo Govorun, Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, commented on the recently published letter containing threats from the UOC (MP) lobbyist and on the draft law on Russia-affiliated religious organizations.

    On the air of Radio NV, he said such methods of influence are unacceptable in a democracy:

    “This goes beyond what is acceptable in the political life of a democracy. The only way to influence the parliament is not to vote for lawmakers again. The current methods are neither democratic nor acceptable. The only way to influence the parliament is not to re-elect it. The current methods are neither democratic nor acceptable. There is an issue with the draft law, but it should be resolved through discussion, not manipulation. Now it is important to deal with these threats because they can affect the position of people’s deputies and prevent an impartial discussion of the UOC (MP) issue. This blackmail is not the first such case. Previously, such attempts were made through churches in the USA. The goal is to put the Ukraine aid to a halt, contributing to its defeat. And this means the loss of people and territories. These actions are in line with the expectations of part of the UOC (MP) episcopate,” he said.

    Father Hovorun recalled that while in Ukraine, lawyer Robert Amsterdam met with UOC (MP) leaders, and he also voiced for the American media manipulative narratives promoted by this church:

    “As for Robert Amsterdam, it was reported that he met with MPs and Onufriy in Kyiv. The latter gave him materials for future media campaigns. And it must be sanotedid that if we listen to his public statements, including in the American media space, including that classic interview with Tucker Carlson, he voiced those narratives that circulate quite actively within the UOC, within their information bubble. They are being amplified, for example, via such platforms as the Union of Orthodox Journalists, which, by the way, was recently finally exposed by the Security Service of Ukraine and, it seems, there have even been some detentions in this regard.

    When asked about Amsterdam’s meeting with MP Dmytruk, the archimandrite said: “Well, I think that of course, as MPs, they have the right to meet with anyone if that person come legally to Ukraine. Yes, it is their business, but it is also indicative in the sense that we are talking about a certain coordination, a certain direction of messages that are formulated in order to be reach out to the American media space, in particular in the context of the presidential race in the United States where the UOC issue, the issue of religious freedom in Ukraine is articulated quite vocally. And it is amplified and distorted to a large extent by those manipulative messages that people like Amsterdam voice.

    I would like to emphasize once again that many consider this draft law to be Ukraine’s retreat, or distancing from the principles of human rights and freedom of religion. But again, this is something that needs to be discussed, but this must be done carefully, not under the pressure of the arguments Amsterdam is putting forward,” said Father Hovorun.

    He sees the actions by Robert Amsterdam as outright manipulation, and emphasizes the importance of separating the problem from the manipulation surrounding it. Many Western experts believe that the draft law on the UOC (MP) has certain problematic points, but they should be resolved through expert discussions and debate, not through threats and pressure.

    “This draft law is perceived, in particular in the Ukrainian media environment, as a ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but this perception is wrong, because even Amsterdam himself presents this in his definitions as well. But these are false definitions, they do not correspond to the letter of the law, since nowhere is it mentioned about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but about those religious organizations that are subordinate to the aggressor state, and it is up to the Ukrainian court to determine their status,” said the archimandrite.