Ukraine’s another Church dissent is on edge

Photo credit: press-office of Vladimir Zelensky

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has blamed Volodymyr Zelensky for pressure by the authorities. Its followers hoped to end persecution with the new Ukrainian President coming to power. Yet, Zelensky who stayed away from the Church affairs during the first months of his presidential term is taking on the course on further Church dissent started by the former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Back in 2019, 49 parliamentarians requested from the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to cancel the controversial draft law “On renaming the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”. This religious organization was obliged to change its name to “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine” in order to indicate that it was allegedly “governed by an aggressor country”.

This bill was passed two years ago. The document was part of a larger strategic plan by President Petro Poroshenko to create an “independent church.” He won the support of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and then gathered the dissenters together, promising them the role of the leading religious group in the country. This explains why the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has become so powerful.

But the majority of Ukrainians, followers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, did not want to join the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, so the government organized persecutions against them and the canonical church. Moreover, it legalized the takeover of its temples widely known in the world.

In October 2020, Volodymyr Zelensky with his spouse made a visit to Istanbul to hold a meeting with Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The Ukrainian President made it clear that the Ukrainian authorities will support further expansion of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The reaction of dissenters was swift: they announced a new wave of temple seizure making everyone believe that the power was again on their side. The courage that Ukraine has not seen since Poroshenko’s days in the office.

According to local Ukrainian experts, Bartholomew, who officially calls himself a peacemaker of all Christian world is in fact supporting the religious dissent in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities, who claimed that the index of religious freedom in the country is equal to the one in Belgium (according to Andrei Yurash, the head of the Religion Division of the Ministry of Culture, this indicator was 3,2 in February, 2021, that points to the high level of religious tolerance), are also fueling the national protests in the country with their hypocritical and at times irrational policy.

Taliban confirms it received no fundings from Russia

FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2017 file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. The U.S. is pausing movement of troops into Afghanistan and quarantining 1,500 new arrivals to country due to virus. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

As the Western media continues to blame Russia’s policy in Afghanistan, a never-ending information war seems to take a new round aggravating the peace process in the country.

The leading U.S. media outlets claimed Russia was funding Taliban referring to the movement’s commanders. However, both the New York Times and Insider refused to name not only their sources but also American official spokesmen who reportedly said they had found out links between Taliban’s and Russia’s banking accounts. The outlets also claimed Russia’s financial support to Taliban was aimed at killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but no evidence and details have ever been provided.

The claims of the Western media seem even more baseless after the interview with Qatar-based Taliban’s official spokesperson Mohammad Sohail Shahin had been released.

Speaking to journalists covering the Russian policy in the Middle East, Shahin denied any funding from Russia. “This statement is proofless and has nothing to do with the truth. We believe such claims appear in the context of the internal political struggle in the United States and are organized by opponents of the Afghan peace process”, Mohammad Shahin said. “The main goal of these campaigns is to undermine the Afghan peace process”, he added.

In February, 2020, Washington signed a peace deal with Taliban confirming to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. However, a year on, the agreement’s major clauses have not come to effect. Much due to internal confrontations between the U.S. establishment and the U.S. Conservative Party. With Biden Administration taking the power and its policy focused on international intervention, the process is likely to be delayed. Yet, procrastination of the peace process in Afghanistan may lead to irreversible and tragic consequences in an already war-torn country and cause a total halt of economic and industrial development.

Moreover, in a current situation of limited on-spot-covering due to the closed borders, independent and non-affiliated media are not able to provide an objective view of the peace process development in Afghanistan. And this is often turned into advantage by the Western mainstream media.

Kharkiv Mayor’s death at Charité raises questions among political experts

Photo credit: APA

On December 17 Kharkiv City Mayor Hennadiy Kernes died at the Charité clinic in Berlin where he was receiving treatment for Covid-19.  Despite the official clinic’s report, some political experts say his death was quite mysterious while at the same time questioning Kernes legitimacy as a mayor.  

Earlier in September, Kernes was transferred to Germany over a deteriorating health condition. He was placed in the intensive care unit of Berlin’s Charité clinical center. While he was under treatment, Kharkiv City Council had to repeatedly deny rumors of his death. On November 4, Kernes was officially declared Mayor of Kharkiv with getting 195,044 votes (60,3 %). German economist Andres Aslund questioned in his tweet if Kernes was still alive when he was reelected.

Besides, the place of Kernes’s death also leaves questions with no answer.

