Vitaly Solonchak

On June 7, 2022, a regular meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) was held at the Patriarchal and Synodal residence in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow under the leadership of its primate, Patriarch Kirill.

According to the results of this meeting, “journal No. 59” recorded the alleged “acceptance of three Crimean dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” (in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate, hereinafter referred to as the UOC-MP) – Simferopol (and Crimean), Feodosia and Dzhankoy – into allegedly “administrative subordination to the Patriarch Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church”.

It was stated that the ruling bishops of these dioceses, Metropolitan Lazar (Shoemaker) of Simferopol and Crimea, Metropolitan Platon (Udovenko) of Feodosia and Kerch, and Bishop Alexy of Dzhankoy and Razdolsk allegedly addressed Patriarch Kirill with a corresponding “request”. However, it is obvious that neither Simferopol, nor Kerch, nor Dzhankoy were the centers for making these “decisions”.

The “withdrawal” of the Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP from the jurisdiction of the primate of this church, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Onufriy (Berezovsky) and their “acceptance into submission” of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, were announced, allegedly based on the “need to communicate with the central church authorities for a favorable the course of church life” in these dioceses, as well as allegedly taking into account the “practical impossibility” of their regular communication with the Kyiv Metropolis of the UOC-MP due to Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.

The next “decision”, recorded in the same “journal No. 59” of the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, was the unlawful “formation” of the so-called “Crimean Metropolis” on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, occupied by Russia, from the mentioned Simferopol (and Crimean), Dzhankoy and Feodosia dioceses of the UOC-MP. The “head” of the new “church formation” was “appointed” by Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea, who, at least for the present, continues to be a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP.

Further – In detail about the prerequisites and consequences of this initiative of the ROC and its curators in the Kremlin.

“Self Addiction”: Between Two Fires

With the start of Russia’s full-scale military invasion of the territory of Ukraine, which the head of the occupying state Putin called allegedly “a special operation to demilitarize and denazify” our country, the head of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Onufriy, who since 2014 refused to recognize Russian armed aggression against Ukraine, did what few people expected him: in his address to the flock of February 24, 2022, he said in plain text that Russia had begun military operations against Ukraine (although it should be noted that this happened back in February 2014), and added that the UOC-MP “has always consistently defended the integrity and sovereignty of our state.”

Metropolitan Onufriy also literally expressed special love and support to the Ukrainian soldiers who defended the country, despite the fact that a few years ago he defiantly refused to honor the memory of the soldiers killed by Russian aggressors. In addition, the primate of the UOC-MP appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to stop the war, which has no justification either from God or from people.

A few days later, on February 28, a meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP was held, in a statement which actually duplicated the previous theses voiced by Metropolitan Onufriy, but with some differences. This time, the members of the Synod, whose names were not disclosed, addressed both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a request to “do everything possible to put an end to the sin of the armed confrontation between the two fraternal peoples”.

An appeal was also adopted to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, with a request to “strengthen prayer for the long-suffering Ukrainian people, to say the primatial word on the cessation of fratricidal bloodshed on Ukrainian soil and to call on the leadership of Russia to immediately stop hostilities.”

In response, Patriarch Kirill actually blessed the Russian armed forces for the war against Ukraine, repeatedly hypocritically stating after that that Russia allegedly “never attacked anyone” and ostentatiously “praying for peace.”

It was impossible not to react to such actions of the hierarch, who considers Ukraine his “canonical territory”. Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, followed by the occupation of new territories with the moral and spiritual support of the Russian Orthodox Church, became a catalyst for tectonic shifts in the UOC-MP, whose entire dioceses began to raise the issue of either their complete separation from the Moscow Patriarchate or the convening of a Church Council with total separation and independence from the Russian “mother church”.

In response to such proposals on May 12, at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP, it was proposed “to do everything so that the discussion on this or that issue does not lead us out of the canonical field and does not lead to new divisions in the church”.

