Religion is beyond politics.
Many confessions in Ukraine live by this principle except one, for which participation in the country’s political life has become a strategic necessity. And it could probably be tolerated better if such participation was due to some mercantile goals, but in reality, the goals are completely different – it’s about threatening the sovereignty of Ukraine, the country’s stability and unity.
Of course, in this case, we are talking about the Russian Orthodox Church operating outside Russia and a large-scale propaganda rally entitled the Procession of the Cross.
On July 27, in the center of Kyiv, a massive religious rally was held, the Procession of the Cross in honor of the Baptism of Rus, which gathered tens of thousands of parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, who, in violation of all health safety requirements, obliviously and largely out of their own naivety, became elements of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine, the hybrid war waged on both the political and religious fronts.
Realizing all risks for their parishioners, in a very difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic, the ROCinU, with the media support of pro-Russian media resources, including First Independent TV channel, took advantage of the celebration of Day of the Baptism of Rus to spread propaganda narratives that have been emanating from Russia for years.
The procession was exploited to relay narratives about the “genocide” of the ROCinU parishioners. That’s right. This is the word they used along with the classic theses about "persecution" of their faithful. It is surprising that those who so often talk about “persecution” were in fact able to hold such a large-scale event completely unhindered.
As for the term “genocide”, it was used for the first time, clearly purposefully, in order to draw parallels with the Holodomor and to substitute certain concepts to create a fictitious perception in the media space.
It would seem that the event intended for celebration was also used to personally attack Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The said TV channel has accused the top cleric of creating a split in Orthodoxy, while some people present at the event were seen carrying posters with threats to and accusations against Bartholomew.
Obviously, after the media platforms run the Kremlin’s main asset in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk (112UA. ZiK, and NewsONE) were told to shut down, and it was the ROCinU that became the main mouthpiece for the “Russian world” propaganda in Ukraine. In fact, today it is the ROCinU that has the most extensive “audience” of parishioners, who, during sermons are being infused with the main narratives of Russian propaganda, regularly and en masse. Not a single TV channel of the pro-Russian pool could boast of such a large-scale audience, which is at the same time influenced by those with whom it is forbidden to argue, the "holy people…"
For the ROCinU, the event also pursued the goal of demonstrating the scale and multiplicity of their flock. Journalists and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, loyal to this religious organization, have repeatedly said that on July 27, 2021, a record was set for a religious procession - more than 350,000 people took part. The National Police did not confirm these figures, but this is not even the point.
The point is that the ROCinU tried to show its monopoly on faith, which in the perception of its direct leadership in the Danilov Monastery (ROC) is an indisputable proof of primacy. But at the same time, no emphasis was put on their legitimacy, even vice versa. ROCinU focuses on numbers as proof of its rightfulness.
But did the ROCinU think about the fact that having rallied so many parishioners in Kyiv with practically no health safety measures in place, they first of all endangered their lives?
In fact, the Religious Procession was not an act of marking a memorable day, but a large-scale hybrid propaganda act, plotted and implemented by Russian agents of influence in Ukraine. The target covered both social, political, economic, and religious directions. It pursued the goal of sowing destabilization in in the country, spreading narratives about “religious confrontation” in Ukraine, and attempting to disrupt the visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Kyiv on the 30th anniversary of Independence.
ROCinU, with the support of the pro-Russian political forces, continue to destabilize Ukraine, and these moves must be condemned to prevent the implementation of their deeper and larger-scale projects.