Russian Americans Say Keep It Up, President Trump

Apr 16 2018

In response, an independent group of Russian-speaking immigrants has released a letter that disputes these claims. Well-known human rights activists, filmmakers, writers, journalists, lawyers, scientists, engineers, university professors, medical doctors, artists, professionals in various areas, and ordinary Russian-speaking Americans have signed the response, which says that the Congress of Russian Americans (CRA) does not represent them or their values. Calling the CRA letter “yet another act ” in Russia’s ongoing info war against the United States, its 142 signatories say that they are “are appalled by the CRA’s audacity in their attempt to create an impression they speak for the entire Russian-speaking community.”

A copy of the letter follows. 

—-

April 16, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, are Americans who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union and Russia. We come from different professional spheres and we do not represent any interests of the Russian government or its proxies.

We are addressing you in reaction to the letter reportedly sent to you by the chairperson of the Congress of Russian Americans (CRA), a seemingly pro-Kremlin organization. Broadly circulated in various media and social networks, and supported by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin-controlled propaganda networks, Sputnik and RT (Russia Today), that letter claims to represent the opinion of “5 million Russian-speaking Americans.” It deplores the state of Russian-American relations, the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, and emphatically denies Russia’s involvement in recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK. The letter also maintains that the negative connotation of Russia in American media leads to the discrimination of Russian-speaking community in the USA. There is little doubt that the CRA letter is yet another act in an ongoing informational warfare waged against the United States by the Russian government. We are appalled by the CRA’s audacity in their attempt to create an impression they speak for the entire Russian-speaking community. Likewise, we find it troubling that the CRA letter received wide coverage in the government-controlled media inside the Russian Federation, adding to its relentless manipulation of public opinion.

The segment of Russian speakers that we represent does not share any of that text’s claims. We do not support actions and activities of the Russian government and President Putin, which threaten peace, stability and democratic values whether in Georgia, Ukraine, the Middle East, Europe or USA. We fully support the measures by the American administration against the Russian ruling elite, including expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats. We strongly condemn unlawful actions of the Russian government for its various acts of aggression against its neighbors, its shameless interference in political affairs of many countries and its acts of terrorism abroad, especially its recent chemical attack in Salisbury, UK. We also draw your attention to the unlawful repressions of internal dissent, and persecution of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in illegally annexed Crimea. We expect the US administration to develop a consistent policy on Russia founded on respect for human rights and centuries-long American democratic values.

Finally, none among our numerous respondents reported any incidents of discrimination due to their Russian origin. Despite all the tensions and complications caused by the current Russian leadership, we feel welcome in America and appreciate freedom and opportunities in our new American homeland.

We trust that our voice is heard and accorded the most serious attention for the sake of security and prosperity of this country of which we became its legitimate and proud constituents.

Most respectfully,

Г-н. Президент!

Мы, нижеподписавшиеся, являемся жителями США, эмигрировашими из бывшего СССР и Российской Федерации. Мы связаны с различными профессиональными сферами и не представляем какие бы то ни было интересы Российского правительства и его представителей.

Мы обращаемся к Вам, считая необходимым отреагировать на письмо, которое, по сообщениям СМИ, направлено Вам председателем “Конгресса русских американцев” (КРА), по всем признакам, прокремлёвской организации. Это письмо, широко распространяемое в СМИ и социальных сетях, при содействии Российского МИД и контролируемых Кремлём пропагандистских каналов, Sputnik и RT, претендует на то, чтобы выражать мнение “пяти миллионов русскоговорящих американцев”. Авторы письма сетуют на то, что высылка 60-ти российских дипломатов негативно влияет на российско-американские отношения; они отрицают российское участие в недавнем отравлении Сергея Скрипаля и его дочери в британском городе Солсбери. В письме также утверждается, что в результате негативного изображения России в американских СМИ русскоговорящие американцы испытывают дискриминацию. Очень мало сомнений в том, что письмо КРА представляет собой часть информационной войны, которую российское руководство ведёт против Соединённых Штатов. Мы глубоко возмущены наглостью КРА, осмеливающейся выступать от имени всего русскоязычного сообщества Америки. Мы также обеспокоены тем, что письмо КРА широко распространяется внутри Российской Федерации государственными СМИ, расширяя и усугубляя манипулирование общественным мнением.