“Charité” (French) means “charity” or “mercy”. The clinic is known far beyond Germany. The hospital, founded in 1710 as a plague infirmary, is currently a multidisciplinary medical center, where patients with a wide variety of diseases are treated. The hospital complex has about 3000 beds in total. It employs 13,000 employees and treats over 800,000 outpatients and inpatients annually.

Apart from ordinary citizens, the Charité Hospital is a primary choice for many celebrities from all over the world. It’s no secret that many rich and famous patients, for example, from Russia or Saudi Arabia, privately receive medical care here. Among the Charité’s patients were Merkel, Steinmeier, Tymoshenko and other. It is especially popular among former USSR leaders who chose the pro-Western course. Recently, the Hospital’s name has been in headlines because of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny who received treatment there over supposedly poisoning (according to the Charité’s clinic report). But while Kernes, according to Kharkiv City Council reports, was getting better and even won elections, Charité, despte its claims on best medicine technologies, was helpless to Kernes. On the contrary, Navalny who reportedly spent quite a long time in coma was healed amazingly quickly.

Some experts believe that’s no coincidence. Known for its affiliations with politicians, the Charité doctors could have been careless for Kernes as the West might have written his off, while Navalny still poses the interest for pro-Western powers. But that’s already conspiracy theories.

Terrorist attack on Russian diplomats in Afghanistan may lead to further tensions between Moscow and Kabul

Afganistan, Kabul. Photo: Daily Sabah

On December 1, the car of the Russian Embassy with several employees inside was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kabul. Russian diplomats received a slight concussion.

According to preliminary estimates, the terrorist attack most likely targeted a pickup truck of the Afghan national security forces with servicemen on board moving ahead of the diplomatic vehicle, however, the attack against Russian citizens cannot be excluded, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“On December 1, while a Russian diplomatic mission’s car was driving along the road near the Russian embassy in Kabul, an improvised explosive device was detonated. The employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in the vehicle received a slight concussion”, Zakharova said.

The recent attack that affected the employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in Afghanistan might be aimed at setting contradictions in Russia’s cooperation with the inter-Afghan peace settlement countries, as well as excluding Moscow and it partners from it including the Moscow negotiation platform.

“We demand that the Afghan side conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take comprehensive measures to ensure the security of personnel of Russian foreign missions in Afghanistan. The Russian Embassy in Kabul is implementing additional measures aimed at increasing the security of personnel and facilities of the diplomatic mission”,-Zakharova  added.

As the rate of violence in Afghanistan continues to increase the authority of the Islamic republic in the international diplomatic community is undermining which may also affect the further position of the contributing countries. Only in recent weeks Kabul was hit by a number of terrorist attacks, with more than 50 people killed in two assaults on educational centres and a rocket attack.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization develops efficient collaboration despite COVID-19 tough conditions

On November 30, 2020, the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the SCO member states held a videoconference meeting.  

SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov in his speech stressed that despite tough conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, organization members could continue the course to strengthen trade, economic and humanitarian relations by the SCO countries, improve the mechanisms of cross cooperation and increase the international authority of the Organization.

Following the SCO summit held on November 10, the member states confirmed their commitment to joint work to overcome the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, including a number of important initiatives aimed at establishing direct ties between medical institutions, cooperation in combating poverty, food security, industrial and energy cooperation, the development of digital literacy, as well as support for small businesses.

In this regard, V. Norov, suggested holding preliminary expert meetings for a substantive study of the goals and objectives of the initiatives put forward. He stressed the importance of continuing the practice of holding meetings of the Consortium of Economic Analytical Centers in conjunction with meetings of heads of government, and also noted the initiative to launch a new platform – the SCO Economic Forum.

Andrew Sheng, the expert of the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute believes, that a focus on developing domestic consumption will be important for China as its economy recovers. “China,” he says, “has come to the so-called Ford moment where if you pay your employees and treat them better, they will buy your national product. Domestic consumption will be a key growth driver for China, but it must be environmentally friendly “.

The foreign expert community summarized that the SCO is an active member of international relations. It makes significant investments in ensuring peace and security, settlement of international and regional conflicts exclusively through diplomacy. The SCO member states advocate the formation of a multipolar world order based on generally accepted principles of international law and equal international relations.

At present, the SCO acts as one of the pillars of the emerging world order. The participating countries will continue the vector and will deepen the political dialogue. Further contacts and cooperation on a wide range of issues with other countries and international organizations that are not members of the SCO are being promoted. At the same time, the number of countries wishing to participate in the SCO is growing every year.