On May 27, at the Panteleimon Cathedral of the UOC-MP in Kyiv, an event was held that can be described as “three in one”: the church held a meeting of the laity and clergy, which, unexpectedly for many, turned into a synod and a cathedral. During his speech, Metropolitan Onuphry made claims both to Russia, whose troops kill thousands of civilians, including members of the clergy, and destroy churches, and to Ukraine, which allegedly seeks to ban the activities of the “persecuted canonical church” on the basis of its ties with the aggressor state and allegedly contributes to the “forceful seizure of parishes by schismatics” – that is, the transition of communities to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (hereinafter – the OCU).

In their resolution, the participants of the UOC-MP Council, which took place on the same day, condemned the war as a violation of God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, expressed their condolences verbatim to all the victims of the war and appealed to the authorities of Ukraine and Russia with a request to “continue the negotiation process and search for a strong and reasonable a word that could stop the bloodshed”. As for issues of church life, the participants in the council only “expressed disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine” and at the same time they adopted “relevant additions and changes” to the Charter on the management of the UOC-MP, which supposedly should testify to its “complete independence and independence.”

In particular, these points gave Ukrainian journalists and experts a reason to assert that the UOC-MP after their proclamation became “completely independent” from the Moscow Patriarchate. However, it is far from being so simple, given the “obligations” of the UOC-MP to the “mother church”, which, according to the aggressor, remained in the charter of the ROC, a member of the Synod and the Local Council of which, in the future, according to the position of the Russians, Metropolitan of the UOC-MP Onufriy is listed. In addition, the hierarchs of the UOC-MP did not accept at least public appeals to the Moscow Patriarchate about changing their canonical status in relation to it.

Moreover, even in the draft of the “new” charter of the UOC-MP, unofficially published on the Internet, in the very first paragraph “self-rule and independence” of the structure and management of this church is regulated by the letter of Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All Russia dated October 27, 1990, according to which the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church was reformatted into an “self-rule and independent” UOC-MP.

The ROC itself has actually severed ties with the Orthodox world due to the granting of autocephaly to the OCU and risks being in canonical isolation due to support for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

It is likely that the “cosmetic” changes in the charter of the UOC-MP were intended only to eliminate the “red flags” indicating its subordination to the ROC in order to avoid public anger and liability to the legislation, which requires the UOC-MP to be called in fact a religious organization, the leading center of which is located on the territory aggressor state.

One way or another, the events in Kyiv on May 27 made the Moscow Patriarchate pretty nervous.

Moscow Patriarchate’s reaction of the to the Council of the UOC-MP

On the day of the UOC-MP Council in Kyiv, May 27, Chairman of the Synodal Department of the ROC for Relations with Society and the Media, Acting Head of the Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Vladimir Legoyda noted that the UOC-MP allegedly did not address any questions to ROC, and added that his church “prays for the preservation of unity”, which allegedly “are trying to destroy external forces”, as well as for “the speedy onset of peace and an end to bloodshed”.

According to Legoyda, the UOC-MP is now allegedly “in a very difficult situation and under pressure,” and therefore it would allegedly be “highly irresponsible” on the part of the ROC to enter into detailed commentary on decisions made in the “self-governing” UOC-MP.

The next day, the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the ROC, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Alfeev), who was removed from his post and “sent” to Hungary in just a few days, commented on the decision taken the day before by the Council of the UOC-MP. According to him, the Ukrainian church allegedly “in unity” with the Russian Orthodox Church “only confirmed its status” granted to it by the Moscow Patriarch in 1990, however, at the same time, it allegedly testified that “it is completely self-governing, its church center is not in Moscow, but in Kyiv, it does not depend on Moscow either administratively, or financially, or in any respect.”

At the same time, Metropolitan Hilarion complained that today, allegedly, “many enemy forces are thrown to destroy” the UOC-MP. However, at the same time, he added that the unity between the UOC-MP and the ROC, as well as other local Orthodox churches that “have not taken the path of schism”, is allegedly preserved, and the ROC will allegedly continue to “continue to strengthen this unity” and pray for “our United Holy Orthodox Church”.