Та часть русскоязычного сообщества, которую мы представляем, не разделяет утверждений, содержащихся в тексте упомянутого письма. Мы не поддерживаем действия и акции российского правительства и президента Путина, которые угрожают миру, стабильности и демократическим ценостям – будь то в Грузии, Украине, на Ближнем Востоке, в Европе или в США. Мы полностью одобряем меры, предпринятые Вашей администрацией против российской правящей элиты, включая высылку 60-ти российских дипломатов. Мы решительно осуждаем противоправные действия правительства РФ, которое осуществляет агрессию против соседних государств, беззастенчивое вмешательство в политическую деятельность других государств и акты терроризма за рубежом, особенно недавнюю химическую атаку в Солсбери. Мы также хотим обратить Ваше внимание на репрессии в отношении внутренней оппозиции и преследования крымских татар и украинцев в незаконно оккупированном Крыму. Мы рассчитываем на то, что администрация США будет проводить последовательную политику в отношении России, основанную на уважении к правам человека и на многовековых американских демократических ценностях.

И, наконец, никто из наших многочисленных респондентов не сообщал о случаях дискриминации, обусловленных ассоциацией их с Россией. Несмотря на обострение напряжённости между США и Россией, созданное нынешним российским руководством, мы ощущаем себя в Америке как дома и благодарны за предоставленную нам свободу и широкие возможности, которыми мы пользуемся на нашей новой американской родине.

Мы верим, что наш голос будет услышан и со всей серьёзностью принят во внимание – ради безопасности и процветания нашей страны, частью которой мы себя с законной гордостью считаем.

С наилучшими пожеланиями,

Письмо подписали:

(144 signers)

