The new bill 8371 could permanently alter Ukraine's religious landscape and has already garnered support in the first reading from the Verkhovna Rada. It proposes Ukraine's activities of religious organizations directed by the aggressor state against Ukraine. UOC-MP clergy and believers are protesting against this bill, rejecting accusations of their Church's ties with Russia and claiming independence in religious matters.
Meanwhile, OSINT agency Molfar analysts have Church's numerous connections between UOC-MP metropolitans, bishops, and archbishops with Russia: Russian citizen passports, property near Moscow, education in Russia, support for the unrecognized "l/dpr," and justifications for the occupation of Crimea and the full-scale Russian invasion.
UOC-MP: are they Servants of God or Kremlin Agents?
In October, the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) announced that since the beginning of the full-scale war, 68 clerics of the UOC-MP (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate) had been exposed. They collaborated with Russia, engaged in arms trafficking, and distributed child pornography. Supporters of the UOC-MP actively employ rhetoric about the "inviolability of religious views," yet they overlook the fact that religious and political views are often intertwined. This is evident in cases where SBU representatives found flags of the fictitious "Novorossiya," Russian Federation symbols, Russian passports, IDs of Russian military personnel, Russian-language manuals," and rubles during raids on the “independent” UOC.
Against the backdrop of the second year of the "great war" in Ukraine, the outlines of a vast network supporting the "Russian world" are emerging. It turns out that their arsenal includes not only holy texts but also propaganda leaflets "from the Kremlin."
OSINT investigators from Molfar have studied the activities and statements of vicars, metropolitans, and bishops of the UOC-MP and found connections to Russia. In this article, we will briefly outline a few: Onufriy, Varsonofiy, Meletiy, Nestor, and Mark.
For the complete list of 67 high-ranking clerics, see our new registry.
Prayer for the traitors: performed by Metropolitan Onufriy
The Most Blessed Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Onufriy (born — Volodymyr Berezovsky).
Date of birth: November 5, 1944.
Metropolitan Onufriy is the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. He is a bishop for all the dioceses of this Church in Ukraine and conducts services at the Kyiv Pecherska Lavra.
The Metropolitan never "took an interest" in his Russian citizenship. According to him, after the USSR collapsed, his Russian citizenship "somehow" just continued “on its own.”
His other statements raise even more questions. During a meeting with captured Russian soldiers, Onufriy expressed a wish "for God to protect you, all the people who are on the battlefield." He also used the phrase "it turned out as it turned" in the context of the war unleashed by Russia, and in 2014, in "an interview with the religious publication "SPJ," he called the war between Ukraine and Russia "civil."
It appears the Metropolitan believes that traitors in robes and collaborators deserve promotion, as on August 18, 2022, he secretly elevated a Bishop-collaborator from the Luhansk region, Pavel (Valuysky), to the rank of archbishop. Later, he promoted another bishop-traitor, Spiridon (Golovastov), to the archbishop.
Onufriy also owns an apartment in Moscow. It is located on the outskirts of the Russian capital, at the address Akademika Glushko Street, building 14, corps 1, apartment 120. This means that Orest Volodymyrovych is also registered as a resident of Moscow as of 2015.
Prayer for Terrorists: conducted by Archbishop Varsonofiy
Archbishop Varsonofiy (the secular name — Volodymyr Semenovych Vynichenko)
Date of birth: March 19, 1961
Vicar of the Donetsk Diocese
Varsonofiy was elevated to the rank of archbishop in 2022. And in 2023, he was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship. However, it appears the archbishop has another Russian citizenship and is registered in the city of the Republic of Adygea.
His registered address in Russia: Maikop, 12 Marta Street, 134-1-216
Besides opposing an independent Ukrainian church, Varsonofiy has also visited the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk region. He has been there several times, for which he was entered into the registry of the website "Myrotvorets."
In 2015, he celebrated "Republic Day" with the leaders of the unrecognized "DNR." Additionally, Varsonofiy" conducted a memorial service in occupied Donetsk for the terrorist Mikhail Tolstykh, known by the nickname "Givi."