On May 29, an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was held in Moscow under the chairmanship of Patriarch Kirill, whose participants “discussed the decision of the last Council of the UOC-MP”. As a result of the meeting, the members of the Synod decided to “express full support and understanding to the archpastors, pastors, monks and laity of the UOC-MP”, which is allegedly “subjected to unprecedented pressure”, and also state that the status of the UOC-MP is allegedly “determined” by the already mentioned letter of the Patriarch of Moscow.

The ROC noted that the additions and amendments to the Charter on its management adopted by the Council of the UOC-MP allegedly “require to be studied in the prescribed manner for their compliance with the aforementioned Charter and the Charter of the ROC, according to which such additions and changes must be submitted for approval to the Patriarch of Moscow”.

Also, members of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church “expressed regret” that “in a number of dioceses” of the UOC-MP the commemoration of the Moscow Patriarch is being stopped, which supposedly “has already led to divisions within the UOC [MP]”. Commenting on these decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, the already mentioned Metropolitan Hilarion reiterated that the letter of Patriarch Alexy II allegedly is “the canonical foundation on which the building of the UOC [MP] is built.”

On June 7, a regular meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took place, the names of the participants of which were not indicated – probably with the aim of “camouflaging” the absence of representatives of the UOC-MP. The participants of this meeting “with sorrow” noted the alleged “continuing pressure” on the bishops, clergy, monks and laity of the UOC-MP.

The members of the Synod of the ROC also stated that the decision to change the status of the “self-rule and independent” UOC-MP could allegedly be made only within the framework of the “canonical procedure”, allegedly “containing the decision of the Local Council of the ROC”, and announced that the allegedly “unauthorized” actions against changes in the status of the UOC-MP can allegedly lead to “the emergence of a new split within it”.

So that the threats to the ROC do not diverge from the case, this “appearance” by the Russians was demonstrated in practice already in the next journal of the Synod of the ROC, in which the alleged “transition” of three Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP as the “Crimean Metropolis” was recorded “into the subordination of the primate of the ROC”.

Soon, Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy chairman of the synodal department of the ROC for relations between the church, society and the media, stated in plain text that the resubordination of the Crimean dioceses to the UOC-MP allegedly “will not allow the Ukrainian authorities to use the fact of their subordination to the Kyiv Metropolis for political purposes” and allegedly ensure “the inviolability of the canonical order”.

He called the “Decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church” regarding these dioceses allegedly “related to the internal management of the Church” and stated that even before “making decisions to change their jurisdiction” they allegedly were in the “single canonical space of the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Does the UOC-MP react to the “loss” of the Crimean dioceses?

The UOC-MP at the Council on May 27 granted the diocesan bishops for the period of martial law in Ukraine, when the connection of the dioceses with the church leading center is complicated or absent, the right to independently make decisions on certain issues of diocesan life that belong to the competence of the Holy Synod or the primate of the UOC-MP, with “subsequent, when the opportunity is restored, informing the hierarchy”.

Whether this “decentralization” was an evil intention, a strategic move, or a continuation of movement in the wake of the “mother church” is difficult to say, as well as to get an answer to the question of whether in this case an unlawful “change of the jurisdiction of parishes and dioceses” was supposed. Nevertheless, the Crimean bishops of the UOC-MP, when “discussing” their alleged “transition” to the subordination of the Russian Orthodox Church, referred precisely to this provision of the council of their church.

Apparently, the Kiev hierarchy was informed by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin about the attempted annexation of the Crimean Church post factum.

The official reaction of the head of the “independent and independent Ukrainian church” to the removal of the ROC of its three dioceses in the occupied Crimean peninsula has not been found by us at the time of writing this material. The media of the UOC-MP so far contains allegedly more “important” reports – about alleged “persecution, persecution and harassment” by “radicals”, as well as about the alleged “seizure” of churches and parishes of the UOC-MP by “schismatics”: this is how this church calls the crossings their communities in the OCU.