Joseph Adelsky, PhD in polymer chemistry, retired. New York, NY
Albert Akselrod, Chief designer in the shipbuilding industry, retired, Atlanta, GA
Leonid Aptekar, Senior IT professional at major financial companies, retired, Staten Island, NY
Natalia Arno, President of Free Russia Foundation, Alexandria, VA
Oleg Asaulenko, Chief Cameraman at RTN Channel, documentary filmmaker, photographer, Brooklyn, NY
Igor Baboshkin, Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots in U.S.A., Chairman, New York, NY
Michael Berg, Center Associative scientist at Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, MA
Yaroslav Beklemishev, Journalist, broadcaster, radio host, Boca Raton, FL
Stella Belenkaya, Senior IT Professional, Washington, DC
Lina Bernstein, Professor Emerita of Russian and Comparative Literature at Franklin & Marshall College, Amherst, MA
Yakov Brayer, Senior IT professional at major Financial organisation, New York, NY
Michael Belkin, Chief Information Officer, Union for Reform Judaism, New York, NY
Greg Bratshpis, Director, Deutsche Bank, New York, NY
Irina Brovina, Actress, New York, NY
Vlad Burlutskiy, Independent political consultant, New York, NY
Kira Chernyak, Ultrasound Technologist, New York , NY
Marina Chernyak, Register Nurse, Valley Home Care, NJ
Vladimir Davidenko, Artist, Brooklyn, NY
Regina Davydova, Travel consultant, Brooklyn, NY
Lev Deych, PhD. Professor of Physics at Queens College of CUNY, New York, NY
Eugenia Dimant, Librarian, Boston, MA
Oleg Dmitriev, Senior IT Analyst, Tampa, FL
Katherine Dovlatov, Translator, editor, manager of the Dovlatov estate, Forest Hills, NY
Elena Dubinets, VP at Seattle Symphony, Bellevue, WA
Sergey Dubinets, Senior software engineer at Microsoft, Bellevue, WA
Anzhelina Fesun (Zeppieri) Travel consultant, Queens, NY
Maina Finkelshteyn, Veteran of public education in Russia, Brooklyn, NY
Alexander J Flint, Blogger, columnist, NY
Vladlen Fridman The author of “HEM Nanoconcrete” technology, retiree, Blakeslee, PA
Igor Frolov, IT Professional, Lead Developer, Ivyland, PA
Boris Frumin, Professor Tish School of the Arts, NYU, New York, NY
Yevgenia Frumin, Real Estate Specialist, Miami Beach, FL
Tatiana Gaines, ESL Instructor, Bethel Board of education, CT
Dmitry Garanin, Professor of Physics at Lehman College of the CUNY, Fellow of the American Physical Society,
Russian poet and essayist, NY
Alim Gelyastanov, Data analyst, Austin, TX
Alexander Genis, Writer, essayist, literary critic, broadcaster, radio host, NJ
Irena Genseruk, Home inspector CPI, Philadelphia, PA
Vitaliy Genseruk, Independent Contractor HVAC, Philadelphia, PA
Olga Gilpatrick, Speech-Language Pathologist, M.S., CCC-SLP, Brooklyn, NY
Alex Goldfarb, blogger and author, President of Litvinenko Justice Foundation, MA
Vladimir Golovanov, Professional in Financial Services, NY
Yelena Goltsman, Founder and Co-President, RUSA LGBT, New York, NY
Lyosha Gorshkov, PhD, Co-President, RUSA LGBT, New York, NY
Irina Gorskaya, Hypnotherapist .Brooklyn, NY
Andrew P. Grigorenko, BSEE, MSEE, IT specialist, Human Rights activist, trilingual author and journalist,
president of General Petro Grigorenko Foundation, New York, NY
Helen Groysman, IT professional, New Jersey
Tamara Gruzbarg, Big Data Specialist, Head of Industry Insights at ActionIQ, New York, NY
Vladimir Gurin, Professor, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Co-Founder and President of Russian-American Music Association, Boston, MA
Alexander Ivanov, MBA in Finance and Investment, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, Senior Accountant, New York, NY
Pavel Ivlev, Executive director of KRES Poliskola Russian-Speaking School, New-York, NY
Natalia Kamyshnikova, Professor at the University of Tennessee, PhD, author, Knoxville, TN
Henry Kapkanov, Driver, Philadelphia, PA
Yana Karlson, Scientific employer, Brooklyn, NY
Alexander Kashapov, Musician, journalist, observer at Radio Philadelphia, PA
Ana Khatsansky, Senior IT Professional, New York, NY
Kseniya Kirillova, Journalist, columnist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), expert at Free Russia Foundation (USA), WA
Andre Kleyner, PhD. Automotive Technology Leader, Indianapolis, IN
Rodion Kolesnikov, PhD, MBA, Business Improvement Expert, Brooklyn, NY
Victoria Kolesnikova, PhD, DVM, Veterinary Doctor, Brooklyn, NY
Vitaliy Konnov, Asst. Vice President in Barclays Capital, Sr. IT Consultant in TIAA-CREF, PhD in Mech. Engineering, retired, New York, NY
Igor Jerry Kuras, Russian poet, editor of the Etazhi magazine, MA
Alex Kuzmin, Member of the Anti-Putin movement, New York, NY
Elena Larchenko, VNSNY, HCC business development. Home Care Consultant, Brooklyn, NY
Gleb Latnik, Program director RUSA LGBT DC, Washington, DC
Dora Lauren, Senior Business Analyst and Data Analyst. Express Scripts, Fair Lawn, NJ
Igor Levin, PhD in Aerospace and energy efficiency. KS
Elena Leyderman, Software Engineer, retired, Brooklyn, NY
Miron Leznik, Senior IT Professional, West Milford, NJ
Eugene Linetsky, Blogger, columnist, Staten Island, NY
Alexander Lisyansky, Professor of Physics at Queens College of CUNY, NY
Pavel Litvinov, Member of the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, veteran of Soviet human rights movement, NY
