Digest of pro-Russian narratives in German, Italian media about Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Digest of pro-Russian narratives in German, Italian media about Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Photo: ua.depositphotos.com / rostyle
6 April 2022

Russian propaganda in Germany and Italy is working against the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was first recognized as independent in 2019 after receiving the Tomos. However, the pro-Russian and Russian media do not recognize the independence of the Ukrainian church from Russia and claim that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was formed as a result of schism and supports the war and nationalist rhetoric. Moreover, the propagandists write that schism between the churches (i.e., Ukrainian and Russian) was provoked by the fifth president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. We explain what is wrong in the narratives of Russian propaganda.

Fake: Schismatic Ukrainian Church

Pro-Russian media claim that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has caused a schism in the Orthodox world and undermined the stability of the Orthodox community. The Russian Patriarchate refuses to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian church and criticizes all those who support it. Here are some examples of Russian propaganda about the creation of an independent Ukrainian church:

“Last month, the world Orthodox Christian communion was undermined by the decision of the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople to recognize as legitimate the schismatic pseudo-bishops subjected to anathema and ex-communication by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church.”) — Controinformazione

“The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church strongly supports the schismatic Church in Ukraine, and there are longstanding cooperative contacts between the Greek Catholic Church and the schismatic groups that have been united.”) – RT.DE

How was it actually?

Ukraine has created its own Orthodox Church, which is independent of Moscow. However, the Russian Orthodox Church has refused to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and is trying to discredit it. The Moscow Patriarchate calls the Ukrainian church “schismatic.” However, the schism in the Orthodox world was caused by Russia. The Moscow Patriarchate cut ties with Constantinople due to the possibility of recognizing the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos and granted autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This is how the Ukrainian Independent Church was created.

The Moscow Patriarchate hinders the transition of churches to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and makes bad blood between believers.

Fake: Poroshenko provoked schism between churches in Ukraine

Russian propaganda accuses the then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko of the schism between churches. Allegedly, he is guilty of schism between churches and created a self-proclaimed church that no one recognizes. In addition, Russian and pro-Russian media claim that Poroshenko deliberately planned separation between the churches.

“The Ukrainian Church was a kind of “subdivision” of the Moscow Patriarch, although it had its own patriarch. In order to end “Russian influence”, Poroshenko launched a schism in the church, which caused a great deal of unrest in Ukraine.”) – Antispiegel

“However, both Poroshenko and Bartholomew rely only on the unrecognized, only recently self-separated Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate of Rus-Ukraine with the self-proclaimed Patriarch Philaret at the head and a numerically small so-called Ukrainian autocephalous church.”) – RT.DE

“The Ukrainian head of state Petro Poroshenko wants to split the Orthodox Church in his country.”) – unzensuriert.at

How it was actually?

Russian propaganda was spread in the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, so during the war with Russia the independent church was a matter of security and sovereignty of Ukraine. It is incorrect to claim that Petro Poroshenko decided to divide the Orthodox Church. It is not a wish of the state leadership but a forced step for the sake of national security.

Fake: Ukrainian Church supports war, nationalist rhetoric

Russian propaganda accuses the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of supporting the war in eastern Ukraine and promoting nationalist rhetoric. Here is how people comment on the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in RussiaToday in Germany:

“Support for the military operation in the east of the country and nationalist rhetoric from its highest priests made the Ukrainian Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate a de facto state church of the post-Maidan coup government.”) – RT.DE

How it was actually?

Russia’s accusations of supporting the war and nationalist rhetoric by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are baseless.

First, the Ukrainian Church, independent of Russia, openly declares that Russia has invaded Ukraine and occupied Crimea. Because of its pro-Ukrainian position, Russian propaganda accuses the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of supporting the war.

Second, nationalist rhetoric is not supported by the Ukrainian church or the general population. Defending the national interests, independence, and sovereignty of one’s state is not a manifestation of nationalism but an adequate position in any country.


The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations