Kiev Cross Procession unites thousands of supporters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine

Photo: RIA Novosti

The Procession of the parishioners and priests of the Ukraine Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) held on July 27 in Kiev to mark the 1033th anniversary of Christianization of Rus’ gathered about 100 thousand of participants.

According to journalists covering the event, there were actually a lot more people. This only shows that most Ukrainians support and recognize the Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox Church of Ukraine, not the Kiev Patriarchate Church, which many experts consider as self-proclaimed.

Meanwhile, the journalists also reported that some Procession participants carried posters criticizing Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who founded the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, causing the schism in the Orthdox Church Institution in Ukraine.

Earlier, during the briefing, Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, the Secretary for Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said that this year the procession would be dedicated to the “idea of ​​loyalty to the Church”. According to him, for the Ukraine Orthox Church “this is a very important issue today,” since the canonical Church in Ukraine “is being discriminated by the authorities and attacks of extremists who are trying to tear away parishes from it and seize churches.”

The Christianization of Russia took place in 988. Today, it is celebrated among Russian Orthodox believers on July 28. In the Orthodox church calendar, this is the day of remembrance of the Great Prince Vladimir (960-1015), who initiated the Christianization of Russia.

Assad has won 4th term, what’s next?

People walk by an image of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on 10 May 2021 (AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected for the 4th term in office with 95.1% of the votes. According to Assad’s government, the election results proved Syria is functioning normally.

This will extend his rule over a country despite harsh criticism from the United States, Germany, Italy, France and Turkey as well as Assad’s opponents in the country said the vote was illegitimate.

Despite their condemnation of his brutal and authoritative regime during the decade-long Syrian civil war, imposing economic sanctions and militarily backing his opponents, the Syrian leader was able to remain in power and save the country from the territorial divide. Like a true captain of the wrecked ship, Bashar Al-Assad did not leave the war-torn country and, what’s important, did not let it collapse despite West’s multiple efforts to intervene.

With Russia’s support, Assad arranged constant humanitarian help flows to the country and save the sovereignty of secular state despite endless clashes and civil war in the country. Moreover, Assad assured his supporters get access to education and healthcare while his government provided jobs to workers.

Prior to the elections, the White House have warned Syrian President that it would not recognize the result of upcoming presidential election unless the voting is free, fair, and supervised by the United Nations while Biden administration said it had no plans to restart the dialogue “any time soon” claiming the Assad government failed to restore legitimacy in the country. With no doubts such open statements mean the West will continue its pressure to the Assad’s regime and will try to remove him from his post demonstrating a double standard “legitimacy” at its best.

Could the SPIEF boost the TurkStream flows?

Putin and Erdogan open TurkStream gas pipeline

The Saint Petersburg Economic Forum to be held in Russia on June 2-5 is the first post pandemic global event that is focused to gather international delegations from the U.S., Germany, Italy, China, South Asia and the Middle East.

With the Forum’s main focus on energy and sustainable development, Russia aims to boost international trade ties and attract investments to its economy. And Turkey could be among most prospective partners for Russia following the SPIEF ambitions. Today Ankara’s major interest is to provide permanent gas flows through the Turkish Stream. On the other side, Turkey, a NATO’s member, has been manipulated by the United States for years following Washington’ efforts to sign a deal with Ankara on U.S. natural compress gas (GNC).

However, the recent tensions between Biden and Erdogan on Ankara’s recognition of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people in 1915 as genocide as well as the recent criticism of Erdogan towards the U.S. on the Gaza-Israeli conflict have been a sore spot between the countries placing their further economic and political cooperation in question.

This explains why Turkey has been seeking a closer cooperation with Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to support the Turkish Stream supplies. The pipeline, which transits the Black Sea, took five years to complete and is one of two major new natural-gas export routes totaling nearly $20 billion. Russia on its parts also expects to go on line this year and the SPIEF is likely to become a platform for developing further economic cooperation and trade ties between Turkey and Russia.

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.