The protests in Belarus lost almost no time before they included the topic of religion. After beginning on August 9th, on election day, have been increasingly reminiscent of the Ukrainian “Maidan” scenario.
And not only in the scenario of violent conflicts between rioters and law enforcement officers. Protests are also actively supported in the media space.
In order to involve ever more people to their side, of course, the protesters would involve a religious theme in them. In Ukraine, this happened almost immediately. In 2014 Ukraine, the Catholics, mostly Uniates, played a fundamental role in attracting people to Euromaidan.
In Belarus, they also did not stand aside. There are photographs showing several Catholic clerics taking part in the protests.
It is an obvious fact that not all citizens of a particular country are politically active and ready to fight for their political views. The majority of the population of any country is in favor of stability and is afraid of some kind of radical change.
For example, in an interview with the journalist of the Ukrainian newspaper Strana, one of the protesters in Minsk bluntly stated that the mentality of Belarusians does not facilitate participation in the Maidans, and the organizers need to do something regarding that:
“Many of those who yesterday spent the evening in restaurant, looked at the rally disapprovingly. Not because they are for Lukashenko – they are for stability. And against the changes that Tsoi [Viktor Tsoi, Soviet singer and song-writer] sings about. Belarusians love order most of all. And this is the problem for protests.”
According to the “Maidan scenario,” in order to include as many people as possible in the protests, they need to be not only political, but also religious in nature.
On August 12th, Bishop of Vitebsk of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus Oleg Butkevich made a very peculiar statement.
He said that the counting of votes in the presidential election was “not entirely correct” and stressed that “the current crisis hides a positive potential for change for the better.”
The head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), Metropolitan Pavel emotionally called on his compatriots to stop the enmity:
“Let’s all stop together, stop this enmity and hatred. Because as soon as passions begin to rage in us, we cannot make any correct decision. Only calmly, having prayed, cooled down, calmed down, can we decide what worries us. Yes, there are questions, but they can be solved and must be solved not through confrontation, and God forbid that blood is shed again.”
In Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) tries to be a stronghold of the peace process in society. But there were also several groups who, since 2013, have welcomed and promoted riots at the Euromaidan.
One of these clerics, who later found themselves in a schism, Georgy Kovalenko, said on August 10 that thanks to the protests in Belarus, an analogue of the ‘independent’ Orthodox Chruch of Ukraine, the “Orthodox Church of Belarus”, is in fact operating:
“The Orthodox Church of Belarus is already a reality, albeit unconscious and disorganized.”
It is interesting that Kovalenko was among those who took the most direct part in the creation of the Ukrainian “Maidan theology”.
According to this “theology,” Christ was invisibly present at the protests and everything that happened on the Maidan happened according to God’s will.
In addition, in his manifesto “Theology of the Maidan,” Kovalenko’s associate, Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun), clearly outlined the goals and objectives of the “new church consciousness”:
“The Maidan gave an impetus to churches to rise above the status quo that reigned in their relations with the state throughout the years of Ukraine’s independence, and to take the side of society. Now the churches should take a step further and give their frank assessment of this power.”
Georgy Kovalenko, “prophesying” about the “Belarusian OCU”, shared a picture created by the deacon of the Belarusian Church Dmitry Pavlyukevich.
And there is nothing bad in it: the cleric declares that the Orthodox are against falsifications, humiliation and pressure on individuals.
But in the protest environment, this picture has already spread as a kind of activists’ manifesto. And what is very important – this manifesto contains church attributes (cross, quotes from the Gospel), and therefore is perceived on behalf of the Church.
Father Dmitry himself said that he did not see any political motives in his actions:
“I am a priest, I am a believer, and therefore I express my position. This is not agitation, not a call, there is even grammatically no motivation for action. It’s just an expression of my point of view as a believer. I am quoting from the Gospel. It is surprising to me that this causes such a resonance in the Belarusian media. These are absolutely common places. Who can be surprised that the Church is against lies, that she is for justice? This is as clear as the fact that the Church is against abortion or same-sex marriage. This is obvious for every single person.”
The Church is really against corruption, falsification, lies. But to say this at a time when people are agitated, when the country is shaken by protests and violent confrontation is a very measured response.
In the context of the unrest that began, this publication, like the statement of the Catholic Bishop Oleg Butkevich about the “incorrect vote count”, looks like a veiled call for protests.
Besides other factors, the protest movement in Belarus have obvious analogies with the 2014 Ukraine coup in the religious field. There are already attempts to use the church theme in political technologies and present the situation in such a way that the Church supports the “force of good” (rebels) against the “forces of evil” (Lukashenko’s regime).
There is no doubt that if the coup d’état succeeds in this country, the scenario of an “independent church” will be realized very soon.
The new authorities will turn to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for their Tomos.
Just as in Ukraine, a whole nation will be torn away from its spiritual roots. Local sources claim that the purpose of this gap is not only to divide Belarusians and Russians, not only to create a buffer zone from Belarus between NATO and Russia, but also to subordinate the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to a huge new territory, which is ultimately destined to enter unity with Rome. At the same time, the destruction of canonic churches plays into the hands of the supporters of the neo-liberal ideology and forces that support the promotion of this ideology among conservative societies of Eastern Europe.
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