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Ukraine: the war of the churches, from kyiv to Bucha


This is the story of two people who are radically different in their ways of being, but united like a nail and flesh for a cause.

This is the story of two radically different people in their ways of being, but

united like a nail and flesh for a cause


Like the vast majority of the Ukrainian people, be they men or women, young or old, atheists or believers.

From her looks, dress, and perfect English, 22-year-old Yaryna Arieva

gives the impression that her natural surroundings would be a cool coffee shop in Brooklyn

, New York.

What happened to her was to get married in the church the day the invasion began, February 24, 2022, and the next day she wield a rifle as a volunteer, together with her husband, of the Territorial Forces of Defending.

Today she fights against the Russian invasion as an adviser in the government of the city of kyiv.

Father Andriy Holavin is the parish priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bucha, a town north of the capital whose name the war has made synonymous

with Russian barbarism at its finest


Twice Yarina's age, he is tall, thin, severe in his purple tunic but serene despite the pain of having presided, he does not remember how many funeral masses for soldiers killed on the front lines or for civilians murdered at point-blank range, more than 70, at the neighborhood of its imposing church.

I met Yaryna by chance last Sunday at the gates of a Kiev monastery belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose “Pope” is Patriarch Kirill, a billionaire ex-KGB

agent, Putin's friend and propagandist

who declared in September that all Russian soldiers who gave their lives in the Ukrainian war would see "all their sins washed away."

Yaryna Arieva, 22, gives the impression that her natural setting would be a cool Brooklyn coffee shop.

Photo John Carlin

anger and respect

Yaryna was leading a demonstration demanding the withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church and all its monks from her country.

"Russian priests go home!"

shouted the demonstrators, who were few, about 40, the same as the number of policemen who formed a wall to defend the monastery from any possible aggression.

“All of us here have relatives or friends who have died at Russian hands in this war,” Yarina told me.

"And here is the enemy, right in the center of our capital, a tool of Russian propaganda that has been polluting minds and destroying souls for decades, and continues to do so today."

The government, as Yaryna explained, has taken legal steps to evict the monastery but so far the monks refuse to leave.

Doesn't it irritate him, I asked, that the police are protecting them.


he replied, “but this is what differentiates Ukraine from Russia and despite the hatred I feel for these people, several of them agents of the Russian intelligence services, there is a principle of democracy and justice here that I understand that We must defend."

Three days later, on Wednesday, I met Father Andriy in Bucha.

The town is still in mourning, bearing the consequences like few others of the Russian attempt to conquer the Ukraine a year ago, and there are lots of buildings destroyed by tanks and by Russian planes, but the church - with its golden domes and its white and blue walls -

is still intact

, and the priest's morale too.

Downstairs in an image-filled crypt, I asked her if she shared Yaryna's outrage at the Russian Orthodox Church's continued presence in Ukraine.

She shared it.

“Imagine if the Catholic Church in England had been on the side of the Nazis during World War II,” he replied.

"Well, that's what it means that the Russian Orthodox Church remains on Ukrainian territory."

Father Andriy Holavin is the parish priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Bucha.

Photo John Carlin

The example

Father Andriy finds it particularly offensive that Putin's friend who heads the Russian church has not only praised the invasion of Ukraine but, days after the massacre of civilians in Bucha came to light, thanked Russian troops

for his "exploits in favor of the homeland."

“What corresponds to the Russian Orthodox Church

is to offer the penitential example

that recent history demands.

Look at the Germans.

They did terrible things but they recognized it, they faced their sins, they atoned for them and for the last 75 years or more your country has been an example of decency and peace."

“The Russians in Stalin's time committed crimes equal to or worse than the Nazis.

But not only do they not accept it, but Putin today extols the figure of Stalin.

With that attitude it is no surprise that they continue to commit atrocities today in Bucha and all over Ukraine."

He is also not surprised that the Russian church has failed in what he considers to be its Christian mission to ask for forgiveness.

“It is not an independent church.

Since Stalin's time, precisely,

it has been an organ of the State


Today it seems to be more than ever.

That is why he is with Yaryna and the others who demonstrated in front of the monastery in kyiv.

“It is a political issue;

not a matter of faith.

Even I am willing to admit that there are priests within the Russian Orthodox Church who are against Putin.

Their problem is that if they declare themselves as such, they are expelled from the church, or worse.

What do you think about Ukrainian police protecting the Russian monastery against anger, and possible violence, from like-minded people?

“Our police enforce the law and we are proud of it.

We Ukrainians feel like Europeans, not subjects of a Russian empire that has been defined by poverty, by death, by trampling on people.

We fight for democracy and justice and those rights should be extended to everyone on Ukrainian soil."

I asked Father Andriy one last question.

What did he think would happen to him if he had his church in Moscow and used it to preach against the Russian invasion?

After a silence, he gave me a knowing and sardonic smile and said:

"I don't even want to begin to imagine it."

From Kiev,


look also

Life in kyiv: not everyone in Ukraine is a hero

Did the Ukraine try to assassinate Vladimir Putin with a drone loaded with explosives?

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-04-27

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