Leonid S. Martynyuk, Author, investigative journalist, co-author with Boris Nemtsov, NY
Maria Medvedeva, Certified Professional Coach, New York, NY
Stella Melamed, Licensed English-Russian/Ukrainian Medical and Legal Interpreter, Philadelphia, PA
Alexander Mikishev, professor at Sam Houston State University and at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Houston, TX
Natasha Novitskaia-Adams, Award winning opera singer, dramatic mezzo, New York, NY
Galina Ocheretyansky, Fairfiels, CT
Karina Avanesian-Weinstein, DM, piano teacher and collaborative pianist, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Mikhail Oganov, CAMS technician, WA
Boris Palant, Attorney at Law, the first President of the American Association of Russian-Speaking Attorneys, lecturer. New York, NY
Svitlana Pavlenko, Financial accountant at a Law firm, Portland, OR
Anna Pervukhin, Attorney at Law, Eugene, OR
Eric Pervukhin, Professor at Missouri State University, Master of Fine Arts, Director of MFA program, Springfield, MO
Alexandre Peshansky, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Lead Bioinformatics Analyst, Emerson, NJ
Yulia Pessina, MBA, retired, Aberdeen, NJ
Andrei Piontkovsky, Senior Adviser, Free Russia Foundation, Washington, DC
Liudmila Poliakoff, Manager, Business Development Manager at IT ERP-Projects, retired, New York, NY
Elena Prigova, Journalist, owner of advertising agency, Staten Island, NY
Valeriy Privis, Entrepreneur, Miami, FL
Galina Rabinovich, Office manager, Reston, VA
Yuri Rashkin, Blogger, broadcaster, instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Rock County Supervisor, interpreter, WI
Vladimir Raskin, Senior Environmemetal Engineer, Philadelphia, PA
Michael Rorer, Mathematician, Data Architect, IT consultant, retired, Princeton, NJ
Alla Roytberg, Principal Attorney and Mediator, The Law Firm and Mediation Practice of Alla Roytberg, P.C., New York, NY
Vitaly Rozenshain, Sr. Construction Cost Consultant/Civil Engineer, retired, Brooklyn, NY
Lisa Salkin, IT professional, Boston, MA
Evgeny Salnikov, Principal Robotics Engineer, Amazon, Seattle WA.
Michael Salop, Journalist, IT tester, Chicago, IL
Nikolay Sergeevykh, Psychotherapist in private practice, Baltimore, MD
Victoria Seltser, Senior Business Analyst, Fair Lawn, NJ
Naza Semenoff, Management Consultant, NY
Irina Serova, Writer, homemaker, VT
Nina Serova, Musician and Piano Teacher, Los Angeles, CA.
Malka Shahar, Psychologist, Political and Public figure, Brooklyn, NY
Dmitriy M. Shenker, RA, AIA, Director of Architects Council of NYC, AIA Brooklyn President 2006-07 & 17, AIA NYS Director 2008-11, NY
Larissa Shenker, Research Scientist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Sergey Shilnov, Enterpreneur, NY
Yulia Shilnova, Sales representative, NY
Katia Shraga, Philologist, museum and exhibit content developer, archivist, Columbia University, New York, NY
Tetyana Sirman, Preschool director, Brooklyn, NY
Serge Skorodinsky, Software/hardware engineer, Brooklyn, NY
Sofya Slavina, Senior Database Analyst, Enterprise Data Architect, New York, NY
Irina Smirnova, Senior Software Engineer, Houston, TX
Lora Soroka, Assistant Archivist, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, CA
Ed Sorsher, Web development company, owner, NY
Aleksandr Spivak, senior developer, IT ADA, Chicago, IL
Yelena Starostenko, Accountant, payroll coordinator, JVS of Metro Detroit, MI
Galina Strukova, Physicist, North Potomac, MD
Inna Subotin, MSW, psychotherapist at Advanced Center for Psychotherapy, Forest Hills, NY
Alexandra Sviridova, Award-winning writer, award-winning movie- and TV-filmmaker, journalist, New York, NY
Yulia Timashpolsky, MD, New York, NY
Leonid Timashpolsky, MD, New York, NY
Anzhelika Tkachenko , Chemist, Staten Island, NY
Yuri Tkachenko, CAD operator, Staten Island, NY
Igor Tsesarski, Head of the Kontinent Media Group, Chicago, IL
Alexei Tsvetkov (Алексей Цветков), Russian poet, prose writer, essayist, reviewer, translator, NY
Alexandra Yarmak, Radiologic technologist, VA Medical Center, New York, NY
Dmitry Valuev, Community Development and Outreach Coordinator, Free Russia Foundation, Alexandria, VA
Nadia Valueva, Community Development and Outreach Coordinator, Free Russia Foundation, Alexandria, VA
Alexander Vinitsky, PhD, Affina Biotechnologies, President, New York, NY
Tatiana Yankelevich, former Director of Sakharov Program on Human Rights at Harvard University, Boston, MA
Igor Yarmak, Senior IT professional, New York, NY
Irene Vesne, Business banker at Santander Bank, NY
Alexander Weitsman, IT Manager, New York, NY
Igor Yevmenenko, Manager at the New York City Transit Authority, NY
Sergey Yudin, Self employed professional, Fort Mill, SC
Andrei Zagdansky, Award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, Rockefeller Fellow, NJ
Sergey Zaitsev, President of SVZ Technologies, Minneapolis, MN
Alexander Zaporozhtsev, Sports trainer, human rights activist, Brooklyn, NY
Yulia Zaporozhtseva, Science teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Ilya Zaslavskiy, Head of Research, Free Russia Foundation, Washington, DC
Sergey Zatsepin, Director of Radio NVC, broadcaster, radio host, Chicago, IL
Alla Zeide, Cultural historian of Post-Revolutionary Russian emigration, New York, NY
Nina Zheltova, PhD in Economics, retired, NY