Ukrainian media cite the comments of Metropolitan Kliment (Vechera) of Nizhyn, head of the Synodal information and educational separtment of the UOC-MP. He believes that the Crimean hierarchs of the UOC-MP, who until recently did not express their intention to leave their church, submitted a “request” for their “resubordination” to the ROC under pressure, and that in order to “change its territorial structure”, the Russian church had to at least convene at least a bishops’ council, and not proclaim declarative “decisions” regarding the alleged “attachment” of the Crimean dioceses.

“Crimean reaction” to church events in Kyiv and Moscow

Representatives of at least two of the three Crimean dioceses of this church took part in the Council of the UOC-MP, held on May 27 in Kyiv, via videoconference. The delegation of the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese included Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea, vicars of the diocese Bishop Nestor (Donenko) of Yalta and Bishop Kalinik (Chernyshov) of Bakhchisaray, head of the legal department of the diocese, rector of the Holy Trinity Church of the Holy Trinity Paraskevevsky Toplovsky Convent Abbess Paraskeva (Tishchenko), laywoman Lyudmila Yaselskaya.

The Feodosian Diocese was presented by Metropolitan Platon of Feodosia and Kerch, vicar of the diocese, Bishop Agathon (Opanasenko) of Koktebel, secretary of the diocese, Archpriest John Kopylov, abbess Feodosia of St. George’s Katerlez Convent.

Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea drew the attention of the members of the Council to the fact that the canonical status of the UOC-MP as a self-governing part of the ROC is allegedly “optimal”. Metropolitan Platon of Feodosia and Kerch told the Council that the clergy of his diocese allegedly confirm “loyalty to the patriarchal church”. It should also be noted that the day before, on May 24, Metropolitan Platon, concelebrated by Bishop Agathon and the clergy of the Cathedral of John the Baptist in Kerch, performed a “thankgiving prayer service on the occasion of the angel” of the Moscow Patriarch Kirill.

It was announced that the delegations of both dioceses “unanimously voted against” the adoption of the resolution of the Council of the UOC-MP and the proposed amendments to the Charter on its administration and declared that they “remain under the omophorion of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.” The participation of representatives of the Dzhankoy Diocese in the Council of the UOC-MP is unknown, however, a message on the website of the diocese indicated that its representatives did not support the holding of the Council, but did not express a clear position regarding the subsequent implementation of the decisions of the Council.

Also in the statement, the diocese partially duplicated the resolutions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of May 29, 2022, partially passing them off as “personal opinion”.

In his comments to the Russian and Crimean media controlled by the occupiers, the “Crimean in fifth generation” Bishop Kalinik of Bakhchisarai, traditionally demonstrating illiteracy, incoherence of opinions and ignorance of history, stated that the Simferopol and Crimean diocese of the UOC-MP allegedly cannot “remain in a suspended status”, and its life “cannot be changed in any way”, since it allegedly “has always been under the omophorion of the most holy patriarch”.

In particular, Bishop Kalinik repeated the statements, popular among some supporters of the Russian Orthodox Church, about the “holy Crimean land”, from which “the baptism of Holy Rus’ began.” In his opinion, more than 1000 years ago, “baptized Rus’ united”, “enlightened by the light of Christ’s truth,” and all this time allegedly “enemy forces from outside are trying to destroy the unity” of this “people.”

Kalinik only forgot to clarify that this “always” began at the end of the 1770s: it was at that time that the Metropolis of Gotha and Kafa, founded in the middle of the 8th century, was liquidated, which was under the canonical subordination of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

After the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, the parishioners of the diocese were deported to the Sea of Azov, where today the Russian army is razing towns and villages to the ground, allegedly “protecting” including “canonical Orthodoxy”, and the Crimea has allegedly become the “canonical territory” of the Russian Orthodox Church.

However, there are doubts that Bishop Kalinik, as well as any of the clergy of the newly “Crimean Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church,” delve into such “inconvenient details”: if they said “from above” that the Crimean Orthodox were supposedly believers of the Russian Orthodox Church “always”, then “so it was”.

