Sunday, July 14, 2024

    Convicted UOC (MP) Metropolitan Ionafan, who allegedly snubbed POW swap offer allegedly set to arrive in Moscow

    Russian propaganda outlets claim the alleged release from prison in Ukraine and the upcoming arrival in Moscow of Metropolitan Inofan (Yelecki).

    The release of the metropolitan became possible thanks to the petitions of Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, according to the Russian Interfax. In the near future, the hierarch will apparently arrive in Moscow.

    These reports about the release of Metropolitan Ionafan of Tulchyn and Bratslav (UOC MP) raise serious questions. It is important to note that information appeared only in Russian sources, in particular on the website of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. This raises reasonable doubts about the reliability of certain parts of this report.

    The Metropolitan was sentenced by the Vinnytsia City Court to five years in prison on charges of actions aimed at violently toppling the constitutional order and encroaching on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

    According to the case file, on April 10, 2024, the clergyman who was sentenced in Ukraine to five years in prison with confiscation of property for denying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and circulating propaganda with calls to alter the borders of Ukraine (the sentence has not entered into force as the hierarch filed an appeal ), gave voluntary consent to his exchange as a prisoner of war and transfer to Russia. The POW swap coordination center included the Metropolitan in the list for exchange.

    However, on June 12, Metropolitan Ionafan allegedly refused the swap and transfer to Russia. His lawyer generally stated that the hierarch does not plead guilty and “wants to continue working for the good of Ukraine.

    So, 10 days later, on June 22, the website of the Moscow Patriarchate published news that the hierarch would soon “arrive in Moscow.” This fundamentally undermines the credibility of Ionafan’s words.

    The release of Ionafan and his transfer to Moscow may indicate his actual recognition of the status of a prisoner of war.

    Given that the information about the metropolitan’s “release” appeared only in Russian sources, this may be an attempt at disinformation. Perhaps the Russian side is trying to create the impression that it has an impact on the situation in Ukraine or on the fate of specific religious figures. However, it seems that the hierarch himself recognized himself as a prisoner of war and asked to exchange him for Ukrainian soldiers held in Russian captivity.

    Questions about the true intentions of Metropolitan Ionafan, his role in the UOC (MP) and relations with the Russian church hierarchy remain relevant. During the search of the Tulchyn Diocese, SBU operatives came across a number of propaganda leaflets: “Government of Russia” with the image of the Russian flag (12 pieces); “Decree of the President of Russia on the accession of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation” with images of a map of Ukraine where the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is marked as Russian territory (11 pieces); “Donbas is Russia” (eight pieces); “History of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea since ancient times”, where it is marked as Russian territory (11 pieces), as well as letters (photocopies) from the Patriarch of Moscow dated October 6, 2022 with the request to pray for the president of the Russian Federation (five pieces).