Prayer for "COVID-dissidents": led by Metropolitan Meletiy
Metropolitan Meletiy (secular name — Valentyn Vo"odymy"ovych Yegore"ko)
Date of birth: July 17, 1962
Currently, he is a citizen of Russia, and his Ukrainian citizenship has been terminated. Meletiy was born in the Zhambyl region, Republic of Kazakhstan. He was educated at the Moscow Theological Seminary and Academy. Like the other figures in this article, he also opposed the independence of the Ukrainian Church from the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 2019, the Ukrainian Church received the Tomos of autocephaly, after which communities began to transfer to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). Metropolitan Meletiy disapproved of these changes. In one dispute, he locked the head of the Zastavna District State Administration in his office, so vehemently trying to convince the official that there was a "raider seizure of temples."
Meletiy frequently blessed cross processions against the OCU. He is also mentioned on the "Myrotvorets" website for "deliberate actions to spread coronavirus." In April 2020, information emerged that Meletiy and "several priests of his diocese had contracted coronavirus. In response, an archimandrite of the same diocese visited the newspaper that initially reported the cases of illness and demonstratively coughed on its employees.
In 2018, the newspaper "Chas" published an investigation into the property of Metropolitan Meletiy. He was found to own several cars, luxurious apartments, and substantial hectares of land near male monasteries. Meletiy sued over this article but lost the case.
His address in Russia is Krasnodar Krai, Kropotkin, Zhelyabova Street, 2.
Prayer for "Disputed ownership of Crimea": performed by Bishop Nestor
Bishop Nestor (the secular name — Mykola Mykolayovych Donenko)
Date of birth: February 20, 1958
Vicar of the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese
He resides and conducts his priestly activities in the occupied Crimea. Address: Simferopol, Kovilova 56, apt 50.
He has been conducting services in Crimea since 2014. He opposed the Tomos and the creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In an interview with the propagandist site "Ukraine.ru," he compared the Tomos of autocephaly to deadly poison. According to the publication "Religion in Ukraine," Donenko is known as a correspondent in the exchanges of Kirill Frolov, the leader of the "Association of Orthodox Experes," which includes priests from the Russian Orthodox Church and the UOC MP, as well as the administration of the president of Russia. Frolov recommended that Donenko be on the general list of "pro-Russian forces" in Ukraine, which could become partners of the "Ukrainian Choice" movement headed by Viktor Medvedchuk.
In 2023, he was deprived of Ukrainian citizenship.
Prayer for “Those who wish to go to Moscow”: led by Metropolitan Mark
Metropolitan Mark (the secular name — Mykola Ivanovych Petrovtsiy)
Date of birth: December 6, 1951
Diocese: Khust, Zakarpatya region
He is a citizen of the Russian Federation. He was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by presidential decree and educated at the Moscow Theological Seminary. In mid-2022, it became known that the Metropolitan did not issue a directive throughout his diocese to prohibit the commemoration of Kirill (Gundyaev). He also opposed convening a council of the UOC MP synod and separation from Moscow.
His address in Moscow: Moscow region, Sergiev Posad, Pugachyova Street, 13.
Is the ban on the Moscow Church a violation of human rights?
It seems that among Ukrainians, the attitude towards the UOC MP is gradually breaking down against the backdrop of the full-scale Russian invasion and numerous detentions and searches among them.
According to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), 54% of Ukrainians support the ban on the Russian Church's branch in Ukraine. The clergy of the UOC themselves actively deny any connections with Moscow and describe these MPs' initiatives as a "violation of rights". However, many of the UOC MP clergy are citizens of the Russian Federation, own property in Russia, and have even received their education there. All this casts significant doubt on whether they can spiritually support Ukraine and its people.
These church officials influence the consciousness of the faithful and appear to use their position to spread Russian propaganda. Therefore, it is necessary to critically assess their stance and the messages they try to convey to the public. Isn't collaborating with the enemy in itself a violation of rights?