Can Orthodoxy save Ukraine from self-destruction?

On November 21, Ukraine celebrated the third anniversary of Maidan riots that split the nation into two camps. Pravda.Ru conducted an interview with journalist, expert on European issues and Ukraine, Alyona Berezovskaya, in an attempt to see how people of Ukraine identify themselves today. 

"The European Parliament has recently adopted a law against Russian media. What do you think the law means for Ukraine?"

"I can only be sorry for the people who write such laws. They probably do not understand how open the world today is. They do not understand that people understand everything. This is how the world creates Marine Le Pen in France or Donald Trump in the USA. We have seen an increasing amount of alternative political movements coming to power in Europe lately. Governments are changing globally, and this will of course affect their relations with Russia."

"The events in Ukraine have separated Ukraine from the Western world. The line of division affects the religious field too. It is generally believed that there is a certain Orthodox civilization that comes from the East, but then there were Maidan riots in Ukraine, and now we are told that Ukraine has fallen under the influence of the Western civilization. What do the Ukrainian people think?"

"I can not speak for the entire Ukrainian people. Ukraine, because of its history, has different perspectives, different ethnic groups and different religious movements. Most importantly, Ukraine is an Orthodox state. The Canonical Orthodox Church, thank God, is the major religious movement in Ukraine. Yet, Ukraine is different. Therefore, every Ukrainian has their own attitude to what happened in Maidan.

"First and foremost, Maidan has deprived Ukraine of unity within its own people. Ukraine had been building this unity for the recent quarter of a century. I was born in contemporary Ukraine, and I did not think of Western Ukrainians as some sort of different people who had different culture. I realized that they had their own peculiarities, but I did not think that they had a completely different point of view on important global events or political events. I did not expect this.

Maidan took our unity. The unity was lost artificially, after people from Western Ukraine came to the Independence Square and toppled the regime of Viktor Yanukovych. It seems to me that those events were like an experiment, as if someone wanted to see what was going to win - prudence or slogans. It turned out that we all were living in an expectation of something. They gave us Europe-oriented slogans for those expectations: "Open Europe for Ukraine!", "All to Europe!" The question is, who is going to Ukraine? Young and beautiful girls will probably go. Young and educated men will probably go there too, but Ukraine is losing its own future behind these slogans. I do not know how we treat this. We are not one people today, we are divided. No one needs the divided Ukrainians with a devastating economy and a poor quality of life. This is where we are now because of Maidan."

"Do you think that the religious self-determination of the Ukrainian people, their affiliation with the Orthodox civilization could help them identify themselves?"

"I have been living in Moscow for three years, and I lived in Kiev before, and I think that in Ukraine, people are more religious than in Russia. During the 1990s, a variety of sectarian movements started developing in Ukraine - from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baptists, Adventists and so on. The Ukrainians were losing their identity. They are not Russians, and it is not really clear what a Ukrainian actually is. Therefore, the people were always trying to look for something, they were looking for themselves. Many have fallen under the influence of various sects.

"Then, in the early 1990s, Metropolitan Filaret, who could not accept his failure to become the Patriarch of all Russia, created his own church, the Ukrainian Orthodox church of the Kyiv Patriarchate. This church is probably a political organization that has been conducting certain activities. Most Ukrainians were simply lost in that whirlpool."

Interviewed by Alexander Artamonov

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Author`s name Alexander Artamonov