Euromaidan SOS statement: the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church must be sanctioned for inciting hostility and justifying the war against Ukraine

Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine has been going on for more than 50 days. All this time, russian troops have been persecuting Ukrainian religious leaders in the occupied territories and systematically destroying religious objects in Ukraine: shelling and destruction of churches, prayer houses, synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings, including architectural monuments were recorded. In addition, there are cases of abduction and murder of religious leaders of various denominations.

The vast majority of religious buildings destroyed and damaged by airstrikes and missile strikes by russian troops are Orthodox churches. For example, on the night of March 13, russian troops fired on the Holy Dormition Svyatogorsk Lavra of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which housed about a thousand civilians at that time. More than 30 civilians were wounded.

As already noted in the joint appeal of Euromaidan SOS and the participants of the Round Table on Freedom of religion in Ukraine on March 16, 2022, the Russian Orthodox Church actively supports the russian military invasion of Ukraine. In particular, Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) publicly blessed the Russian army for the war against Ukraine and disseminated false narratives of Russian propaganda about the alleged Western war against Russia, concealing the horrific destruction of civilians and Ukrainian cities by Russian airstrikes and missile strikes, in particular, in the World Council of Churches of March 10, 2022.

Moreover, the ROC is the developer and chief propagandist of the quasi-religious concept of the “Russian world” – a neo-imperial project that became the ideological basis of russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This essentially chauvinistic ideology denies the existence of the Ukrainian people as a separate nation, is based on distorted theology, rewriting the history of Kyivan Rus and Orthodoxy in Ukraine in favor of Moscow, spreads narratives of a united people (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian) and seeks to expand Russia, including the ROC, to all russian-speaking regions of the world, regardless of state borders.

Now, on the eve of the next congress of the World Council of Churches, we consider it necessary to name those representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church who are responsible for inciting hostility and justifying war against Ukraine, calling for violence, and supporting russia’s attempts to exterminate the Ukrainian people. Given the high positions, authority, and influence on the minds of millions of believers, the leadership of the ROC should bear personal responsibility for the deaths of civilians in Ukraine, namely:

  • Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundiaev), born on November 20, 1946, a citizen of the Russian Federation;
  • Head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion (Grigoryi Valeryevich Alfeev, his father’s last name is Dashevskyi), born on July 24, 1966, a citizen of the Russian Federation;
  • Deputy Head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov (Nikolai Vladimirovich Balashov), born on December 13, 1956, a citizen of the Russian Federation;
  • Metropolitan of Pskov and Porokhov of the Russian Orthodox Church Tikhon (Georgi Alexandrovich Shevkunov), born on July 2, 1958, was a citizen of the Russian Federation, known as Vladimir Putin’s clergyman and a person close to the Russian secret services.

We call on:

  • The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and other G7 countries to impose personal financial, economic, migration, and other sanctions on the above-mentioned religious leaders of the ROC, which would prevent them from spreading the ideology of the “Russian world” justification of russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine;
  • The World Council of Churches to suspend contacts with these religious leaders of the ROC and consider the expulsion of the Russian Orthodox Church on the planned assembly of the WCC in Germany and condemn the quasi-religious ideology of the “Russian world”.
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