News / Europe

    Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

    Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
    X
    Michael Eckels
    April 19, 2014 11:46 AM
    There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
    Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics
    Michael Eckels
    There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine.  As Easter approaches, the role of religion in the current conflict has resurfaced.
     
    From the outset, clergy played a part in the demonstrations in Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine,  as professor Andrei Zubov, an expert on the history of religions, points out.
     
    “Priests of different confessions, different Orthodox groups, Unitarian, Greek-Catholics  - everyone was together,” he said.
     
    While church leaders of all faiths in Ukraine appear to support the new political leadership in Kyiv, the Russian clergy are keeping silent about recent events.  

    “We have yet to hear the Russian Orthodox Church take a stance on the situation in Ukraine. They have not even called for a truce during Easter,” said Alexander Soldatov, a Russian journalist who covers religion.
     
    The current conflict in Ukraine may be causing a schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and its Ukranian affiliate. The Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Russian government, would not comment for this report.   Professor Zubov had this to say.
     
    “If they come out in support of President Putin, their Ukrainian chapter could break off.  If they support Ukraine, it would cause big problems with the Russian presidential administration," said Zubov.
     
    About 40 percent of Orthodox believers in Ukraine are Russian.  Zubov and Soldatov say Russian Patriarch Kirill is at odds with President Putin over the conflict.  As evidence, they cite Kirill's absence from Putin's March 18 Crimea address in the Kremlin.

    But Ukranian Orthodox priest Yakov Krotov dismisses that idea.

    "Officially, the church is completely behind Putin.  The rumors about Patriarch Kirill and Putin are just rumors," he said.

    Krotov thinks Patriarch Kirill is hedging his bets politically and called his silence "meaningless."

    Soldatov says, whereas the clergy was active in the Kyiv demonstrations, it is nowhere to be seen in the pro-Russian protests in eastern Ukraine.
     
    “While there were numerous priests of all confessions at the Maidan square [in Kyiv], none are standing on the barricades surrounding the administrative buildings in Luhansk and Donetsk,” he said.
     
    For both Russian and Ukranian Orthodox believers, Easter is the most significant  religious holiday.  And this year it coincides with Easter in the West.  Many faithful are no doubt praying that Ukranians and Russians can avoid an escalation of the current conflict.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    April 21, 2014 10:05 PM
    The best thing the Ukrainians can do is EXACTLY what "Putin" did in the theatre siege in Moscow. Use exactly the same gas and the exact same procedures. Gas them out of the Ukrainian Government buildings and arrest anyone involved. This would be a win win situation for Ukraine. This way the only people that may get hurt are those that are armed trying to infiltrate the country of Ukraine. Easy as 123... Putin can not call that a crime because he used the same procedure on people of Russia in the theater in Moscow.


    by: hh from: Canada
    April 20, 2014 11:31 AM
    "United in Faith".
    Thanks gor Christianity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora