This confirms the idea we expressed in the previous digest that the church issue will play the role of a bargaining chip in the possible upcoming negotiations between Zelensky and Putin. The Ukrainian political establishment regularly discusses this topic precisely in the context of the Russian president’s interest in protecting the rights of believers in the UOC. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Office of the President of Ukraine is confident that Biden’s meeting with Putin will be a serious blow for them. Obviously, there are fears that the US resident will exchange a significant part of his Ukrainian interests for some concessions from Russia. As a result, Ukraine will find itself in the orbit of influence of the Russian Federation, which means that it makes sense to negotiate. The tranquility of the UOC is a bargaining chip.
Passions around the Georgian Church do not subside. After an openly lobbying sortie (in favor of the OCU, of course) by Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal to Georgia, the head of the GOC was held by Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanych), the head of the UOC.
It is not known until the end which side offered to see the representatives of the two Churches in Tbilisi, but it can be assumed that the Georgian side has moved on to an in-depth study of the issue. If so, then it is obvious that the initiative came from them.
Can we then conclude that the GOC will express its categorical rejection of the OCU? Hardly. As far as we know, the Georgian Church itself has a very ambiguous attitude towards the Ukrainian church issue. If we take into account the political paradigm in which Georgia and Ukraine are moving together, then most likely, with a request for recognition of the OCU, Shmygal appealed not only to Patriarch Elijah II, but also to the country’s government. Accordingly, the formation of the attitude of the GOC to the OCU is only gaining momentum.
In parallel, to strengthen the position of the OCU on this issue, on June 11, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker visited the Primate of the Georgian Church. Consequently, the pressure on the GOC continues to grow. Time will tell how events will develop in the future.
The removal of the odious clergyman of the OCU, Alexander Dedyukhin, was long expected, but quite natural. In general, it is amazing how this person managed to wear any official status for such a long time. Obscene vocabulary, coupled with politicking and half-sane behavior – alas, are not new for representatives of the OCU. There are more than enough people like Dedyukhin in this confession, and he was able to “catch luck” when he met with the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and received a pectoral cross from him as a gift. After his joining Poroshenko’s party, things went up the hill with renewed vigor, but that’s not even the point. Often the clergy of the UOC is asked – “why don’t you want to unite?” The answer sounds simple – “With whom? With such Dedyukhins?”
The news of the meeting of the well-known figure of the OCU Mikhail Zinkevich with Patriarch Bartholomew went unjustly unnoticed this week. There are several points that few people paid attention to. First, the visit was not official. Everything indicates that Zinkevich “intercepted” Bartholomew, having learned about his whereabouts. This also testifies to the fact that Zinkevich has his own lobbyists in the Phanar. It is unlikely that he would have been able to independently step through the official procedure and meet with Archondonis.
The second – Zinkevich was accepted! Moreover, this fact is almost the main one in this situation. What does this mean? About interest in his person on the Phanar. This is especially important in the context of the fact that the Greeks are well aware that there are serious contradictions between Zinkevich and Dumenko, and the “Metropolitan” of Lutsk and Volynsky himself does not even hide his desire to take the chair of the head of the OCU.
Colleagues from “Pravblog” made the correct conclusion on this matter. The fact of this meeting really looks like a signal to Epiphany. And this is even more evident against the background of the recent celebrations at the Phanar in honor of the name day of Patriarch Bartholomew, at which the head of the “OCU” was not personally present. It is quite possible that the Greeks really consider Zinkevich as a backup option, thereby also preventing him from developing the theme of the renewal of the “Kyiv Patriarchate”.
And the last, so to speak, – the cherry on the cake – Zinkevich concelebrated with the Phanar hierarch in the Metropolitan Church of the Imbros Island. Agree, not many people are honored with this in the OCU. Usually, most of them just stand on the sidelines during the services.
This news directly echoes the first one on the list of our digest for this week. The power sends impulses towards the interested forces. It is no secret that the issue of renaming the UOC is one of the main issues for the canonical Church. Thus, it turns from a mere legal aspect into a whole series of mechanisms of political influence. First, the Ukrainian politicians do not want to lose their influence on the UOC, formed based on soft pressure and, as a result, relative loyalty. Secondly, returning to the topic of a possible meeting between Putin and Zelensky this year, the latter can thus demonstrate some restraint in relation to the UOC, they say, “if they liked to – would have been renamed long ago.” The same applies to the issue of the transfer of Lavras and the stalled process of “transitions” from the UOC to the OCU. Overall, we have to admit that relations between the Church and the state in Ukraine remain very difficult.