by Dmitry Valuev, the community development and outreach coordinator at the Free Russia Foundation in Washington, DC.

Sign the letter

  

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned, are Americans who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union and Russia. We come from different professional spheres and we do not represent any interests of the Russian government or its proxies.

We are addressing you in reaction to the letter reportedly sent to you by the chairperson of the Congress of Russian Americans (CRA), a seemingly pro-Kremlin organization. Broadly circulated in various media and social networks, and supported by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin-controlled propaganda networks, Sputnik and RT (Russia Today), that letter claims to represent the opinion of “5 million Russian-speaking Americans.” It deplores the state of Russian-American relations, the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, and emphatically denies Russia’s involvement in recent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, UK. The letter also maintains that the negative connotation of Russia in American media leads to the discrimination of Russian-speaking community in the USA. There is little doubt that the CRA letter is yet another act in an ongoing informational warfare waged against the United States by the Russian government. We are appalled by the CRA’s audacity in their attempt to create an impression they speak for the entire Russian-speaking community. Likewise, we find it troubling that the CRA letter received wide coverage in the government-controlled media inside the Russian Federation, adding to its relentless manipulation of public opinion.

The segment of Russian speakers that we represent does not share any of that text’s claims. We do not support actions and activities of the Russian government and President Putin, which threaten peace, stability and democratic values whether in Georgia, Ukraine, the Middle East, Europe or USA. We fully support the measures by the American administration against the Russian ruling elite, including expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats. We strongly condemn unlawful actions of the Russian government for its various acts of aggression against its neighbors, its shameless interference in political affairs of many countries and its acts of terrorism abroad, especially its recent chemical attack in Salisbury, UK. We also draw your attention to the unlawful repressions of internal dissent, and persecution of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in illegally annexed Crimea. We expect the US administration to develop a consistent policy on Russia founded on respect for human rights and centuries-long American democratic values.

Finally, none among our numerous respondents reported any incidents of discrimination due to their Russian origin. Despite all the tensions and complications caused by the current Russian leadership, we feel welcome in America and appreciate freedom and opportunities in our new American homeland.

We trust that our voice is heard and accorded the most serious attention for the sake of security and prosperity of this country of which we became its legitimate and proud constituents.

**your signature**

12 signatures

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The conflict of interests. What autocephaly means for Ukraine and Russia

Oct 03 2018

This text is also available in Russian.

At Free Russia Foundation, we have identified the trend where various religious institutions, and especially the Russian Orthodox Church, have become a more prominent instrument of the Putin Regime domestically and globally. To examine this trend, we have initiated a research series focused on the role of religion in Russian politics. In this piece, you will find a reflection of what the gift of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church means to Russia and Ukraine written by Igor Knyazev, bishop at the Karelskaya Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The passionate turmoil surrounding the gift of Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church does not subside calmly. Dozens and hundreds of experts discuss the intricacies of the intrigue of the church clerical administrators as well as the casuistry of the canon law. Behind the backdrop of all of this discussion, one cannot see the life and aspirations of the ordinary folks – those believers and parishioners, in whose name, and on whose behalf all of the loud statements are being made, and for whose rights the hierarchs and the politicians are fighting.

However, the most important things in this conflict of interests, after all these are the interests, feelings, situations of these very ordinary folks  – the believers, in this convoluted and intricate process of inter-church clerical struggle. While attempting to sort this situation out, I have discovered a great deal of new things for myself, took a look at it as though it was happening through the eyes of some ordinary believer. Over, and above it all, my personal experience has also played a significant part in my interest in this topic – I have departed from the Orthodox Church, as a result of my personal conflict between the faith and my personal point of view and beliefs. Many years ago, back in 1998, I was making a very difficult decision for myself: to stay within the fold of the church, which was proclaiming the slogans that are harming democracy for the people of Russia, the inadmissibility of a liberal political system, the harmfulness of the human rights and freedoms? Shall I stay and not give a flying fig about my point of view, after I would have decided that the faith is more precious to me? Or shall I depart the fold of the church?

To leave the church, to which I came as a young boy in 1977, the church that at that time was persecuted, trampled by each and every single one, the church nobody cared about, and the church that now has itself became a persecutor, after some twenty plus years. I have opted for the departure. I decided that my convictions and points of view, the values, the ideals are just as important as the faith was. I have become a Lutheran and even rose up to the episcopal rank. Nonetheless, all of what I have lived through then, twenty years ago is just as vividly alive in my soul and in my memories. Everything that I have gone through, every feeling I have experienced, as it seems to me, did help me to understand what the believers of the Ukrainian church are feeling in the present situation, and to mull it over in my mind for a while, reflecting on what it can result in for them.

