ON June 11, 2017, digest.pia.ge published and address published by the leader of the “Georgian Troupe” in the social network, saying that the Orthodox Church was actively persecuted, devastated and robbed by schismatists, with clerics being physically abused/humiliated and already 40 churches being robbed. Jondi Baghaturia’s address was also published by Georgia and World, while on June 12, Sputnik Georgia wrote about a protest manifestation in front of the Ukrainian Embassy, with the title of the article taking the persecution of the Orthodox people in Ukraine as a fact (“Persecution of Orthodox People was Protested in Tbilisi”).
Jondi Baghaturia attached a photo to his address as well, and digest.pia.ge copied the photo to its article.
The photo is of manipulative nature, as it pictures the explosion that took place in an Orthodox church in Zaporozhye, Ukraine on July 28, 2010, not any kind of raid of the Orhtodox church
On July 2010, there was an explosion in a church in Zaporozhye which killed one and injured eight people. Then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, took the investigation of the case on his personal control. In the course of one week since the launch of the investigation, Ukrainian police arrested three accused individuals, two of them were altar boys. The convicted spent four years in prison and were released after the 2014 amnesty.
Disinformative Photo in the Russian Media
Pravmir.ru used the identical photo in a publication of May 26, 2017, which claimed that the photos were showing the fact of raids on an Orthodox church in Volyn region. A Russian online portal vaonews.org, on April 9, 2017, disseminated news about the terrorist attack in Egypt and used the photo of Zaporozhye to describe the damage of the interior façade of the church.
Other Photo Manipulations
Apart from the photo taken in Zaporozhye, Jondi Baghaturia also publishes other manipulative photos on the personal Facebook page that reflect various events from different periods.
The photo given below, which, according to Jondi Baghaturia, shows the raid on an Orthodox church, evident by the breaking into the doors, were actually taken in 2013. The case concerned Ukrainian Orthodox clerics who were demanding entrance to a closed church.
The photo showing the break into the doors was taken in August 2013 and it actually shows the events which took place in Popelnya village, Ukraine. Locals met a priest newly appointed to the Popelnya church with protest. The clerics that appeared close to the church, refused to speak to the congregation and entered the church anyway with the help of accompanying persons, who can be seen on the photo. Therefore, this photo has nothing in common with the persecution of Orthodoxy.
Another photo, disseminated by the leader of “Georgian Troupe”, pictures the protest of people unhappy with closing of a Ukrainian Orthodox church subject to the Moscow Ptriarchate in 2013.
On April 19, 2013, against the will of the congregation, the people, considering themselves the builders of the church, closed down the Novo Arkhangelsk church. The believers met the given fact with protest, and the representatives of the local opposition joined it. As a result of the manifestations, the church was re-opened on April 23, however, according to the locals, during the five days when the building was occupied by the other people, tens of expensive icons got lost.
Orthodox Church in Ukraine
There are Orthodox churches in Ukraine subordinate to the Moscow and Kyiv Patriarchates. The Russian media has been actively blaming the Kyiv Patriarchate representatives since 2016 of subjecting 40 acting Orthodox churches of the Moscow Patriarchate. Russia Today was also speaking of similar accusations in May 2017.
Myth Detector Lab