Tag Archives: Sergei Chapnin

The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: War and “Another Autocephaly”

by Sergei Chapnin | Русский

War changes many things, primarily people’s minds, but also the usual flow of time. What takes years or even decades in peacetime takes a few months, or sometimes even days, during war. 

On May 27, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), the highest governing body of the church, after much debate, expressed its disagreement with Patriarch Kirill’s support for the war in Ukraine and adopted amendments to the Statute of the UOC, “Testifying to the full self-sufficiency and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

It is beyond the scope of this report to analyze in detail the decisions of the UOC Council—not all of the documents have been published, nor have there been official statements from the hierarchy. My aim is to explain the logic of Metropolitan Onufry’s actions, because I hope that this will allow me to put the decisions of the Council of the UOC into the appropriate context.

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Patriarch Kirill and Vladimir Putin’s Two Wars

by Sergei Chapnin | български | ქართული | ελληνικά | Română | Русский | Српски

Patriarch Kirill
istock.com/AlexeyBorodin

It’s hard to talk. It’s hard to think. It’s very hard to pray. It’s a shock. And it’s scary to realize that I was wrong not to believe there would be a war. No, I did not believe it at all. I thought that talk about the war would remain just talk, horror stories that adults do not believe in. Most of my friends didn’t believe it either.

On Thursday morning, we woke up to a different world. In this new world, the Kremlin is fighting two wars at once: it has launched a major war against Ukraine and has continued a war against Russia. The consequences of these wars will be severe for the peoples of both countries. If the aggression against Ukraine is an open war, with bombings, troops on the territory of an independent state, and military and civilian casualties, the Kremlin’s war against Russia seems less obvious. Arrests, political assassinations, trials turned into a farce, torture of prisoners, suppression of independent media, pressure on lawyers and civil activists—all these seem incomparable to open armed aggression, and yet it is a war that the Kremlin is waging hard and consistently against its people.

On February 24 alone, the day Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border, 1,700 people were detained in various Russian cities. Almost all of them will be convicted by the “pocket courts” of Putin’s Russia. The Kremlin did not like the fact that Russian citizens dared to speak out against the war with Ukraine.

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Russian Orthodox Clergy Support Justice and Respect for the Law

by Sergei Chapnin  |  ру́сский

Photo: Reuters

The reform of the judicial system, which practically never acquits and is fully subordinate to law enforcement agencies, has long been discussed in Russia. However, only civil activists are involved in the debates. The government keeps evading any participation in the discussion, and the courts continue arbitrarily to pass unreasonably strict verdicts for both civil activists and businessmen. In mid-September, a number of professional societies called for a review of the decisions concerning the cases of participants in unauthorized demonstrations in Moscow from July 2019. An appeal by Orthodox clergy was among the first, followed by public petitions by teachers, doctors, publishers, and philosophers. However, the clergy’s letter was most unexpected and had an unexpectedly profound resonance in Russian society.

What is the letter about?

On September 17th, a group of Orthodox priests came to the defense of young people who were detained after unauthorized protests in Moscow. The chosen format of the letter—clerical intercession—was unexpected and has never been used in post-Soviet Russia. Continue reading

The Russian Church: Profiting by Silence

by Sergei Chapnin

Russia protest

Last Sunday Russia saw a wave of protests against corruption in the upper echelons of power. Masses took to the streets ignited by the investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation titled “He is Not Dimon for You,” which focused on the alleged corrupt affairs of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The outcome of these events surprised everybody, including the government, the organisers of the protests, and society at large.

Firstly and most importantly, Alexei Navalny, the author of the investigation who had previously announced his bid to seek the presidency in 2018, managed to lead tens of thousands of people out to the streets all over Russia, from Vladivostok to Voronezh. Nobody, the organisers included, expected the protests to achieve such scale. In many cities, the rallies remained unauthorized and led to people being arrested despite the peaceful nature of these demonstrations.  Continue Reading…