Competitive environment

Before we transgress, or as it would be more accurate to say descend down to the level of individual understanding and the attitude of a person who is a believer to what is going on, let us briefly denote the state of the religious world in Ukraine with the dotted line, as well as those factors that are affecting the behavior of one of the main participants in the confrontation – the ROC MP.

As of today, the religious space of Ukraine includes five major church institutions: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Apostolic Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek – Catholic Church, and the structures of the Roman Catholic Church as well. One can hypothetically make another addition, and administer in another subject number six, namely a large Protestant community, which does not have a single unified center, nevertheless, it is visible in the religious domain of Ukraine, and it has some serious influence on what is happening in the country. All of these church clerical institutions have a regional distribution factor, and they are not evenly represented across the whole territory of the country (traditionally, the East of the country has the majority of parishioners of the UOC-MP, in the center of the country there are parishioners of the UOC-MP  located, and the UOC – KP is approximately equally divided, in the West the parishes of the UOC-MP are smaller, moreover the Greek Catholics have a strong influence over there, etc.).

This situation creates quite a market similar to (hypothetically) the competitive environment, where there is not a single one – part present that would have a firm and overwhelming monopoly. No one can dominate solo, without having to unite with the others, no one can suppress his opponents simply on his own. In other words, all of the subjects are forced to take into account the strengths and the influence the other players and have to build their activities while keeping an eye on the potential opposition, represented by their competitors. Of course, this is very good for a religious situation in which the course of real competition for the believers makes the church work as efficiently and as actively as it is only possible in its preaching work, its social projects, and precludes the churches from such phenomena as the presence of the unchallenged power of hierarchs, despotism, and a high volume of church corruption.

It is also necessary to point out the fact that the general religious devoutness of the Ukrainian population runs very high, (it is also much superior to that level of the Russian population) that was present in here even during the Soviet period, and which also has experienced a strong influx of the believers, who are leading a church-going and strictly observant life according to the church portamentos after the collapse of the communist system. The presence of the priests representing all of the faiths and all the jurisdictions at the Ukrainian Maidan serves as an example of this equilibrium and a competitive religious environment.

That is why, for instance, the phenomena of the church clerical life that have no relevance for the believers in Russia, due to the lack of any available leverages of influence on the situation, and since they have always been traditionally perceived by them as “the games played up at the top, where the bosses will sort it out between each other, and so on and so forth,” in Ukraine have fundamental and important meanings for the believers, and they are taking place with their active participation ( because believers can influence the situations, right up to the point where they can “vote with their feet” ). A great deal of influence on the activation of these processes and the attitude of believers to the church was played by the Ukrainian Maidans, as well as by the full-fledged avid political life, where yet again due to the existing political competition in place, the citizens are taking an active part in it. This activation has come into being in the course and during the process of making a choice of the future  pathway for the future national development, the path “towards the West,” or “towards the East,” the passage to Europe into democracy and market economy, or the choice towards the Russian authoritarian model of the state and its state – monopolistic model of economy.

This choice has consisted of both – the choice proper and the orientation of the church clerical models. Therefore, one has to say that the political and religious landscape of Ukraine is a very mobile space environment, where the processes of movement, consolidation, and the confrontation of several large entities at  the same very time sans dead, frozen forms (as it is for example, in Russia) are constantly going on.

It is also important  to note that in Russia if for instance all of the decisions of its political and public administration have been transferred to the federal level (to be more exact, all power is concentrated in the hands of one person – the President), and the decision on the replacement of the light bulbs in the entrance lobby, as well as the declaration of a war are the prerogatives of the federal government, then in Ukraine with its competitive environment a significant part of the public and political decisions is being made within the institutions of either direct, or participatory democracy. This explains the fact that Ukrainians perceive the questions of the church structure as the issues, which have a direct connection to each and every one of them and thus require their personal participation in the quest for the solutions.

The fight surrounding the provision of Tomos has been going on for a long-term, and the fact that the outcome of this confrontation would determine the fate of the ROC MP, in its turn, gives an especially so fierce tone to the Church clerical – administrative confrontation created in Ukraine. The final outcome of this struggle will seriously first and foremost have an effect on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church within Russia proper, its relevance and the need for it among the Russian authorities. After all, if the outcome of this struggle is bad for Russia, then the pass way to the most unpredictable processes in the religious space will be opened within it. And the very fact that there are various scenarios in existence for the potential outcome of this struggle, the variety is undermining its position of a clerical monopoly within Russia, and seriously reduces its authority and influence in the external relations of the church. Since the very foundation, it relies upon as well as the main condition for its present existence in Russia is in its position of a monopoly, which is backed up and provided by the state. Therefore, in this case, the ROC MP is not just fighting not for Ukraine per se, but as a matter of fact, it is fighting for its own future in Russia.