The Ukrainian church often see such fake “always” from Russian one: back in 1685, Patriarch Joachim of Moscow persistently suggested that Patriarch Yakov of Constantinople renounce the rights to the Kyiv Metropolis, arguing that allegedly “from the beginning of the adoption of the Orthodox faith was our all-Russian throne.”

“From the beginning” happened in the autumn of 1686, when the Kyiv Metropolis was transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate by the next Patriarch of Constantinople, Dionysius IV. However, this decision was declared illegal a year later, since it was taken for a bribe, and as a result, Dionysius himself was deposed by a church council. However, the Kyiv Metropolis remained under the de facto authority of the Moscow Patriarchate – by the “right of the strongest”.

Obviously, it was not in vain that we mentioned Patriarch Joachim (Savelov) – since his “life” is very reminiscent of the biography of many ministers of the current “Crimean Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church”. A poorly educated military man at the age of 35 took monastic vows in the Mezhigorsky Monastery near Kyiv.

Prior to that, he “did not know the scriptures, except for the alphabet, neither the church, nor the rank of the church, and lived in a remote village, and caught hares, and visited the Church on a rare Easter” – however, in almost 20 years he managed to become the Moscow Patriarch. Earlier, during interrogation on charges of “wrong faith,” the future bishop sincerely confessed: “Ah, sovereign, I don’t know either the old faiths or the new ones, but whatever the bosses say, I’m ready to do and listen to them in everything.”

Apparently, in some places, approaches have not changed for centuries, since the same Crimean Bishop Kalinnik stated that the Cathedral in Kyiv was allegedly “so-called” and supposedly “certainly illegal”, although, we recall, the delegations from Crimea did not deny their participation in it. At the same time, the vicar of the Simferopol and Crimean diocese, who has recently become overly active in the Crimean and Russian media space, “expressed the hope” that the UOC-MP “will remain in the bosom of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

A few days before the decision was made on the alleged subordination of the Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP to the Moscow Patriarch, a propaganda article was published on the Sevastopol reactionary resource “ForPost”, in the subtitle of which the occupiers’ propagandists put a provocative “question” – “Why did they arrange another split among the Orthodox in Kyiv”.

According to the authors of the article, Orthodoxy in Ukraine is allegedly “experiencing the second split in five years”: first, the OCU was created, and now the UOC-MP is also trying, at least at the level of declarations, to get rid of the power of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The main “source” of this “material” was the so-called “Associate Professor of the Department of Religious Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Taurida Academy” Yulia Normanskaya, who, in particular, called Ukraine “the border between the Catholic and Orthodox worlds”, and blamed “propaganda” for the fall in support for the UOC-MP among the population of Ukraine and “predicted” this church to “merge with the OCU” – whose parishes on the peninsula allegedly “in the future will act outside the law”.

On June 7, the day of the “foundation” of the “Crimean Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church”, Bishop Kalinik of Bakhchisaray, in a commentary to “RIA Novosti Krym”, controlled by the Russian occupiers, called this event allegedly “historic” and “thanked” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow allegedly “for the wise decision”.

The current Crimean fake “bosses” quite expectedly reacted to the “transition” of the dioceses of the UOC-MP on the peninsula into “direct subordination of the ROC”. Thus, the criminal “Head of the republic of Crimea” Sergey Aksyonov “supported the relevant decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church” and promised that the puppet Crimean “authorities” would continue to “provide full support” to the “metropolis” of the Russian Orthodox Church on the occupied peninsula.

The fake “Speaker of the state council of the republic of Crimea” Volodimir Konstantinov did not stand aside either, saying that “virtually nothing has changed” in the “status of the Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP”. He stated that since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea in 2014, the local priesthood allegedly “out of respect for the hierarchy” remained part of the UOC-MP, since allegedly “it was still in the bosom of native Russian Orthodoxy”. “Those who have gone astray, I hope, will soon return to the true path,” the Crimean “speaker” promised criminally.

Separately, it should be noted the threat of the Crimean “political scientist” Mykola Kuzmin, who was the director of the All-Ukrainian Information and Cultural Center in Simferopol before the Russian occupation of Crimea, sounded on the pages of the chauvinistic Internet portal “Crimean Echo” against the UOC-MP.