The conflict between the faith and the convictions

Now, switching from the overview of the situation, let us try to comprehend what do the believers, the parishioners, and the church hierarchy representatives are feeling? Let us make an effort to sort out what creates the conflict between the faith and the convictions and what are the consequences for the man?

It is obvious that the result of such a conflict is a serious personal and social subdivision for an individual within himself as well as within the social medium in which he exists.

The first boundary of this subdivision is located inside the person himself, hypothetically, it could be drawn as follows: I believe in God and I love my church, but it stands on the opposite side of the war that came to my country, it blesses those who are fighting against me, it proclaims the slogans of nationalistic and imperial hegemony against the neighboring state. I can make attempts to hide behind words or statements about the fact that: “The Church is above this, that the Lord does not have anything to do with it,” etc., however, I do realize that it will not help me. And as a matter of fact, God does not have anything to do with it, nonetheless, the church is not only a spiritual incremental part, but it is a materialistic terrestrial institution, which is guided in its decisions by both – political and national interests. Thus, I must either agree with the position of my church that my country, the citizen and the patriot of which I am is not  a real wholesome country, but it is rather some sort of political ersatz that has no right to exist, and therefore I either have to leave the fold of the church or to influence it in such a fashion that it would change its position. As a rule, there are a lot of caring people in the church among its regular and active parishioners, to whom all of these questions are not at all just some shallow phrases, these are the people, who are looking for answers, they are emphatic and not indifferent, these are the ones who create the entire atmosphere in the church. And it is because of their involvement in the church life and due to their active position on the issue that it becomes the conflict between the faith and personal convictions, and it is extremely difficult for them.

The second line of separation is happening already in the close inner circle of the believer, namely it is occurring primarily within his family, his relatives, and close friends. In there, the conflict of generations sets in to play its own role (the youth is being more radical and is not inclined to make any compromise, it does not accept the viewpoints of the elders, which consist of the following – “one has to endure sufferings, and perhaps only afterward make some kind of decisions.” Young people cannot withstand waiting, and they are not used to the anticipation, they make their choice today and that is why the conflict between the parents and their children on the issue of “their” and the “occupational” churches becomes a dividing borderline between the different generations of the same family, among the families, who had opted for different political choices (and, in this case, the church choice as well).

The third boundary line is in the subdivision running among the residents of different regions of the country (West vs. East), between various political groups (hypothetically the subdivision between the “pro – Russian,” and the “patriotic” citizens).

All of these three boundaries of subdivisions run within the society, creating multiple points of tension, interfering, and frequently tearing down and blocking the process of a civil formation of a nation.

Will these subdivisions be overcome, and, if so to what extent if any, will the Ambassador of Tomos get the autocephaly? In what way can this confrontation result for an ordinary believer? Let us make an effort to figure this out by examining two completely opposite versions of the development of events, which in my personal viewpoint, contain a significantly different probability.

“The Kremlin’s arguments”

Thus, let us examine the first version, which is being written a great deal about in Russia, or to be more correct, that one written about from the “pro-Kremlin” positions  – namely, the gifting of Tomos leads to a sharp political stimulation of activity among the population, the struggle for the temples commences, clashes and physical confrontation among the parties begin,  and a large-scale civic conflict flares up in the country. How very likely is this scenario to happen? I think that this probability is close to a zero point. There are several reasons for that. The first and the major one is the fact that for more than a quarter of a century Ukraine has existed in the conditions of its independence and sovereignty. This is the time frame sufficient enough for its citizens to have perceived themselves as one nation and to have learned how to resolve the internal contradictions without inflicting harm upon their country. By the way, the fiasco of the ideas of the “Russian world” and the failure of expectations for a mass exodus of the subjects of Ukraine from its federal union in the years of 2014 – 2015 are the most vivid confirmations of this theory. As of today, Ukraine is a nation in which the people who comprise it consider Ukraine to be their own country, treat it with responsibly, and they do not allow internal contradictions to rise up to the level of the national confrontation, and to threaten the sovereignty and the integrity of their country.