This collaborator criminally declared that “the limits of its canonical territory”, allegedly “decreasing”, would allegedly be determined by “the advance of Russian troops”. The same, under whose criminal “protection” the Crimean bishops so “boldly self-determined” in favor of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The past and future of fake “Crimean Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church”

With all the “proper” attitude towards the Crimean fake “speaker” Volodimir Konstantinov, it should be pointed out that he is not essentially lying in the following: in the life of the Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP with their alleged “transfer to direct subordination” of the ROC, little will change before the complete de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea by Ukraine.

Since the Russian invasion the peninsula in 2014, a significant portion of the local MP clergy have shown which side they are on. All the facts of the collaborationism of the church with the Russian occupation regime can take up volumes of criminal cases. In the jurisdiction of the UOC-MP, the Crimean dioceses were really “catacomb”, in every possible way denying any mention of ties with Kyiv and publicly declaring their “belonging to the ROC”.

Nevertheless, even under the conditions of the occupation of Crimea, the hierarchy of the UOC-MP exerted a certain influence on their Crimean structures. So, shortly before the Russian Orthodox Church’s attempted “annexation” of the dioceses on the peninsula, on May 12, 2022, at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP, a decision was made to create a monastery in honor of the Great Martyr Anastasia the Maker of the Patterns in the Simferopol and Crimean diocese and to approve its vicar, whose name is so far unknown – as well as the location of the monastery.

Bishops were also sent from the UOC-MP to the occupied Crimea. In particular, the place of the Metropolitan of Dzhankoy and Razdolnensky Alipy (Kozoliya), who died in November 2021, was taken at the beginning of 2022 by the former rector of the Intercession Church in Zhytomyr, Bishop Alexy (Ovsyannikov), a native of the Izyum district of the Kharkiv region, now suffering from attacks by Russian terrorists. For a short time serving at the Dzhankoy diocese, he was not noticed in frank collaborationism – however, like his late predecessor.

The same, in principle, can be said about the former sacristan of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Agathon (Opanasenko), a native of Kharkov, appointed in August 2021 as a vicar bishop of the Feodosia diocese with the title of “Koktebel”.

At the same time, in September 2018, Nestor (Donenko), a rector of the Intercession Church in the village of Oreanda, a native of Berdyansk, now occupied by Russian troops, probably a consistent supporter of the “Russian world”, who was appointed vicar Bishop of the Simferopol and Crimean diocese with the title “Yalta”.

The appointment as vicar bishop of the Simferopol and Crimean diocese of its former dean for monasteries, a native of Evpatoria Kalinik (Chernyshev), who was “appointed to be the bishop of Bakhchisarai” at the meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC-MP at the end of January 2016, was not without scandal – however, his episcopal consecration took place only in December 2019, and not in Kyiv, but in the St. Nicholas Cathedral of the UOC-MP in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Region, early in the morning, without an announcement and, in fact, “without unnecessary witnesses”.

The reason for this situation was the public outcry. The media reported that during the Russian occupation of Crimea, the then Archimandrite Kalinik not only carried out anti-Ukrainian agitation, but also placed a weapons depot for “Crimean self-defense” on the territory of the Church of the Holy Prophet John the Baptist in the village of Uyutne, Saki District, of which he had been rector since 2008.

For his “work for the glory” of the invaders, he was “honored” in 2014, allegedly for “active assistance to the resistance forces against neo-Nazism”, by the Russian invaders’ “medal” and by “letter of honor” from the criminal “head of the people’s militia of the republic of Crimea” Mikhail Sheremet, who later became the fake “deputy of the State Duma from the republic of Crimea”.

In 2015, Archimandrite Kalinik received from the Primate of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Onufriy the right to wear a second cross and was appointed abbot of the St. Clement Monastery in Inkerman. In 2017, he received from Metropolitan Onufriy the Order of St. Vladimir, 3rd class, and from Patriarch Kirill, a commemorative medal of the Russian Orthodox Church “in honor of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the patriarchate in Russia.”