That is why there is no “devotion” and “love” to one patriarchy or the other in a place that could cause a deep crisis or a split within the nation. The expectations that in the wake of the euphoria stemming from the victory in getting the gift of Tomos the radical political sentiments will prevail, and that there will be the agenda with the theme of fighting with representatives of the ROC MP thrown in the midst of it. It also lives on only in the Russian – speaking propaganda space proper. No one sees any reason to do this inside Ukraine, and nobody witnesses such threats. In addition, the fact that the unification and the mutual integration of all the churches will continue to go on for a long period of time also serves as an insurance against such a potential development of the events. This a very complicated process and it will take years. All of this time will become the time of looking for compromises on the issues of distribution of administrative posts within the clergy and the distribution of the property. And, competitive political and clerical environment constitutes a sufficient enough insurance against any manifestations of any kind of dictatorial aspirations, or against the absolutization of clerical authority.

Compromise 

Let us take into our consideration the second version, which, in my point of view seems to be the most plausible scenario for the future development of the events: the gift of Tomos would become the initiation of the process of building up a single unified Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church. Throughout the duration of this process, within some 3 – 4 years some mutual integration and unification of the clerical structures will take place, and, a compromise will be reached on the figure of the church’s leader (and possibly, given the chances he has Patriarch Filaret will become the Head of the Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine, so the factual figure of the next key leader will become relevant).

The hierarchs of the UOC – MP in Ukraine do realize that the possibility of their influencing the situation and implementing their goals and interests in real life for them will be opened only through the venue of their participation in the process. In other words, if you wish to have another figure in the place of the Patriarch, then in order for this to be a possibility for you, at the very least you would need to become a part of this church. That is why a significant portion of them will transfer rather quickly and on good terms into the structures of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

At the very same time, most probably some part of the UOC – MP will refuse to become a part of the unified Orthodox Church and will continue to exist in the structural form of the metropolitan area of the Russian Orthodox Church on the territory of Ukraine with its parishes, mainly in the East of the country. It is unlikely that this will become a significant enough factor for the aggravation of the situation and for any civil confrontation. And, on top of it all, having taken into consideration the political choice of Ukraine, as well as its confident way chosen towards the West, this clerical metropolis would not be able to exercise any kind of influence over the Ukrainian processes in the future. One can also make an assumption with a high degree of a certain probability that the changes in the legislation that will follow the acquisition of Tomos might strip the structure of the UOC – MP (ROC MP) in Ukraine of its traditional name. During such periods of transition, as a rule, the legal constructions cancel out the emergencies of two various religious entities with the same shared name, or a duplicated one. That is why, it most likely that the status of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” will be assimilated by a new unified Ukrainian church, and the structures of the Moscow Patriarchate, which have retained their presence on the territory of Ukraine, would receive the name of a “Metropolitan Church in Ukraine, etc.”. To a certain degree, the stabilizing factor in these processes would be the substantial presence of the Catholics, the Greek Catholics, as well as a large Protestant community in place.

While making conclusions, we can state that it is most likely that the end of the struggle for autocephaly will become the beginning of a new civil and religious state creation for Ukraine. The integration and unification of  the clerical structures would eliminate the divides among the communities, and, it would also provide an individual with an opportunity of being both: a religious believer, a faithful son of his Church, as well as a patriot, without raising a conflict in his inner self and within his social circle.

This will serve as a factor bringing the society closer together and consolidating it in order to increase the level of matureness of the civic nation. Putting an end to this struggle will affect favorably the content of the work of the clerical institutions, and their agenda as well.

The church would need to create a new content for its work after the victory, and of course during the state of euphoria, that would follow next (in this instance, a very brief one)  by moving from the fight for choosing the pathway to the ordinary church services, which are having to do with the social and soul guardianship care work. In other words, the most important beginnings are yet to come after the victory, and the main thing will commence – the work that the Church is called upon. And, it is this work that opens up a completely new space for the competition over the believers. The joy of victory will subside quickly, and it would be necessary to provide the answers to the society having to do with the issues of bad, or in general, non – existent social guarantees, the fight against corruption and the theft, for the social justice. The dragged – out struggle blocks the factual relevance of all these issues, but after the victory is achieved and after obtaining of Tomos, a short triumph will be invisible against the backdrop of the church’s submerging into the daily agenda of its clerical services in the country, which is pegged by a bunch of economic and social problems. At the end of the day, the completion of this process along with the creation of a single unified Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church would have the most positive and salutiferous effect, first and foremost, upon the lives of the ordinary religious believers, parishioners and the members of the communities, who thus far as of today still do belong to different jurisdictions.

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