In 2018, Archimandrite Kalinik received the Order of St. Vladimir II degree from Metropolitan Onufriy. After the media disseminated information in 2016 that a collaborator was to arrive from the occupied Crimea to the mainland of Ukraine for episcopal consecration, the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese of the UOC-MP stated that Archimandrite Kalinik allegedly “accordingly, our holy mother church did not participate neither in political nor in agitational activities.

The UOC-MP stated that “according to the blessing of the clergy”, Kalinik allegedly “called on the flock to mutual respect, peace and harmony, as well as the inadmissibility of manifestations of any violence against each other”, and information about the location of the weapons on the territory of the temple in Uyutne supposedly “not corresponds to reality”.

Despite repeated similar scandals, the UOC-MP assured that they were a “thread” connecting the occupied Crimea with a free Ukraine. In early 2016, the primate of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Onufriy, stated that his church was allegedly “the only one that has not divided Ukraine,” since it “still holds Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk under power.”

The speaker of the then UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate, Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn Evstraty (Zarya), responded to the statements of the primate of the UOC-MP, explaining that UOC-MP combines liberate Ukraine with what Patriarch Kirill illegally refers to as the “Russian world”.

Also, Archbishop Evstratiy reproached the Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP for praying for Russia as allegedly “for their state”, “celebrating” the day of the criminal attempt on the annexation of Crimea as allegedly “holiday”, blessing the monuments of occupation, Russian weapons and occupation troops, which “tomorrow or in a month may be thrown against Ukraine”. The last words, unfortunately, turned out to be prophetic. One way or another, Metropolitan Onufriy is now losing the trump card of the “unifier” because of the Kremlin’s criminal manipulations.

Ukrainian religious scholar Dmitry Gorevoy, stating the actual attempt of the Russian Orthodox Church on the “church annexation” of Crimea, identifies the fake “unification” of the three Crimean dioceses of the UOC-MP into a “metropolis” with the criminal “creation of a federal district”, specifying that such a church-administrative division is alien to Ukraine .

In addition, it should be noted that the ROC, which loves to present its imaginary “canonicity”, by the “formation” of the “Crimean Metropolis” provoked a “collision” that cannot be explained – when in one metropolis, except for the supposedly “chief” metropolitan, in this case, the Metropolitan Simferopol and Crimean Lazar, there is another, Metropolitan of Feodosia and Kerch Platon.

If it weren’t for the death in the fall of 2021 of Metropolitan Alipy of Dzhankoy and Razdolsky, there would have been three metropolitans in the fake “Crimean Metropolis”, which defies any logic. There cannot be two bishops on the same canonical territory.

And if you follow the church canons, then the 12th rule of the 4th Ecumenical Council (of Chalcedon) forbids “two metropolitans to be in a single area”.

The 10th canon of the aforementioned Council of Chalcedon forbids clerics to be listed simultaneously in two churches – in the one in which they were originally ordained, and in the one to which they passed “as to a larger one, at the request of vain glory”; translated from one church to another “let him have no part in what belongs to the former church”. The 15th canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council (Nicaea) says the same: “Let a cleric not be appointed to two churches, for this is inherent in trade and base self-interest, and is alien to church custom.”

Well, as for the “transfer” of dioceses from one church to another, even if within the allegedly one “canonical territory”, which the ROC illegally considers the entire territory of the former Russian Empire, here the Moscow Patriarchate should recall the 8th canon of the 3rd Ecumenical Council (of Ephesus): “Everywhere in the dioceses, so that none of the God-loving bishops extends power to another diocese, which was not originally at hand before him or his predecessors. But if someone spread and forcibly subjugated some diocese to himself, let him give it up: let not the arrogance of the secular authorities creep in under the guise of clergy”.

Consequently, the fake “transfer” of the UOC-MP’s Crimean dioceses “to the ROC” has become a propaganda component of Russian aggression against Ukraine by the Kremlin and Russian special services, which will have fundamental negative consequences for the Moscow Patriarchate in the future.